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THEOLOGY > Man > Purpose of Man > Love God 


LOVE GOD 

To the lawyer who inquired concerning the greatest commandment, Christ responded: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matt. 22:37). According to Jesus, the first commandment, and the great commandment, is to love God. Without question, therefore, the purpose of man is to exhibit affection toward his Creator.

The declaration of Jesus is a restatement of the words of Moses: “Hear, O Israel: YHWH our God, the Lord is one! You shall love YHWH your God with all your heart, with all your  soul, and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:4-5). The significance of this passage, the Shema, is revealed in the fact that pious Jews quote it twice each day.

The choices of every individual are two: one, love and enjoy self; or two, love and enjoy God. These are the same two options that exist in every consideration: man vs. God, humanism vs. Theism, self-centeredness vs. God-centeredness; earth vs. heaven; the horizontal plane of living vs. the vertical plane of living (see: Starting Point and Foundations). If these are the onlt two choices, then the correct choice is obvious.

How is one to love YHWH? Note the three phrases above: “with all your heart,” “with all your soul,” and “with all your mind”; Deuteronomy has “with all your strength” (all four are listed in Mk. 12:30 and Lu. 10:27). The point is not the specific aspects or the various components of man that are to love God, but together the phrases speak of the totality of man, and that man, the whole man, is to love God (see: An Intricate Unity). With all that he is, man is to set his affections on the Lord. His devotion to God is to be without reservation.

But how can one know if he possesses true love for the Lord? What are the indications of authentic affection? What are the signs of abiding devotion? What constitutes convincing evidence for the true state of the heart? Consider two areas of corroboration: love for God’s Word, and love for the brethren.

The demonstration of love, or the proof of love for God, is seen in the believer’s adherence to the teachings of Christ, which is really adherence to the Word of God:

If you love Me, keep My commandments (Jo. 14:15);

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me (Jo. 14:23-24);

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love (Jo. 15:10);

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments (I Jo. 5:3).

The above verses assert that love for God is exhibited by love for His Word and a determination to keep His commandments. In fact, of the believer Jesus says: “He will keep My word”; and he affirms the reverse: “He who does not love Me does not keep My words” (Jo. 14:23-24). This is not difficult to understand; one’s attitude and response to the Word of God either causes assurance to arise within the mind or constantly allows doubt to assert itself.

Not mere profession but a living obedience is the test of discipleship. One cannot claim to be a follower of Christ and refuse to follow the teachings of Christ. Repudiation of segments of God’s Word by a professed believer reveals that the profession is an empty confession and not a true possession of Christ. The Word of God is loved by the people of God, and that love for the Word reveals the love of the believer for the Lord Himself.

The demonstration of love, or the proof of love for God, is seen in the believer’s love of other believers:

My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him (I Jo. 3:18-19);

And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment (I Jo. 3:23);

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love (I Jo. 4:7-8);

If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us (I Jo. 4:12);

If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has see, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also (I Jo. 4:20-21);

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments (I Jo. 5:2).

The Scriptures are plain: love for God and love for the brother go together. A life without either is not the life of the follower of Christ. The aged apostle is emphatic: “He who does not love does not know God.” And he asks a question: “For he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (I Jo. 4:20). Believing brothers are part of a spiritual family, and the essence of that family relationship is love.

Following Christ involves loving the brother; there is a “must” involved: “he who loves God must love his brother also” (I Jo. 4:21); the “must” of love is not debatable, it is a must.

Again, one’s attitude and response to the brother either causes assurance to arise within the mind or constantly allows doubt to assert itself. An examination of whether one is in Christ or not involves an examination of one’s response to the Word of God and to fellow believers. Is the Word obeyed, and is the brother loved? If the answer is in the affirmative to both, then there is excellent and convincing evidence that one loves God and is loved by God.


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