I want to pause for a moment and caution you. In John 14:21 Jesus refers to the 613 commandments recorded in the Old Testament. God gave these laws to the people of Israel as a way to live within God’s supernatural power. In the Old Testament God testifies that if they following His laws, His presence will overshadow them and will cause prosperity to overtake them.
If you look at Deuteronomy 28:1 – 10 God describes the blessings of a pre-curse life for anyone who follows His commandments. Then in verses, eleven through twelve God states that He will grant the possessions of the world by opening the treasury of heaven if, and only if, His commandments are obeyed.
Here’s the cautionary note. Following His commandments must never become a legalist act. Jesus rebuked spiritual leaders who legalistically followed the commandments and were far from Him spiritually.
The key to properly adhering to God’s commandments is love, and that’s exactly how Jesus instructs us to follow them. If you and I follow His commandments with love, we lend our self to Him and trust that His ways are better than our own.
So following His law is best practiced with Jesus’ instruction of loving God with all our heart. Practicing them for gain, or as legalistic ritual, will result in chaos and may even curse the ground we stand on, so I don’t recommend it.
Now we’re going to discuss a very unfortunate and misconceived notion about the commandments of God. This discussion we will liberate you from a doctrine that holds millions of Christians from experiencing God’s supernatural supply from heaven as described in the Bible.
You might have heard that because Jesus fulfills the law for us. So as Christians we are not under the law, nor do we have to follow it. Let me show you how erroneous that is, and how it defies Jesus’ instruction.
Go to Matthew 5:17 – 19 and let’s read together. “17 Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Let’s pause there for a second. The word “Law” in this verse means, “the book of the Law,” or the “Torah.” To us, that’s the first five books of the Bible. Most people will quote this verse and say they don’t have to follow the law because Jesus fulfills it for them. That’s a perilous road to be on.
Now, look at the next verse.
“18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
Jesus says that until heaven and earth pass away, which is described in the book of Revelation and takes place after a thousand-year millennial reign, He says that until that time, all prophecy fulfilled. That means He hasn’t yet fulfilled prophecy described in the book of the Law or of the Prophets.
So what Jesus is referring to is mostly prophecy, but not entirely.
Now listen to what Jesus says about the commandments in the first five books of the Old Testament in the next verse.
“19 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.”
Can get any clearer than that? Did you notice the word “Law” was replaced by the word “commandments”? That’s because in previous verses Jesus was talking about prophecy in the book of the Law and Prophets. In this verse, Jesus talks about the commandments contained in the text of the Law.
The word “whoever” literally means anyone. Then Jesus explains that whoever breaks the least of His commandments in the book of the Law, they enter the kingdom in a lower rank than those who follow the commandments.
So Jesus considers those who adhere to His commandments in high regard. And you can probably understand why that’s true. It would take a great deal of love, patience, endurance, and dedication to follow God’s commands.
Now I want to point out something beautiful.
In verse nineteen Jesus says this, “he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven” about anyone who breaks His commandments and may cause others to do the same. Allowing someone to be in the kingdom although they broke His commandments and even influenced others to do the same is called salvation by grace. He is clearly describing someone who has faith in Him as the Savior but refuses to be disciplined by the commandments. So even though people break His commandments, they are still allowed to enter the kingdom of heaven.
The condition, however, is that they will be called “least,” meaning people who are undisciplined by His commandments enter the kingdom of heaven in a lower status.
So what Jesus says about following the "Law" or commandments is entirely different then the doctrine we hear, that He fulfills the law for us. He says that it’s up to us to fulfill the law, not Him, and if we fulfill it, and teach others to do the same, we stand in honor before God.
Now I’m going to share with you a few more verses that people point to justify not following the commandments of God.
Romans 3:20 – “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Many people breeze through this passage without thinking what it says.
Now let’s read it slowly and carefully, “Therefore by the deeds of the law”, this refers to acting upon the Law, which can be done without love or faith.
The next part says this, “no flesh will be justified.” So if people like you or I read the law and then do them because we have to, we are not justified before God. Does this take away anything from the law? Of course not.
Look at the next line, “for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Paul says that the Law shows us how we sin, and the reason why it has that power is that the Law comes from God so it's perfect. Anything that exists beyond God’s commandments is a sin. So the Law helps us to understand what sin is and how to stay within God's perfect will. Without the law, we couldn’t recognize sin.
Throwing out the Law from our lives means we live ignorantly about our sin. Instead, we honor God by accepting His salvation and then living as righteously as possible according to His commanded standards. Think about this, God cannot bless sin. Most Christians do know they live very sinful lives. That's because they don't have a set of rules to guide them.
Here’s another misinterpreted verse:
In Romans 4:15 Paul writes, “because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.” Many people believe that this verse describes Jesus taking away the law from them, therefore sin also disappears.
You just read in Matthew 5:17 – 19 that Jesus instructs His believers to follow His commandments in the book of the Law. So who’s right, Paul or Jesus? The answer is both. Both Paul and Jesus are right. The party that’s wrong is the person misinterpreting the verse.
When you read the surrounding verses, you learn pretty quickly that the teaching is about legalistically following the law and expecting salvation. Which Paul explains can’t happen without faith in Jesus.
Paul then goes on and ascribes salvation to those who are of the law and have faith in Jesus. This verse describes how people who are ignorant of the law sin without knowledge.
This next verse is probably the most misinterpreted of all, even at the cost of contradicting Jesus Himself.
Romans 6:14 – “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”
This verse is sometimes interpreted to say that because sin was destroyed, we are no longer under the law. This notion is easily clarified by reading the entire group of verses from twelve through fifteen and not just fourteen.
In Romans 6:12 – 15 Paul explains that we are not to sin because our job is to make our bodies presentable vessels of God, and because we have the Holy Ghost in ourselves, it’s impossible to transgress or contradict God's perfect Law. Therefore, the sinless life we are called to build is accomplished by God's power in us, not ourselves. The ability to fulfill God's pleasing will by the Spirit happens because of God's grace.
Then in verse fifteen, Paul asks this question, “Shall we sin then?” To which he replies, “of course not!” Remember sin is anything that exists outside of God’s commandments and without His commandments we cannot identify sin.
So what Paul explains in these verses is that the Spirit of God lives within the order of God's laws, and if the Spirit of God is powerfully operating in us, we live sinless lives within the Law.
There are many misunderstood verses about the commandments of God, even at the cost of going against Jesus who continually states that the Laws are His. In almost all cases misunderstandings can be quickly dispelled by reading the surrounding verses, or the entire book.
There is one final verse I want to point out about God’s commandments, and it’s found in the last book of the Bible.
Let’s read together. Revelation 22:14
“Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life.”
This little verse requires ZERO interpretation. So the take away is, if you lack something in your life, chances are you’re sinning, and you don’t even know it.
You see, God can’t break His word. In Deuteronomy 28:1 – 10 God’s says that He will restore us to a pre-curse life if, and only if, we follow and observe His commandments. In John 14:21 and 23, Jesus says that we will be blessed with the fullness of His presence if, and only if, we are careful to observe His commandments and His word.
Both messages are virtually the same and speak loud and clear, but with one significant difference. When Jesus died, He provided forgiveness from sin, and immediate resurrection with God’s life, the Holy Ghost.
Empowered by the Holy Ghost, we can fulfill every word and every letter of the law because the Presence of God in us cannot deviate from its own commandments. You cannot separate God’s law from God, which is also the reason why Jesus calls the commandments, His Law, or “My Law.” It’s all one.
Unless you’re familiar with the commandments of God, you’re probably breaking the word of His law and then expecting a miracle. God can show mercy and grace, and He did it perfectly through His Son Jesus on the cross, but wouldn’t you rather live in the continuous blessing of His power the way it's described in scripture?
Keep in mind that the 613 laws in the book of the law are for the Israelites. Christians can not fulfill much of the law because they are designed for people living in a certain geographic area and centuries ago.
In the gospels, Jesus highlights 120 commandments anyone can follow universally regardless of geographic location or time in our history. The best thing you can do is get yourself familiar with the commandments of Jesus and then meditate on them every day until they become the natural thought of your mind. Just be sure do it with love for the Lord. Amen.