Understanding the Red Letters Part 7
What are often advertised as the greatest commandments in the New Testament – love God and love your neighbor – are actually old covenant instructions as we learned last time. So are we, new covenant saints, free of these commands? Maybe you are thinking that since these are old covenant concepts we are not required to love God with all that is in us.
Let us be clear. Our new found freedom from the Law, our new found freedom in Christ, does not set us free FROM loving God. It is quite the opposite. It sets us free TO love God with all that is within us. We love God now, in the here and now, out of our new heart; a heart of gratitude, a pure heart that is in love with God. Not from a stone-cold heart of obligation.
This may seem subtle, but I think it is an important change in our approach to loving God. Let me say it this way. Loving God under the old covenant was part of the “to do” list. Loving God under the new covenant is part of the “who you are” list. Loving God is part and parcel of who we are in Christ. Loving God is built into our incredible union with the Father. Do we always show it? Do we always feel it? No, like any other sin, we can choose to walk according to the flesh. We can withhold our love for Jesus and the Father. But like the fruits of the Spirit and so much else of the promise of the new covenant, loving God is in us; planted there by our family connection to our Savior.
How do we know this love toward God is “in us”? The apostle Peter says it so well, “And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (I Peter 1:8). Here is a paraphrase version from The Passion Translation of the New Testament, “You love Him passionately although you have not seen Him, but through believing in Him you are saturated with an ecstatic joy, indescribably sublime and immersed in glory” (I Peter 1:8). You love Him. I love Him. Not out of compliance to the Law, but from a pure heart filled to overflowing by God with love for God.
We have been set free to love God because He first loved us. We love Him with a love He has implanted in us. We love Him as we express our beautiful and unbreakable union with our Father.