WHY DOES GOD CONSIDER THE KEEPING OF HIS COMMANDMENTS THE SAME AS LOVING HIM?
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
16 MAY 1993
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Why does God consider the keeping of His commandments the same as loving Him?
Our preparation verse (John 14:21) for this morning confirms the fact that He does, but it doesn't completely answer the question, "Why?"
To begin with, let's look at what Jesus said in John 14:19-24, the passage from which we got our preparation verse.
19. "After a little while the world will behold Me no more; but you will behold Me; because I live, you shall live also.
Now, we must first consider to whom Jesus is talking.
Is He talking to everyone in the world, or just to the true believers?
We know that everyone in the world doesn't believe, and they certainly don't all follow God's commandments, and neither do they all exhibit true love.
Thus, Jesus can only be speaking to the true believers.
Note what Jesus says next:
20. "In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
In what day?
First, in that day when He rose from the dead; secondly, on the day when we come to truly believe and Christ rises in our heart; and finally, when everything is fulfilled and we are forever joined with the Lord in heaven.
We must remember that all this refers only to those who truly believe and then follow through with acts that prove their faith.
21. "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him."
Now, here is where we must begin to use our common sense, and the key is in the first part of verse 21.
Many people say they have love, but fail to show it.
Many people have talents, but fail to use them.
Many people say they believe in God, but never exercise their faith.
And many people have been given God's commandments, but fail to keep them.
It is in this light that one of the disciples asks Jesus a question:
22. Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?"
23. Jesus answered and said to 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 abode with him.
24. "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me.
If we truly love someone, we just naturally want to do whatever we can to please them, and we would never do anything to intentionally hurt them.
Isn't this correct?
So, since this is true, then the reverse is also true: that those who don't please God, and those who intentionally hurt Him, don't really love Him, no matter what they may express with their mouths. Their actions speak for them.
Before we leave this passage, look again at verse 24.
Note carefully that we are told that if we don't love Jesus and keep His word, then we will hear the words of judgment spoken by the Father.
Listen to what Jesus told those who played games with their relationship with Him, as recorded in Luke 6:46-49:
46. "And why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?
47. "Everyone who comes to Me, and hears My words, and acts upon them, I will show you whom he is like:
48. he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation upon the rock; and when a flood rose, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.
49. "But the one who has heard, and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house upon the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great."
If we are not the Lord's, we will not be protected by Him; and we will be swept away by the torrent of Satan's evil.
Every one of us hears these words, but do we all act upon them?
It is this action that we take upon God's word, that He considers as our expression of love for Him.
It's not that we are trying to work our way into heaven, for that would not be out of love; but it’s that we are doing what pleases God, simply because we love Him.
Just because someone knows of the Lord, or believes He is who He says He is, or even calls upon His name in time of trouble, doesn't mean that they love Him. It only means that they want what they can get from Him.
And God knows the difference!
Love is not a game!
Love is for keeps!
Proverbs 8:17, where God is described as wisdom, adds a different dimension to our love/obedience relationship:
17. I love those who love me;
And those who diligently seek me will find me.
God wants us to grow in wisdom; thus, to strive to be filled with God's wisdom is pleasing to Him and is considered the same as love.
Listen to how James expresses this same thought in 1:5:
5. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
If we don't obey God's commandments, we are not acting with any wisdom.
But, when we come to our senses and call upon God to help us to understand and to redirect our life, and we mean it, He simply gives us an abundance of wisdom, so that we can direct our ways according to His will.
This act will “blind the eyes” of God to our past sins, for He only sees our love that is expressed in our obedience of returning to Him.
It's as we are told in Hosea 6:6 –
6. For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice,
And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
God doesn’t want us to say we’re sorry over and over again. He wants us to be sorry enough not to sin again. And we can only do this if we really love God.
Amos spoke of the downfall of Judah and Jerusalem that occurred because the people didn't have the love for God that would bring them to obedience. Listen to His railing judgment in Amos 2:4-5:
4. Thus says the Lord,
"For three transgressions of Judah and for four
I will not revoke its punishment,
Because they rejected the law of the Lord
And have not kept His statutes;
Their lies also have led them astray,
Those after which their fathers walked.
5. "So I will send fire upon Judah,
And it will consume the citadels of Jerusalem."
God has told us over and over again how we are to live, so that we would always be with Him.
He does this because He loves us, and doesn't want us to fall into the traps set by the devil.
To not utilize these gifts of love, by keeping God's commandments, is to throw God's love back in His face.
And that is exactly what the people of Judah did, and that is why God would not remove the destruction they were bringing upon themselves.
We had best look to ourselves and our community, for we have been heading in this same direction for some time.
Listen to the way God explains this in Ezekiel 20:9-12:
9. "But I acted for the sake of My name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made Myself known to them by bringing them out of the land of Egypt.
10. "So I took them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness.
11. "And I gave them My statutes and informed them of My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live.
12. "And also I gave them My sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.
I believe that only a minority of the people in our society truly understands this relationship with God, and its purpose of encouragement for us as a witness to the rest of the world.
If we did understand, there would not be an empty seat in here today, and we would all leave here with a new commitment to live as God wants us to live and truly be a witness of Christ to the world around us.
We are not to fear the mistakes we have made in the past, but we are to go forward to a better life today and tomorrow, trusting God for His grace and forgiveness, just as the psalmist tells us in Psalm 66:16-20.
16. Come and hear, all who fear God,
And I will tell of what He has done for my soul.
17. I cried to Him with my mouth,
And He was extolled with my tongue.
18. If I regard wickedness in my heart,
The Lord will not hear;
19. But certainly God has heard;
He has given heed to the voice of my prayer.
20. Blessed be God,
Who has not turned away my prayer,
Nor His lovingkindness from me.
God's love will not let Him withhold His forgiveness for a truly repentant sinner, but He doesn't even hear the false prayers of a hypocrite.
To do what pleases someone is love.
To do what pleases God is also an act of love.
So, don't you think it’s time that we, at least of this church, clean up our act in everything we do? Not only will it show our love for God, and improve our own lives, but it will also show the world around us that there is a better way.
Isn't this what God wants from all of us?
Isn't this why God considers the keeping of His commandments the same as loving Him?
I believe that our answers must be “yes” to these questions, don't you?
Your Comments are welcome
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