Mark 12: 28 - 31, Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?" Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." NKJV
Why do you suppose the first commandment is to love God? God is love. Therefore, when we love Him more than all else, we are allowing the very nature and essence of God to live and flow through our hearts. It's interesting, to say the least, that God requires us to love Him because there is no love (agape) apart from God; and man was separated from God through sin. It is no surprise then that when God gave the commandment for Israel to love Him, they naturally fell short.
As a minister of the gospel, I hear and see many people who confess faith in Christ, but fall short in living for God. The reason they most often give me as to why they fall short is they lack the power to live for God and to overcome the pleasures and desires of sin. What many believers who struggle to live a godly life fail to realize is that it takes the love of God abiding in our hearts before we can successfully live for God.
Even as Christians, we can't love the world and love the Father at the same time; we will have no power to live holy before Him. We are required to choose whom we will serve. The Apostle John tells believers in Christ that if they love the world, then the love of the Father is not in them. Thus, we will fail whenever we try to live for God. We must accept the gift of God's Son, who was given by the Father out of His great love in order to bridge the gap between Him and us.
After Jesus had risen from the dead, He appeared to His disciples several times. About the third time, Jesus "cornered" Simon Peter and asked him if he loved Him. Jesus asked Simon Peter this question three times. Perhaps, Jesus dealt with Simon's heart three times because he had previously denied knowing Jesus three times. Nevertheless, Simon wasn't living for Jesus, and Jesus wanted to know if Simon truly loved Him. It was there with Simon that we see Jesus tying together living and serving God with loving Him.
No one can live for God for a lifetime, if they don't truly love God first. We're told in 1 Corinthians 13 that love never fails.
Consequently, if you regularly struggle to overcome sin and to live for God without feeling under condemnation, then you must ask the Lord to fill your heart with His love. You must also seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. The more you allow yourself to love God by placing self on the cross of obedience, the additional liberty you will have to live for Him.
To love God or even someone else is simply an act of your will. You're willing to put them first in your life. As we prioritize our life to live for God's pleasure, then He will be released to fill our hearts with His divine nature and give us power to overcome the will of our flesh. You can do all things through Christ, and live a holy life.
Pastor Asa Dockery