Matthew 22:36-39 “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.”
Jesus revealed that all of the Old Testament laws were designed to instruct us how to love God and love others. Therefore, the two commands that dealt directly with loving God and others, Leviticus 19:18 and Deuteronomy 6:5, were the most important.
The religious leaders had become so obsessed with keeping every minor detail of the law that they had lost sight of its ultimate purpose. They neither loved God nor their fellow man, yet they thought they were keeping the law.
The same thing is happening today. Some of the cruelest acts of men towards their fellow men have been done in the name of the Lord by people who thought they were defending God’s holy commandments. However, if we violate one of the two greatest commandments in an effort to enforce some other commandment, then we are misapplying God’s Word just as these religious Jews did.
The Old Testament law and the New Testament concept of grace compels men to the same end, that is to love God and their fellowmen. However, the motivations to this end are different. The Old Testament law motivated men to love God and their fellowman through fear of punishment if they failed to comply. The New Testament concept of grace freely gives men a God-kind of love that is unconditional and tells them to love others as they are loved.
It is possible to display actions of holiness, but not love God. It is impossible for God’s kind of love not to produce holiness. Holiness is a fruit and not a root of loving God.