listen to His voice,
Monday, July 10, 2017
You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him;
and you shall KEEP His commandments,
listen to His voice,
listen to His voice,
serve Him and cling to Him.
As we work our way through this verse, we have already seen the call to willingly place ourselves under God's authority (surrender at salvation) and the healthy fear of the power of God. Today we are going to talk about "keeping." The full instruction is "you shall keep His commandments."
We tend to cringe when we hear the word "commandment." That's for a few reasons. First of all, we like the concept that we are free in Christ but commands do not equate to freedom. In our mind, freedom equals the ability to do whatever we please, so the instruction to live within boundaries seems stifling. Another reason is that keeping commandments sounds like we are earning our salvation and deep down we know we cannot perfectly keep God's commandments, so why is He telling us to do so?
I want to address both of these concerns. First of all, we must understand what freedom in Christ means. It DOES NOT mean that we are free to do whatever we want. That would be foolishness. That's what got us in trouble in the first place. Remember, at salvation we are choosing to place ourselves UNDER GOD'S AUTHORITY - which means He is the boss of you. Freedom in Christ means that we are no longer in bondage to sin, but have the freedom to please the Lord in whatever we do. And what pleases the Lord the most? Obedience to His commands. (I"ll explain why in just a minute...)
Secondly, the concern that God is instructing us to earn our salvation when He says that we are to keep HIs commands is inaccurate because of timing. Remember, we are first called to FOLLOW - that's our salvation. So how can this instruction save us more than what we already are? Keeping God's commands has several purposes, but salvation is NOT one of them. As Hebrews 11:1 tells us that the Law can never make us perfect, so there must be another reason for it.
So, why should we obey God's commands? Let me give you three reasons. First, God's commands are in our best interest. Just as a parent lovingly puts boundaries around their child for their protection, God places boundaries around us. Sexual purity is a great example. Do you know how simple it is for two virgins to marry? There's no concern for disease and illness. There's no partner baggage that comes into the marriage bed. There are no competing memories or guilt trips. There aren't any unwanted pregnancies or emotional and physical residue from abortions. I have heard it said that high school girls who break up with boys they've slept with experience similar emotional loss to a divorce. Purity guarantees none of that. And yet, this is a boundary that no one wants to keep. It's outdated, old fashioned and unreasonable. Really?
God's commands are a protection for us. He is the author of life; He knows what is best. To keep the commands of the Lord shows that you trust His goodness and love for you.
Second, it's a way to receive blessing from the Lord. Psalm 1 tells us that the person who walks in the ways of the Lord has abundant fruit. Psalm 119 (all 176 verses) tells us of the blessings and benefits of walking in the Word of God. Galatians 5 tells us that the flesh produces immorality, impurity, idolatry, jealousy, anger, fighting, envying, drunkenness and things like these, but the fruit of walking in the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control. I would call those blessings. If we keep God's commandments, deny our flesh and walk in the Spirit, blessing follows.
Finally, it's a way to show our love for Him. Jesus said in John 14 that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. It's really that simple. If you have WILLINGLY placed your life in His hands, why wouldn't you obey Him? It just doesn't make sense to buck against His instruction. In light of the price paid for our eternity, keeping the commandments of God should flow from an obvious trust in His character. Would He sacrifice His Son only to leave you with ridiculous instructions to follow? Come on, friend, we've got to think bigger than that!
So the logical question is this: what are the commands of God? Oh, dear! There are many. So get in the Word and find them yourself...read the Law of Moses, that's a good place to start! In the Law you will see the heart of a holy and loving God. Read the Epistles (the letters at the end of the New Testament) - there are tons of instructions there. Or just read through a gospel - Jesus gave a lot of commands. Oh - one more! Why not just start with the BIG TEN? You've got to start some place!
Follow. Fear. Keep.