Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37)
We can only love God to the extent we know He loves us. Whatever part of our heart, soul, or mind that does not know His love, will serve God out of fear, guilt, or selfishness. This is living under the Old Covenant in which God’s attitude toward His people depended on their performance. If they obeyed, He liked them, if they disobeyed, He did not like them. People living in a relationship like that with a holy God will live in constant fear and guilt. All of which describes the experience of most of the Old Testament people, and too many New Testament people as well.
God has a new contract with us! He no longer wants His relationship with us to constantly go up and down based on our performance. He has signed with His own blood a new contract in which His perfect Son pays for all our wrongs so He can treat us as if we always do right. That is what Christ purchased for us and God—“the gift of our righteousness” (Rom 5:17), and a relationship of constant, never changing, unconditional love.
Christians living under the Old Covenant instead of the New are simply another example of people livin’ for what they’ve already been given. God’s word says He cannot and will not love us any more or any less than He will in heaven for all eternity. So why do we feel we still have to earn His love? Why do we think we must pay for sins already paid for? Why do we tolerate guilt? Let us live the rest of our life to love Him instead of trying to get Him to love us.