“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:5–9 ESV)
The laws, statues & commandments of Deuteronomy 6-11 should be viewed as the outward expression of the ultimate command: to love God with all of your heart, soul & strength. Obedience to the commands demonstrated that the people loved God. The law was not given to save. In the same way, we should strive to obey out of love rather than duty or obligation. Jesus said the same thing – if you love me, you will obey what I command (John 14:15). This is not a way of earning Jesus’ blessing – this is an increasingly natural outflow of a heart that has a growing love for God. “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”” (John 14:21 ESV)
Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:5 in Matthew 22:37-38, Mark 12:30, and Luke 10:27 and summarizes it by saying that to love God is the great and first commandment (Matthew 22:38). The thought is completed by indicating that this is not some cognitive, head knowledge, but is to penetrate all the way to the heart. We are to love God with every fiber of our being – all of our obedience was designed to flow out of a heart that loves God. The work is to love God and the scripture addresses this from different angles – abide in Christ (John 15), our work is one of belief (John 6:29), as we behold Him we become more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). These are ways in which we grow in our love for God. Loving God is not produced by our hard fought, white knuckled discipline – it is a Spirit wrought, utterly dependent, monergistic endeavor that glorifies God because we can’t produce it on our own. Loving God involves our begging Him to produce in us that which we can not produce on our own.
God’s requirement for a heart that fully loves Him is seen throughout Deuteronomy as it is looking forward to a day when God will write His laws on the hearts of His people and they will worship Him with their new hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 36:25-27, Romans 2:25-29, 8:14; Galatians 5:16, 18, 25; Colossians 2:11; Hebrews 7:18-19, 8:8-12, 9:9, 14 (purify our conscience), 10:1, 15-18, 10:22 (draw near with a true heart); Deuteronomy 6:5, 10:16, 29:4, 30:6-8). Jesus fulfills this promise as He makes our dead hearts alive to God – He regenerates us. We are not only to have these commands on our own hearts, but are to teach our children and those around us the same thing. This is the foundation of discipleship. Many of the Jews did this externally, but missed it internally. How often do we pass down a code of moral conduct to our children that is void of a passionate love for God? The thing(s) that we love, we talk about. What do you love, really?