"Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matthew 22:35-40; King James Bible Version (KJV).
In the ancient world, the Ten Commandments (which Moses brought to humanity from his unique communication with God) were the laws that told us what NOT to do. They told us what to eliminate from our thoughts and behavior, in order to live more abundant, harmonious lives, while still in this temporary, earthly experience.
When Christ Jesus came to move humanity to a higher level of thought, however, he restated and condensed the Ten Commandments (the thou-shalt-nots) into only two, more positively-stated directives. These two directives told us what we SHOULD do, in order to fulfill all of the earlier ten, explaining that "on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (See full quotation at top of article.)
So, why did Jesus reduce the earlier, ten directives to merely two when answering the lawyer? Consider this: His answer not only simplified the way to live rightly, but clarified all that God requires of us—universal love. The theme of love is the entire, underlying purpose of the two, newly stated commandments.
Notice, too, how love is the only theme with God. And, coincidentally, notice how universal our loving actions toward God, ourselves, and others, automatically obeys all earlier, ten commandments given through Moses. Does this not suggest that our ability to love, unconditionally, might be a lot more important that we could ever realize? Might it not be a real test of our spiritual progress, and our individual journeys Home?
These latter two commandments cover, and still honor, all that God has ever required of us, even in our past. They simply reveal the underlying theme of God's universe to BE love, and what we need to do to awaken back to our eternal harmony in Spirit, God.
Yet, here is a curious thing: when Christ Jesus focused us on these two directives, he did not say that the earlier, Ten Commandments were wrong, or to be cast away. For, although restating them in a positive, more-condensed way, he did not change, at all, the wisdom nor necessity for the earlier ten. Obeying all of the commandments results in more harmony in our daily lives. Yet, learning the importance of universal love is the purpose behind them all. Loving, on purpose, keeps us from breaking the thou-shalt-nots.
For, when we love God, who is the loving creator of the spiritual universe, and when we love ourselves, as we do all others, we won't lie to ourselves, or others; we won't cheat ourselves, or others; we won't steal from ourselves, or others; we won't hate (kill the spirit or body) of ourselves or others; and we won't covet what good things others have.
So, by remembering to express a loving spirit, in all that we do, and all that we see in others, we then express the spirit of love that God requires of us. When we have done that, we have done all that God has ever required of us, even in our past. We have fulfilled all of God's Law, and we are free to enjoy all the fruits that our loving behavior has brought to us, and others.
Thus, by shifting the focus of God's requirement on how we should live in this human experience, from negative behavior to expressing universal love, (even for our earthly enemies) Christ Jesus clarified for us the great purpose of God's rules. Even in our sojourn here, in this material experience (where we seem to be separated from our spiritual, heavenly Home, but are not) our God-ordained harmony is always invisibly present, to be perceived from within our innate, loving consciousness, in order to be physically brought forth into our daily lives.
Well, one might ask, why are we in this material existence in the first place? The true answer, the one that is not easily accepted, is that we are not in a material creation or universe—we only believe that we are. But, until we mentally awaken to it, this answer can be too metaphysical for us to perceive; so we obey the seeming physical laws we've been taught to obey, and we leave the presence of God (in our own beliefs) somewhere else, out of our reach. We don't perceive the invisible kingdom of God, always present to deliver us from all the earthly ills we encounter, because we have no physical evidence that God exists.
Oh, sometimes we may realize that materiality is not 'all there is,' but since we can't perceive God's spiritual kingdom and our ever-present spiritual harmony with our material senses, we determine that there is probably no other reality to consider.
So, often we only turn to God when our material circumstances begin to curse us night and day. Then, in desperation, (and only as our last resort, not our first) we reach down into our deeper, spiritual remembrance and call upon Immanuel (God-with-us) to deliver us from some material evil, or when our lives have become a general mess.
Thus, while believing ourselves to be physical creatures with a spiritual soul inside, we, unwittingly, bury our soul (in belief) in a finite form, which we erroneously believe to be our true body. Our material senses bear witness only to what we can see, hear, taset, smell and touch, out there, in the outer world of finite form, so this seems only logical. Thus, until we, individually, awaken to our deeper spiritual reality and identity, all creation seems to be material in substance, law, and life.
Yet, the seeming physical creation, or material reality, is actually an illusion created by the material senses. Our true body, soul and mind (the Christ Consciousness) cannot be, and has never has been, contained in a finite, fleshly form. It cannot be perceived with the five, physical senses. This is so because God's spiritual children cannot be imprisoned in matter, or in any finite, fleshly form. It is the belief in a material identity that allows us to 'bury' our soul (true, spiritual identity) in a finite form.
The truth of spiritual being transcends all the beliefs we have been taught by the carnal mentality. Instead of being fleshly mortals, born to die, we are the children (off-spring) of infinite Spirit, God. Our ever-lasting true identities can be only spiritual in body, soul and mind. Our true substance is spiritual, not material. And just as important, the only laws that govern us are the spiritual, not material, laws of God, who is infinite Spirit.
Yet, educated so far away from this knowledge, our true, spiritual Selfhood can only be perceived by the innate knowledge which dwells within this greater, Christ-Consciousness (our spiritual consciousness). This universal, spiritual consciousness dwells within each of us, right where a limited, material sense of things seems to be our mind, but is not. This spiritual consciousness is our very link with God. It is what is meant by 'God-with-us.' This deeper perception of reality is spiritual in substance, knows all truth, and is actually untouched, in any way, by the false, material sense of ourselves. It holds the knowledge of God's invisible creation of which we are each an everlasting part. Thus, we cannot actually die out of the flesh, because we were never really IN the flesh, to begin with.
This is why Christ Jesus' spiritual knowledge was able to heal all diseases and even call Lazarus from the grave, four days after he had physically died. It is why Jesus could resurrect himself from his own physical death experience. His mission was to show us that spiritual life doesn't die, and life in the flesh, as well as the entire material universe, is simply an illusion of the five, physical senses.
Notice, here, how Jesus described the death of Lazarus as sleep: "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up." Then His disciples said, "Lord, if he sleeps he will get well." However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. "Then Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him." (John 11:11-15; New King James Bible Version (KJV)
In his describing physical death as 'sleep', Jesus was showing that the physical death process is really a lower level of consciousness—not a state of annihilation, or even a permanent state of being. (The modern-day parable of the Wizard of Oz shows the dream-like state of Dorothy. For, even while she believed she was in Oz, she had never, really, left her home, except in sleep.) 'Sleep' is a lower level of consciousness. 'Sleep' is a mental state of an altered reality.
So, the good news is that, no matter what we believe, our only reality is that we are the citizens of the kingdom of God (what we call Heaven). We've never left the presence of this kingdom; nor has the kingdom left us. We only believe that it has, because we can't see, touch, smell, taste, or hear it with our physical senses. That's why we don't trust it. That's why we doubt the existence of our Creator. On this material level of thought, our conscious awareness of reality is really one of 'lights out'—until we begin to awaken to our higher, spiritual reality, above and beyond what we perceive with the physical senses.
Yet, God still perceives us, no matter where our dream of materiality takes us. The divine Intelligence knows that we are in an altered state of mind, or dream-state. Material existence is a shared dream-state, but it is not the reality of being. It is a finite, false perception of being. Like Dorothy in the land of OZ, we need only to awaken to leave our dream-state and find our way back home.
So, the Ten Commandments that Moses brought down from the Mount were, and are, meant to keep all of us who do not perceive our spiritual reality (which lies beneath our physical perceptions) safer on this material level of thought. These early commandments were meant to protect the ancients from their own beliefs and destructive activities that would bring them harm while in this human experience. These directives were guideposts, meant to govern the fleshly mortals who believed themselves to be fragile, vulnerable, and unsafe from every direction. They still apply, today, for all of us still here.
Yet, Christ Jesus came to awaken all of us who still experience materiality, out of our material sleep-state. And again, like Dorothy in Oz, we must awaken to reality (not continue sleeping in a dream of good and evil material powers). We are to learn that life is deathless, as Jesus proved with his own resurrection and raising others from the fleshly death experience.
But until we understand and truly comprehend that material existence is not a real state of being., we need direction on how to live rightly, in order to protect ourselves from our own wrong choices that interfere with God's underlying, harmonious control over all. Our human experiences are full of chaos, all produced by the wrong beliefs, thinking and action of everyone here.
So, to repeat: In turning the ten negatively stated rules of the ancient world into two positively stated rules, Christ Jesus shifted the theme of God's requirements from restraining from bad behavior to LOVE. By obeying the two rules to love God first, then love all those around us as well as ourselves, Jesus showed us that universal love is the divine purpose we should follow for right living in our human experience. It is our safest way to go, on this lower level of consciousness, while we are not yet perceiving the truth of being.
In fulfilling the spiritual law of divine Love for ourselves and each other, we naturally behave as we should, in a self-protecting way. Acting out of universal love, we won't lie, cheat, steal, or kill anyone. These are the destructions we are warned against, if we want a more harmonious, peaceful life experience on this level of thought, even before we fully awaken and find ourselves, already Home.