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Law - What Is the Greatest Commandment?
Tomorrow's World Magazine
January 1971
Volume: Vol III, No. 01
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Law - What Is the Greatest Commandment?
William F Dankenbring   
Church of God

Member Since: 1957
Ambassador College: 1963
Office: ACE

Master of Arts Degree from Ambassador.

   MANY people today believe Christians are under a NEW law — a law which says "love one another" and "love your brother as yourself." They look upon the laws in the Old Testament, including the Ten Commandments, as the rigorous bondage of an ancient religion.
   Christ, they claim, brought a NEW law — one of "love."
   Is this true? Many assume it must be. They've never looked into it for themselves, but they assume Jesus did away with the Ten Commandments. They've even heard ministers speak of the "Terrible Ten."
   But wait a minute. Let's take a good look at the Ten Commandments, and see what's so terrible about them.
   The first commandment states we should have no god before the true God. The second states we should not make idols to worship. The third states we shouldn't take God's name in vain. What's so terrible about those commandments?
   Notice the fifth commandment: "Honor your father and mother" (Ex. 20:12, Goodspeed). Is that so bad? Or the sixth: "You must not commit murder" (verse 13). What's wrong with that law? The seventh commandment forbids adultery, the eighth prohibits theft, the ninth proscribes lying, and the tenth states we must not greedily covet the possessions of somebody else (verses 14-17).
   Just pondering these commandments and their practical application to our "modern" problems, we should see clearly that they are not at all the rigorous bondage of an ancient religion. They are GOOD commandments! Society is suffering, today, because of their VIOLATION — not because of their being observed!
   But, millions assume, Christ did away with the Ten Commandments — the "Terrible Ten" — and brought us a NEW law, a law of LOVE. What is the truth?
   Did the law of LOVE begin with Christ, in the New Testament? The shocking truth of the matter is that the Bible teaches LOVE from Genesis to Revelation. Although few people realize it, in the laws given in the third book of the OLD Testament — in the book of Leviticus — we read God's command: "Thou shalt LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF" (Lev. 19:18).
   Prepare for another shock. In Deuteronomy 6:5 God told Moses:"And thou shalt LOVE THE LORD THY GOD with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." That's in the OLD Testament! Obviously, the Law of LOVE was known in Old Testament times, long before Jesus Christ was born of the virgin Mary. Therefore, Christ's "NEW Law" of loving one another wasn't really new at all! The whole basis of God's Law, from the very beginning, has been to LOVE GOD and to LOVE ONE ANOTHER!
   The Apostle John himself asserted that this was not really a NEW commandment. He wrote: "Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, bt4t an 0L.D commandment which ye had from the beginning" (I John 2:7). He explained: "For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another" (I John 3:11).
   That's the SUM TOTAL of the message of God in the Bible. But, just what IS "love"? People often make up their own definitions. Some think love is sex. Some say love is affection or strong emotion. What does the Bible say?
   Is there a verse in the Bible that says, "Love is," and then goes on to define the word for us? Yes, there is! In fact, twice in the New Testament we have the word "love" defined for us. Notice! The Apostle Paul (apostle to the Gentiles) wrote: "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love IS the fulfilling of the law" (Rom. 13:10). In other words, love is fulfilling — that is filling full, keeping, observing, doing — God's commandments! The Apostle John, often called the apostle of love, also wrote and told us what the love of God is. He said: "For this IS the love of God, THAT WE KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS..." (I John 5:3).
   How clear it should be. From the very beginning, God taught that we should love Him and love one another. That's the basis of His Law. But HOW can we show forth that love? Again, God tells us in His Word. We show forth true love, the love of God, by keeping all His Commandments, which tell us HOW to show love. The first four of the Ten Commandments tell us HOW to love God; the last six tell us HOW to love our neighbor (by not lying, stealing, committing murder, etc.).
   God's Law of love has always been in force. It is in force, today. If we break God's Law, and transgress any of the Ten Commandments, then we are not showing forth true love!
   As Paul wrote to the Romans: "... the love of God [which KEEPS His Commandments) is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Rom. 5:5). God's Spirit provides power to keep God's Commandments — to manifest true love. His Spirit enables us to fulfill the righteousness of the Law (Rom. 8:4).
   Finally, we go to the inspired words of Jesus Christ Himself. And we are not going to be interested in what certain theologians say that He said. Rather we are going to be "naive" enough to believe that Jesus did in fact say what He Himself really wanted to say.
   In Matthew 22:35-36, a lawyer came to Christ with a question: "Master, which is the great commandment in the Law?" Jesus answered that the first great commandment is to love God with our whole being (verses 37-38) and the second great commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves (verse 39). And this is where many religionists conclude their explanation, thereby leaving the distinct impression that these two great commandments pre-empt, antiquate and eliminate all other previous commandments, namely the "Big Ten."
   Now we have a question. Why do these theologians cut Christ off in the middle of His thought? Why is His last and concluding sentence left out? Was it an oversight? Or was it done "conveniently"?
   Well, let's read Matthew 22:40: "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets"! In other words, God's entire law is still in force — and it is being supported by the two great commandments, which are simply the two fundamental principles underlying the Ten Commandments, the first great commandment underlying the first four of the "Big Ten" and the second great commandment underlying the latter six of the "Big Ten."
   Isn't it time we all began showing forth the TRUE LOVE of God — the love which OBEYS God's Law — the love which KEEPS His Commandments?

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Tomorrow's World MagazineJanuary 1971Vol III, No. 01
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