The Greatest Commandment
One day, the Pharisees decided to test Jesus by asking Him which was the greatest commandment in the law.
34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
37 Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.”
Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the true essence of worship. The Pharisees understood religion, but Jesus was speaking to them about the language of the heart. God wants His people to express this kind of love for Him… to love the Lord with our entire being.
People often question what is the greatest sin? Is it murder? The love of money? Blasphemy? In fact, it is none of these things. If the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, then by consequence, the greatest sin would be the failure to do so.
The Greatest Sin = The Failure to Love the Lord with All Your Heart, Soul & Mind
Jesus went on to say, “And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” It is important to note that Jesus places this act of love for our fellow man second, after loving the Lord your God. It is clear that if we get our vertical relationship right that our horizontal ones will fall into alignment.
First get the Vertical Relationship right and the Horizontal ones will come into alignment
But what does it really mean to love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind? How can we do this and in what way do we demonstrate this love for Him? There are many man-made rules that religion has created over the centuries. Religion would have you to believe that if you keep these traditions of men then your requirement is fulfilled. However, Jesus was talking about the heart, that place that only God can touch, where true worship comes from. Listen to what Jesus said to the religious leaders of His day:
8 These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
9 And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.
Jesus referred to this as vain worship. There was an outward show, but their hearts were far from God. When Jesus was having the conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well, she wanted to focus the discussion on the external components of “worship,” such as where we should do it. But Jesus brought her back to the meaning of true worship.
19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Jesus said that true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Religion always has a counterfeit to the things of God. These counterfeits never require the consecration of the heart, but instead focus on outward things. The counterfeit or substitute for spirit is emotion and the counterfeit for truth is tradition.
True Worship = Spirit & Truth
Counterfeit Worship = Emotion & Tradition
It is an easy trap to get caught up in, responding emotionally to the music and lifting hands because that is what we are “supposed to do.” How many times do we come to God’s house and go through the motions of worship when our hearts are far from Him? Jesus told the Samaritan woman that the Father is seeking true worshippers. He is not seeking prayer warriors, witnesses, preachers or organists. All of these things are good and needed. But in the New Testament, God is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and truth.
List of things God is seeking
1. True worshippers