Law • Devotion 6

Love God, Love Others
John Stone

“Do not presume that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter shall pass from the Law, until all is accomplished!” Matthew 5:17-18 (NASB)

What does it mean for us that Jesus fulfilled the Law? In order to gain an understanding and, more importantly, live lives that are pleasing to the Lord, it is helpful to look at how and why God gave His people the Law in the first place.

YAHWEH, The Lord God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, descended on Mt. Sinai in catastrophic majesty to reveal the Law on stone tablets “written by the finger of God” (Exodus 19; 31:18). God leads and sustains His chosen people on their way to the Promised Land, and en route, Moses reminds the people of God’s commandments. They are to love the Lord with all their heart and all their soul and all their might. They are to be a holy (set apart) nation, a light to the pagan world that surrounds them. This knowledge of the Father’s choosing them and their gratitude for His rescue from slavery in Egypt to a future promise of blessing are the reasons they are to obey all He commanded (Deuteronomy 6:4-25).

These amazing events are a foreshadowing of the work Christ accomplished on our behalf. Jesus rescued us from slavery to sin and death and transferred us into the covenant promise of blessing and eternal life with Him (Colossians 1:10-14). In 1 Peter 2:9 (NASB), Peter explains, we are to be “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” God foretold this promise in Jeremiah 31:33 (NASB), “For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will put My law within them and write it on their heart; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’”

During Jesus’ earthly ministry, a very religious man, a master of the Law, asked Jesus what he needs to do to “inherit eternal life” (Luke 10:25). When Jesus asked him what God’s Word says about it, he does not quote a long list of dos and don’ts, but instead shows that he has an understanding of God’s purpose behind the Law; that the Law exists for his good as a demonstration of God’s love. The intended result is love for the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love other people. Jesus affirms the man’s answer, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28 NASB). It seems simple enough, right? However, the man already knows, like we do, that because of our sinfulness, he will not be able to do it. No one loves perfectly, nor can we on this side of Heaven. So, like we tend to do, he grasped for a loophole to excuse his inability instead of throwing himself at the feet of Jesus and humbly asking for help. In the same way today we need to move beyond a simple intellectual understanding of God’s purpose for the Law to joyful obedience. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15 NASB). Jesus demonstrated the perfect love that is required to fulfill the Law and inherit eternal life - a living and dying love. This is where we need to be; at the feet of Jesus praising Him for His perfect undeserved love for us, thanking Him for rescuing us from our slavery to sin, learning His sacrificial love for people, and then going out and doing the same (Luke 10:37). He has shared that love with us freely, and by the Spirit, has given us a new heart that is capable of the same kind of love (1 John 2:3-8).

The Law, written by the finger of God, the Holy Spirit, has remained consistent in its delivery and intention throughout the ages. It is not about a list of dos and don’ts. It is about love; love for God and love for people. Through it the Lord reveals Himself to us as though He were again descending before our eyes on Mt. Sinai. By it we see our need for Christ and His fulfillment on our behalf because, like the man in Luke chapter 10, when we measure ourselves by it, we fall far short of our Father’s perfection. By the Law’s standard of love, we learn how to live holy lives that are pleasing to the Lord and, in doing so, shine as lights in a dark world. We should be thankful and praise God for giving us the Law and for sharing His love with us so that we can share that love with others (1 John 4:19).

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