“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.Deuteronomy 6:4-9
The essence of discipleship is faithful obedience to the Lord Jesus. The passage from Deuteronomy characterizes God’s communication with Israel as things that he commanded them. Not suggestions, commands.
The Christian church seems to always have difficulty in the proper application of something so awesome as being commanded to do something. Some fall into a pattern of legalism that says, in essence, if you don’t obey perfectly then you aren’t saved and you have to get saved again. The opposite end of the continuum is antinomianism, the teaching that the law is no longer. We are free to do anything we want because we are saved by faith alone through grace alone, etc. If we fail to keep God’s commandments it doesn’t matter. Christ has saved us. Neither of these extremes
The balance of Deuteronomy 6 says a lot about God’s commandments and ends with this statement:
And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. 25 And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.’Deuteronomy 6:24-25
But what did Jesus have to day about obedience?
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
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.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.John 14:15-17, 21, 23; 15:7, 10, 14
Just as in Deuteronomy, there is a direct connection between obedience to God’s commands and loving God and receiving his love.
The Western church has largely disconnected a walk in the Spirit as a disciple of Jesus from obedience to Jesus. We are a weak church on the whole. There are pockets of transformative power in the church in the West, but as a whole we are in trouble. One huge reason for our weakness is our disconnect between faith and obedience.
We cannot be people of obedience without being people of faith and we cannot be people of faith if we are not also people of obedience. Jesus and Paul taught a gospel of the Kingdom of God. A Kingdom has a King. The Kingdom of God comes wherever people submit to the rule of the King. If we are recalcitrant and refuse to obey our King, it is questionable as to whether or not you are actually a part of the Kingdom.