God’s first and great commandment is to love Him with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. (Mk 12:30) It’s the mark of every child of God: we love Him. (1Pe 2:7) As in most everything, definitions are critical; they’re particularly helpful here.
Perhaps we have an affection for Him, a sense of loyalty and appreciation, a fondness for Him and a passion to serve Him. This is essential in loving God, but is it sufficient? Can we feel this way about God and still not love Him?
God defines loving Him as obeying His commands (1Jn 5:3); if we aren’t obeying Him the best we know how we don’t yet know Him (1Jn 2:4), much less love Him (Jn 14:21), or anyone else. (2Jn 1:5-6) Apart from obedience to God’s Law, all sentiment and service is nothing. (Mt 7:22-23)
God’s commands are His testimonies, how He reveals Himself and expresses His nature. (Ps 119:18) When we deliberately break God’s Law we grieve Him, and this causes God to suffer. (He 3:17) How can we pretend to love someone, to be caring for them and seeking their good, when we’re wounding them on purpose, for no good reason? It doesn’t make sense; it’s a contradiction.
The new man in every child of God delights in His Law (Ro 7:22), because God’s writing them on our hearts and into our minds. (He 10:16) We meditate on them (Ps 119:97) and rejoice in them (Ps 119:14), being quickened, energized (Ps 119:93) and enlightened through them (Ps 119:104); they’re profoundly priceless to us, our litmus test for everything. (Is 8:20)
It’s so easy to deceive ourselves here it’s frightening. (Je 17:9) Our old man hates God’s Law and can’t submit to it (Ro 8:7), so we tend to dismiss it as optional and make up our own way as we go, reinventing Jesus as we wish Him to be, an idol of our own device, and place our affection there.
Let’s prove ourselves the way God says (2Co 13:5), in the light of His commands (Ps 119:105), putting on Christ and asking Him to incline our hearts to His Way (Ps 119:36), to enable us to cleave to Him, so that when He appears we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him. (1Jn 2:28)