How does Matthew 22:34-40 help us better understand 1. the place and meaning of God’s law within His covenant and 2. the concept that covenant is synonymous with relationship?
“There must first be love in the heart before a person can, in the strength and by the grace of Christ, begin to observe the precepts of God’s law (cf. Romans 8:3-4).
Obedience without love is as impossible as it is worthless. But where love is present a person will automatically set out to order his life in harmony with the will of God as expressed in His commandments.” — The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 484.
“In the precepts of His holy law, God has given a perfect rule of life; and He has declared that until the close of time this law, unchanged in a single jot or tittle, is to maintain its claim upon human beings. Christ came to magnify the law and make it honorable. He showed that it is based upon the broad foundation of love to God and love to man, and that obedience to its precepts comprises the whole duty of man. In His own life He gave an example of obedience to the law of God. In the Sermon on the Mount He showed how its requirements extend beyond the outward acts and take cognizance of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” — Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 505.
God’s law was an integral part of the covenant. Yet, it was a true covenant of grace. Grace, however, never nullifies the need for law. On the contrary, law is a means by which grace is manifested and expressed in the life of those who receive it.