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Bible verses about Love as Keeping Commandments
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 23:23

Why is mercy so weighty? Those who teach "grace only" apart from the law do not even see a need for mercy, since, to them, grace cancels any need for mercy. By their definition, mercy is automatic once they are "saved"! In theory, they can breeze through a "happy, happy, joy, joy" life with no fear of eternal consequences.

If that were true, why did Christ not make "grace" one of the weighty matters and leave out mercy? The Pharisees believed in keeping the law perfectly and being saved as a result. Modern Christianity teaches the law is done away, and all they need is saving grace, given when they "accept the Lord." Neither of these opposing approaches will work!

Staff
The Weightier Matters (Part 3): Mercy


 

John 8:42

They saw themselves as the sons of God due to the fact that they were the physical descendants of Abraham. Yet, Jesus rejects this by saying the proof that they are the sons of God is whether they love Him. If this was true for the Jews, it is also true for us. Though we may be sons of Abraham racially because we are part of the tribes of Israel, it fits us just as it fit the Jews. Abraham may be our father, but unless we have the love of God, He is not our spiritual Father. We find proof of our love for God in that we love Christ. His own advice: "If you love Me, keep the commandments" (John 14:15).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Loving Christ and Revelation 2:1-7


 

John 14:15

Having love does not nullify God's law. John, an apostle and close friend of Jesus Christ, emphasized love. However, not once did he say that love nullifies or supersedes the Ten Commandments. Indeed, by keeping the commandments, the love of God is perfected in us (I John 2:5). The Ten Commandments constitute a spiritual law that is inexorable and eternal, producing faith and happiness and righteous character that pleases God.

Martin G. Collins
The Ten Commandments


 

John 14:15

There is nothing difficult in what He says here. Do we love God? We can demonstrate that love just by doing what He says. This is a very simple principle. It might be hard to do, but it is not hard to understand.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sin of Self-Deception


 

John 14:15

We frequently quote I John 5:3, which says that love is the keeping of the law, and we often carry the concept of love no further. But there is a more precise and accurate approach that establishes that the love exists before the keeping of the commandments. Keeping the commandments is the response to what is already there. "If you already love Me," Jesus implies, "keep My commandments."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 5)


 

John 14:15

Within our relationship with God, a measure of reciprocity always exists, even though our part is but a tiny percentage of the overall amount. It must be this way because love cannot be one-sided, or the relationship will not exist for very long. This is a major reason why Jesus says in John 14:15, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." Obedience is the way we reciprocate His love toward us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part One)


 

Romans 2:1-12

In verse 1, Paul says that anybody participating even in some of the more easily mastered practices of human nature is putting himself on dangerous spiritual quicksand. Today, in the wake of the breakup of the Worldwide Church of God, a common judgment is to call Herbert Armstrong into account yet say at the end, "But I loved him." Those who do this have overlooked how vulnerable and subject to God's judgment this makes them.

Verse 2 carries Paul's warning a step further by reminding us that God judges according to truth. Those who judge and act as Paul describes in verse 1 have precious little truth. However, this major element gives God the right to judge. He alone knows all the facts and can arrange them all in the light of perfect righteousness.

He reveals in verse 3 the weak position of those judging: They are guilty of committing the same sins, or ones just as bad, as those they are judging! Paul is saying that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones! In fact, their judgment of others may be one of those sins! In verse 4, he counsels them to lay aside their pride and concentrate on making the best use of God's patience by repenting of their sins.

In verse 5, the apostle plays on the word "riches" in the previous verse. Physical wealth is something one normally sets aside and treasures, but those who persist in evil works are "treasuring up" judgment for themselves! Verses 6 through 11 are a classic argument for the doing of good works after justification from the mind and pen of the very man most often accused of saying no works are necessary.

Within the context of the entire book, Paul is saying here that, while a person is justified by grace through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, establishing a relationship with God that because of sin never before existed, good works should result from justification. Good works are the concrete, open, and public expression of the reality of our relationship with God. They are its witness.

Just as surely as day follows night, if our faith truly is in God, the works that follow will be according to God's will. Living by God's will should be the natural consequence of faith in God. Though we are justified by faith, II Corinthians 5:10 spells out that we are judged according to our works. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." Is it not logical, then, for a person, knowing he will be judged according to his works, to want at least some clearly stated absolutes to show him what is expected of him rather than a fuzzy and vague statement about loving one another? Would not such a person want to know more specifically what constitutes love?

In Romans 2:7, Paul is not saying using one's faith will be easy, but that those who have that faith will use it to work. "Patient continuance" presupposes a measure of hardship, and "seek" implies pursuing something not yet attained. Together, they indicate a persistent quest of God's righteousness. In verse 10, the apostle uses the phrase "to everyone who works what is good." He does not define what "good" is at this point, but whatever it is, work is necessary to accomplish it. In verses 11-12, he reiterates that we will be judged, introducing a word that many seem to find so repulsive: law!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Four): Obligation


 

Romans 5:5

Romans 5:5 says, "The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit." Thus, we did not have the love of God until we had His Spirit. Without God's Spirit, we could not possibly keep His commandments, for love is "keep[ing] His commandments" (I John 5:3). If we cannot keep His commandments, God cannot create His character in us, and He will not allow us to enter His Kingdom. Therefore, anyone not having His Spirit will not be there.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Final Harvest


 

Romans 13:8-10

Love is the essence of the spirit of God's law. The commandments are proscribed as rules of life. When we love, we have found the true principle of obedience, the true spirit of the holy law. Paul sums it all up in love. And we, having received the love of Christ, living in His love, see the law not as a stern, condemning taskmaster but as an appealing, bright vision of understanding and blessing.

We see the law embodied in Christ, and our imitation of Christ involves obedience to the law, but we fulfill the law, not simply as a standard outside, but as a living principle within. Acting according to the dictates of the way of love, our lives conform to the image of Christ, as we conform to the law. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.

Martin G. Collins
The Law's Purpose and Intent


 

Romans 13:10

Paul, apostle to the Gentiles, mentions the commandments frequently in his writings (Romans 1:18-25; 13:9; I Corinthians 10:7; Ephesians 6:1-2; Colossians 3:8; Hebrews 4:9). He summarizes the keeping of the last six as how to love our neighbor (Romans 13:10). If it is sin to break any of the last six that show love toward fellow man, most certainly it is sin to violate any of the first four that show love toward God.

Martin G. Collins
The Ten Commandments


 

Romans 13:10

If we really love another person, we cannot possibly injure him. Love would stifle at inception the thoughts that lead to murder, adultery, theft, deception, or any form of covetousness because love cannot hurt another in those ways. Therefore, it cannot break the laws designed to protect the other person. Love provides the right kind of coercion. Truly, God coerces people too, but He does it with love. There are times in our lives when our fear of God's power and what He can do to us are a positive force for good. But the overwhelming force, or power, that He uses is love.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love's Importance and Source


 

Galatians 5:4-6

What avails a person is faith working through love. These three verses are important because they introduce "Spirit" and that "faith works through love." Faith works. It works through—meaning "by means of"love. In other words, if a person really has faith in the right things and the right Person, what will he will produce? Love!

What is the Bible definition of love? "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments" (I John 5:3). That is beautiful! Similarly, Paul is saying that, if we really believe in the right things and the right Person (that is, have faith), then it will produce the keeping of the commandments.

The evidence of our faith, then, is in whether or not we keep His commandments. John tells us that the basis of love is commandment-keeping. It is not the whole picture, because emotion, feeling, is also tied to it, but we have to begin somewhere, and the bottom line is keeping the commandments.

Another statement that proves that Paul was not doing away with law- keeping comes right from this context. The word "Spirit" reflects on a subject he dealt with earlier. The enemyJudaistic Gnosticsbelieved that their calling and election by God came because they had the law and kept it. But Paul is saying, "No. We are drawn to God by His Spirit," which is what Jesus says in John 6:44.

Also, truth is revealed by God's Spirit (I Corinthians 2:10-16; John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13), so our calling has nothing to do with our works. Romans 9:16 tells us that it is not of him who wills or of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. Thus, we are in this position because God, by His Spirit, has drawn us. He, by His Spirit, has revealed Himself, His Word, and the purpose of life to us. Our calling and election are completely a work of grace. At the point of our calling, law-keeping has nothing to do with it, but comes into play later when our faith works through love.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 28)


 

Galatians 5:22

What is love? Keeping the commandments (I John 5:3). Does breaking the commandments bring joy? Are people happy when someone violates them in a rape or by breaking into their homes and robbing them? No. Joy comes when people keep the commandments because there is peace. They do not have to worry about somebody breaking into their homes or knocking them over the head on the street.

Paul is so far away from telling people that the law of God is done away that one wonders how in the world people can come to that conclusion—except we understand that their human nature is causing it. They do not want to be subject to the law of God (Romans 8:7). Their carnal mind has overpowered them and enslaved them. They are in bondage to it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 28)


 

Ephesians 5:1-2

Love is extremely rewarding yet also costly, since one who loves will sacrifice. Indeed, sacrifice is love's very essence.

We can illuminate Paul's thought in Ephesians 5:1-2 by placing it in a larger context. Note Ephesians 2:8-10:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Salvation indeed is a free gift; it cannot be earned by works. Yet, after saving us from our sins, God requires us to work! We are to perform work that He has laid out beforehand for us to accomplish. In fact, verse 10, standing by itself, asserts that to do these good works is the very reason we have received justification!

This verse, in the phrase, "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus," also says that God, in turn, is working on us. Before being saved, we were not in Christ Jesus. God's creative processes brought us into Christ, and once there, He continues to shape and form us into His Son's image (II Corinthians 3:18).

We are being formed, shaped, and molded by our Creator and Savior to become Christ-like. What kinds of work are required of us for this to happen?

As he progresses toward his statement in Ephesians 5:1-2, Paul says in Ephesians 4:17-18:

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk [live your life] as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart. . . .

Is it twisting these verses to say that Paul is commanding these converted and already-saved people to work to sacrifice their lives as Christ did? Doing what he commands takes the work of consciously praying, studying, investigating, and meditating on God's Word to remove a person's ignorance and blindness. It also takes the additional hard work of resisting Satan, human nature, and the world to implement what is learned into daily life.

Such labor will be very pleasing to God, but in no way does it earn us salvation! Moreover, this is clearly obeying God's command. Even though it is not one of the Ten Commandments, it nonetheless expresses God's will for His children after they have been saved from past sins.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Is the Christian Required to Do Works? (Part One)


 

Hebrews 11:4

As the Bible records history, Abel is the first human to offer a sacrifice to God. The Bible gives no indication that he was following what was then popular among the children of Adam and Eve, nor that he was following "common sense," human reason, or his feelings. Undoubtedly, God had instructed Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel in His truth. Abel stands out because he offered by faith. He believed the specific instruction given to him, while neither Cain nor anybody else did. His motivation is what set Abel apart; he believed without twisting what God taught.

Recall that Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Faith in God must have a foundation, and listening is the means by which that foundation is formed. At this point, it is important to understand what Paul—and of course, God—mean by "faith." There are two general kinds of faith: "dead" and "living," as James terms them.

When James calls the one "dead," he is in no way saying that whoever has that faith is stupid. In fact, they may be quite intellectual—"smart," as we might say. He means that, in relation to God, they do not have living or active faith. We can illustrate the difference this way: Suppose two people receive exactly the same instruction from the Word of God; both have been informed as to what He requires. The difference between the person with dead faith and the one with living faith is that the latter is influenced to submit to what he has learned. The one with dead faith remains only informed.

Thus, the person with dead faith may enjoy using his biblical knowledge to discuss and even to argue for or against a given concept. However, it remains only information because the influences to submit and do something in relation to God are lacking. He cannot honestly be said to believe, even though the information he has may be quite extensive and true. By contrast, the person with living faith believes and submits, making active use of the godly information to change his life.

The person with dead faith hears outwardly; the person with living faith hears outwardly and inwardly and yields to it, believing it. This latter person also has what the Bible calls "the faith." Paul writes in Galatians 5:6 that this faith works by or through love. What is love? I John 5:3 declares, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome." Love is obedience to God.

Thus, living faith is belief in God that keeps the commandments. Living faith produces growth. It is this faith that is in view throughout Hebrews 11. In the case of Abel, the Word of God that he heard is most likely what God spoke to Adam and Eve. Abel, in turn, heard it from them and believed it. Cain heard the same words and was merely informed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Three)


 

James 2:11-13

James highlights the importance of mercy in keeping the spirit of the law. He exhorts us to speak and act as those who are to be judged by "a law of liberty," so that he sets no limit to the range of the law—meaning it covers all aspects of life.

In James 4:11, he warns us against speaking against the law or judging the law, that is, to assume the place of judge instead of "doer of the law." Our efforts should not be in judging someone else and whether or not they are keeping the law. However, we should be looking inwardly to determine whether or not we are doing what is required—not only in the letter of the law but especially in its spirit.

James would not have used such language unless he had a profound conviction of the perfection of the law as a rule of life for the saints redeemed from its condemnation. Thus, we can call it the perfect law of liberty—the royal law. Many Christians do not look at the law of God as being perfect. They pick and choose which parts of the law they will obey, ones they feel most comfortable with, and they ignore the rest. Yet the apostle says in James 2:10 that if we break one, we break them all.

All sin is lawlessness, as I John 3:4 states, and the sum of all lawkeeping is love of God and love of the brethren (Matthew 22:36-40; Romans 13:8-10), so the summary of the old law is echoed and endorsed. And it is continued—because Christ did not come to destroy the law but to magnify it (Matthew 5:17-18; Isaiah 42:21).

Martin G. Collins
The Law's Purpose and Intent


 

1 John 2:8-11

Consider these verses in relation to the meal offering, representing the devoted keeping of the last six commandments. Hating a brother would be breaking those commandments in relation to him. It might involve murdering him, breaking the marriage bond through adultery, stealing from him, lying to or about him, or lusting after him or his possessions.

Verse 10 parallels Psalm 119:165 exactly when it says, "But he who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him." I John 5:3 defines love: "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome." The New Testament strongly affirms that loving one's brother is keeping God's commandments in relation to him, and this provides us strong assurance and stability along the way.

I John 2:11 then shows that the blindness of darkness envelops the eyes of one who hates his brother, that is, breaks God's commandments in relation to him. This blindness produces stumbling and fighting, and thus he has no peace.

It is particularly disturbing if the brother spoken of in these verses also happens to be one's spouse, father, or mother. Old people today stand a high chance of being shunted off into a convalescent or old-age home, if only for the convenience of the adult children. Is that honoring a parent, or is it in some way contemptuous? Are the children unwilling to make sacrifices even for those who brought them into the world? Will this course of action produce peace? Will it produce a sense of well-being in either party?

John says, "He who loves his brother abides in the light" (verse 10), implying that love produces its own illumination. Illumination is what enables a person to see in the dark. Light contrasts to the darkness, blindness, and ignorance of verse 11, which result in stumbling. Illumination indicates understanding and the ability to produce solutions to relationship problems. The difficult part is laying ourselves out in sacrifice to express love. If we fail to do this, we may never see solutions to our relationship problems.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Five): The Peace Offering, Sacrifice, and Love


 

1 John 5:3

Romans 3 teaches us that law tells us our duty, that is, what we are obliged to do. It defines right and wrong. Combined with this is the wonderful Personality behind it: We find that the keeping these commands—His law—teaches us God's greatest attribute. The law does two things: It shows negative things and positive things. The negative is what sin—wrongdoing—is. The positive is love—the love of God.

His law is a reflection of His character in words. It points the way toward what we are to become. Answer this simple question: Does God call people to salvation and then throw away the road map? It is ridiculous to think such a thing.

The law has a Personality behind it—in terms of love. The law provides the basic outline, and then, when combined with the examples of God's living and acting in both Testaments, it presents a full picture of love. God's actions and Christ's example amplify and make practical what the law says in words.

One has to begin somewhere, and this the law does in providing us with its letter. Then there is its spirit, which is the magnification of the letter, but it does not do away with the law. The law, then, is not only the guideline to what is right and wrong, but the law is also the guideline—in words—to what love is.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 17)


 

Revelation 2:2

The implication from Revelation 2:2, 7 is that the works of which Christ is concerned are the works of overcoming—overcoming human nature or, as in I John 2:15-17, overcoming "the lust of the flesh, the lust of eyes, and the pride of life." In addition, we must work to overcome the persecutions, deceits, and persuasions of Satan and the influences of the world.

Using God's love is hard work because there is a constant downward pull in these three areas: the self, the world, and Satan. The influence to go that way is always there. It is constant.

It was no accident, no coincidence, that Christ places the message to Ephesus first in order, and that its subject is love in context with overcoming. Christ says in John 14:15, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." It takes the love of God to keep the commandments in the spirit—in their intent—and it is love working and active when they are kept. I John 5:3 says, "This is the love of God, that you keep His commandments." So, when we keep His commandments, we are expressing love. It is working, in action.

If a person's love for Christ—keeping the commandments—diminishes, what happens? If the love for Christ diminishes, does that not imply the keeping the commandments will be less frequent? Doing the right works will begin to diminish. Here is the connection between love and right works. If the love is present, the right works will be produced.

If a person loses his love for Christ altogether, he is in bad trouble—"Goodbye, Christianity! Sayonara!" That is the end.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Loving Christ and Revelation 2:1-7


 

 




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