Quill and writing

Do you Love Jesus Christ?

I have several times been challenged by others by this question.  When I respond by asking what has prompted it, I am told (i) my excessive reference to Old Testament Law, (ii) my lack of specific reference to Jesus, perhaps in prayer or just ordinary conversation, (iii) my tendency to speak excessively about cultural redemption when asked about ‘the gospel’.

I’ve recently wondered just what Jesus was addressing when he cautioned his disciples by telling them,

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matt 7:1-5)

The whole Bible is a guide to spiritual thinking and discernment.  In it we discover Truth & we are warned against Error.  God’s expectation is very definitely that we take it to heart, hide it within our hearts and that we learn to separate good from evil, light from darkness, etc.  In a word, we MUST exercise judgement 24 x 7 if we are to benefit from Bible study!

So, what in particular was Jesus warning about in this passage?  May I suggest that it was that tendency, dormant in some but explosive in others, that ventures to KNOW the unseen inner realities of someone else’s walk with God.  God warns us that ‘The secret things belong to the Lord’ (Deut 29:29).  The most obvious manifestation of this malpractice was by the Pharisees.  They ventured to attack the integrity of Christ Himself for which Jesus cautioned them against ‘blaspheming the Holy Spirit’.  (see Matthew 12).  They FALSELY attributed Jesus’ ministry (His words & actions) to Satan.  It was the mother of all ad hominem attacks!

But, returning to our question: how are to know whether a fellow Christian actually loves His Lord?  How may we know whether he truly loves Jesus within his heart?  Does the Bible provide us with any guidance or criteria?  I’d say it does!  Consider,

Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (Jn 14:21)

Which commandments?  ALL God’s commandments for it was Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit that gave the Commandments to Moses on Sinaii!!  Alas, my own experience of evangelical preaching over many years bears witness to the paucity of this identification.  But faithful Biblical expositors uniformly agree that the commandments here referenced must be synonymous with Moses’ ethical teaching.
Again, if we may equate greatness in the kingdom of God with love for Jesus Christ, let us ask, “What constitutes greatness in Jesus’ estimation?”  What is it in Christian faith and practice that fulfils Jesus’ directive to love the Lord with all the heart, soul, strength and mind?  (Deut 6:4-7) Jesus explicitly tells us that this was the kernel of Old Testament teaching “on these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt 22:39).  Jesus tells us plainly in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:17-19)

It is common today for evangelicals to reckon themselves ‘not under law but under grace’.  A careful examination of the context of this verse shows that it concerns not so much the formal status of the believer but rather his hidden internal motivation to live the Christian life.  Almost invariably, graceless religion consists of a panoply of compliance to a written code.  Christian living involves, and is only explicable, in terms of the hidden motivation of the Spirit of God at work in the heart who, by the grace of God, supplies the necessary power to subdue carnal passion stirring the believer to perform acts of righteousness with true integrity.  Legalism – mere obedience to the letter of the law – is loaded with insincerity.  ‘Evangelical’ obedience is inspired by the secret inner promptings of grace & Spirit.  It is this contrast that the apostle is drawing attention to here in Romans 6:14. Moreover, it cannot be the case that Paul is here sanctioning the believer to cast off the legacy of OT law enshrined in the decalogue, etc.  For elsewhere Paul asks, ‘Do we then nullify the law through faith?’ His reply, ‘God forbid: on the contrary, we establish the law.’ (Rom 3:31).

In summary, ‘Do you love Jesus Christ?’  Listen to HIS own candid statements to those of His self-assured followers:

Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’  [Matt 7:22-23]

Notice it is the LAWLESS – i.e. those who disrespect and disavow the Law of God who Jesus indicts.


“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.” [Luke 6:46-48]