And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might (Deut. 6:5).
... for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God (Rom. 3:9-11).
So whether Jew or Gentile, each has need of a saviour, even the Lord Jesus Christ Who is our Saviour and Lord. Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; and verse 24 adds, 'Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus'.
Is our text restricted to Israel?
Each text has a context and we realize that Deuteronomy contains instruction and guidance to Israel as they prepare to enter the promised land. To Israel there is the promise of material prosperity if they follow the Lord, but if they forsake Him, they will be punished.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord (Deut. 6:4).
If we trace the words of instruction through the book, reading for example Deuteronomy 10:12; 11:13; 26:16 and 30:2-10, we find the emphasis on loving the Lord with all the heart and soul and the blessings that will follow; there are provisions for Israel should they disobey God and find themselves in captivity, but desire to return to God in repentance. They were also warned against false prophets.
As we read of blessing in basket and in store, we may query whether this is true for the present dispensation.
In Matthew 22:15, we read that the Pharisees planned to entangle Jesus Christ in His talk. Then the Sadducees asked a question about the resurrection and Christ's answer silenced them. When the Pharisees heard this, they tried to tempt the Lord by asking Him, 'Master, which is the great commandment in the law?' Jesus replied:
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. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matt. 22:37-40).
The Lord quoted from the law as stated in Deuteronomy but He extended it to the principle of loving our neighbours. In writing to the Galatians, Paul quotes the second commandment, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself' (Gal. 5:14), but he is writing about the liberty wherewith Christ has made them free. If they are led by the Spirit of God, they are not under the law.
Although what we have read concerns mainly Israel, we can see that there is an expanding area and although we are not under the law, the principle of loving the Lord and our neighbours applies to us. We can see how this principle even more strongly applies to us, if we read Paul's prison epistles. Because Christ loved us, and we are children of His love, our lives should be characterized by love; 'Walk in love', writes Paul in Ephesians 5:2.
The prayer of Ephesians 3:14-20 is that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith and that we, being rooted and grounded in love, may have the power to comprehend (with the saints) what is the extent of the love of Christ, its breadth, its length, its depth and its height. Although it is so great that it 'passeth knowledge' we pray that we may know the love of Christ and 'be filled to the measure of all the fulness of God' (N.I.V.) The Lord Jesus Christ spoke about those who loved their neighbours, and those who did not. Its importance was indicated in His words recorded in Matthew 25:31-46. Here is an extract:
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me (verse 40).
Thus Christ extended the principle of loving God to loving our neighbour, and we find in the prison epistles that we should experience His love to such an extent that we are filled to the measure of all the fulness of God.
We love Him, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
We have been impressed by the meaning 'to set apart', 'separate', and several words that are associated with consecration are linked by the concept 'set apart'. Thus, if a thing is consecrated, it is set apart for a special use. If we read about Aaron's garments in Exodus 28, they are described in verse 2 as holy garments, and in verse 3 they are to consecrate him so that he is set apart to minister as a priest. In verses 36-38 instruction is given to make a plate of pure gold engraved with the words 'holiness to the lord', and it is to be fixed to Aaron's mitre (see also verse 41, and Exodus 40:9,10-15). Another example of setting apart things for the Lord's service is in the book of Zechariah:
In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, holiness unto the lord; and the pots in the Lord's house shall be like the bowls before the altar (Zech. 14:20).
When the Temple was dedicated, it was set apart for the worship of the Lord, and it was the Lord's house.
The Lord Jesus Christ was set apart by the Father and sent into the world. If we compare the A.V. with the R.S.V. we find these translations of John 10:36:
Him, Whom the Father hath sanctified ... (A.V.).
Him Whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world (R.S.V.).
Jesus Christ prayed for His disciples, 'Sanctify them through Thy truth' (John 17:17). In the R.S.V., John 17:19 reads: 'And for their sake I consecrate Myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth'. (In the A.V. the word sanctify is used).
We read in Ephesians 5:26 that Christ sanctified the church:
... as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing: but that it should be holy and without blemish (verses 25-27).
At the dedication of the Temple, similar words are used:
... Thy servants that walk before Thee with all their heart (1 Kings 8:23). (See also verse 48, and 2 Kings 23:3). At this dedication three different words are used:
... so the king and all the people dedicated the house of God ... Solomon hallowed the middle of the court ... now have I chosen and sanctified this house ...' (2 Chron. 7:5,7 and 16).
In addition to the phrase 'all their heart' we often find the phrase 'the whole heart', which occurs six times in Psalm 119.
|A||Psa. 119:2.||Blessed are they ... that seek Him with the whole heart|
|A||10.||With my whole heart have I sought Thee|
|B||34.||I shall observe it (the law) with my whole heart|
|C||58.||I intreated Thy favour with my whole heart|
|B||69.||I will keep Thy precepts with my whole heart|
|C||145.||I cried with my whole heart; hear me|
Lukewarm or Half-hearted
When the spies went to explore the promised land, only two men brought back favourable reports. The others were afraid and lacked faith, and would not live in Canaan, 'because they have not wholly followed Me' (Num. 32:11). The exceptions were Caleb and Joshua, 'for they have wholly followed the Lord' (Num. 32:12).
In The Revelation, the letter to the Laodiceans contained the following:
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth (Rev. 3:15,16).
Judah acted falsely, pretending to serve the Lord, but she did not follow Him with all her heart as we read:
And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto Me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the Lord (Jer. 3:10).
Ananias and Sapphira, as told in Acts 5:1-11, sold a possession and offered part of the proceeds to the common fund, but they kept back part of the price. In addition to this half-hearted service, they lied about the price, and as a consequence they both died.
The Lord's Example
Then said He, 'Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God' (Heb. 10.9). When our Lord was on the earth, He said plainly that He did not come to do His own will, but He lived according to the will of His Father. How many times He said that the Father had sent him into the world. The Lord was set apart by the Father, and Christ set Himself apart to do the Father's will. We have seen this stated in John 10:36 and 17:19, and the well known passage in Philippians 2:5-11 shows how completely Christ consecrated Himself to do the Father's will. To do this, He had to humble Himself, until He became obedient to death, even the death on the cross.
In the account of the transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36), Christ spoke with Moses and Elijah of His decease, which He would 'accomplish' at Jerusalem. Thus He looked forward to His death as a part of the will of the Father. He laid down His life as he had power to do so, and He had the power to take it up again (John 10:17,18).
The broad principle that we should love the Lord God with all our heart applies to us. We learn, however, in the New Testament that our love for the Lord should find its expression in our love for our fellow men. Further, as we pass from the dispensation of law into grace, there are consequential changes. Israel was told to choose whom they would serve (Deut. 30:19 and Josh. 24:15), but Jesus Christ told His disciples, 'Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and ordained you ...' (John 15:16). In his epistle, John writes, 'We love Him, because He first loved us' (1 John 4:19). Our consecration, therefore, is the result of God's great love for us which we return as He enables us. Because He loves us, we rejoice in His love. We desire to know the love of Christ and to serve Him, believing He has set us apart for service which He has prepared for us (Eph. 2:10).