How would you like to know that you really know God? There is a way, and it is clearly stated in I John 2:3. “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” How simple is that? But it doesn’t stop there. Keeping God’s commandments provides comforting assurance in other areas important to believers. Christ tells us in the gospel of John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” It seems natural for a Christian to be desirous of a good way to express our love towards our Savior.
There are still more benefits for those who keep God’s commandments. I John 5:2-3 conveys another beautiful sentiment: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”
Just imagine, by keeping God’s commandments we can be certain that
- We know God.
- We know how to love God.
- We know how to love our fellow man.
- We know that God will hear and answer our prayers.
This leads to an important question. “Why are so many believers not keeping the Ten Commandments?” There is hardly a more divisive subject in Christianity than God’s law.
We read in I John 5:3 that God’s law is not burdensome, yet many Christians have accepted the teaching that God’s law was a burden “nailed to the cross.” Many teachers and ministers disparage those who strive to keep the Ten Commandments as “legalists.” They accuse commandment-keepers of trying to earn salvation instead of just accepting grace. This is an illogical and irrational argument based on erroneous assumptions. Christ’s sacrifice, which is what makes grace possible, did away with physical sacrifices and a physical priesthood in order to deal with sin. Jesus Christ is now our High Priest with the ability to wash us clean from sin because of His perfect life which concluded with His shed blood. It is our responsibility to go before Him in a repentant attitude asking for forgiveness when we recognize that we have broken the law of God! It is a beautiful system which combines God’s law with grace and mercy, which together form the good news of the gospel.
Hebrews 10:4, 11-23 is so wonderfully clear on this matter. “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins…” Verse 11: “And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,’ then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’ Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”
With all of this information as a backdrop, we can see why Christ was so emphatic about us keeping the law and teaching others to as well. In Matthew 5:17-19, Christ strongly warns not to break His Ten Commandments and never teach others to do so: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will be no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Emphasis added.) In the rest of Matthew chapter 5, Jesus Christ taught how fundamentally important the law is by magnifying the authority of the law far beyond the letter of it. The law is to have authority over our hearts and minds as well. For example, it is no longer acceptable not to murder, but we must not hate either. It is no longer good enough not to commit adultery. Now lust in the heart and mind is considered adultery. That is why Hebrews 10:16 explains that Christ’s new covenant now writes His laws in our hearts and minds, not just on tablets of stone.
Jesus Christ described His Ten Commandment Law as being divided into two magnificent sections. Read this fascinating exchange between Christ and some of the foremost theologians of His day. Matthew 22:34-40: “But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’” The entire word of God hangs on these two ways to express love: love toward God and love toward man. Why would any believer either choose to ignore them or not care to observe them correctly?
The last six commandments—honor your father and mother, do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, etc.—are all well-understood by most people. Most people try to observe them, realizing that is how they want to be treated by others.
The first four commandments are an entirely different matter. The Christian world is full of doctrines, teachings, and personal beliefs that go contrary to the first four commandments. Plainly, people have been deceived into thinking they can express love and obedience to God on their own terms. Let’s review the first four commandments, and you will see what I mean.
- “I am the Lord thy God…you shall have no other gods before Me.” That means not worshipping material possessions, wealth, power, etc. as well as not worshipping a false god.
- “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I the Lord your God am a jealous God…” So many Christian denominations think nothing of adorning church buildings with icons, statues, crucifixes, paintings, etc. depicting God, saints, angels, etc. Some incorporate the use of those in religious services intending to love and honor God, but they are actually breaking a commandment.
- “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” Taking God’s name in vain goes far beyond angrily saying God’s name after hitting your thumb with a hammer. The Hebrew word for vain is shav, which means a devastation, destruction, desolation, or ruin. To put it bluntly, God’s plan is to save mankind and preserve the earth for a beautiful Millennium. However, many people take His name in vain when they say He will destroy most of mankind as well as the earth in some end-time cataclysm.
- “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work…” God made it absolutely clear that the seventh day of the week is a Sabbath day of rest. However, most Christians venerate Sunday, some say any day is acceptable, and some say there is no Sabbath. Most Christians shop, work, or do anything they want on any day of the week.
The fact of the matter is this: If we truly want to love God and love our fellow man and receive the attendant blessings God wants to give us, we must strive to keep all Ten Commandments in the way God has instructed us. Then we will know that we know God.