Love and the Law

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

Mount Sinai, 13th century BC, God hands Moses two stone tablets that serve as a testimony of God’s law—given to man. What is the purpose of the law? Well, to understand the law, you must first understand love. Love explains the purpose of the law because it fulfills the law.[1] So, first, what is love?[2]

Αγάπη, i.e.—Love

1 John 4:8, says that "God is love." What? In today’s western culture, the word “love” has been twisted by the post-modernist worldview to be a simple feeling. So, it can be confusing to understand God as love. Love is one word in English but four words in the original language of the New Testament—Greek. Another confusion. In Greek, there is Philia—brotherly love, Eros—romantic love, Sorge—affectionate love, and Agape—the perfect love of God. In 1 John 4:8, the type of love mentioned is “agape.” So then, what is “agape.”

It is interesting to note that this specific love, “agape,”—God’s perfect love—does not show up in the Old Testament. It only shows up in the New Testament as a piece of special revelation. However, this special revelation was not given by word, stone tablets, vision, prophecy, etc. but by the personhood of Christ.[3] Jesus, the son of God, revealed the nature of God through His life.

Αγάπη και νόμος, i.e.—Love and the Law

The law judges one’s nature. One’s nature is known and realized through the expression of it. Just like the tiger’s carnivorous nature is realized through its actions. So too, is man’s sinful nature realized through his actions. However, it is said that man’s nature is inherently sinful. The tiger did not become a carnivore when it made its first kill, but is, by design/nature a carnivore. Man is a sinner by nature not by each individual action, but by design/nature—which was changed by humanity's first act of selfishness.[4] Once the law was instituted, the flaw in humanity’s nature was revealed to man—in that humanity is no longer akin to God. Romans 13:10 says that love (agape) is the fulfillment of the law. When man rejected God, he rejected who God is (love)—leaving man an enemy of love.

The Purpose of the Law

The law looks towards the expressions of nature to judge the nature itself. To understand this concept better, consider James 2:10 (HCSB): “…whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point, is guilty of breaking it all.” The individual commandments of the law looks for one requirement: is it a selfish nature or a nature of love—a godly nature? Was murder committed? If so, the individual does not meet the requirement of any of the laws. Was theft committed? If so…

Think about it through the lens of your driver’s road test. If you have a driver’s license, you undoubtedly took a road test in which you had certain requirements to meet. If you fail one of those requirements, you fail the test. The test is looking to see if you are a good driver or a bad driver. If you succeed in 9 out of the 10 requirements but still miss one, then you have failed the test because you are a bad driver. Sure, you did good in 9 of the requirements, but the 10th requirement showed that you are a bad driver—thereby correcting the other 9 requirements that suggested that you are a good driver.

Ultimately, the law is not there to see if you are a thief or not, it is there to show if you fall short or not. It is like a mirror that looks into the nature of personal beings and reflects who they are: a (beautiful) son/imager of God or an (ugly) enemy/imager of self.


God gave the law to us to show our fundamental flaw. That flaw, simply put, is that we are sinners/lawbreakers. Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death…” (HCSB) So, humanity is destined to perish, for we are sinners by nature. Yet, as John 3:16 says, God sent a savior, Jesus, His only son who is love—so that humanity would not be doomed to perish. Jesus, therefore, fulfilled what humanity could not—the law. He then died, perished, in our place; so that, through Him, we can have eternal life. Romans 10:9 says (HCSB): “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” That is the gift of God, salvation from death and eternal life with Him. Now, ask yourselves: “Have I received God’s gift?”


[1] Romans 13:10

[2] See, “God’s Very Nature: A Foundation for Reality” for a greater understanding of the nature of love.

[3] See 1 John 4:9 [4] To be selfish, is to say that there is no other way but my way. It is a claim to be God or (at least) the source of truth, for one is imposing a different truth and therefore a different reality that is akin to one’s own personhood. It is, in a way, blasphemous.

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