If You Keep My Commandments

(John 15:8-11)

book of the law
If you keep my commandments is NOT about the book of the law

We are looking at the section of John 15 where Jesus is teaching about Him being the vine, we are the branches and the Father is the vinedresser. In fact this is now my third post from this section and here we see Jesus add to the discussion about abiding in His love, telling us HOW we are to do this.

There is no big secret in what the Lord tells us, however there seems to be many differing opinions as to the meanings of the words here. The key to abiding in the love of Jesus is in verse 10 that says, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”

Its Not the Law

The first thing we must understand here is that when Jesus says these words, he was not talking about the Old Testament law. He said in verse 10, “If you keep MY commandments,” not the commandments of the Mosaic Law. Furthermore He adds, “…just as I have kept my Fathers commandments,” which again is not the commandments under the law of Moses.

The Law of Moses was established for man in his physical state. It regulated the matters of the physical and human life here on earth. There were laws to do with food, clothing, dress, times and places of worship, sacrifices as well as our relationship to God and each other. For the most part these were all to do with the government of man according to the requirements of God. They set a standard for man to live by.

But when we come to Christ we are no longer under those laws. Jesus came and through His death we are set free from the law, as is discussed in Romans 6 and 7. Furthermore, the Law of Moses was ordained and administered by the priesthood of Aaron. But Christ became a priest to God, not under the priesthood of Aaron, but in the priesthood of Melchizadek as we see in Hebrews 5:5-6,

5 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee”;
6 as he says also in another place, “Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchiz’edek.”

This is significant because the people of Israel were governed from the time of Moses by the priesthood of Aaron from the tribe of Levi and that ruling priesthood was carried down through the generations.

But Jesus was not born of the tribe of Levi. He was born from the tribe of Judah, the tribe from which David and the line of the kings came. So this is a significant change because what was happening is that the religious order of things was changing. The priesthood under the New Covenant moved away from the Levites to the Son of God, the king of Kings from the tribe of Judah.

And Jesus was appointed the high priest of God under this new process after the order of Melchizadek, who was a spiritual being and was declared to be the priest of the Most High God and the King of Salem, that is King of Peace (See Hebrews 7:1-5). And the reason the priesthood was changed with the inception of the New Covenant was so that man could be reborn and come into perfection through Him. Note the following from Hebrews 7:11-12

11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levit’ical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchiz’edek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?
12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.

The last verse is important for us in today’s discussion. When the priesthood changes, so does the law. When the priesthood moved from the priesthood of Aaron under the Old Testament Law of Moses to the priesthood of Melchizadek under the New Covenant in Christ, the whole law of the covenant changed with it.

That is why the commandments of Jesus and the Father are not the same as the old Law of Moses, because the whole structure of worship has changed under the New Covenant.

What Are the Lord’s Commandments?

When Jesus came he removed the old law for those who came to Him. In Christ we die with Him as we enter His death through baptism to be reborn a new creation in Him. And His commandments were established at the same time.

For every person who has not come to Christ the old commandments still exist for Jesus Himself said in Matthew 5:17-18,

17 “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.
18 For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.

The law does not go away, but rather Jesus has removed us from the law, which He achieved through His death and resurrection.

And now His commandments are quite simple. To believe and have faith in God and to live a life based on the love of God. Love is the ultimate commandment of God. Indeed the Old Testament law was meant to teach the people about how to love one another for the greatest of the old testament commandments were to love the Lord your God with all your heart mind and strength and to love you neighbour as yourself.

Paul even went so far as to write, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:10). The apostle John also said a similar thing in 1 John 3:23-24,

23 And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
24 All who keep his commandments abide in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us.

So love is the commandment of Jesus and of God. It is through learning to live and walk in the love of God and of Jesus Christ that we fulfil His commandments, prove ourselves to be disciples of the Lord and as an aside we fulfil all the requirements of the old law as well, even though we are no longer under it.

We learn further in John 6:28-29 that we need to be doing the works of God rather than the works of law. Jesus states,

28 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.”

It has been shown in many places throughout the Bible that to come to God and to please Him we must have faith. And this scripture here shows us that it is by faith we are doing the works of God, specifically faith in “…him whom he has sent,” that is, Jesus.

This is the works of God and love is the commandment of God.

Is it Hard to Keep His Commandments

Some people believe it is hard to be a Christians. The difficulty is not that the commandments of the Lord are hard, but that if we try to keep them under our own strength we will fail. We need to approach the New Covenant according to the word and the way of the truth that the Lord gave us.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30,

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

He did not expect it to be hard work to keep His commandments and to follow in His way. But man makes it hard work because in the churches they create rules and regulations and bind up the truth with the old Mosaic law and make the Christian covenant a mish mash of religious sounding stuff that bears no resemblance to the simplicity of the truth of Jesus Christ.

It is not hard to be a Christian. It can be difficult making a stand sometimes and living the life of a Christian in a world full of evil, but the actual lifestyle of a Christian is not difficult.

And especially it is not difficult to keep the commandments of the Lord. It will take time to learn all the aspects of love and to hold onto the faith that you start out with, but it is not hard to do. Its not like you have to climb mountains, plunge to the depths of the sea, do all manner of physical endurance activities, have millions of dollars, study theology for many years or whatever to understand the truth of the covenant.

No. Jesus has set up the covenant based on faith working towards love and built on a hope for a better future so that it is accessible to all of mankind. You cannot buy it or do anything else for it. You need only believe and anyone can do that. And as He said, if you keep his commandments, you will abide in His love and prove to be His disciples.

(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Billy Alexander)

You might also like:

Love Is The Answer
Jesus Fulfilled Law
Love Your Enemies
God Is Merciful
The Good Samaritan
Do You Know How To Set Your Moral Gps
For God So Loved The World
Serving Jesus
A New Commandment
How To Love Jesus
Its Not About The Law

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