The Ten Commandments are laid out for us in Exodus 20, and I find it most interesting that the word “Love” does not appear anywhere in those Commandments. The Ten Commandments are supposed to be our roadmap to living life, God’s way. And, as we all know, Love is both the action and the fulfillment of life, so why did God leave Love out of the Ten Commandments? Surely, He did not make a mistake in not mentioning, or requiring, Love in the Ten Commandments! If life is all about Love, how are the Ten Commandments even relevant to Love, realistic to consider in life?
It takes some spiritual maturity to sort this out, I think. Many Christians have read Matthew 22: 37-39: “Jesus said to him (the lawyer), 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 greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” and concluded that Jesus, in His earthly ministry, brought this message of Love to the world. And He did bring the message of Love to the world, but it was a message that was not new in the New Testament. The message of Love which Jesus, in His earthly ministry, brought to the world, was a continuation of the message of love from the Old Testament. Look at Deuteronomy 6: 4-6, “Hear, O Israel, The Lord your God is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.” And look at Leviticus 19: 18b, “. . . you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”
These are the exact core of the Great Commandment of Matthew 22: 37-39. Then, Jesus said something in clarification. In Matthew 27: 40, Jesus said “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.” Well, these two commandments are not even in the Ten Commandments, but the Ten Commandments are the foundation of all that Jewish law in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, so how do the Ten Commandments and all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments? Oh, and what does it mean to “hang”?
Let’s consider this hanging thing, first. When we put a picture or a mirror on the wall, we usually say that we “hang” it there, right? What does that mean? That the wall is a structure to which the picture or mirror can be attached and from which it will not ordinarily fall down, and on which it can perform its function – to be looked at!
So, this suggests that Love is the wall, or structure, if you will, on which all the Law and the Prophets hang. When you see it this way, it makes perfect sense, at least logically. To this wall of Love, the Law and the Prophets are attached and from this wall, the Law and the Prophets will not fall down, and on this wall the Law and the Prophets can perform their God-ordained functions!
When you look back at the Ten Commandments, you note that the first four of those Ten Commandments lay out the rules for our relationship with God, and the next six of those Ten Commandments lay out the rules for our relationship with people. Well, logically, these are the same two categories – God and people – addressed in Deuteronomy 6: 5 and Leviticus 19:18, and summarized and explained by Jesus in Matthew 22: 37-40.
And the Prophets – what do they do? Gene Lanier went over that with us a few weeks ago: (I Corinthians 14: 4) “He who prophesies edifies the church.” The prophets edify – strengthen, build up, in knowledge, discernment, understanding and divine wisdom, the church. The prophets do not strengthen or edify by adding more rebar to the church or by stiffening the mortar mixture of the church. The prophets don’t do anything physical – they just speak and obey God, and in so doing they manifest faith, courage and strength, and they share with the church God’s knowledge, discernment, understanding and divine wisdom. For it is in knowing those things, those insights, that we who are the church, and who are in the church, know God’s will, and God’s warnings so we can stay on His track, or get back on it, as a church, as a people, as persons, of God. In other words, in bringing us to God’s will and God’s warnings, the Prophets bring us back to God’s Law and to the Ten Commandments.
I see the Ten Commandments as somewhat like our Constitution, in America. The Ten Commandments provide the framework, the reference point, the philosophy, if you will of life as God has ordained it. The Laws just add the detail of rules and consequences for specific details of life.
Now, here is where we can see how Love fits in and how it all works together – Love, the Ten Commandments, the Law and the Prophets.
This tie-in of Love to all this is because of the reality of impossibility. It is impossible for a person to comply with the law, in spirit and letter, or to comply with the Ten Commandments, or to heed the words of the Prophets as to God’s will and warning, unless that person loves God and loves his neighbors. Because, the reality is, even with that Love, we cannot be perfect – only God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit – are perfect in all their ways. But if we have that Love, then in our hearts we do not lord it over either our neighbors or God! And that’s the thing, because Love is founded on a heart attitude of humility before God and our neighbors. And if we don’t have that heart attitude of humility, we can serve neither our neighbors nor God. And here is the kicker: God knows our hearts, and without that humility in which we are called to walk, we cannot walk in repentance, and without repentance, and God’s sure mercies, His faithfulness to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness, we stand eternally convicted before Him or our sins in our failures to comply with the Ten Commandments and the Law, with His will and His prophetic warnings. Yet, if we love Him enough to be repentant, then we will not have covetously put ourselves and trivial gods of our lives before and above Him, and we will have no superiority attitude towards any of our neighbors.
God uses circumstances resulting from our poor choices to humble us before Him and mankind (our neighbors). Many people act with anger and hate when embarrassed by the circumstances resulting from their poor choices, and they do so because they are firm in their heart errors, as they choose to cling to self- righteousness instead of the righteousness of God!
When we are humbled by the knowledge of our failures, and by the knowledge of God’s perfection and His mercy extended through the atoning Blood of Christ, God is offering us His Love, which we can only accept by choosing Love rather than self as the action and the fulfillment of our lives.
That is why in Psalm 91: 14, we see that Love is based on choice, and God calls His bride, His church, and those in it to choose, and to choose firmly, to Love Him and in Loving Him to Love our neighbors: “ Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My Name.” To set our Love is to choose where we are going to put it, like the wall, so the Law of our lives, and the prophetic voices God sends to us can “hang” on that wall of Love, and we can be the people God created us to be and we can do the things he purposed and purposes for us to do in His Will and Sovereignty!
You know the basics of the sinner’s road to salvation, and I encourage you this morning to take another step in maturity and gain knowledge, understanding, discernment and divine wisdom, that if you will choose to set, and if you will apply that choice in your lives, and SET your love on Jesus, He will deliver you from your sin and from the grasp of the enemy and his agents, and He, not you, will SET you on high. If you Set your Love on God, through Jesus, He, not you, will elevate you for His eternal purposes and glory. And the rest of Psalm 91 will be fulfilled in your lives: Verses 14-16, “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My Name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.” Then, when trouble comes, even from your own mistakes, you will stand in the Hall of Faith with David and so many other great men and women of God, as David expressed it in Psalm 31: 9-16, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; my eye wastes away with grief, yes, my soul and my body! For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity; and my bones waste away. I am a reproach among all my enemies, but especially among my neighbors (those whom we love like ourselves!), and I am repulsive to my acquaintances (more neighbors!), those who see me outside (more neighbors) flee from me. I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel. For I hear the slander of many; fear is on every side; while they take counsel against me, they scheme to take away my life. But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me. Make your face shine upon Your servant; save me for Your mercies’ sake (not my own).”
The price of God’s Love is simple: it is your Love. Don’t you want gladly and cheerfully to pay that price to set your Love on Jesus, to Love God and to Love your neighbors? Don’t you wan to have the sure mercies of God, the sure forgiveness of your sins, the sure deliverance from Satan and from all your other enemies, the sure deliverance from the sins of your mere flesh, the sure certainty of eternal life in the New Jerusalem?
Jesus, summed it this way in Luke 17: 33, “ Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” Today is a day, today is the day, for you to examine yourself, with this simple question: Have I set my love on Jesus? If so, great, and hang in there! And, if not, then build a wall of love and then hang in there!!