In my last post, we looked at His commands to beware of false prophets; not worrying about our life; and, taking heed of how we live out our righteousness. In this post, we will wrap up this series on the Commands of Yeshua.
My theme throughout this series has been these words of Yeshua: “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.” (Yochanan 14:15) In the introduction to this series, I stated that identifying and clarifying all the commands in the Bible was way beyond the scope of this series. However, I find that I can’t close this series without reiterating the assertion that I made in the beginning.
I firmly believe that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living; thus anyone who belongs to God may be fully equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) I also believe that this applies to ALL Scripture as currently canonized in both the Tanakh and the Brit Hadashah.
Moshe wrote “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) Yochanan follows up in the opening of his Gospel with “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…The Word became a human being and lived with us, and we saw his Sh’khinah, the Sh’khinah of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” (Yochanan 1:1, 14) Clearly, Yeshua was with the Father from the very beginning and the commands of God were His as well.
Following Yeshua’s Commands Is an Act of Love
Just as God established the earth, so has His Word been established. He is unchanging and cannot lie; therefore, His commands and what He has spoken stand true forever; they are relevant for all generations. God established His truths and commands to govern and guide life; they always have a contemporary application because they are based on His nature and wisdom for all time. Our confidence in God’s Word enables us to survive and endure trials.
It really irritates me when I hear people say that Yeshua abolished the commands of the Tanakh. He Himself said that “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17 ESV) The primary theme of the Sermon of the Mount was to re-enforce the commandments by clarifying the original intent versus man-made interpretations and additions. Many of the commandments regarding Temple practices and sacrifices have served their initial purpose, but just because a command is in the Tanakh doesn’t give us carte blanche to ignore it.
We get assurance of God’s loving-kindness and salvation from His Word. Once we have received God’s salvation through belief in Yeshua, there should be an obvious change of lifestyle, values, and perspectives because the Ruach abides within us, guiding us and producing Messiah-like character. We experience the evidence of God’s loving-kindness each time we confess our sins and find release from guilt because of His forgiveness. But we know that we can be saved by trusting in Yeshua because that’s what God’s Word tells us. We are told of God’s loving-kindness and believe it by faith before there is any empirical evidence or emotional experience of its reality.
Dwelling under the shadow of His wings is like a shield repelling all that is contrary to His way of life. Yeshua speaks of it as the “abiding” life. In He says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7 NASB) We maintain that sense of fellowship with the Father; He becomes our hiding place from the pressures and temptations of worldly influences, only as His words abide in us.
Psalm 119 in its entirety is about our adhering to the Word of God; learning it, meditating on it, and delighting in it. It is about loving it more than gold and finding it sweeter than honey than anything else we might experience.
Ironically, the Law of God, viewed as commands to be obeyed, should actually promote living by grace. The Law of God is for grace. We need to be reminded that we are still sinners. The best way to do this is to take seriously the commands of God as a rule of life. We’ll be continually reminded that we really are spiritually bankrupt – even as Believers. And as redeemed sinners in a perpetual state of bankruptcy, we’ll come to appreciate more each day the super-abounding grace of God.
The fundamental character of God’s Law has not changed from Tanakh to the Brit Hadashah. What has changed is our reason for obedience. Under a sense of legalism, obedience is done with a view to meriting salvation or God’s blessing on our lives. Under grace, obedience is a loving response to salvation already provided by Yeshua and the assurance that God will provide.
There’s no question that obedience to God’s commands prompted by fear or merit-seeking is not true obedience. The only obedience acceptable to God is inspired by love because “love is the fullness of Torah.” (Romans 13:10) In a profound way, love and obedience are bound together. Yeshua said: “If someone loves me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23)
God’s Law as revealed in His Word prescribes our duty, but love provides the correct motive for obedience. We obey God’s Law, not to be loved but because we are loved by Yeshua.
Following the commands of Yeshua is an act of love. A child of God cannot in one breath say, “I love you, Lord,” and then turn around and disobey Christ’s directives and expectations for His children. Love should lead us to actions that demonstrate our love.
Far too many people view the commands of God or the commands of Yeshua as restrictive or punitive – too many “thou shalt nots.” But God is not giving us restrictions; He is giving us commands to help us avoid disaster and to free us from the bondage in which we might otherwise find ourselves. God’s instructions for us are designed to help us prosper – in our relationships with others, in our quality of life, in our walk with Him, and in finding fulfillment and purpose in life.
Moshe wrote, “Adonai ordered us to observe all these laws, to fear Adonai our God, always for our own good, so that he might keep us alive, as we are today. It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to obey all these mitzvot before Adonai our God, just as he ordered us to do.” (Deuteronomy 6:24-25) Yochanan wrote, “The way we can be sure we know Him [Yeshua] is if we are obeying His commands.” (1 Yochanan 2:3)
May you find the joy, peace, hope, and love God intended for you when He sent His Son to show us the way back into His presence and reveal to us the pathway to righteousness.
In my next post, I want to explore the issue of humility. I think I’m going to call it ~ Humility: Confessions of a Self-Centered Man.