The Two Great Commandments and Our Great Salvation (Mark Sermon 63)
October 08, 2023 | Andy Davis
Sanctification, The Law of God, Glorification, Justification
The Two Great Commandments sum up the laws given on Mount Sinai and intersect with every stage of our salvation - justification, sanctification, and glorification.
- Sermon Transcript -
This morning we're going to begin to embark on a vital journey into what I think is the very heart of God and the heart of our salvation. Why did God create us to begin with? Why did God create all things? What is our true nature? What is our purpose and what is our destiny, our destination? The text we're studying carefully for the next number of weeks holds a key to unlocking these central questions, these core questions, for, I believe that when all is said and done, it's all about these two great commandments. More specifically, it is that in heaven our hearts will be glorified, totally conformed to Christ, so that we will perfectly fulfill the two great commandments, every moment of our existence for all eternity, that we will finally love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and we'll finally love our neighbors as ourselves.
I believe that these words rightly understood, sum up the law of God and the very heart of God. It's why we were created and they define also a perfect life in God's universe. They are our destiny in Christ. It all comes down then ultimately to one word “love.” The more I've meditated on our future in heaven, in a perfect world characterized by perfect love, vertically toward God and perfect love horizontally toward every redeemed person, I’ve seen how vital these two commandments really are. According to Jesus, they sum up the law and the prophets, and I have seen how much I have come to delight in them.
As Paul says in Romans 7:22, “In my inner being, I delight in God's law,” and if you are born again, if you are redeemed, you do too. Or again, Psalm 119:97, “Oh how I love your law. I meditate on it all day long.” So I had an idea of preaching the sermon generally the way that I am going to preach it today, but I started to realize that as beautiful as these two great positive commandments are, we can't simply stay positive and just say love God and love others. The comprehension of that word “love” is anything but simple because of the entrance of sin into the universe, our ability to define love properly and to love properly is fatally damaged, diseased. Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” The heart of sinful humanity is desperately wicked. It is diseased. It is beyond cure. In our sinful state, we cannot be trusted that “all you need is love.” Some of you're old enough to know what I'm talking about. All You Need is Love and other such songs, which I'm not going to shame myself by quoting right now. They're in my manuscript, but I'm not going to say them. This is all the world needs is love, just love.
Most sinners will be delighted to hear that message and then go on to love whatever they want, however they want, whenever they want, and call it love. We will love in ways that our holy God calls deeply corrupt, and we'll cover it with a slogan like “Love is love.” Martin Luther, the great theologian, said very famously, “love God and do as you please.” Can I tell you generally, you will do that in heaven. Yes, and I'm looking forward to that. I'm going to talk about that, but we can't hear that properly here on earth. “Love God and do as you please” in our modern, corrupt age. That seems wonderful. Do whatever you want. Whatever your heart leads you to do, whatever makes you happy, whatever you truly love. Our hearts and minds and souls are drunk with sin and fatally, our judgment is fatally impaired.
This week as I was preparing for this sermon, I read a pretty tragic article in Christianity Today. The author of the article was writing about a book written by Shannon Harris, who's the former wife of Joshua Harris, who some of you will remember wrote a book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye. He was a leader of what came to be called in a weird sort of way, “the purity culture” as though being against fornication was some new thing, but anyway, purity culture and the book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Sadly, Joshua Harris has since renounced the Christian faith and apparently so has his former wife, Shannon. They're divorced and she spoke in her book, which the article was about in the strongest terms about healing from a culture of Christian shame over our hearts and over our choices. She was specifically hard on Calvinism, which she called worm theology, we're nothing but worms. She said in her book, we must strive to connect to our own wisdom, to nature and to our own fulfillment in work and pleasure and to our own ways of being and doing. The author of the article in Christianity Today spoke approvingly of how refreshing it must be for her readers to think positively about themselves and their bodies including their sexuality. After years of hearing harsh sermons about our foolish hearts and our sinful flesh when asked what this connecting to our bodies and our own heart's desires might look like in practice, Shannon Harris said, sometimes it might look like bringing your neighbor freshly made bread just to cheer them up, but other times it might look like following your own wisdom and seeking your own pleasure like binging on a sleeve of Oreos while watching porn or trolling someone you don't like online. Instead of spending time with your kids, she asserts that we are stunning image bearers of God and we've been given beautiful hearts and beautiful bodies and we need to follow our desires wherever they lead.
As I read that, I was grieved not just about her, but about Christianity Today publishing an article like that. I saw that her theology was utterly corrupt, but it's nothing new, nothing new. Follow your heart. Have you ever heard that phrase, “follow your heart”? One commentator on the article said that that was the first commandment of every Hallmark Special that there's ever been— follow your heart. The prophet Jeremiah, who talked about the desperately wicked nature of the human heart, saw in the idolatrous people of Israel and Judah, that same drive, “follow your heart.” God spoke to them through the prophet again and again [Jeremiah 7:24], but they did not listen or pay attention. Instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. That sounds pretty relevant, doesn't it? They were following their heart, but there's some extra words here from Jeremiah—“they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts.” Nine times in Jeremiah, the same phrase is used “following the stubborn inclinations of evil hearts." It's a very strong theme in the book of Jeremiah. If all I do during these weeks that we look at the two great commandments is say, “love God and love others”, no matter how you define that, I would be failing as a pastor. I can't do that.
Imagine two men sitting in a bar. One of them has been drinking heavily and the other is the designated driver. He's had nothing but ginger ale to drink all night. At the end of the evening, the drunk man says to his designated driver, “Friend, give me the keys. I want to drive home.” The sober friend asked, “Do you think you'll be okay driving?” The drunk man assures him that his judgment is fine and he's able to drive, and it won't be any problem at all. In the spirit of the age, the designated driver handing over the keys to this drunk man based on his self-confidence and his ability to drive and operate the vehicle may very well be signing that man's death warrant and that of some innocent bystanders.
That man's judgment is fatally impaired. How much worse is our judgment when it comes to love naturally? Apart from the transforming grace of God, that's what we're like. As I initially conceived of the sermon, how the law of God, the two great commandments, interacts with us at different stages of our salvation, I wanted to just be positive, but I realized I can't do that. I have to do both. I have to talk about the positive but also the negative. The law, the prohibitions, are essential to show us not only what love is but what love isn't, and we need both.
Let's start this morning with a simple summary of the encounter that Jesus had that opened up this vital topic. Look at Mark 22:28 and following, “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating, noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer. He asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus ‘is this, Here O Israel, the Lord our God. The Lord is one, love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this, love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these .’ ‘Well said ,teacher,’ the man replied. ‘You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart and with all your understanding, with all your strength and to love your neighbors yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ He said to him, ‘You're not far from the kingdom of God.’” Stop there.
So Jesus in the final week of his life has had one controversial encounter after another, but then along comes this man, called in another place an expert in the law, the laws of Moses, but this man is different than the others. He has a genuine heart after God. He really wants to know what is the greatest commandment. Jesus commends him as being not far from the kingdom of God. He comes to Jesus and says, “Of all the commandments, God has given us his people, which is the most important? He does not ask this as others have to justify himself, but he wants to understand the heart of God and he thinks that Jesus is a good teacher on this. I tell you, none better. He came to the right place and at the end of that encounter, this man shows a true yearning for intimacy with God. Jesus declares,”He's not far from the kingdom of God.” He's knocking on the door and you get the sense the door's about to swing open to him.
Jesus gives his timeless answer: “The most important one is this, hear O Israel, the Lord our God, The Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength.” Then Jesus added more than the man asked for, the second greatest commandment. “The second is this [verse 31] love your neighbors as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Now in Matthew's account there's some additional information in the exchange. Jesus says, “This is the first and greatest commandment, and the second is like it: Love your neighbors as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” So the first commandment is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it, but not equal to it as God is infinitely more important than your neighbor. The first commandment is infinitely more important than the second, but Jesus then adds that all the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments. In other words, all the 613 commandments that the Jewish scholars counted in the Old Testament depend on these and are to some degree perfectly summed up by these two commandments.
But these two great commandments are more than merely God's law given in the old covenant to the Jewish nation. They describe the perfect righteousness that Jesus gives us at the cross by faith, the beautiful life that God enables us to live by the spirit and the radiantly glorious perfection that we'll enjoy in heaven. So that's today's sermon, the two great commandments and how they intersect with us at every stage of our salvation. That's what we're going to walk through today.
I. The Stages of Salvation
So let's talk about the stages of the salvation. Jesus came into the world [Matthew 1:21]. The angel told Joseph, you'll give him the name Jesus because He will save his people from their sins. That's Jesus' mission, to save us from our sins or to expand it a little bit, to save us and the universe from everything that sin has done to us and to the universe. That's what Jesus came into the world to do and so, for us, in terms of our own sin, He came to save us from the penalty of sin, from the practice of sin and from the very presence of sin.
Those translate into the three great stages of salvation: justification, sanctification, glorification. These are the three stages. We don't get our salvation all at once. Justification is the instantaneous work of God based on our faith in Christ and in his bloodshed on the cross, the instantaneous work of God in declaring us not guilty before him of all of our sins, putting it simply, forgiven, forgiven and seen to be righteous in his sight, not by works, but by faith in the blood of Christ.
Sanctification is a gradual process by which justified people are transformed more and more into Christ's likeness, Christ-like mind and heart leading to a Christ-like lifestyle. It is a mysterious process worked by cooperation between the regenerate person who has a new heart and a new nature, and the indwelling Holy Spirit, a mysterious cooperation between the two. We are to be led by the spirit to put sin to death by the Spirit and the Spirit’s works. Positive virtues summed up by the two great commandments, positive virtues in us such as the fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithful, self-control. This is sanctification, gradual transformation of lifestyle, mind, heart, life. It works by practice, by habit, by the ministry of the word of God, by intense effort fighting the good fight on the part of the Christian, it never ends in this life. We'll never be perfect in this life. It's a constant seeking after Christ-like perfection.
"Sanctification is a gradual process by which justified people are transformed more and more into Christ's likeness, Christ-like mind and heart leading to a Christ-like lifestyle. It is a mysterious process worked by cooperation between the regenerate person who has a new heart and a new nature, and the indwelling Holy Spirit."
Glorification is the instantaneous work of God, whereby by his sovereign power, he instantly conforms the Christian to absolute perfection in the likeness of Christ. It happens generally in two stages. First at death when the spirit is separated from the body and the body goes to corruption, but the spirit is instantly made perfect and brought into the presence of God, it will never sin again. The spirit absent from the body, present with the Lord, is pure and perfect in conformity to Christ, but the salvation isn't finished yet. It happens at the end of the age, at the coming of Christ. When the dead in Christ are raised, those that are still alive also mysteriously instantly transformed. All of them receiving resurrection bodies to Christ's resurrection body. That's it. That's the finish line. Meanwhile, some really awesome things are happening with the universe as well. It's made new, new heaven, new earth. I would say it's resurrected like our bodies into perfection. That's where we're heading. It sounds magnificent. Those are the stages of salvation.
II. The Two Great Commandments and Justification
Now, what I want to do is I want to line up the two great commandments with each stage because the law functions differently at each stage. When I was practicing this unbelievably long sermon yesterday, and it is long, but when I was practicing it, I realized when I got to sanctification, I myself became a little discouraged at how long I'd been talking. I want you to know the sermon's not equally weighted, just I'm warning or encouraging you. I don't know what word here, but much more on justification than sanctification and glorification. Also, I want you to know it’s like a hot air balloon. I'm pitching things out of the gondola every minute here on my outline, so I'm doing fine. So let's talk about the two great commandments.
First of all, in justification, prior to justification, the law, the two great commandments, the law convicts us and brings us to Christ for salvation. The law diagnoses our heart condition and shows us the depths of our disease. We cannot simply be positive. As I've said, we cannot simply say love God and love others. We need the prohibitions and the Ten Commandments are mostly negative. Nine out of the ten of them are negative.
We are to have no other gods beside the true God for to have any other gods is to worship an idol. We are not to make any physical representations of God, no idols. We are not to take the name of the Lord in vain. We are to do no work on the Sabbath. We are to honor our father and mother. We are not to murder other people. We are not to commit adultery. We are not to steal. We are not to bear false witness and we are not to covet anything that belongs to anyone else. Nine of the ten of them are negative. If all we do is say to people “Love God and love others,” they'll think they already do in their definition of love. Broadly and weirdly, we are so defiled in our minds, we cannot possibly define love properly.
In Romans 1 through 3, Paul unfolds this and shows how corrupt, sinful humanity is by the things they actually love in their lostness. For example, Romans 1:26 says, “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.” Now that word “shameful lust” in the King James version is “vile affections;” things that people love that they shouldn't, or again, in the ESV text, “dishonorable passions” and that's nestled in a discussion of homosexuality. “Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way, the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust. For one another, men committed indecent acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” You can't tell those people just love whatever you want or however you want. Paul then goes on to show how our depraved minds lead to all manner of strange affections. Loves that lead to wicked practices. "Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind to do what ought not to be done. They become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They're full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love no mercy. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things, but also approve of those that practice them.” [Romans 1:28-32] Do you not see how it's corrupt love that leads to depraved actions.
In Romans 7, Paul cites a negative command, a prohibition as showing him his sinfulness. In Romans 7,8, and 9, he said, “I would not have known what sin was except through the law for I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, do not covet but sin seizing the opportunity afforded by the command produced in me every kind of covetous desire.” Coveting is by definition loving something you ought not to love. And yet for all of that in Romans, Paul turns the whole thing around and says, all of the horizontal commands that are prohibitions can be summed up in this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself, all of them. Romans 13:9-10, “The commandments,” do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be are summed up in this one rule. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.” So I'm not wrong, Christ isn't wrong saying that the two great commandments sums everything up, but we still need the specificity of the prohibitions to diagnose the corruption of our hearts.
Ultimately though, if understood properly, the positive commands are crushing. There are people that can go through life and never murder and never commit adultery, although they still are going to yearn to murder through anger and yearn to commit adultery through lust as Jesus said in the Sermon of the Mount. “But who can rightly say, I have loved God with all of my heart, with all of my soul, with all of my strength and with all of my mind, every moment of my life, and I have loved my neighbor the way I love myself every day. Who could actually say that we did not do these things?” Charles Spurgeon said this. Is there someone here so profoundly brainless as to reply: “I intend to keep it. I believe I can perfectly obey it and I think I can get to heaven by obedience to it.” Man, you are either a fool or else willfully ignorant for sure. If you truly understand this commandment, you'll at once hang down your hands and say obedience of that is quite impossible, thorough and perfect obedience of that no man can hope to reach, though some of you think you'll go to heaven by your good works.
This is the first stone that you are to step upon and I am sure it is too high for your reach. You might as well try to climb to heaven by the mountains of earth and take the Himalayas to be your first step for to obey. This must ever be an impossibility, but remember, you cannot be saved by your works if you do not obey this entirely perfectly, constantly and forever. Well, someone replies, “I dare say, if I try and obey it as well as I can that will do.” No sir, it will not. God demands that you perfectly obey this and if you do not perfectly obey it, He will condemn you. Oh, someone cries out: “Who then can be saved?” That is the point to which I wish to bring you: who can be saved by this law? No one in the world. Salvation by the works of the laws proves to be an impossibility. None of you therefore will say you will try to obey it and so hope to be saved. I hear the best Christian in the world groan, “Oh God,” he says, “I am guilty. Should you cast me into hell. I dare not say otherwise. I have broken this command from my youth up even since my conversion. I have violated it every day. I know that if you should lay justice to the line and righteousness to the plummet, I would be swept away forever. Lord, I renounce my trust in the law for by it I know I can never see your face and be accepted.”
Then the law in this phase of our salvation hunts us down relentlessly to bring us to justice. I picture an avenger chasing my fleeing conscience. I picture Inspector Javert, a miserable prison guard who rose to become a prison inspector relentlessly and hunt down Jean Valjean. He would never turn away, could not, would not show mercy. So it is with the law of God. It cannot show mercy in this phase. In Pilgrim's Progress, when Faithful is relating to Christian his testimony, he's trying to get up the terrifying Mount Sinai that Christian also tried to ascend for his own salvation. Suddenly he looked behind him and saw a man chasing him as swiftly as the wind. He overtook Faithful and began beating him savagely. He knocked him to the ground and laid him unconscious as if dead. When he awoke, he asked this man why he treated him like that. The man answered it was because of his secret inclination to sin. Then he struck him again, viciously on the chest and beat him back down to the ground once again. Faithful, laid at this man's feet like a dead man. When he came to again, he begged this man for mercy, but the man answered, I do not know how to show mercy. This man would've finished Faithful off once and for all, but another man came and told him to stop. Christian asked Faithful who was the man that told him to stop. Faithful, answered, “I did not know him at first, but I perceived that he had holes in his hands and his side, so I concluded he was our Lord Jesus.” Christian told Faithful the man who struck him was Moses, and he spares no one. He does not know how to show mercy to those that violate his law. Anyway, that's a picture of how the law pursues sinners to death. It is not the task of the law to save you, to show mercy to you. It requires absolute and perfect obedience to every precept, large and small for your whole life. You all know it's too late. It cannot show you mercy, the law will hunt down the sinner and pursue him until he finds the only refuge there is and that is the cross of Jesus Christ.
The law with its written code of regulations kills us. Colossians 2:14, “(The law) was against us and stood opposed to us.” Second Corinthians 3:6, “the letter kills.” Second Corinthians 3:7, “The ministry that brought death was engraved in letters on stone.” Paul says in Romans 7, “Once I was alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.” So during our days of conviction, before our conversion, we realized that we have sin more than we can possibly recount. Day after day, we have failed to keep the Ten Commandments. We have failed to keep the two Great Commandments. We have not loved God with all of our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, all our strength. Not at all. Actually, our sinful mind was hostile to God, it didn't submit to God's law. It couldn't. We secretly hated his purity. We secretly hated his authority, his right to send us to hell. We have been disgusted by or bored by aspects of his Word. We have pursued created things rather than the creator. We have lived for pleasure and money and pride and various secret lusts. Furthermore, we have not loved our neighbor as ourselves. We have been selfish with our time, our energy and our money. We've hated other people, been angry at them, irritated by them. We've coveted their possessions and their accomplishments and achievements in their people. We have seethed with resentment at people's affronts and we've sought revenge in our own ways. We've slandered them, gossiped against them, secretly connived to ruin them.
The record of the infamous is far longer than we can possibly imagine on the basis of them. The law hunts us down to kill us. It chases our consciences, accuses us with no remedy. It drives us to the cross. It drives us hard to the cross and the Lord is drawing us in that process to salvation. The Holy Spirit is given to convict the world of guilt. Essential to that are the relentless claims of the two Great Commandments, for that is how God defines sin. The second commandment is that you love your neighbor as yourself. On Judgment Day Jesus will say to many, “I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger. You did not invite me in. I needed clothes and you did not clothe me. I was sick and imprisoned and you did nothing to help me. You just walk right by.” Those are failures of the second Great Commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. The Spirit presses these claims on us, shatters our self righteousness and makes us spiritual beggars and brings us to Calvary.
What do we find at Calvary? First, you see a man crushed under the wrath and the justice of God because we have transgressed these commandments. That's what you find there. You find a man who is willing to take your punishment on himself in your place. That's what you find there, all of the wrath that we deserve for our violations of the two Great Commandments, He absorbed. He drank the cup of God's wrath. He cried out,”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” because we didn't keep these commandments. He was seen positionally to be the most unloving man in history who absolutely did not love God with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength, and did not love his neighbor as himself, positionally as our substitute, though He was perfectly righteous. What do we find at the cross? We find a man, the only man in history who has ever perfectly obeyed these two commandments. He was the most loving man who ever lived vertically and horizontally every moment of his life. He loved his father, cherished his father. He said, “I always do what pleases him.” Think about that, “I always do what pleases him.” He also gave himself horizontally day after day to other people. I often picture some of these crazy days that Jesus had in his ministry, the relentless press of a crowd desperate for physical healing. Think of what it would be like, and He seems like he healed people for the most part one at a time. I have no evidence there were any mass healings. He touched people, gave a word to lepers, blind people, paralyzed people. What was a day like? At the end of the day, I picture him exhausted and there's one more person coming, Jarius, and he's got a daughter who's dying and there's no self pity. Not “do you realize what kind of day I've had? Come back tomorrow.” There's none of that. He gets up, He will go.
Has anyone ever loved his neighbor like Jesus? The ultimate picture and proof of both the vertical and the horizontal is his death on the cross. He said that the world must learn that He loved his father and obeyed him. They would see it when He died, and it was for us that He died. What's so beautiful is that this perfect righteousness, this perfect obedience to the two great commandments is offered to us as a gift freely. That's incredible. Do you see that positionally, He's offering perfect obedience for his whole life to you as a gift. It's called imputed righteousness. Listen to Romans 5:19, “For just as through the disobedience of the one man, Adam, the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man, the many were made righteous.” Righteous equals obedient. By faith in Christ, Jesus makes you obedient to the law of God, positionally as though you have never violated his law. Do you realize what good news that is? All the times you have failed to love vertically and horizontally were put on Jesus. He paid for it with his perfect righteousness. He won by a life of love. He offers you a beautiful robe of righteousness. “Here, put this on. You're going to need it on Judgment Day. Put it on, now.” How beautiful is that?
Right now, I want to invite anyone who came in here trusting in his or her own righteousness to throw it away and look to Christ only for forgiveness of sins. Look to Christ only for salvation. Trust in him alone. I was on a plane coming back here, sitting with a man. We had a great conversation. He's about my age, Roman Catholic, very religious. He’d been on a number of pilgrimages to Rome, went up that staircase on his knees. I said, “Why did you do that?” We'd already talked about the gospel. He said, “Well, it can't hurt.” I think it can. I'm not meaning physically. I'm sure it hurt physically, but if you're trusting in your works to save you, you cannot come to Christ.
III. The Two Great Commandments and Sanctification
Secondly, two great commandments and sanctification. Once we have been crushed by God's law and brought to faith in Christ at that moment, God's sovereignly takes out the heart of stone and gives us a living heart, a heart of flesh, and moves us to obey his commands and keep his statutes and that specifically means the two Great Commandments. Suddenly, the law instead of standing opposed to you as your greatest enemy now becomes your greatest friend in defining a good life, a righteous life, a blessed life, and the indwelling Holy Spirit is given to combine with your new nature, that heart of flesh that's been given, and in a mysterious combination. The Spirit moves you to obey God's laws as it says in Romans 8:4, “In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who do not live according to the sinful nature, but according to the spirit.”
We now live out the law. Day by day in our sanctification, the Holy Spirit energizes us and moves us and says basically day after day after day of your Christian life, love God and love others. He says that to you every day, love God and love others. Every moment of every day, the Spirit pushes us more and more to love God. And we see, as I mentioned at the beginning of my sermon, the beauty of God's laws, the perfection of them in my inner being. I delight in God's law. Romans 7:22 and Psalm 119:32, “I run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free. Your statutes are my delight. They're my counselors. I delight in your decrees. I will not neglect your word. Direct me in the path of your commands. For there I find delight. I delight in your commands because I love them.” Psalm 119, that's a regenerate heart, crying out, “I love your law. It's my best friend. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." [Psalm 119:105] It shows me what to do. Or Psalm 19, “The law of the Lord is perfect. Reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise, the simple, the precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They're more precious than gold, than much pure gold. They're sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.” So the Spirit instructs us daily on what love for God looks like: to delight in God's very being, to delight in his word, to delight in his purposes in the world, his intentions for you to delight in these things. All of those bring to us a deep desire to please God day after day one. [John 15:10], This is love for God to obey His commands and his commands are not burdensome.
The Spirit also convicts us when we fail, doesn't He? When our hearts are hard and distant from God, when we nail it in corporate worship, “these people worship with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” That's us. Sometimes the Spirit's there to convict us when our actions dishonor him, when we violate some of the prohibitions that we know are still part of the moral law of God, when we lust, when we're lazy, when we're selfish, when we're angry, carnally angry, when we say things we wish we hadn't said and we regret it. The Holy Spirit convicts us, saying, “That was not loving.” It was not loving, and He's convicting you and bringing you again and again to this perfect standard of loving God with all of your heart, soul, mine, and strength. Love your neighbors yourself. That's what He does. The battle within us is a battle over these two Great Commandments [Romans 7], “So I find this law at work when I want to do good. Evil is right there with me for my inner being. I delight in God's law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am. Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Brothers and sisters, someday you're going to be delivered from this body of death and the war will be over. You'll be done fighting.
VI. Two Great Commandments and Glorification
What's it going to be like in heaven? I'll tell you what it's going to be like. Heaven will be a world of love and you'll spend eternity, perfectly loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your heart will be so expanded toward your brothers and sisters in Christ redeemed. They will shine like the sun and so will you. You will delight in their beauty and in their achievements. You'll not be jealous of them. You'll want to hear their stories, how God saved them. Your heart will be so expanded to take them in yourself that when one part of the body is honored, the whole body will be honored with it. And I picture this way, I'm just telling a story about myself. I'm an introvert. I know that's a little weird. Here I am in front of all these people, but I'm an introvert. It doesn't mean I don't like people. I do. I love people, but I think what it means is you're kind of energized by being alone. But I picture being so healed from the dark side of whatever that is, that I'll be sitting on some beautiful hill on the new earth and suddenly 50 people will come along. Ordinarily I would get up and find another quiet spot, but I'll be thrilled that all 50 of you are there and if another 50 come along, that'll be even better. The best of all will be vertical. You'll see the face of God directly. And God alone will be the joy of our eternal home. He will be our one desire. Our hearts will never tire of God and God alone. That's what we're going to spend eternity doing.
"Heaven will be a world of love and you'll spend eternity, perfectly loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your heart will be so expanded toward your brothers and sisters in Christ redeemed."
Close with me in prayer. Father, we thank you for this time that we've had to study your word, to study the law. We thank you, oh Lord, that this law, which was at one point, our enemy that stood opposed to us, was against us, has now become our sweetest and deepest friend in defining a pure and holy life. We thank you that Christ’s righteousness has been given to us as a gift, and now is being worked in us actually by the Spirit and will be given to us directly and completely and perfectly at the end. Give us hope, oh Lord, help us to realize that our battle with sin is not in vain. Someday we will triumph. We will be more than conquerors through him who loved us. In Jesus' name, Amen.