Although you might have learned about the Ten Commandments in Sunday School growing up, or from studying the Old Testament in the Bible, Jesus gives us only two specific orders in the New Testament. Rooted in kindness and love, these messages show us what we should strive for on a daily basis.
Ten Commandments in the Old Testament
In order to better understand the New Testament commandments, it’s best to start at the beginning - with the original 10 laws given to us by our God.
In the Old Testament of the Bible, the Lord communicated with Moses, the leader of the people of Israel. He called him up to the mountaintop of Mount Sinai in the northeast of Egypt, where He spoke to him.
After leading God’s people out of Egypt, Moses was given the Ten Commandments (also referred to as the Decalogue) in the form of engravings on two tablets of stone. These commandments were, and are still to this day, essentially a list of Biblical principles and precepts, specifically relating to ethics as well as worship. God had given these to Moses as a set of rules to follow for us as Christians.
From prioritizing and respecting God and His name to honoring your parents, and from being honest and truthful to refraining from jealousy, adultery and other sins - the Ten Commandments are there to guide you in your walk with God.
However, the Bible also says in Galatians 3:13 (NIV) that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law.” Therefore, although God set out the Ten Commandments and wants us to obey scripture and follow in His ways, He is also a graceful God and above all loves us unconditionally.
Ultimately, all He wants is for us to love Him wholeheartedly in return. We learn more about this further on in the Bible.
After you read about the Ten Commandments in Exodus, later on in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy, you are reminded that the Lord is the only true God. You are called to love Him, follow Him and obey Him in all that you do. You are furthermore encouraged to obey this command in every situation and circumstance.
Do not commit adultery.
Do not steal.
Do not lie.
Do not envy other people.
Later on in the Old Testament, in Deuteronomy, you are reminded that the Lord is the only true God. You are called to love Him, follow Him and obey His laws. You are furthermore encouraged to obey it in every situation.
“Hear, 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 strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:4-7 (NIV)
Read here for an online Bible with the King James Version of Deuteronomy 6.
Here is a beautiful image of the great commandment, found in Deuteronomy 6:5, that you shall love the Lord your God.
This is the first time in the Bible that you are introduced to what will later be conveyed as the greatest commandment of all time. In fact, it is so much the most important commandment that after Deuteronomy in the Old Testament it is repeated not only once, but multiple times in the New Testament. You are reminded yet again, in Matthew, Mark and Luke that you shall love the Lord your God with everything in you.
Two Commandments in the New Testament
Although the Ten Commandments from the Old Testament in the Bible still stand, they are based solely on religion and the law. As you enter the New Testament in the Bible, you will notice how Jesus focuses more on the relationship aspect of religion and breaks the ten laws down into only two commandments.
Whichever Bible you open up, whether it is the King James Version or New International Version, they all tell you the same thing. Firstly, that you shall love the Lord your God, and secondly, that you shall love your neighbor.
The First Commandment in the New Testament
There are multiple different occasions in the Bible where God teaches you the first commandment in the New Testament. Different people and prophets, and even Jesus, reiterate one of the most important rules that you should follow as a Christian.
“Jesus replied: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” Matthew 22:37 (NIV)
How beautiful is this reminder of the first and great commandment found in Matthew 22:37.
This Bible verse in Matthew is only one of multiple times in which you are reminded of the first commandment in the New Testament: that you shall love the Lord.
There are many different references to this verse throughout the Word. But of all the law written out in scripture, ultimately there is no commandment greater than this.
“Jesus answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27 (NIV)
Luke 10:27 is yet another reminder that you shall love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.
“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?’” Mark 12:28 (NIV)
If you would like to read the full story from the Bible, here is a King James Version telling of Mark 12.
In life, it can be easy to get caught up in all the do’s and don'ts of being a Christian, and sometimes you might wonder what is right and wrong.
But time and time again throughout the Bible, Jesus Christ reiterates that of all the original laws and all the rules that you are taught as a Christian, that there are two that are more important than the rest.
“‘The most important one,’ Jesus answered, ‘is this: ‘Hear, 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.’” Mark 12:29-30 (NIV)
Mark 12:30 is yet another Bible verse that reminds you that you shall love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
When asked which of all laws laid out for Christians was most important, Jesus answered that above anything else, you are commanded to love Him.
The Second Commandment
But that’s not where it ends. Jesus continues by explaining the other commandment that you are to follow in your walk as a child of God.
“‘The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31 (NIV)
Not only does the Bible command you to love God, but to love your neighbor as well. Now, this other commandment does not literally imply your physical neighbor (although they are included). It implies that you shall love every single person around you - no matter who they are.
It is no secret though, that the second of the two commandments can be a little trickier sometimes. Sometimes it can be difficult to love your neighbor.
You are naturally inclined to love some people more than others, based on many different factors. You might be wondering how you are supposed to love people that you do not really even like or people you don't even know at all?
This is where it all comes together. God loves you unconditionally. And the Bible reassures you that nothing will ever come in the way of that. You are then also commanded, as a Christian, that you shall love the Lord in return.
Once you have this relationship full of love between you and God, He can help you to love the people around you as well.
The words in the beautiful artwork above can be a daily reminder to wake up and even if you can’t do anything else, just love God with everything in you. Click here to check out my Love the Lord your God wall art & decor collection.
What Does it Mean to Love the Lord Your God?
As a Christian, you are called to work towards living in the image of God. You are called to go out and make disciples and to share God’s love in all that you do. According to His Word, you are called to do many things, but above them all, you are called to love.
God commands you to love Him more than you love anything or anyone else in the world. He should be your number one priority. Despite all the law in scripture, there is no commandment greater than that.
Furthermore, He commands you to love those around you - no matter who they are, what they do, or any preconceived judgments you might have heard about them. Even those who harm you, Jesus wants you to love them.
One thing to understand is that although these two laws found in the Word are focused on love and relationship, it does not mean that the original ones, based on law, do not still stand. They most definitely do, however, instead of feeling like the traditional Ten Commandments hang over your head, Jesus wants you to first love God and your neighbors with everything in you.
No other commandment is as important as this one. You shall love the Lord.
Once you do this, obeying all the law, and any other rules will follow naturally. And if you live every single day for Him, following the purpose that Christ has set out for you, you shall inherit eternal life.
You must simply wake up every day and love God.
How Can You Love the Lord Your God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength?
In order to follow this great commandment and love God with everything in you, you first need to better understand what it means to love. The Hebrew meaning for the word ‘love’ means to desire, be fond of, or have affection for something. Ultimately, love is more than just an emotion or feeling that comes and goes. It is a constant decision to show affection for something or someone.
Firstly, to love God with all your heart means that loving Him should be all-encompassing. This heartfelt emotion of love can then stimulate you, deep within your soul, to desire Him more and more every single day. As you spend more time with God and fall deeper in love with Him, your soul, and your spirit will follow.
Feeling this love for God within both your heart and soul can also impact your mind and how you think in your everyday life. You might start to think differently. You might start to think more about Him, His Word, and His ways. Eventually, your mind can prioritize how you can live your life according to His destiny and purpose for you and for His Kingdom.
Finally, when the Bible commands you to love the Lord your God, it creates a sense of obligation. You are commanded, and therefore you feel as if you have to use all your strength, and all the power within you, to actively and consciously love Him and live for Him every single day.
Although there are still many rules to follow while building your relationships with God, Jesus set out a much easier path to follow. Ultimately, as a Christian and a child of God, you are most importantly commanded to love God and love your neighbor. Focus on that, and the rest will follow.