Saturday, September 20, 2008

Love Jesus and Keep His Commands. But Which of His Commands?

Love Jesus and keep His Commandments. The Gospel of John quotes Jesus as saying "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (John 14:15). But what Commandments is Jesus talking about? What Commandments should Christ-followers obey? That is what I will address in this today's post, and I will show that Jesus is speaking of more than just 'loving others'. I will show that there are many Commands of Jesus that born-again believers will obey, and by this show their love and appreciation to our Savior.


One might be easily convinced that when Jesus asks us to keep His Commandments (John 14:15, Luke 6:46, 1 John 2:3, among others), that we should follow only the two most important Commandments: "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" 37 And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:34-40, see, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 10:25-28). And so, are the two Greatest Commandments to love God and to love others, are these what Jesus is asking us to keep in order to show our love to Him?


I don't think so. What opened my eyes is the overwhelming number of Jesus' Commands that He has given us in the Gospels. I recently read a Commentary that listed all of the Commands of Jesus, and I decided to try and bring them altogether (I'm in the process of organizing them right now.) I count over 50 of Jesus' Commands in the Gospel of Matthew alone. To give you a flavor for what Jesus has commanded His followers to do, take a look at a few of Jesus' Commands:


  • Do not divorce; Mt 19:6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate;
  • Baptism, Mt 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit;
  • Belief in Christ, Jn 6:29 Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" 29 Jesus answered them, **"This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent. (see, John 14:1, 1 John 3:23);
  • Chastity, Mt 5:27, 28. You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.;
  • Fear God, Mt 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell; . Lk 12:4, 5.
  • Forsake all for Christ, Lk 14:33 (So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.).;
  • Honesty, Mk 10:19 (You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.), and many more;
  • Labor, Jn 6:27. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.


My thanks to the writers of the 'New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge' (entry for 1 John 2:3) for pulling Jesus' Commands together (and yes, Pastor MacArthur's Study Bible entry for 1 John 2:3 was also very helpful.). And yes, there are many, many verses on loving our neighbor, and how we should do this, but there are also many other ethical and moral commands that Jesus taught about in the Gospels. And we are to keep them ALL. By keeping Jesus' Commands we repay Him in the only way we can – we keep His Commands because it shows our love and gratitude for Him and what He has done for us and for our loved ones.


Now with "love and gratitude" as the reason that we keep Jesus' Commands, let's be clear that we do not receive salvation for our obedience. Salvation is by God's Grace through faith in Jesus alone. And so, obeying Jesus' Commands is the truest form of love we can show – there's nothing in it for us. This makes it even more appealing to me to obey Jesus' Commands. We don't have to earn our salvation or earn our heavenly Father's love through our actions. Instead, God already loves us because of our faith in Jesus, and instead helps us to grow in our development as a disciple of Jesus. He does this through helping us to grow in obedience.


And so, my application for any readers of this post is this – When you read about Jesus' Commands and how we should keep these Commands, are you filled with dread or gratitude? Are you so grateful of what Jesus has done for you that you trust in Him enough to give up something that is against what He has commanded. Or do you place your behavior as covered by the Blood of Jesus, Grace that God has provided to you, and you believe that you don't have to grow in obedience to these Commands? Let me challenge you to find more of Jesus' Commands through study of the Bible and take one Command and work on it this week. In Jesus' Precious and Almighty name I pray that you are blessed through this, Amen.


Bryan and Meggan said...

I've been teaching through Jn. 14-15 for a few weeks now and it is amazing to note how big of an emphasis Jesus places on the relationship between love and obedience. There is just no getting around the fact of his expectations. To love Jesus is to obey Jesus, and to obey Jesus is to love Jesus.


edward oleander said...

"To love Jesus is to obey Jesus, and to obey Jesus is to love Jesus."

Sorry, but "amazing" is not the word that comes to mind... "unsurprising" is far closer to the mark.

How many religions do not use this philosophy in some form or another? Very few. It is a hallmark of religion that you have to obey, and that obedience and love are intertwined. It's only one of the 1001 common memes that run throughout the vast bulk of religions. This is why outsiders like me are always upsetting the devout when we lump their religion (whatever it might be) in with the rest of the "worlds religions" stew. I understand that every religious person wants to believe that his set of beliefs is special and shouldn't be lumped in with anything, but when common themes keep popping up in system after system, it is hard not to do exactly that.

Tom, I won't ask why Christianity deserves not to be lumped... we've tried that before and it's too big a bite to chew on a blog... so let's try a new idea inspired by Bryan...

Tell me why Bryan is "amazed" by Jesus tying love and obedience together. This is such a standard tactic when trying to influence behavior that it amazes me that he should be amazed. We do the same with our children, our friends and our relatives ("IF you loved me, you would ...") and 'patriots' (and I use the word loosely in this context) do the same for our nation ("IF you love America, you will ..."). In general, psychologists and debaters will tell you it isn't really a great or sound arguement style.

When Rev. Moon, the Bhagwan, or David Koresh uses this tactic, Christians call it 'brainwashing', but when Jesus does it, it is accepted and even admired. Why? Knowing this would give me some insight into why Christians, at least, believe in their religion's uniqueness.