Troublesome Topic: Love Rather than Fear

Lesson 4 of 7

In the New Covenant the emphasis is on learning to love God and others instead of learning to fear God and obey Him. The emphasis on fearing God fit the Former Covenant well, for it was a typical response to such a covenantal relationship, inspiring full obedience to the covenant conditions. Although the New Covenant is the same type of covenant (for the most part), it is based on a different foundation and thus our response is different. We should still submit to God and His holy demands, but we should do this out of gratitude and awe for what Christ did for us. His incredible demonstration of love is the reason we love Him (I Jn. 4:19).

God does not want dutiful obedience, He is seeking close fellowship and intimate communion. The New Covenant has a different feel to it than the Former Covenant did. That is brought about by the difference between obedience out of fear and obedience out of love.

Love is a far better motivator than fear. In general, if fear of getting caught is what motivates us to follow the laws of the land regarding how we should drive our vehicles, we will disregard those laws if we think that no police officers are around. In this case our obedience is limited to where the enforcers are present, otherwise we will do what we want. Love, however, remains faithful even when no one is looking. A husband who truly loves his wife will be faithful to her and keep himself from things like pornography or improper relationships not because he is afraid he will get caught, but because of the love he has for her. Those who follow God only for fear of hell will not have as close a relationship with God as those who follow Him out of love for what He has done for them.

In the New Covenant, loving others is given a higher priority than in the Former Covenant. Previously, one showed he was committed to the Former Covenant through various acts of holiness. Today one shows he is committed to the New Covenant primarily by loving others. Jesus said that we would be known as His followers (disciples) if we love another (Jn 13:35).

The next lesson in all three series on Covenants is: The New Covenant is Just as Demanding