Taking your part in the Kingdom
Many people think that the concept of obedience belongs to the Old Testament, but even the New Testament has its commandments. Here's why.
Does an earthly king command his subjects, and expect to be obeyed? Of course he does. And what of Jesus? He is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. He also has commandments for those who have chosen to enter His Kingdom. While many people understand the laws of the Old Testament, few have taken the commands of the New Testament seriously. They include the greatest commandment:
"And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:28-31
This is the foundation for many other commandments designed to keep us from sin, which was the whole reason for Christ's sacrifice.
"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21
The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5,6 and 7 contains many commands, some of which take Old Testament laws and turn them into matters of the heart. Rather than keeping from physical sin, we are commanded to abstain from even thoughts of sexual lust and murderous anger. Also, we are told to never swear an oath, to return good for evil, to trust God for our daily bread and not to lay up money in store for the future, to make righteous judgments and "do the will of my Father which is in heaven."
There are many other commandments throughout the gospels and the epistles of the New Testament, but the principle here is that there can be no salvation for any person who does not obey the commandments of Jesus Christ, through whose obedience our salvation was obtained.
"And though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience through the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." Hebrews 5:8,9
It was the disobedience of the first Adam that plunged the whole human race into sin and death. Sin is disobedience, and all men have inherited from Adam this basic nature of disobedience and self-will. Equally, it is through the obedience of the second Adam, even Jesus Christ, that a way was made to save us from sin:
"For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." Romans 5:19
The whole essence of salvation is that our old nature of disobedience unto God has been destroyed and replaced by a new nature of obedience unto God. It was through faith in God that this change was brought about, but the change itself was a change from disobedience to obedience:
"But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Romans 6:18
To become a Christian is to become a person who is obedient to the commandments of Christ. A disobedient person has not been converted and is still lost in sin.
If you're looking to find true Christians, look at how well they obey the commandments that Jesus gave us.
"And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him." 1 John 2:5
The true love of God is not primarily an experience or feeling, though these will be associated with such true love, but the true love of God is essentially obedience to His commandments:
"For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." 1 John 5:3
Those who truly obey the commandments of Christ are the ones who truly love him, and it is these that Christ will truly love, and manifest himself to:
"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him… If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." John 14:23
Obedience towards God is the perfection of our love to Him:
"But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected." 1 John 2:5
Similarly, the essence of true love towards our brothers and sisters in Christ is not that we have nice feelings towards them, but that we obey the commandments of God concerning them:
"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments." 1 John 5:2
Further reading: Romans 1:5; 6:16-18; 1 John 2:3-5; 3:4,7,8; ; 2 Corinthians 2:9; Philippians 2:5-8; 1 Peter 1:14-16; Ephesians 2:1-3; 5:6; Colossians 3:6; 1 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:16; John 14:15,21-24;