“Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.” I Timothy 1:5
One purpose for God’s commandments is to reveal the goodness of God. Then we can know Him better – His character, His values, His behavior. We can learn what is upright, what is holy, what is true, what is good. Not only do we learn the holiness of who God is, but we also learn the holiness we were intended for. All those rules and regulations we read about in the Bible are based on a benevolent God who knows what is best for us and wants us to experience His life. It grieves God to see His children living beneath His intended purpose.
God’s standard of holiness is a high bar. When we live in His ways, it will be well with us. When we live contradictory to His ways, it’s a way that is outside of His life, His design, and His source of help. Anything outside of life brings separation, trouble, and even death. Even the most disciplined can’t reach the high bar of God’s moral standard.
When we come to realize God exists, we usually want to be received by Him and to be loved by Him. As we are aware of His presence in and around us, we often long for intimacy in relationship with Him. However, we also are typically aware of our own imperfections and how we do not deserve His love or His goodness. Christians sometimes struggle with the guilt and shame and fear of our own failures. We all fall short. We often try to clean ourselves up before coming to Him. We may work hard to do the right thing so God will find us pleasing and lovable. We might feel the need to up our performance when we are in need of His help.
However, there is a second purpose for God’s commandments, and that is to reveal the goodness of His love and His grace! God did not make us to be like circus animals that are forced to perform in exchange for a reward or an escape from consequence. God doesn’t whack us in punishment when we make a wrong choice. His grace loves us as we are, accepts us as we are, and empowers us to become more like Him on a life long journey of growth and transformation. God is merciful, longsuffering, and patient with us as we continue our daily surrender to His loving lordship. Love is God’s motive for returning us to Himself and empowering us to live a blessed life through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Application: Read Matthew 22:36-40, Romans 13:9, and Galatians 5:14. Love will not harm someone you love and value, including God. If there is anything in your life that is not pleasing to God, spend time loving God and let His grace bring you to freedom.