What Are The Commandments Of God For Us Today?
…And What Does It Mean For Us To “Keep Them”?
By Curt Wildy
If (by God’s grace and effectual working) we do not listen to the entire counsel of God, submit to it, have it guide our understanding of all truth, and govern all of our doctrinal positions, we will be like the three friends of Job ‘who darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge.‘ It isn’t the Antinomian, the Legalist, or the True Christian who for a season (or seasons) may lean in one direction or another, who determines divine truth, but it is the Holy Spirit alone who must do so for us, through the word of God (that is, through Holy Scripture alone). He must guide us into truth, leading us there into, and determining it for us, if we are to come to truth on any given matter.
As we begin, we must remember that God’s words, sayings, judgments, statutes, commandments, and laws are all one and the same thing (they are all synonymous terms though each may highlight a different aspect or nuance of the whole). We see this truth in passages like:
John 14:15, 21-24 “IF YE LOVE ME, KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS. … 21 HE THAT HATH MY COMMANDMENTS, AND KEEPETH THEM, HE IT IS THAT LOVETH ME: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, IF A MAN LOVE ME, HE WILL KEEP MY WORDS: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 “HE THAT LOVETH ME NOT KEEPETH NOT MY SAYINGS: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.”
Ezekiel 11:19-20 “…And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 20 THAT THEY MAY WALK IN MY STATUTES, AND KEEP MINE ORDINANCES, AND DO THEM: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”
Ezekiel 36:25-27 “…Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in MY STATUTES, AND YE SHALL KEEP MINE JUDGMENTS, AND DO [THEM].”
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q1. WHAT ARE THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD FOR THE CHRISTIAN TODAY?
A1. All of the verbal imperatives, and all of the admonitory texts that God gives us in the New Testament, and all that has not been expressly abrogated from the Old Testament, constitute God’s commandments/laws/teachings/etc. for us today.
Q2. CAN THE ANSWER ABOVE BE PROVEN BY SCRIPTURAL EXAMPLE?
A2. Yes, consider the following TEN (10) examples…
(01) 1 Corinthians 14:34-37 “LET YOUR WOMEN KEEP SILENCE IN THE CHURCHES: FOR IT IS NOT PERMITTED UNTO THEM TO SPEAK; but [they are commanded] to be under obedience, AS ALSO SAITH THE LAW. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. 36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? 37 IF ANY MAN THINK HIMSELF TO BE A PROPHET, OR SPIRITUAL, LET HIM ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THE THINGS THAT I WRITE UNTO YOU ARE THE COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD. 38 BUT IF ANY MAN BE IGNORANT, LET HIM BE IGNORANT.“
(02) 1 Corinthians 7:39 “THE WIFE IS BOUND BY THE LAW as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; ONLY IN THE LORD” [i.e., she is not free to marry a non-Christian, only a Christian].
(03) Ephesians 6:1-6 “CHILDREN, OBEY YOUR PARENTS IN THE LORD: FOR THIS IS RIGHT. 2 HONOUR THY FATHER AND MOTHER; (WHICH IS THE FIRST COMMANDMENT WITH PROMISE;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 5 Servants, be obedient to them that are [your] masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart…
(04) 1 Thessalonians 4:1-5, 9-12 “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort [you] by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, [so] ye would abound more and more. 2 FOR YE KNOW WHAT COMMANDMENTS WE GAVE YOU BY THE LORD JESUS. 3 For this is the will of God, [even] your sanctification, THAT YE SHOULD ABSTAIN FROM FORNICATION: 4 THAT EVERY ONE OF YOU SHOULD KNOW HOW TO POSSESS HIS VESSEL IN SANCTIFICATION AND HONOUR; 5 NOT IN THE LUST OF CONCUPISCENCE, even as the Gentiles which know not God… 9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; 11 And that ye STUDY TO BE QUIET, AND TO DO YOUR OWN BUSINESS, AND TO WORK WITH YOUR OWN HANDS, AS WE COMMANDED YOU; 12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and [that] ye may have lack of nothing.”
(06) 2 Thessalonians 3:10-14 “For even when we were with you, THIS WE COMMANDED YOU, THAT IF ANY WOULD NOT WORK, NEITHER SHOULD HE EAT. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 NOW THEM THAT ARE SUCH WE COMMAND AND EXHORT BY OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THAT WITH QUIETNESS THEY WORK, AND EAT THEIR OWN BREAD. 13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. 14 And IF ANY MAN OBEY NOT OUR WORD BY THIS EPISTLE, NOTE THAT MAN, AND HAVE NO COMPANY WITH HIM, THAT HE MAY BE ASHAMED…”
(07) 2 Peter 3:1-3 “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in [both] which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 THAT YE MAY BE MINDFUL OF THE WORDS WHICH WERE SPOKEN BEFORE BY THE HOLY PROPHETS, AND OF THE COMMANDMENT OF US THE APOSTLES OF THE LORD AND SAVIOUR: 3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, WALKING AFTER THEIR OWN LUSTS…”
(08) 1 Timothy 6:11-14 “…But thou, O man of God, FLEE THESE THINGS; AND FOLLOW AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS, GODLINESS, FAITH, LOVE, PATIENCE, MEEKNESS. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and [before] Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; 14 THAT THOU KEEP [THIS] COMMANDMENT WITHOUT SPOT, UNREBUKEABLE, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ…”
(09) Acts 17:30 “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; BUT NOW COMMANDETH ALL MEN EVERY WHERE TO REPENT.”
(10) 1 Corinthians 9:6-14 “Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? 7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? 8 SAY I THESE THINGS AS A MAN? OR SAITH NOT THE LAW THE SAME ALSO? 9 FOR IT IS WRITTEN IN THE LAW OF MOSES, THOU SHALT NOT MUZZLE THE MOUTH OF THE OX THAT TREADETH OUT THE CORN. Doth God take care for oxen? 10 Or saith he [it] altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, [this] is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, [is it] a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 12 If others be partakers of [this] power over you, [are] not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live [of the things] of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.”
Q3. THEN WHAT ARE THE COMMANDMENTS THAT WE ARE NO LONGER TO KEEP?
A3. All that has been abrogated, i.e., ended, abolished, put away by God.
It is the ceremonial, judicial, and related aspects of the Mosaic law that God calls the law of commandments in ordinances. Perform a word search in the Bible for ordinances, particularly as found in the Old Testament, and you will see that the various sacrifices, feast days, diverse baptisms/washings, circumcision, etc. were all called ordinances for “…these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service [of God]. 7 But into the second [went] the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and [for] the errors of the people: 8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: 9 Which [was] a figure for the time then present, IN WHICH WERE OFFERED BOTH GIFTS AND SACRIFICES, THAT COULD NOT MAKE HIM THAT DID THE SERVICE PERFECT, AS PERTAINING TO THE CONSCIENCE; 10 [WHICH STOOD] ONLY IN MEATS AND DRINKS, AND DIVERS WASHINGS, AND CARNAL ORDINANCES, IMPOSED [ON THEM] UNTIL THE TIME OF REFORMATION” Hebrews 9:6-10. Note also that God has replaced these Old Testament ordinances with new ordinances, even the imperative and admonitory statements of God; thus we read in 1 Co 11:1-2 “1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also [am] of Christ. 2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered [them] to you.”
Q4. BESIDES HEBREWS 9:6-10, CAN THE ANSWER ABOVE BE PROVEN BY ANY OTHER SCRIPTURAL EXAMPLE?
A4. Yes, consider these FOUR (4) additional examples…
(01) Ephesians 2:15 “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [EVEN] THE LAW OF COMMANDMENTS [CONTAINED] IN ORDINANCES; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace…”
(02) Colossians 2:11-23 “ In whom also ye are CIRCUMCISED with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 Buried with him in BAPTISM, wherein also ye are risen with [him] through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 BLOTTING OUT THE HANDWRITING OF ORDINANCES THAT WAS AGAINST US, WHICH WAS CONTRARY TO US, AND TOOK IT OUT OF THE WAY, NAILING IT TO HIS CROSS; 15 [And] having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. 16 Let no man therefore judge you IN MEAT, OR IN DRINK, OR IN RESPECT OF AN HOLYDAY, OR OF THE NEW MOON, OR OF THE SABBATH [DAYS]: 17 WHICH ARE A SHADOW OF THINGS TO COME; but the body [is] of Christ. 18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. 20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from THE RUDIMENTS of the world, WHY, AS THOUGH LIVING IN THE WORLD, ARE YE SUBJECT TO ORDINANCES, 21 (TOUCH NOT; TASTE NOT; HANDLE NOT; 22 WHICH ALL ARE TO PERISH WITH THE USING;) AFTER THE COMMANDMENTS AND DOCTRINES OF MEN? 23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.”
NOTE: “RUDIMENTS” IN THE PASSAGE ABOVE, AND “ELEMENTS” IN THE PASSAGE BELOW, ARE THE SAME GREEK WORD, THUS, TYING TOGETHER THESE TWO AS SISTER PASSAGES.
(03) Galatians 4:1-11 “Now I say, [That] the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; 2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. 3 EVEN SO WE, WHEN WE WERE CHILDREN, WERE IN BONDAGE UNDER THE ELEMENTS OF THE WORLD: 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. 8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. 9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, HOW TURN YE AGAIN TO THE WEAK AND BEGGARLY ELEMENTS, WHEREUNTO YE DESIRE AGAIN TO BE IN BONDAGE? 10 YE OBSERVE DAYS, AND MONTHS, AND TIMES, AND YEARS. 11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.”
(04) Hebrews 7:14-19 “For [it is] evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. 15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, 16 Who is made, NOT AFTER THE LAW OF A CARNAL COMMANDMENT, but after the power of an endless life. 17 For he testifieth, Thou [art] a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. 18 FOR THERE IS VERILY A DISANNULLING OF THE COMMANDMENT GOING BEFORE FOR THE WEAKNESS AND UNPROFITABLENESS THEREOF. 19 FOR THE LAW MADE NOTHING PERFECT, BUT THE BRINGING IN OF A BETTER HOPE [DID]; by the which we draw nigh unto God.”
Q5. THE BIBLE DECLARES THAT GOD-WROUGHT FAITH AND GOD-WROUGHT LOVE (FAITH IN CHRIST, LOVE FOR HIM, AND LOVE FOR MAN — ESPECIALLY THE BRETHREN) ARE THE FULFILLMENT OF THE TWO GREAT COMMANDMENTS THAT WE ARE TO KEEP… AS PER THE FOLLOWING FOUR (4) PASSAGES… DO YOU DISAGREE?
(01) 1 John 2:3-9 “And HEREBY WE DO KNOW THAT WE KNOW HIM, IF WE KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS. 4 HE THAT SAITH, I KNOW HIM, AND KEEPETH NOT HIS COMMANDMENTS, IS A LIAR, and the truth is not in him. 5 BUT WHOSO KEEPETH HIS WORD, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 HE THAT SAITH HE ABIDETH IN HIM OUGHT HIMSELF ALSO SO TO WALK, EVEN AS HE WALKED. 7 Brethren, I WRITE NO NEW COMMANDMENT UNTO YOU, BUT AN OLD COMMANDMENT WHICH YE HAD FROM THE BEGINNING. THE OLD COMMANDMENT IS THE WORD WHICH YE HAVE HEARD FROM THE BEGINNING. 8 Again, A NEW COMMANDMENT I WRITE UNTO YOU, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. 9 HE THAT SAITH HE IS IN THE LIGHT, AND HATETH HIS BROTHER, IS IN DARKNESS EVEN UNTIL NOW.”
(02) John 13:34-35 “A NEW COMMANDMENT I GIVE UNTO YOU, THAT YE LOVE ONE ANOTHER; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
(03) John 15:9-14 “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 IF YE KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and [that] your joy might be full. 12 THIS IS MY COMMANDMENT, THAT YE LOVE ONE ANOTHER, AS I HAVE LOVED YOU. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, IF YE DO WHATSOEVER I COMMAND YOU.“
(04) 1 John 4:20-21 “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And THIS COMMANDMENT HAVE WE FROM HIM, THAT HE WHO LOVETH GOD LOVE HIS BROTHER ALSO.“
A5. I do not disagree at all. However, what is faith and what is love?
True, God-wrought faith is belief in, rest in, fidelity to, and trust in Christ, the Triune Godhead He reveals, and the True Gospel that reveals Him. Such faith is always accompanied by a God-wrought love for the Truth as well as by good works which accompany and make manifest said faith. Thus, faith without works is dead (as we read in James 2:20-26) and the works that we are to work out (as God works them out in us) are the very works associated with obedience to the imperatives and admonitions of God spoken of at the beginning of this article. Likewise, what does it mean to love? Is love just a notion, just a feeling, or is love the keeping of God’s commandments (imperatives and admonitions) towards those within the Body of Christ and those without? True love, agape love, is keeping the King’s commandments. Said another way, we love others by treating them as God declares, yea even commands, that we are to treat them. There is no divine, biblical, God-wrought love apart from acting towards the person in a way that God, Himself, instructs us to act.
We read in Matthew 22:34-40 “But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35 Then one of them, [which was] a lawyer, asked [him a question], tempting him, and saying, 36 MASTER, WHICH [IS] THE GREAT COMMANDMENT IN THE LAW? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 ON THESE TWO COMMANDMENTS HANG ALL THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS.”
Per the above, all of the commandments, all of the laws of God, can be summarised by, and thus amount to, the words “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind…[and] love thy neighbour as thyself.” This is why we read James 2:8-13 “If ye FULFIL THE ROYAL LAW according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by THE LAW OF LIBERTY. 13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.”
Yet, perhaps the clearest passage is Romans 13:8-10 “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: FOR HE THAT LOVETH ANOTHER HATH FULFILLED THE LAW. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 LOVE WORKETH NO ILL TO HIS NEIGHBOUR: THEREFORE LOVE [IS] THE FULFILLING OF THE LAW.” To “work no ill” towards them is synonymous with, and tantamount to, treating them as God commands that we ought to treat them. When we do what He commands us to do, and abstain from doing what He commands us not to do, we are loving them. Therefore, in walking in accordance with the moral law, the “ten commandments,” the verbal imperatives of God, etc., we are loving those with whom we interact. To love is to abstain from both literal and spiritual killing, stealing, adultery, etc. This is why we read passages like:
Galatians 6:1-2 “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 BEAR YE ONE ANOTHER’S BURDENS, AND SO FULFIL THE LAW OF CHRIST.“
Galatians 5:13-15 “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 FOR ALL THE LAW IS FULFILLED IN ONE WORD, [EVEN] IN THIS; THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF. 15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”
2 John 1:4-6 “I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. 5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 AND THIS IS LOVE, THAT WE WALK AFTER HIS COMMANDMENTS. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.”
NOTE: IN KEEPING THE [GREAT/ROYAL/SPIRITUAL] COMMANDMENT [singular], WE ARE TO KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS [plural]. Hence the words: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER I HAVE COMMANDED YOU: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen” [Matthew 28:19-20].
What the Holy Spirit moved the Apostles, et. al. to write in the New Testament, we are to keep, guard in our hearts, so as to obey as God willed, foreordained, and actively enables. The authority of the Apostles to command us with the commandments of God is evidenced by passages like:
Acts 1:1-4 “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that HE THROUGH THE HOLY GHOST HAD GIVEN COMMANDMENTS UNTO THE APOSTLES WHOM HE HAD CHOSEN: 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4 And, being assembled together with [them], COMMANDED THEM that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, [saith he], ye have heard of me.”
Acts 13:46-47 “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 FOR SO HATH THE LORD COMMANDED US, [saying], I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
Whilst in this body of death, the Christian cannot obey the sayings, word/words, law/laws, even the commandment/commandments of God perfectly, but we are to keep them in our hearts nonetheless. We read in 1 John 5:1-3 “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS. 3 For this is the love of God, that WE KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS: AND HIS COMMANDMENTS ARE NOT GRIEVOUS.”
God’s commandments are not grievous to His quickened children; it is only our inability to perfectly obey them that we find grievous, odious, vile. We loathe ourselves, and this body of death, because we cannot obey like we want, like we wish we could, after the inner/inward/new/born-of-the-Spirit-spiritual man. This is in keeping with Romans 7:22-25 “FOR I DELIGHT IN THE LAW OF GOD AFTER THE INWARD MAN: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. SO THEN WITH THE MIND I MYSELF SERVE THE LAW OF GOD; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
How can the Christian serve the law of God, and delight in it? God declares multiple times (eight included here) that it is by His action/operation:
(01) Jeremiah 31:33 “But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I WILL PUT MY LAW IN THEIR INWARD PARTS, AND WRITE IT IN THEIR HEARTS; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
(02) Hebrews 8:10 “For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MIND, AND WRITE THEM IN THEIR HEARTS: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people…”
(03) Hebrews 10:16 “This [is] the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR HEARTS, AND IN THEIR MINDS WILL I WRITE THEM…”
(04) Jeremiah 32:40 “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; BUT I WILL PUT MY FEAR IN THEIR HEARTS, THAT THEY SHALL NOT DEPART FROM ME.”
(05) Ezekiel 11:19-20 “And I WILL GIVE THEM ONE HEART, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 20 THAT THEY MAY WALK IN MY STATUTES, AND KEEP MINE ORDINANCES, AND DO THEM: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
(06) Ezekiel 36:27 “And I will put My Spirit within you, AND CAUSE YOU TO WALK IN MY STATUTES, AND YE SHALL KEEP MY JUDGMENTS, AND DO [THEM].“
(07) Ezekiel 37:24 “And David my servant [shall be] king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: THEY SHALL ALSO WALK IN MY JUDGMENTS, AND OBSERVE MY STATUTES, AND DO THEM.“
(08) Philippians 2:12-15 “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 FOR IT IS GOD WHICH WORKETH IN YOU BOTH TO WILL AND TO DO OF [HIS] GOOD PLEASURE. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, AMONG WHOM YE SHINE AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD.”
Note that 1 John 3:22-24 declares “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.”
Clearly, the above passage is teaching that the commandment of God is that we should (1) believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ and (2) love one another… but how are we to love one another? The passage tells us… we are to love one another AS HE GAVE US COMMANDMENT. In other words, in the way that He commands us (via verbal imperatives and admonitions), that is the way in which we are to love one another. We keep His ONE ROYAL commandment (singular, i.e., loving God and loving man) by acting towards Him, and towards man, in keeping with His commandments (plural). The commandments (plural) are the cells, the building blocks, that make up the one commandment (singular). The commandment is the forest but the commandments are the trees therein.
Finally, neither in the Old Testament, nor in the New Testament, does “keep” mean (or equate to) “obey perfectly.” In the Greek, keep/keepeth is Tēreō, G5083, from the root word teros meaning to watch. Tēreō is translated seventy-five (75) times as follows in the AV/KJV: keep (57x), reserve (8x), observe (4x), watch (2x), preserve (2x), keeper (1x), hold fast (1x). It means “to attend to carefully, take care of; to guard; to observe; to reserve: to undergo something;” yet, in the most literal sense, it means to guard (from loss or injury, properly, by keeping the eye upon). We are to keep, guard, retain the commandments in our heart so as to do them — with God knowing that we cannot do them perfectly in this life (in this body of death). However, if we guard His words, sayings, teachings, commandments, laws, in our hearts (keeping them there by His grace and effectual working), then we are more apt to do them. This is why we are to constantly read, meditate upon, discuss, search out, and otherwise occupy our mind with His word.
Now, does the Hebrew meaning behind “keepeth/keep” match the Greek definition? Absolutely! Consider Shamar; H8104; a primitive root word translated 468 times in the AV/KJV as “keep (283x), observe (46x), heed (35x), keeper (28x), preserve (21x), beware (9x), mark (8x), watchman (8x), wait (7x), watch (7x), regard (5x), save (2x), misc (9x).” This word means “to keep, guard, observe, give heed; have charge of; keep watch and ward; protect; to watch for, wait for; observe; retain, treasure up (in memory); to keep (within bounds), restrain; preserve; pay heed.” In the most literal sense, it means to hedge about (as with thorns) so as to guard or keep.
Notice, in the definitions above (for both the Greek and Hebrew), keep means neither TO OBEY or TO OBEY PERFECTLY, though we are to keep/guard/preserve/retain the words, sayings, teachings, laws, and commandments of God so as to obey them as He enables in light of the good works that He has foreordained for us. We keep so as to do, but we do not keep by means of obeying perfectly, because we cannot — not as quickened spirit and fallen flesh. May God give us the strength to keep all the more, to read, ponder, and encourage one another all the more, and to obey Him all the more, in love, out of thanksgiving, unto our felt comfort and good, and unto His glory.
To God alone be the glory, Amen!