Law And Love
Respect for Biblical authority begins with respect for God. False conceptions concerning authority spring from misconceptions of the nature of God. With some, “might makes right” because they have no respect for the rules of the Creator. With others, subjective feelings make right because God gave no law. “We are not under law, but under grace” (Carl Ketcherside). Jack Cottrell commented: “It is too bad that Ketcherside does not see that there is no incompatibility between absolute obligation to obey the Creator’s commandments and a motivation of love grounded in God’s grace. Grace frees us from law (i.e., law-keeping) as a means of salvation, but it does not free us from the obligation to obey God’s commandments as an ethical code” (What the Bible Says About God the Creator, p. 169).
Love is not a law, but a motivation. The apostle of love (John) wrote: “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 Jn. 5:2,3). Just as God’s love was manifested by sending His Son into the world (1 Jn. 4:9), we manifest our love by action - obedience to His word.
Cottrell commented: “The sinful heart is hostile toward law; but even many Christians, as the result of a misunderstanding of the relation between law and grace, are quite indifferent toward law (i.e., God’s commands as they apply today) and do not consider it to be binding upon them. They disdain the so-called ‘letter of the law’ and embrace a false freedom in which the only imperative’ is a nebulous subjectivity euphemistically known as ‘love.’ Such an approach may begin as an honest misunderstanding, but it is always secretly fed by the heart’s sinful tendency toward lawlessness. What must be understood is this: since God’s law is the outward expression of his own holy nature, the outward expression of his own holy nature, any rebellion against law is also a rebellion against God personally” (What The Bible Says About God the Redeemer, pg. 269,270).
Jesus said, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (Jn. 12:48). It is true that we should obey God out of love, but the standard of judgment is “the word” not our feeling of love. Love or hatred are motivations and may be right or wrong, depending on the object that we love or hate. The person who loves sin, is not excused because he is acting out of love. The person who does not “hate every false way” (Ps. 119:104) is not justified because he does not hate!
The Lord Himself said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (Jn. 14:15). Again, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word...He who does not love Me does not keep My words” (Jn. 14:23,24). There is no conflict between truly loving God and keeping His commandments.