The Hopelessness and Hope of the Greatest Commandments

There are no commandments in the Bible more devastating than the two that Jesus said are the greatest:

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew [22:37]–-39)

If I ever thought I was a pretty good person, these commandments destroy that delusion.

Condemning Commandments

I have never once kept even the first clause of the foremost commandment: “you shall love the Lord your God withall your heart.” At the very best moments of my life, when my affections for God have been the highest and my devotion the strongest, my heart has been polluted with the indwelling sin of selfishness. And I am rarely at my highest and strongest.

When added to all my heart is all my soul (everything that animates my physical and emotional being) and allmy mind (every thought and intellectual desire), I am thrice condemned. Heart, soul, and mind overlap to cover my entire self. I have never, ever loved God entirely.

And then, if one impossible command wasn’t enough, Jesus adds toDeuteronomy 6:5 the impossible command of Leviticus [19:18]: “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” I have never once loved my neighbor as myself. The pathological selfishness resident in me makes loving even those I love the most impossible to love as myself. I have to repent daily for some way I sinfully put myself before around me.

When held to the standard of these commandments, I see that

“I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans [7:22]–24)

Written by Jon Bloom
Read more at Desiring God

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