What is the Greatest Commandment in the Law?

Matthew 22:37-39
       And Jesus said unto him, 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.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892):  God asks not thine admiration, but thine affection. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart―Love to God is the root of love to others―Search yourselves, then, and see whether you love God or no.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Most men talk indeed of loving God, and perhaps imagine they do; at least, few will acknowledge they do not love Him: but the fact is too plain to be denied. No man loves God by nature, any more than he does a stone―to love God! it is far above, out of our sight. We cannot, naturally, attain to it.

C. H. SPURGEON: No ungodly man loves God—at least not in the Bible sense of the term. An unconverted man may love a God, as, for instance, the God of nature, and the God of the imagination; but the God of revelation no man can love, unless grace has been poured into his heart, to turn him from that natural enmity of the heart towards God, in which all of us are born.

ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): It is the love of God which distinguishes true religion from all counterfeits, and from the effects of merely natural principles. It is this that distinguishes repentance from repentance, faith from faith, and fear from fear. Each of these graces has its counterfeit. Wherein consisted the difference between the repentance of Judas and that of Peter? The one was mere remorse of conscience; the other proceeded from love to Him whom he had denied…And wherein consists the difference between the fear that has torment, and godly fear? Is it not that the one is void of love, and the other is not so?

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): To love God is a better sign of sincerity than to fear Him. The Israelites feared God’s justice. When he slew them, they sought him, and inquired early after God, Psalm 78:34. But what did all this come to? Nevertheless, they did but flatter him with their mouth, and lied to him with their tongue; for their heart was not right with him, verses 36 & 37. That repentance is no better than flattery, which arises only from fear of God’s judgments, and has no love mixed with it. Loving God evidences that God has the heart, and if the heart be His, that will command all the rest.

EDWARD PAYSON (1783-1827): We are required to repent of the sin we have committed against Him; but to do this without love is evidently impossible. Can you, my hearers, mourn, can you feel truly grieved, in consequence of having offended a person whom you do not love? You may, indeed, feel a selfish sorrow, if you fear that punishment will follow the offence; but this is not that godly sorrow which works repentance, and which Christ requires.

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): “Looking unto Jesus” is the grand specific for producing godly sorrow in a human heart…When Jesus looked on Peter, Peter went out and wept, Luke 22:61,62―God’s goodness, embodied in Christ crucified, becomes, under the ministry of the Spirit, the cause of godly sorrow in believing men.

EDWARD PAYSON: Lovest thou me?” While examining Peter, Christ asked him no other question, John 21:15-17. He did not inquire what Peter believed, or whether he had repented; for He well knew that, where love is present, faith and repentance cannot be absent…Love then, love to Christ, is an essential part of those emotions which the inspired writers call a broken heart and contrite spirit. Again, we are required to believe, to confide, to trust in Christ. But can we confide in a being, or can we trust our all for time and eternity in the hands of a being, whom we do not love? Can a dying man commit his immortal soul with pleasure to the care of one whom he does not love? Can we even firmly believe the promises, and rest with implicit confidence on the assurances, of one whom we do not love? Evidently not. Where there is no love, there will be a want of confidence, there will suspicion.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): There is no true love to God without faith in Jesus Christ.

ANDREW FULLER: Hence the want of faith in Christ is alleged in proof of the want of love to God: “I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you; I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not,” John 5:43…Wherein consisted the difference between the belief of those, who, because of the Pharisees, did not confess the Saviour, lest they should be put out of the synagogue, and that which was to the saving of the soul? The one was a conviction which forced itself upon them, while their hearts were adverse from it; the other was “receiving the love of the truth, that they might be saved,” 2 Thessalonians 2:10.

C. H. SPURGEON: Jesus is the Truth―John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

EDWARD PAYSON: Can any man prefer the interest of Christ to his own, and the honour of Christ to his own reputation, unless he loves Christ more than he loves himself?

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): The sovereign law given by God to all His creatures is, to love Him above all things.

MATTHEW HENRY: Love is the leading affection of the soul; the love of God is the leading grace in the renewed soul. Where this is not, nothing else that is good is done, or done aright, or accepted, or done long.

JAMES DURHAM (1622-1658): And we may say that love is in a manner the hand of faith, or rather like the fingers upon the hand of faith, whereby it handles everything tenderly, even out of love to God in Christ.

MATTHEW HENRY: Faith in Christ works love to God, and love to God must kindle love to the brethren.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): You cannot love your neighbour as yourself until you love God…We have to take these things in the right order. We must start with God.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Of what importance, then, is the love of God. And how carefully should we inquire whether it be shed abroad in our hearts. Nothing can be a substitute for this affection.

JOHN FLETCHER (1729-1785): Examine thy heart, and see if thou canst discover there a real love to God, and a living faith in His Son.


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