His Commandments

Although Christians have been freed from the yoke of the law which, as Peter said, "neither our fathers nor we were able to bear" (Acts 15:10), the righteous requirements of the law are fulfilled in true believers of the Lord Jesus Christ, "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Rom. 8:4). Christians do not have the ten commandments, given to Israel, as their rule of life. We have Christ as our example, a divine nature that has the capacity for pleasing God, and the Holy Spirit as the power to enable us to walk for God's pleasure in this world. The Gospels show us what Christ was for God in the world, and His commandments were but the formal expression of what was livingly expressed in Himself, for He never asked others to do anything but what He perfectly expressed in His own life before them.

What are the Lord's Commandments?

We have already seen that what the Lord commanded He expressed in His own life, but He gave the commandments that what was seen in Him might be manifested in His disciples. The Gospels contain many of the Lord's commandments. In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5, we read, "Let your light so shine before men" (Matt. 5:16); "Resist not evil" (Matt. 5:39); "Give to him that asketh thee" (Matt. 5:42); "Love your enemies" (Matt. 5:44); and "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father … is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). These are but a few of the commandments given by the Lord in the Synoptic Gospels, every one of which was expressed in His own life, and that He desires to see in the lives of His own as making Him known before men, and as giving pleasure to Him and to His God and Father.

In John's Gospel the Lord commanded His disciples, "Abide in me" and "Abide in my love" (John 15:4, 10 following these with "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12). To Simon Peter the Lord gave commandments for his personal service, "Feed my sheep" and "Feed my lambs" (John 21:15-17); and when Peter desired to know what John was to do, the Lord said to him, "What is that to thee? follow thou Me" (John 21:22). We are to abide in the Son of God, in dependence upon Him, and in communion with Him, ever dwelling in the sense of His great love for us, and manifesting divine love to our brethren, seeking to do His will and following Him.

In the Epistles we have many of the Lord's commandments both for the individual saint and for the maintenance of that which is due to God in His assembly. We are to bless them that persecute us, not to avenge ourselves for evil done to us, but to overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:14-21). We are to be subject to the powers that be and not to owe any man anything (Rom. 13:1, 8). No corrupt word is to proceed out of our mouths and we are not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:29-30). Quite a list of divine commandments, or exhortations, are found in 1 Thessalonians 5:15-22, and many others are found in the other epistles. After having written many things in relation to God's order in the assembly, the Spirit of God through the Apostle Paul added, "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" (1 Cor. 14:37).

Obedience the Proof of Love

Those who love the Lord Jesus find delight in all that He has spoken and surely desire to know and to do His will. Of this the Lord said in John 14:21, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me". When we think of who the Lord Jesus is, and what He has done for us, there is surely responsive affection in our hearts to Him, and the evidence of that love is our seeking to know what He desires us to be and to do for Him. His desires are expressed in His commandments, and these the true disciple values and seeks to do. The Lord then tells of the blessing that comes to those who value and do His commandments, "he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him".

Our love to the children of God is also expressed by obedience to the commandments of God, even as it is written, "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" (1 John 5:2-3). It is not love to the children of God to encourage them in a wrong course, either by going along with them in it, or by supporting them in any way in what is not according to God's will. True love is expressed by showing them what God desires, and that by walking ourselves in the path of His will and refusing to do anything contrary to that which He has commanded.

"His Commandments Are Not Grievous"

Even if obedience to His Father's will meant suffering and sorrow for the Son of God on earth, He nevertheless could say. "I delight to do Thy will, O my God". The Apostle Paul could "glory in tribulation" as something normal to the Christian in doing God's will, and he could "take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake" (2 Cor. 12:10), knowing that this was God's will for him.

The Lord has given us His commandments that the divine nature might have avenues in which to express itself, and every expression of the divine nature manifests our delight in God's will and gives Him pleasure. Divine commandments are grievous to the flesh, but are not grievous to the divine nature, even if sorrow, suffering, affliction and persecution may result from doing God's will. A Christian who is under the influence of the world will find it grievous to obey the Lord's commandments, but if he renounces the world and judges the flesh that lusted after the things of the world, the divine nature will then have free course to delight in and do the will of God.

Walking as the Son of God Walked

One of the precious privileges of the true believer is to know that he knows God, and this knowledge is acquired "if we keep His commandments" (1 John 2:3). Walking in obedience to the will of God gives the consciousness that we know the God whose will we seek to do. The mere professor, who has not the divine nature, who is not a child of God, exposes himself as false in his not seeking or doing what God has commanded. Every professed Christian by his profession says he knows God, but his attitude to the commandments of God proves whether his profession is real of false.

Every professing Christian by his profession also says that he abides in the Son of God, and the test is, Does he walk as the Son of God walked in this world? It is one of God's commandments that the Christian ought to walk "even as He walked" (1 John 2:6). This is not a new commandment; it is what the Lord asked His disciples to do when here upon earth: it is what He said to Simon Peter when He commanded "Follow thou me". This old commandment sums up all the commandments of the Lord Jesus, for every one directs us to follow Him in expressing the divine life that was seen in its perfection in Him in testimony to His Father, and the old commandment is found in the word "which ye have had from the beginning", that is, in the ministry of the Son of God here on earth.

John added, "Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you" (1 John 2:8). What the Lord now commands from heaven is a new commandment as given anew from the new place into which He has gone, but in substance it is the same as what He commanded while on earth. When on earth what He commanded was found in Him; it was the divine life in which God was manifested. What He now commands as a new commandment is not only found in Him in heaven, it is also found in His own, in the children of God on earth, for He has communicated to them His own life, the life in which the nature of God is expressed. As having God's nature we are able to walk as the Son of God walked, but there must be the setting aside of all that is of the flesh which hinders the expression of the divine life.

"Whatsoever We Ask, We Receive of Him"

It is both a responsibility and a privilege to keep the commandments of the Lord. If we love our brother we would not see him in need and shut up our bowels of compassion. When we walk with a good conscience, we have "confidence toward God" (1 John 3:17-21). With this holy confidence in God's presence we can freely ask those things that are needed for the carrying out of the Lord's will, knowing that we shall receive them, "because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight" (1 John 3:22). No one walking in obedience to God would ask for anything but that which would be for His honour and glory.

What God requires from us is "That we should believe on the Name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment" (1 John 3:23). How much there is in the Name of God's Son! It tells us of the greatness of His Person, of the might of His power, of His eternal relationship with the Father, of His fame and His glory; and the Father would have us enter into something of what is set forth in His Name, believing that which is presented to us in the Holy Scriptures, for it is believing in His Name that gives us the eternal life that is in Him (John 20:31). It is as having the life that God gives we can love one another, love that is to be manifested down here so that men may know that we are disciples of the Son of God and children of God.

He who keeps the commandments of God, who believes on the Name of God's Son, "dwelleth in Him, and He in him" (John 3:24). While it is true that every child of God dwells in God's Son, and that the Son dwells in him by the Spirit, it is also true that in a practical way we can dwell in Christ as depending upon Him and as in communion with Him, and in the measure that we abide in Him so will He abide in us. In John 15:4 we have the exhortation from the Lord, "Abide in me, and I in you", and because of this we can understand that in the measure we keep His commandments so will we abide in the Son, and the Son abide in us to manifest what He is in testimony in this world. What a wonderful blessing and privilege for us to know our place as dwelling in the Son, and the Son dwelling in us.