July 15, 2018 * Mike Bickle
LOVING JESUS: The First Commandment Established in First Place
I. THE CALL TO LOVE GOD WITH ALL OF OUR HEART
A. The Holy Spirit’s first priority is to establish the first commandment in first place in the Church. Jesus’ statement in Mt. 22 is one of the most significant statements in Scripture. It challenges me more than any other verse, and has so many implications: it reveals God’s personality, our value, how we function, our destiny, and how we view and value others (since God loves them deeply).
37 “‘You shall love the Lord…with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment.” (Mt. 22:37-38; cf. Deut. 6:5; 30:6).
B. The first commandment starts not with us, but with God’s love for His people. He loves us with all His heart and with the same intensity that He loves in the fellowship of the Trinity (Jn. 15:9). “Abiding in love” means regularly realigning our hearts to focus on and live in the love of God.
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” (Jn. 15:9)
C. The Father’s eternal purpose for creation includes providing a loving family for Himself and an eternal companion for His Son—an equally yoked Bride. The grace to receive God’s love and love Him in return is the greatest gift the Spirit imparts (Rom. 5:5). It “takes God to love God.”
D. Jesus’ statement was both an exhortation and a prophecy that gives insight into the Father’s plan. This is the ultimate purpose for which God created the human race. God first exhorted Israel to love Him with all their heart through Moses (Deut. 6:5), and years later Moses prophesied of Israel loving God with all their heart in the end times (Deut. 30:1-6).
6 “The Lord…will circumcise your heart…to love the Lord…with all your heart.” (Deut. 30:6)
E. We must love God on His terms. Jesus defined loving God as being rooted in a spirit of obedience and faithfulness (Jn. 14:15-21). “Keeping” His commands and assignments for our life includes not quitting in our wholehearted pursuit of God in the face of difficulty.
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (Jn. 14:15)
F. One battlefront in our culture concerns how we define love. We must define it on God’s terms but the enemy promotes false definitions of love to lure the Church from loving God.
G. Jesus elaborated on Moses’ exhortation and prophecy by adding two words—first and great. Without understanding that God is committed to helping us walk in the first commandment, we can be confused about His leadership. His first priority is that we would grow in love. Yet, it is natural for our primary goals to be related to our life being easy, happy, and popular.
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H. First: Jesus did not call this the first option, but the first command. God’s first priority and the Spirit’s first emphasis is for His people is to cultivate wholehearted love for God.
I. Great: Cultivating love for Jesus has the greatest impact on God’s heart and our heart. It is the greatest calling —it is one of the greatest miracles in fallen humanity.
II. LOVING GOD WITH ALL OUR HEART
A. We are to fully engage and be enthusiastic about pursuing Jesus and obeying His Word. Some search for ways to obey and seek Jesus less, looking for ways to give less of themselves, their time, and money to Him. Some are dutiful in serving Him, but disengaged at the heart level.
B. We can “set” our love or affections on anything we choose. Our emotions will eventually follow whatever we set ourselves to pursue wholeheartedly. We can “set” our love on God by determining that the primary dream (purpose) of our heart is to walk in the first commandment.
14“Because he has set his love [heart] upon Me, therefore I will deliver him” (Ps. 91:14)
C. David set his heart to love God (Ps. 18:1). One of the most important decisions in our Christian life is when we intentionally determine that the “primary dream” of our life is to live in the first commandment. Our “primary dream” is what we most often talk to God about.
1“I will love You, O LORD, my strength” (Ps. 18:1).
III. LOVING GOD WITH ALL OUR MIND
A. We can fill our mind with things that inspire love for God or that diminish our capacity to love Him. What we do with our mind greatly affects our ability to receive and express love.
B. We show our love for God by taking time to fill our mind with His Word (so that we come into greater agreement with truth) and by refusing to feed our mind on darkness and lust (Job 31:1).
IV. LOVING GOD WITH ALL OUR STRENGTH
A. We can express love for God in the way we use our strengths and natural resources (time, money, energy, talents, words, influence). We tend to use our strength to increase our honor, personal comfort, etc. But God takes pleasure in the small things that His people do to invest their strength in ways that express love for Him and help others to love Him (Heb. 6:10).
B. We love God with our strength as we actively do the things that Jesus set forth in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7)—serving, giving (6:1-4, 19-21), praying (6:5-13), and forgiving (6:14), etc.
V. LOVING GOD WITH ALL OUR SOUL
A. We realign our identity based on our relationship with God rather than on our accomplishments and the recognition we receive. Our identity is determined by the way we define our success and value and, thus, by how we see ourselves. When we get our identity from our accomplishments, recognition, or our failures, we end up in an emotional storm from being preoccupied with self.
B. We express love for God when we consciously realign our identity to agree with His love, truth, and investment in our lives. Our primary success is in being ones whom God loves and who love God, confessing, “I am loved (by God) and I am a lover (of God), therefore I am successful.”
1. What priority does the First Commandment have in your life?
2. How can you practically love God more with your heart?
3. How can you practically love God more with your mind?
4. How can you love God more practically with your strength?
5. How do you define success in your life?