God's word provides essential information we could not discover from other sources. It provides the proper framework with which we may apply other knowledge. God in His Word instructs mankind how to live. He commands us to live in harmony with His revealed way of life. God's laws define the true values, and He expects us to make them our own—rejecting any other alternative.
From beginning to end the Bible is a book of spiritual instruction. Its main focus is on God's spiritual law, which is embodied and summarized in the Ten Commandments. They are a reflection of God's mind and character. All biblical laws are expansions, case studies and detailed examples of how we are to love God and our fellowman.
How did Jesus Christ view the law of God?
"Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?' Jesus said to him. '"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. And the second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets'" (Matthew 22:35-40; compare Mark 12:28-31).
God's law is spiritual (Romans 7:14) and based on love. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments," wrote the apostle John. "And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3). God's law defines love and shows us how to love God and our neighbor. This great spiritual law may be likened to a riverbed. Providing a basic framework for daily living, it is a channel through which the love of God flows.
Both of the commandments Christ cited come from the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament. The "first and great commandment" is found in Deuteronomy 6:5 and the second in Leviticus 19:18. These are two of the five books of Moses. As Jesus Christ said, the teachings of the law and the prophets hang on these two great principles. They summarize the intent and purpose of Scripture.
What is the ultimate goal of this law of love?
"So the scribe said to Him [Jesus], 'Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.' Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, 'You are not far from the kingdom of God'" (Mark 12:32-34).
The purpose of God's law is to teach us how to live His way of life. When God knows we are committed to living that way, He will eventually grant us eternal life in the Kingdom of God—our ultimate goal.
Did Jesus Christ see this great law of love as a means to a majestic end?
"And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him [Jesus], saying, 'Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?' He said to him, 'What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?' So he answered and said, '"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."' And He [Jesus] said unto him, 'You have answered rightly; do this and you will live'" (Luke 10:25-28).
Everlasting life in God's Kingdom is the end result of fulfilling these two expressions of love by those who are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.
How does all this relate to the Ten Commandments?
"Now behold, one came and said to Him [Jesus], 'Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?' So He said to him, '. . . If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.' He said to Him, 'Which ones?' Jesus said, '"You shall not murder," "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "Honor your father and your mother," and, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself"'" (Matthew 19:16-19).
In answer to this young man's question, Jesus quoted five of the last six Commandments and then summed them all up by quoting the command to love our neighbor as well. The obvious conclusion is that loving our neighbor is a summary of the last six of the Ten Commandments. Accordingly, the first four of the Commandments tell us how to love God. This law is the perfect expression of God's eternal spiritual values.
Did the apostle Paul follow Christ's example in his teaching?
"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'You shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" (Romans 13:8-10).
Paul told others to follow him as he followed Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1, KJV). So he quoted five of the last six Commandments and finished up with the summary command to love our neighbor as ourselves. Love, wrote Paul, is the fulfilling of God's spiritual law.
This love expresses itself in worship and proper fear of God-and an outgoing concern for the welfare of our neighbors. This is the "royal law" of "liberty" (a liberation from sin and death) spoken of by the apostle James (James 2:8-12). Again, this law is the basis for right values and godly relationships. It defines the courtesy and conduct we owe one another as human beings.
But where do we obtain this kind of love?
"And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy [Spirit] which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5, KJV).
Only God's Spirit can impart His love to and through us. Other scriptures show that we must first repent of breaking God's law, then we are forgiven through the blood of Christ and we receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-39). For the whole fascinating story, be sure to request our free booklet The Road to Eternal Life.