5.2 God's commandments–an expression of His love

God is love (1 John 4:16), and His commandments are an expression of His love. The purpose of the commandments is to help human beings live in accordance with God's will and in harmonious relationships with one another. God's commandments are to guide us to "love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith" (1 Timothy 1: 5).


God has created and blessed mankind. He has loved man right from the start. His preserving love also extends to the fallen creation. All of God's activity of salvation is founded upon His love. It was out of love that He chose the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 7: 7-8). In the commandments He proclaims His will to this people for their protection. It is also to this people, through whom all nations are to be blessed, that God sends His Son, Jesus Christ, as the highest expression of His love for the world (John 3: 16).


Jesus Christ also refers to the outstanding significance that God assigns to love already in the issuing of the law and in the proclamation of the prophets in the old covenant. When asked which is the "great commandment of the law" (Matthew 22: 36), He responded with two references from the Mosaic Law: "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22: 37-40).


Jesus Christ is the conclusion of the old covenant and the beginning of the new covenant. In the new covenant, God opened up for mankind the opportunity to become His children and receive their very own divine nature, namely love: "... the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Romans 5: 5). This indwelling love for God helps us recognise that God's love is shown in His commandments. This leads us to fulfil the commandments, not out of fear of punishment, but out of love to our heavenly Father: "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5: 2-3; cf. John 14: 15, 21, 23).