We hear much today about the Word of God, the commands of God, and the instructions from our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
If something is a command of God– to disobey that command would be a sin. It has gotten to the place that many things which are sin and no longer considered sin. And then there are some things we call sin which really aren’t sin. The first and greatest commandment of the Lord, according to Jesus Christ, Himself, is found in chapter 22 of the Gospel of Matthew in verses 34-40, and is an explanation of this: “But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God. . . .” Notice, He did not say some god or just God, but thou shalt love the Lord thy God. Our Lord and Saviour is Jesus Christ, and He taught us that His Father was the God of all the earth. Of course, we believe in a Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost–not three Gods, but one God. But Jesus is saying “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. . . .”
Loving God with all of your heart is good for your heart. It will help heal your heart. Just loving Him will help you! He first loved us, but learning to love Him is good for the heart.
Jesus said, “. . . and with all thy soul. . . .” Your soul is your character. It is who you are–yourself. It strengthens your character to love God. It helps you to overcome the flaws of every human being’s soul. We are a soul, and we have a body. The soul is what needs to be strengthened and given real character.
Then Jesus says, “. . . and with all thy mind.” Look at II Timothy 2:15. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed. . . .”
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” If you love someone as you love yourself, the first things you would want for them would be for them to be saved.
When the lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus told him the story of a man going from Jerusalem to Jericho who fell among thieves, and they beat him, stripped him, and left him half dead. Two different people came by: one a priest and one a Levite. They both looked at him and went on down the road.
Then a Samaritan came along. A Samaritan would be a long way from home. Samaria is on the other side of the island from what we call the Holy Land. Samaria is where the Jews fled when they split; and, therefore, were looked down on by the Orthodox Jew, you might say. I won’t go into that except to say that he was a long way from home. This was not really somebody who lived next door to him, but it was someone who needed his help, so he became a neighbor to him.
He first saved him, he got him up. He wanted salvation for him. He poured in oil and wine for healing! Salvation is having good health in your soul.
He provided security. The Samaritan carried him down to the inn and placed him in a secure place to be looked after. He asked them to look after him, take care of him. He gave them some money when he left him and said if it costs more than what I’ve given you, put it on my account, and I’ll pay it when I come back. What is owed was put on Jesus’ account!
Now that is being a good neighbor. That is loving your neighbor as yourself. You want him saved, you want him to have good health, you want him to have salvation, you want him to be secure. That is what we are required to give. Love answers that.
Even as Jesus was going away, He taught two commandments. John 13:34: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” And, Matthew 28:19-20: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. . . .” Both commandments concerning reaching out as He reached out for you!
These are commandments. The Bible says that Christ was not only the God of love and the founder of Christianity (which is founded on love), but He was full of grace and truth.
We are to have grace. We are to have grace toward those who are unbelievers. We are to care for them. We are to try to be a good neighbor to them. We are to give them the Gospel message to help them become saved, to help them to have salvation, to point them to The One Who can give them salvation. We are to lead them to Him, Christ, confessing that we ourselves cannot do it, but Christ, Himself, can do it. We can bring them to Him.
Then we are to have grace one to another. Now, there are Christians (at least they say they are Christians and hopefully they are) who have a creed or a religion that takes away grace, or at least minimizes it. They have grace toward a sinner, but they don’t have grace toward brothers and sisters in Christ.
Denominational lines are created built up by creeds. Denominations have creeds that establish religion to hold them together. I have said this about Baptists many times. I am a Baptist by conviction. I am a Baptist because I believe the Articles of Faith of the Baptist. There are one or two of them that I question, but I believe the doctrine and teaching of the Baptist.
I just have a problem with a lot of their religion. I like to quote the great Baptist, Charles Spurgeon. When he was asked, “What is your religion? What is your creed? He said, “Well, my creed is Jesus Christ!”
We are not to have a set of rules which rule out grace and love and mercy! When we start using judgement of people–judging their hearts, their motives, and their intent, then we are doing exactly what Christ taught us not to do. Matthew 7:1-2 says: “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged. . . .”
So, if He commands us not to judge, is it a sin to judge? [He teaches all of the ten commandments except one. He does not teach us to keep the Sabbath day Holy, because he knew that on His resurrection a new era would be established. After His resurrection, we would worship on the Lord’s Day. That is when we come to worship and get instructions and directions. Then, we go out of the assembly to be servants and to be neighbors to the world ].
We don’t need to judge people because of the denomination they are in. I have met and read after some of the deepest, richest Christians who were Presbyterian. Some were Missionary Alliance. I have met some great Christians who were Methodist, and you could worship with them and rejoice with them at the Cross. There are other places you can’t agree with them, but that does not take away from your fellowship at the Cross of Calvary.
We have a lot of people now who have no grace who claim to be Christians. I have no reason to say they are not Christians, but they are not practicing a Christian thing when they condemn people who don’t believe exactly as they believe. If we are true to the Doctrine of Christ and if we are true believers in Christ, then we are brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are not to set our brother at naught. I think probably that would be a sin! Sowing discard among the brethren is an abomination according to the Word of God.
Thank God for His commandments! The Bible says His commandments are not grievous. The commands to love one another, to care for one another, to be good neighbors to one another are commandments. And, I believe when we miss the mark, miss the command, or disobey that commandment, it is sin.
And, I will tell you what it will do. If you are born again and if you are a spiritual person: violating the commandments of God concerning love, grace, mercy and being a good neighbor, will zap the Holy Spirit. That could explain why there is a lot of dry dead Baptist religion.
I hope what I am saying will help you. I sometimes struggle with the part that says love thy neighbor as thyself. I really don’t have a struggle with the command to love God with all my heart. I know He deserves that. To glorify God, to love him with all your heart, to try to serve him with everything you have is a wonderful experience! I have not attained the fullness that I desire, but I have gotten close enough to that love to be so blessed, I could hardly bear myself, stand myself. May these words strengthen you and challenge you.