1997-08-28 - Keep My Commandments
The Cross Series, Part 6
John 14:15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
When we as Christians hear the word commandments, we think of the Ten Commandments given to the nation of Israel through Moses by God. Those of us who know Jesus Christ in a personal way, love Him and what He has done for us greatly. So, this instruction applies to us as well as those remaining eleven apostles. Let's take a look at what Jesus has for us. What does it mean to keep My commandments?
Exod 20:1-17 Then God spoke all these words, saying, 2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 "You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. 7 "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. 8 "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; herefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. 12 "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. 13 "You shall not murder. 14 "You shall not commit adultery. 15 "You shall not steal. 16 "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
The Ten Commandments are also referred to as The Mosaic Law or simply The Law. The Law is made up of two tables. The first table contained the first four commandments. All of these referred to a man's, or woman's, relationship with God. The remaining six referred to a man's relationship to his fellow man. Jesus did tell us that He did not come to destroy the Law, indicating that the Law was still functional.
Matt 5:18-19 "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. 19 "Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
When Jesus spoke to the rich, young ruler, the commandments Jesus recounted for the young man were all from the second table of the Law. This young gentleman insisted that he had kept these regulations from the time he could remember. Jesus gently, but clearly showed him that his love for his fellow man was not perfect, when he could not give up his possessions.
Mark 10:21-23 And looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." 22 But at these words his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property. 23 And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, "How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!"
So who can keep the Law? Jesus indicates that a sign of our affection for Him would be that we keep the Law. Jesus was the pillar of fire and the cloud of smoke that lead the Children of Israel and gave Moses the commandments. He is the Creator of all things. He knows our frames, that we are simply dust. We are sinners by nature, and by choice.
Rom 3:10-12 as it is written, "There is none righteous, not even one; 11 There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one."
If we could follow the Law, there would be no need of Jesus' atoning death on the cross. The Law is an impossibility. Yet, when Jesus came, the Jewish leaders were teaching as if it were something that could be done. There were men who did nothing but debate issues regarding the Law and its applications. Spitting on the Sabbath was prohibited, so that the spittle would not land in loose dirt, dig a furrow, constituting farming and therefore, work. The Sabbath was a day of rest after all. Jesus raised the standard again to where it belongs; beyond our grasp.
Matt 5:21-22 "You have heard that the ancients were told, 'You shall not commit murder' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' 22 "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
So, it is impossible to keep the Law. Why would God give us these commandments, if we had no chance of keeping them?
Gal 3:24-25 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
The Ten Commandments were given to us, to show us that we could not make it on our own. That we need a Savior, an Advocate for us. So, what was Jesus talking about when He instructed us to keep His commandments?
Gal 3:10-14 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them." 11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, "The righteous man shall live by faith." 12 However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, "He who practices them shall live by them." 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-- for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"-- 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
No one can be justified by the Law. We are not trying to be justified by the Law, but to use it as a guide, or a teacher that will show us the nature of God. His perfection - in that Jesus was justified before the Law and none of us ever could be. The love of God - that He would make a way by the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, we obey Jesus commandments out of love, as a sign of that love. We are justified by faith. Practicing, or attempting the Law as a guide to be more and more like this Jesus who means so much to us. So, can we condense these two tablets of the Law into a more portable package to carry with us as we go?
Mark 12:28-31 And one of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?" 29 Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' 31 "The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
Love God with everything you have, and love your neighbor as yourself. The relationship to God, and the relationship to mankind. Both tables are summed up in this. As we truly learn to love more and more, little by little we come another step closer to being conformed into the image of Jesus. If we love Him, we follow His commandments. And as we do, we become more and more like Him.
Lord Jesus, You have told us, through Paul, that love is the greatest of all things and it will never pass away. And you have shown us the greatest love, in coming and dying in our places while we were still your enemies. To this day, You continue to hold our Your offer of love to a world that is slowly hardening its' heart and mind to You. Help us to be mirrors of that love, grace and mercy. Give us ears to hear the Spirit within us, that You have given to us as a down payment as that Spirit continues to point us to You. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.