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Deuteronomy 6:5

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Anyone who studies the law of God diligently will have to confess the comprehensive scope of the Lord’s commandments. We are bound to take God’s will into account in every circumstance, for Scripture calls us to glorify our Creator “whether [we] eat or drink, or whatever [we] do” (1 Cor. 10:31). The law of God addresses every area of life without exception.

Because the Lord’s requirements are comprehensive, it takes a lifetime to learn how we are to obey Him properly. Fortunately, as the fourth question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism explains, Jesus gives us a summary of what God demands of us that we can use to guide our lives even when we have not yet explored all the particulars of the law of the Lord. Our Savior tells us in Mark 12:28–30 that the most important commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He gets this rule from the passage we have chosen for today’s study (Deut. 6:5).

We must first note that in explaining that love for God is the most important law of all, neither Jesus nor Moses is saying that everything will be all right if we fail to keep the Lord’s other commandments. In fact, we demonstrate our love for our Creator by keeping His statutes (John 14:15), which tells us that all of God’s commandments are actually tangible ways to express our love for Him. Thus, there is nothing in the moral law of the Lord that is optional for human beings.

What we are to understand in seeing love for the Lord as the most important commandment is that we have not really followed Him if love for God and His glory does not motivate our obedience. This was the error of the Pharisees, who thought they were pleasing the Lord but, generally speaking, were more interested in making themselves look good to others (Matt. 23:1–36). Yet we should not be too hard on the Pharisees unless we are equally hard on ourselves; the truth of the matter is that our own attempts at obedience are more often than not motivated by a desire to make ourselves look holier than we are. As Dr. R.C. Sproul has often told us, there is no naturalborn son or daughter of Adam who has ever, even for one moment, loved God wholeheartedly. So, it is clear that the law of God points out our sin and misery even in its summary form. We cannot even keep the “simple” command to love our Creator.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Though it is better to obey God’s commands without a conscious attitude of love for the Lord than to fail to do them entirely, we have nevertheless failed to meet God’s standard if love for Him is not our primary motivation in all things. So as we try to follow God’s law, let us also try to consider how what we are doing shows forth love for Him. And let us be quick to repent when we are motivated by anything less than wholehearted affection for Him.

For Further Study
  • Hosea 6:6
  • Luke 11:42
  • 2 Timothy 3:1–5
  • 1 John 5:3

    The Lives of the Saints

    The Right Attitude toward Others

    Keep Reading The Apocalypse of John

    From the January 2012 Issue
    Jan 2012 Issue