Deuteronomy 6:5

Sermon preached on June 22, 2008 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2008. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

In his book,
How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie tells the story of “Two-Gun Crowley”. He was one of the most notorious men in America in 1931. He was wanted for a string of brutal murders, including the murder of a policeman. A policeman had pulled him over and when he walked up to Crowley’s car and asked to see his license. Without saying a word Crowley pulled out a pistol and repeatedly shot the policeman. When his gun was empty Crowley jumped out of his car, took the dying officer’s gun and pumped another bullet into the body of the fallen officer.

A short time later Crowley was cornered by police in a New York City residential area. For more than an hour the area reverberated with the sound of gunfire- pistol fire and machine gun fire. Crowley fired barrage after barrage at police. Between firing, Crowley wrote a letter addressed to, “To whom it may concern.” In the letter Crowley said,

“Under my coat is a weary heart, but a kind one, one that would do nobody any harm.”

You may wonder how anyone could be that deluded. But that’s what sin does to people.

Sadly, many people are deluded about their love for God. They think that they love God but they don’t. They’re like the religious leaders who were instrumental in the death of Jesus. They thought that they loved God when in actual fact they were fighting against Him.

How do you know if you really love God? How can you be sure that you’re not deluded? What are the characteristics of someone who loves God? These are the concepts that we’re going to be looking at this morning. In Deuteronomy 6:5 the people of Israel were commanded to,

“Love the LORD your God
with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your strength.”

What does it mean to love God with all your heart, soul and strength? How does one do that? I’m going to focus on three things that the Bible teaches about it.

The first thing that we should understand about loving God is that

anyone who loves God will keep His commandments.

Keeping God’s commandments is one of the key ingredients in loving God. Anyone who says that he loves God and yet isn’t very scrupulous about obeying God’s commandments is lying. The two go together. They cannot be separated.

We are taught this in many places in Scripture. Our text is one of them. It is a summary of the first table of the law—the commandments that relate to our duty to God. This is clear from our Lord’s usage of our text. Matthew 22:35-38 one of the Pharisees, an expert in the law, put a question to Jesus. He asked,

“Teacher, which is the greatest
commandment in the Law?”

Rather than picking out one of the 10 commandments, Jesus said,

“’Love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Jesus summarized the first four commandments as loving God with all our heart, soul and mind. We are to have no other gods before Him. We are not to make idols. We are not to take the Lord’s name in vain. We are to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Jesus defined loving God in terms of keeping the commandments. It follows from this that anyone who doesn’t keep them can’t possibly love God.

We see the same teaching in other passages. More than once
Jesus defined loving God in terms of keeping God’s commandments. In John 14:15 Jesus said,

“If you love me,
you will obey what I command.”

The apostle John also defined loving God in terms of keeping God commandments. In 1 John 5:3 he said,

“This is love for God: to obey his commands.
And his commands are not burdensome,”

And in 1 John 4:20-21 he wrote,

"If anyone says, 'I love God,'
yet hates his brother, he is a liar.
For anyone who does not love his brother,
whom he has seen, cannot love God,
whom he has not seen.
And he has given us this command:
Whoever loves God must also love his brother."

It is beyond doubt. Anyone who loves God will keep His commandments. In his book, Loving God, Charles Colson defines loving God as when, (p. 17)

"we truly apply God's Word…"

Someone who loves God will love His Word, will be endeavoring to apply God's Word to His life—will be trying more and more to bring his attitude, his behavior, his desires, his will—into conformity to God's commandments. It cannot be otherwise.

Another proof that anyone who loves God will keep His commandments is the fact that God's commandments reflect God's character. The commandments show us what God is like. They are not arbitrary commandments—they reflect His character. For example, God's nature is one of truth. Hebrews 6:18 tells us that it is impossible for God to lie. Thus it is not surprising that one of the commandments is to not lie—we are not to bear false witness. Thus when you put lying lips away from you—you are conforming yourself to the image of God.

That's the way it is with all the commandments. The summary of the commandments is that we are to love God with all our heart, soul and mind and that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Putting the commandments into practice means to be full of love. It means to be like God—for God is love.

1 John 4:16 the apostle John declared,

"God is love."

Donald Macleod writes, (Behold Your God, p. 143)

"Love is His innermost nature. He not simply has love or exercises love. It is His very form that He looks on the things of others."

Macleod is referring there to Philippians 2:4-5 which describes the life of Jesus. We read,

"Each of you should look
not only to your own interests,
but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be
the same as that of Christ Jesus:"

Paul then goes on to describe how Jesus made Himself a servant. He looked at what we needed and provided for it. He took our nature upon Himself, He emptied Himself and laid down His life on our behalf.

Wayne Grudem defines God's love as, (Systematic Theology)

'God eternally gives of himself to others'.

He gives of Himself for the benefit of others. In regard to man, that's what the last six commandments are all about—loving others and living for their benefit. Thus to keep the commandments is to become like God. The way to be like Him is to incorporate His commandments in your life. John Calvin writes, (Institutes 2:8:51)

"Now it will not be difficult to decide the purpose of the whole law: the fulfillment of righteousness to form human life to the archetype of divine purity. For God has so depicted his character in the law that if any man carries out in deeds whatever is enjoined there, he will express the image of God, as it were, in his own life."

We were originally made in the image and likeness of God. Sin defaced that image and marred it greatly. How is it restored? By obeying God's commandments. As the apostle Paul told the Ephesian Christians in Ephesians 4:23-24—through the Spirit's work in us we are,

"made new in the attitude of your minds;
and to put on the new self, created to be like God
in true righteousness and holiness."

If anyone loves God they will want to glorify Him. If anyone loves God they will want to show others what He is like. If anyone loves God they will want God to be magnified and praised for His wonderful characteristics. There's only one essential way to do that—by showing His characteristics in your life—by being renewed in the image and likeness of God. You become like God by obeying His commandments.

Again, God is love, when you show love to others—by following the commandments—by not stealing from your brother but helping him keep what is his; by not coveting what He has but rejoicing in how God has blessed him; by not harming him but doing good to him—in all these things you are showing others what the love of God is like.

That's a great part of what loving God is—being renewed in the image of God, becoming holy and righteous and showing others what God is like.

There are two applications from this.

First, don't let people or churches deceive you about this.
If someone claims to love God and yet they disregard God's commandments—they don't love God. If anyone loves God you're going to be very concerned about keeping His commandments. They're going to be absolutely scrupulous about it. If anyone loves God they will obey Him.

Today we have many churches and individuals who claim to love God—yet they flaunt His commandments. They encourage people to disregard them. They allow and encourage sexual sins and all sorts of things that God's commandments forbid. They support the killing of the unborn. They don't follow God's commandments at all, telling you that they don't really reflect God's will.

They don't love God. They may claim to—but they don't. Don't be deceived by them. Obeying God's commandments is inexorably tied to loving God.

Secondly, Christians, love God by keeping His commandments. Let them be your delight. Seek to please Him by walking in His law.

The second thing I want you to see about loving God is that it means

being absolutely devoted to Him.

We are to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength. Those phrases indicate the total devotion that we are to have to God. Leon Morris writes, our (Pillar Commentary on Matthew 22:37)

"love for God should be wholehearted, involving all that we have and all that we are."

Notice how the word, 'all' is repeated three times, we are to love God with 'all' our heart, 'all' our soul and 'all' our strength. John Calvin tells us that this means, (Commentary on the Gospels)

"that all men's powers should be devoted to this… no part of our being should feel the lack of God's love."

This will work itself out in many ways.

First of all, it means that we are to love God more than our own life.

We are to love God so much that if it's a choice between our own lives and our obedience to God, we are to choose obedience to God. In Matthew 10:28 Jesus said,

"Do not be afraid
of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul."

In Revelation 2:10 Jesus said to the church in Smyrna,

"Do not be afraid
of what you are about to suffer.
I tell you, the devil will put
some of you in prison to test you,
and you will suffer persecution for ten days.
Be faithful, even to the point of death,
and I will give you the crown of life."

Our lives are to mean nothing to us compared to our love for God. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew all about that. After King Nebuchadnezzar told them to bow down to the golden idol he had set up, they said to him, (Daniel 3:16-18 HCSB)

"Nebuchadnezzar, we don't need to give you
an answer to this question.
If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us
from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us
from the power of you, the king.
But even if He does not rescue us,
we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods
or worship the gold statue you set up."

They loved God more than their own lives. That's the kind of love God demands of us. We are to love Him with everything in us.

Secondly, if you love God wholeheartedly, it means that

you will love Him more than anyone or anything else.

The love that you are to have to God allows no rivals. The kind of love you are to have for God is exclusive. No other love can be allowed to compete with it.

Jesus gave expression to the extent of this devotion in
Luke 14:26 He said,

"If anyone comes to me
and does not hate his own father and mother
and wife and children and brothers and sisters,
yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple."

In some TV shows and movies they'll sometimes show a situation where some very bad people are trying to pressure someone good into helping them. They don't threaten his life—but the lives of his wife and children. That's a bigger threat than merely threatening their own lives.

But the biblical principle here is simple—no other love is allowed to compete with our love for Him. In
Matthew 10:37 Jesus said,

"Whoever loves father or mother
more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter
more than me is not worthy of me."

You are to love God more than anyone else. No other love is allowed to compete with your love for Him.

Thirdly, if you love God wholeheartedly,

you will be greatly focused on serving Him.

Why are you here? To enjoy life as much as you can by indulging in pleasure? No. Why are you here? To accumulate money? No. Why are you here? To avoid pain and persecution? No. Why are you here? You're here to glorify God by serving Him in the situation He has put you in. You're to be totally devoted to Jesus Christ.

Do you remember Jesus' questions to Peter about whether Peter loved Him? In John 21:15-17 we read,

"Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John,
do you truly love me more than these?'
'Yes, Lord, he said, 'you know that I love you.'
Jesus said, 'Feed my lambs.' Again Jesus said,
'Simon son of John, do you truly love me?'
He answered, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.'
Jesus said, 'Take care of my sheep.'
The third time he said to him,
'Simon son of John, do you love me?'
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time,
Do you love me? He said, 'Lord, you know all things;
you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my sheep.'"

What is loving Jesus all about? According to our Lord, it's all about serving Him by being a servant to others.

Isn't this what Jesus did? Jesus loved the Father. In John 4:34 He said to His disciples, (HCSB)

"My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me
and to finish His work."

Remember what He said to His mother and father when they found Him in the temple, after He had been missing for three days? He said, (Luke 2:49-50)

"Why were you searching for Me?
Didn't you know that I had to be in my Father's house?"

Those that love God will be focused on serving Him. They recognize that we are not in this life for pleasure or for money or for anything else—they realize that they are here for one purpose and one purpose only—to bring glory to God by living for Him.

They will do this not matter how adverse the circumstances, no matter how difficult the calling.

Hebrews 10 tells us about the crux of Jesus work—of Him giving Himself as a sacrifice for our sins, to take away sins by His suffering and death. He knew that the Old Testament sacrifices, the blood of bulls and goats could not take away our sins. So He came to do it by laying down His life. Hebrews 10:7-10 describes Jesus. We read,

"Then I said, 'Here I am—
it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, O God.'
First he said, 'Sacrifices and offerings,
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire,
nor were you pleased with them'
(although the law required them to be made).
Then he said, 'Here I am, I have come to do your will.'
He sets aside the first to establish the second.
And by that will, we have been made holy
through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

"Here I am, I have come to do your will." What words!

Yet what a difficult task Jesus had. What a difficult calling. Remember what He said about it in Luke 12:50? He said,

"But I have a baptism to undergo,
and how distressed I am until it is completed!"

Yet how He met it! In the Garden of Gethsemane His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. He sweat became like great drops of blood. Yet when the hour came, He arose and went back to His sleeping disciples and said, (Matthew 26:45-46)

"Are you still sleeping and resting?
Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed
into the hands of sinners.
Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"

Jesus was focused on doing His Father's will. Every fiber of His being was directed to that great goal.

Those who love God are focused on serving God with everything that is in them. When Abraham was told to take Isaac, the son of promise, the son that Abraham loved, he rose '
early the next morning' to obey. (Genesis 22:3)

How hard is your calling? What has God required of you? What's the cross that He has set upon you? Is it sickness and suffering? Is it disappointment and heartache?

How are you reacting to it? If you love God you will embrace His will for your life. You will say,

"Here I am,
I have come to do your will."

Christians, embrace His will for you. To love God with all your heart, soul and strength means to give yourself totally to Him. It means to surrender yourself totally to His will. It means to set aside your will so that His life can be displayed in your being. We will say to God,

"Your Kingdom come, your will be done."

If you love God you will devote your life to His service. You will be focused on serving Him in whatever situation He has placed you in—whether it's sickness, suffering, prison, wealth or poverty.

The third point that I want you to see about loving God with all our heart, all our soul and all our strength is that
this is what you should be doing.

The God that we have—the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—is so great, so glorious, so magnificent, so good, so worthy—that loving Him with everything in us is what we should be doing.

He's absolutely worthy and wonderful apart from any good He has shown to us—but as remarkable as it is—God loves sinners. The depth of theology that is in John 3:16,

"For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life."

B.B. Warfield tells us that the word, 'world' that is used there, (Biblical and Theological Studies, p. 514)

"is just the synonym for all that is evil and noisome and disgusting. There is nothing in it that can attract God's love…"

God loved us when we were His enemies.

The story of the
prodigal son shows us what God's love for us is like. How we should rejoice in that. The wasteful son was hoping at most to be considered like one of his father's servants. But no. As Donald Macleod writes, (p. 155) the father's love for his wayward son, highlights,

"the fact that love goes beyond the bounds of reason when it makes so splendid a provision for such a wastrel."

That's the kind of Father we have in God. That's the kind of love that He has for unworthy sinners. Remember the reception that the criminal on the cross received when He asked Jesus to remember him? Jesus said, (Luke 23:43)

"I tell you the truth,
today you will be with me in paradise."

God loves sinners. He loved you at your worst. As J. I. Packer writes about God's love for us, it, (Knowing God, p. 37)

"is based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion Him about me, in the way I am so disillusioned about myself, and quench His determination to bless me."

How you should love God with everything in you—because He loved you when you were unlovable.

Not only that, but this was not a love that was without cost. It was a love that had the Father sending His Son, to suffer and die in our place.

It was a love that spared no cost—but gave the beloved, precious Son up to the most horrible of deaths and to the wrath of the Father.

Think of it Christians—the King of Glory left heaven's glory to come to this earth to suffer and die for you. He took your place on the punishment block. Isaiah 53:5-6,

"But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all."

In Jesus all of our sins were paid for. Not one of them remains. You are free because your sins were paid for by Jesus. The fact that Jesus was forsaken on the cross means that you will never be forsaken. Christians, rejoice in that. How you should love God because of that.

But there's even more. Christians,

consider what the goal of God's love for you is.

Donald Macleod writes, (p. 146)

"Calvary also underlines the fact that the divine agape will not rest until it has bestowed upon us the very highest benefits. This love is in order to our having 'eternal life'. It is not niggardly. It is immeasurable, even extravagant. The blessing of God is as plentiful as the dew upon Mount Hermon."

Consider 1 John 3:1-2,

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God!
And that is what we are!
Dear friends, now we are children of God,
and what we will be
has not yet been made known.
But we know that when he appears,
we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."

Revelation 22:5 describes the future of the people of God,

"There will be no more night.
They will not need the light of a lamp
or the light of the sun,
for the Lord God will give them light.
And they will reign for ever and ever."

Revelation 3:21,

"To him who overcomes,
I will give the right to sit with me on my throne,
just as I overcame and sat down
with my Father on his throne."

Revelation 22:4

"They will see his face,
and his name will be on their foreheads."

Revelation 21:1-5

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth,
for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,
and there was no longer any sea.
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride
beautifully dressed for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
Now the dwelling of God is with men,
and he will live with them.
They will be his people, and God himself will be with them
and be their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death
or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.
He who was seated on the throne said,
'I am making everything new!"

We deserved death. But He gave us life. We deserved hell—but He gave us eternal happiness.

What is the only reasonable response to all these things? In Romans 12:12f the apostle Paul wrote (KJV)

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,
that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable unto God,
which is your reasonable service."

You should love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength. You should love Him with everything that is in you.

This also applies to those of you who are not Christians.

You should be loving God with everything that is in you.

Right now, if you got what you deserved—you'd be experiencing hell's fires. You'd be lost forever with absolutely no hope for you no matter how much time passed. It's too horrible to contemplate further.

The only reason you're not experiencing that right now is because of God's love. He is patient with you wanting you to come to Jesus. He has not treated you as your sins deserve. Embrace His love. Return His love. Go to Jesus and experience His love.