When Jesus was asked, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" He responded, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment" (Matthew 22:36-38). The very most important thing that we are commanded to do is to love the God who made us. And we are not just to assent to this love, as though we can simply decide that love for God is something that we possess, but we are to love Him with all of our hearts, all of our souls, and all of our minds. Our affections should be consumed with love for Him. Our spiritual natures should be delighted and satisfied in Him, drawing all of our strength from Him. And our thoughts should be filled with wonder at all He has revealed as we are daily - even continually - fascinated with Him in meditation on what He has said and what He has done and all of who He is.
Needless to say, this command to love God with all of our hearts, souls, and minds is a rather difficult command to obey. So many other things strive for the attention of our affections, our spirits, and our thoughts. If we ever want to see how far we have "fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), we never need to look farther than this "first and great commandment". It can condemn us every single day.
Sometimes, though, we grow so accustomed to the fact that we do fail in this area that we get comfortable, so to speak, with a lower level of love for God. We know that we can't do it perfectly, but we convince ourselves that we are loving Him about as much as it is humanly possible to do. And when we sin in other ways - break other commands of God - we would still hold forth that even during those times we maintained our love for God. We just let the flesh get the better of us, or we became weak and succumbed to temptation.
I'm sure that's what King David would have said when confronted with his sin in his adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of her husband. After all, he was the "man after God's own heart"! Surely there is a difference between caving to your fleshly desires and refusing to love God!
That's not what God said, though. In fact, He put it a bit more starkly than that when He spoke to David from the mouth of Nathan the prophet. He said, "Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife" (2 Samuel 12:10).
The Hebrew word that is translated as "despised" actually means very much the same thing as our English word. It means that David held God in contempt, that he disdained Him, and that he felt a deep repugnance for Him. In other words, it's pretty much the opposite of love and respect.
So in breaking God's command to not commit adultery, and in breaking God's command to not commit murder, David was also mightily breaking the most important command of all: to love his God with all of his heart, his soul, and his mind. He showed contempt for God and His Law in his heart as he embraced another emotion - that of lust; and he disdained God in his spirit, squashing any conviction he may have felt and hardening himself against his own conscience; and he showed his disgust at having to be disciplined to think like God commanded him to think about the sanctity of marriage vows and the Law of God that protected them. In the murder of Uriah, he also showed utter contempt for the image of God in man and allowed himself to order its destruction.
All sin is God-hating, pure and simple. We might want to try to convince ourselves otherwise, but every time we disobey God's Law, we testify that He wasn't very good, wise, and loving to give such a command in the first place. Each time we transgress against His revealed will, knowing full well that He sees us, and yet not caring in that moment, we give God the finger and dare Him to destroy us if He really is so holy as He says.
Jesus said it best and most simply when He said, "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). That's what love for God with all of your heart, soul, and mind looks like. That's why He said that such love was the great and first commandment. Obedience to all of the others stems from obedience to the first.
So the next time your flesh tries to entice you to indulge in the transgression of God's Law - no matter what that may be - let your spirit remind you that you cannot love God and give in to that temptation. Understand that you will be declaring how much you despise God as you carry out your rebellion against Him. Hopefully, such thoughts will lead you away from the precipice and back toward the loving embrace of our holy God.