On the night just before Jesus was arrested and crucified, He took time to give to His disciples some very important information. And during the course of this teaching, He made a short, yet very powerful statement.
John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Jesus is not saying, “It would really be nice if you obeyed Me now that you claim to be one of My followers.” The way our Lord said this implies that it is not a suggestion; it is actually a command. The Master is commanding His followers to obey what He has and is going to teach them. If you love me, then keep my commandments.
Is that legitimate? Does Jesus have the right to tell us how to live? Not only does the Bible teach us that Jesus has the right to tell us how to live, the Bible also tells us that how we live reveals whether or not we really know Jesus.
Often when I study a portion of scripture I refer to what we call a Bible commentary. A Bible commentary is a book some Bible scholar has written to help explain the passage. John chapters 13-16 have a Bible commentary within the Bible. The book of 1, 2, and 3 John (written by the same author) are John’s thoughts and explanations of what Jesus was teaching that night. Therefore mark your place at John 14 and turn with me to the book of 1 John. Let me share with you a few of the things John wrote that help explain John 14:15.
1 John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
The word ‘know’ used here does not mean – “I’ve heard of Him.” It means “I know Him deeply. I know Him personally and intimately. I have a relationship with Him.” This particular word is sometimes used to describe the relationship between a husband and wife. We’re talking about a deep intimacy here.
John says that the person who claims to know God as their personal Savior, yet does not strive to live according to His commandments, is a lair and the truth is not in him. That’s strong language but that’s what Jesus said.
5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
A true, saving relationship with Jesus Christ will produce a change in that individual’s life. That does not mean that they suddenly become perfect. Every Christian knows that doesn’t happen. It’s a long process. We’re not talking about perfection here. We’re talking about direction. The person who is truly saved approaches life from a new direction. Here’s another passage.
1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
Perfection will not be obtained until we see the Lord and are taken to heaven. However, a process the Bible calls sanctification begins the moment an individual is saved.
3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. 4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. 6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not…
Once again I need to stop and do some explaining. We all know that a verb indicates action. The verbs used here describe the way this individual is living. These verbs are in the Present Tense which indicates that they are on-going, habitual action. John is not saying that if a Christian sins, they’ve suddenly lost their salvation. What is John is saying that if a person continuously, habitually, lives a lifestyle of sin, they are not saved.
… whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
Look with me at yet one more passage from 1 John.
1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
No honest Christian could claim that they live absolute sinless perfection. As a matter of fact, John tells us in the first chapter that if we claim to be sinless, we’re lying.
1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
A true Christian is not someone who lives a sinless life. A true Christian is someone who desires to live a sinless life and whenever they do sin, they experience a sense of sorrow for their sin and they desire to be cleansed and forgiven and restored to full fellowship with God.
As we study John 14, we see at least two great reasons for why a true believer should desire to obey the Lord.
I. We Desire to Obey the Lord Because We Love the Lord
John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Jesus said, “If you truly love, you will desire to obey Me.” Once again we turn to 1 John for an explanation.
1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
John says the greatest demonstration of love is not that we would love God who is loveable. Anyone who truly understood who God is and what He desires to do, would love Him. Jesus prayed on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” In other words, “they don’t really understand or they would not be rebelling against Me.”
Another tremendous portion of scripture explaining this is Romans 5:8.
Romans 5:8 God demonstrated His love for us – in that while we were yet sinners – Christ died for us. (author’s translation)
God didn’t determine to love us when we were at our best. God determined to love us when we were at our worst. Paul goes on to say – “Rarely would someone die for a righteous person. Maybe a few would die for a good person. But Jesus died for us while we were still sinful and without any ability to improve or help ourselves.” The next time we are tempted to say that it’s too much to ask us to love an enemy, we need to read Romans 5:8 and consider the love God has for us.
The best word to describe God’s love for us is ‘grace.’ Grace is love and favor that someone doesn’t deserve. John writes –
1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.
Why should a believer desire to obey the Lord and please Him? It’s because they love Him and are grateful for all that He has done for them. But there’s another reason. Perhaps it’s an even deeper and more powerful reason.
II. We Desire to Obey the Lord Because He Lives Within Us
A Christian is not doing the Lord a favor when they decide to love Him and serve Him. Actually they are only responding to the work that He is doing within them. Paul write –
Philippians 2:12 …work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Paul is not saying, “Be afraid that you’re going to lose your salvation at any moment.” Instead he is saying, “The wonder that God would save us should cause us to serve the Lord with awe and reverence.” I should point out also that Paul is not saying, “Work for your salvation.” He’s saying, “Work out your salvation.” Literally he is saying, “Act like a Christian ought to act.” But then he says something else that is very important.
13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
A Christian should desire to obey the Lord because it is God who is working in him to give him both the desire and the ability. A Christian may feel like they lack the ability to adequately serve the Lord, but a true Christian should never say that they lack the desire. If a Christian has no desire to serve God and do what will please Him, they probably aren’t a true Christian. Their lack of desire is an indication that there is a lack of God’s presence and activity in their life.
Let me take a moment and try to explain what happens when someone is saved. Actually something significant happens in heaven, and here on earth.
A. What Happens In Heaven?
What happens in heaven when someone is saved? The Bible teaches us that there is great banking transaction that takes place. Our sin is transferred over to the account of Jesus. In recent days I have kind of stop saying that Jesus died for our sins on the cross and instead said that He suffered our punishment on the cross. There was a reason Jesus died the cruel death on the cross. It during His time on the cross that He suffered for us the punishment that you and I deserve for sinning against God.
Therefore, because Jesus suffered our punishment, God is able to legally forgive us of our sins. God’s forgiveness is not Him sweeping our sins under the rug. It’s not writing off the debt as a loss. God’s forgiveness is Him punishing His Son, the Lord Jesus, in the way that He should have punished us.
In addition to God transferring our sin over to the account of Jesus, God also transfers Jesus’ sinless over to our account. It’s like a banker transferring our enormous debt over to a millionaire and then transferring a millionaire’s money over to our account. It’s incredible and unbelievable, but the Bible teaches us that’s what goes on in heaven when someone is saved.
B. What Happens Here On Earth?
Not only does something major happen in heaven; something major happens here on earth. Notice how Jesus explained salvation –
Jn 3:3 Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Salvation is not someone trying to do better. Salvation is God giving life to spiritual part of man which is dead because of his sin. Notice what Paul says about the new birth –
2 Cor 5:17 …if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation…
What should someone be a different person after they are saved than before they were saved? It’s because they have been born again by the Spirit of God and made into a brand new creation. Let me also point out that the word ‘new’ here not only means brand new, it also means uniquely different. Salvation makes us into something uniquely different than the rest of the humanity.
Here’s yet another angle on this.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Note again, we’re not talking about straightening up and doing better so that we can make ourselves worthy of heaven. We’re talking about being forgiven, when we don’t deserve it. But that’s not all.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Notice, once God grants us forgiveness, He then recreates us from the inside out into a new kind of person who not only desires to do what is right, but has the ability to do what is right. A Christian is a unique creation specifically designed to do the good works God has purposed for him or her to do.
There’s still yet another passage of scripture that I want to call you attention to. It’s from the Old Testament and it describes the New Covenant under which we are saved. Notice what God says He will do for those who come to Christ and receive Him as their Savior.
Ezekiel 36:25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
First we see that God will cleanse us of our sins. Then He will recreate us into a brand new person with a brand new heart and spirit. God will give us a heart that desires to obey Him. Then He will place His Spirit within us to help us live for Him. It is the indwelling Holy Spirit that enables us to live a life that pleases God.
As I bring my message to a close, go back with me to John 14.
John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
The King James translators translated the Spirit’s title as ‘Comforter.’ That’s good, but the word Jesus used means much more than just to console us whenever we are down or hurting. The word used here literally means someone who has been called to go beside us in order to help us.
The reason I can say that I have a personal relationship with God is not because I have ascended up into heaven. It’s because God has descended down here to earth. Jesus descended first when He was born at Bethlehem and clothed Himself with humanity. But then, after Jesus had completed His mission, He ascended back up into heaven where He is now seated at the right hand of His Father. But that’s not all. The Bible says that when Jesus ascended back up into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit back to this earth to come and live inside of every believer. The reason I desire to obey God is because God is living in me.
The Bible says, “Examine yourselves to see whether or not you are in the faith.” (2 Corinthians 13:5) There should be evidence in every true, born-again believer’s life of the new birth experience and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. That evidence may vary depending upon each individual’s yielding to the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that a believer can grieve and quench the work of the Holy Spirit in their life.
Is there evidence in your life? If not, why not? Why would you say that there is no evidence of God’s presence in your life? Could it be because you’re not really a child of God? Could it be because you’ve never been born again by the Holy Spirit? Could it be because you’ve allowed ‘self’ to get back on the throne of your life? Self is ruling in your life instead of the Spirit. The Bible says – “Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called today, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb 3:13) The word ‘hardened’ is an interesting word. It actually means to make stubborn. It can also mean to become obstinate. What is obstinate? To be obstinate is not only to be stubborn about something; it’s being defiantly stubborn and resistant to change. That’s what sin can do to us. Sin can deceive us into thinking wrong is right and right is wrong and we become stubbornly resistant to being changed back into the person God created us to be. Though we might blame our stubbornness on someone or something else, the real problem is our relationship with the Lord. We are refusing to bend our knee to the will of God.
Jesus said – “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” If you truly love Me, then choose to be obedient to all that I tell you to do. I pray that’s the heart of everyone here today.