In the beginning, God created us to freely choose to love and obey Him as His grateful children. He preferred that our obedience to Him be out of love, and thus there were very few rules. Everything was to be done voluntarily, because we loved and respected Him and appreciated His love and care. That was God’s original plan.

But as people became more and more disobedient and evil, God had to give them more and more stringent laws and regulations, which are found in the Old Testament, primarily the first five books of Moses. These laws were not made for the righteous, because truly good people don’t harm or do wrong to their neighbors; their actions are governed by love and consideration. God’s laws were made for the wrongdoers.

Because people didn’t act out of love, God had to crack down with the law — rules for the transgressors. But the rules couldn’t actually save anyone; they only showed them where they were wrong. “No one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what the law commands. For the more we know of God’s laws, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying them; His laws serve only to make us see that we are sinners” (Romans 3:20 TLB). “There is none righteous, no, not one! For all have sinned and fall short” (Romans 3:10, 23).

The Old Testament Law was only our teacher, our instructor or “tutor,” as the Bible says, to show us that we’re sinners, to make us realize that we need to go to God for mercy and forgiveness, so that we might be reconciled and receive His goodness through faith (Galatians 3:24).

Like any parent, God far prefers that His children willingly and cheerfully obey Him and do what He asks simply because they love Him and want to please Him and do what’s right. If a child only obeys because he’s forced to obey or because of fear of punishment, that’s no proof of the child’s love for his parent.

When the religious leaders asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment in the Law, He replied, “ ‘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 neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37–39).

He then shocked them by saying, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:40). “Law” refers to the five books of Moses, and “Prophets” to the other books written by the prophets of the Old Testament. There were many hundreds of complicated, ritualistic, restrictive religious laws, but Jesus told them that they now only needed two: Love God, and love others. That’s it! He said that was all the law they needed — love! And that’s just as true today as it was then. If we truly love God and others, we’re not going to be selfish, act irresponsibly, or do anything else that will hurt anybody.

Therefore Jesus’ Law of Love frees us from the old Mosaic Law. God’s only law is love, and as long as something is done in real, unselfish, sacrificial love — God’s love — then it’s lawful in God’s eyes. The Bible says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love. … Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22–23). Against pure love, unselfish sacrificial love for God and our fellow man, there is no law of God.

“For all the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Galatians 5:14). Think about it — all the Law is fulfilled by one new and glorious commandment: Love! “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is [sums up] the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). We are to “owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8). If you act in love, you are fulfilling all the laws of God!

In many ways the Law of Love is actually more binding than the Mosaic Law — the hundreds of laws of the Old Testament, which are often summarized by the Ten Commandments — because it says that not only can you not do bad things to others, but that you’ve also got to love everybody. Under Jesus’ Law of Love, we are to go beyond mere justice and righteousness; we are to have love and mercy and forgiveness.

Love is greater than righteousness, and mercy is greater than justice. We are now to treat others with love, mercy, and kindness. In the Mosaic Law there was virtually no forgiving. It was “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” (Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20). Moses said that if someone knocked out our tooth, we were allowed to knock out his. But Jesus said that we should treat even those who harm us the way we would want them to treat us. This is God’s love.

So the Law of Love is actually much stricter and more difficult to keep — in fact, it’s impossible to keep without Jesus! If the old Law was impossible, then Jesus’ Law of Love is even more impossible! That’s why He says, “Without Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). You can’t possibly keep His Law of Love without His power. Unless you have Jesus in your heart and God’s love within you, you will never be able to truly love others as much as you love yourself. But once you have received Jesus, then His Spirit in you can help you do the humanly impossible: Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? Do you have the Spirit of God’s love living in your heart? Do you love the Lord and others as much as you do yourself? Do you “do to others as you would have them do unto you”? If so, you are free from the old Mosaic Law. Now all you must do is keep Jesus’ Law of Love.

God’s Only Law Is Love, Copyright © 1998-2012, The Family International