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If Ye Keep My Commandments:What Did Jesus Mean By This?

Pastor Prize Chukwuka

The Ten Commandments - 10 Commandments"If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my father's commandments and abide in His Love."

(John 15:10-12     )
What does Jesus mean by this statement in the above Bible verse? When referring to this scripture, many Christians and ministers explain it in a way that makes you think Jesus is talking about the Ten Commandments or commandments of the law. They read a wrong meaning into it, making it seem as if we Christians are to obey, observe or fulfill the Commandments of the law of which the Ten Commandments are a part. This is the way cranky Christians interpret this verse, and many other New Testament passages that seem to say something similar.

Often times, we hear well educated preachers use this scripture to promote a wrong perception of the Christian faith, and also preach law to the body of Christ.There are many Christians and ministers who are yet to truly understand the New Covenant or the finished work of Christ. They make Christianity look as if it has to do with law keeping or rule keeping. This wrong concept of Christianity has given rise to a works mentality amongst ignorant Christians, who have been deceived to think that keeping the commandments of the law is the way to make God love them more. For example, As a result of this wrong understanding of the New Covenant, many people have erroneously believed that the way to obtain salvation and sustain it is by trying as much as they can to obey the law and keep its commandments. This wrong mindset has ruined the joy of many believers and robbed them of their peace of mind, because of the frustration they constantly experience in their futile effort in trying to please God by observing the Old Testament laws and commandments.

A lack of proper understanding of the finished work of Christ among ministers has robbed God’s people greatly. It has given rise to all the misunderstanding, erroneous concepts and all the sense knowledge teachings we hear in the Christian world of today.

A proper study and understanding of John 15:10, reveals that when Jesus made the statement “if ye keep my commandments”, He was not talking about keeping the Law of Moses or asking us or anyone to obey or observe the commandments of the law. We know this to be true because the Bible informs us that in His earthly ministry, Jesus teaching was different from that of the Scribes and the Pharisees. Jesus was never a teacher of the Law, but the Scribes and the Pharisees were. The Bible informs us that,

“The people listened with amazement to His teaching--for there was authority about it: it was very different from that of the Scribes.”(Mark 1:22, Weymouth)

The Scribes and the Pharisees were the ones teaching and advocating the Law of Moses and its commandments.The title Scribe means, “Teacher of the law”. If Jesus was teaching the same things and in the same way the Scribes were teaching, the people would not have been astonished, because Jesus teachings wouldn’t have been in any way new to them. But we are told that the people were amazed at His teaching, why? The reason is that Jesus wasn’t teaching in the same way and the same things the Pharisees and Scribes were teaching. This is a very good eye opener.

So, what then was Jesus teaching? He was teaching the New Birth through faith in Him, and all the realities of the new Life in Him. He taught such things as; eternal Life, Love, God’s kind of faith, righteousness by faith, the Holy Spirit, Forgiveness of Sins, etc.

Jesus never encouraged anyone to depend on the Law of Moses for their salvation. Instead, He asked people to come to Him,

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28)

Some people think that the word commandment in John 15: 10 refers to the Ten Commandments or some other laws or commandments we are to keep. That’s not true. Many Christians have been made to believe that keeping the Ten Commandments and other laws of God will make God love them, or love them more. This idea is erroneous. Such wrong teaching comes because people misunderstand what Jesus meant when He said,“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love;”(John 15:10).

So many people fail to understand that God’s love for us is not dependent upon our performance. Paul made this clear to us in His epistle to the Romans. He tells us that God’s love was commended towards us while we were yet sinners (Rom 5:8). We certainly weren’t keeping the Ten Commandments or obeying the laws of Moses before we received Christ, yet God loved us. Therefore, it is evident that God’s willingness to love us does not depend on us keeping the commandments of the law.

“If ye keep my commandments”, or “if ye obey my commandments”, are poor translations of the text. There is no commandment or law to obey in the new covenant. Jesus isn’t asking us to obey anything. It is wrong to tell people today to obey the word of God. Have you noticed that when people claim they are obeying the word of God, and you ask them which word of God they are obeying, they will refer you to the commandments of the law, and start quoting the Old Testament Laws and Commandments? They will begin to tell you the things you should do and the things you should not do in order for you to please God-thou shalt not do this or that... This shows that they are actually still operating with law mentality.

Christians who operate with law mentality fail to realize that the Christian faith is not about keeping rules and regulations in order to appease God, or make Him love and accept them.As a matter of truth, let me point out here that a person’s eternal destiny is not determined by the way he/she lives. It is not how you live that determines whether you will go to heaven or hell. It is not whether you are keeping one rule or another.The determining factor is whether you have ever been born again by receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. I am not saying the way people live their lives does not matter, off course it does. I believe in right-living. And right living is as a result of right-believing. However, what I am saying is that, it is not your right living in terms of your good works or good efforts that determine your eternal destiny (Eph 2:5, 8; Rom 11:6; Gal 2:16; 3:10, 11).

So you see, in John 15:10, Jesus isn’t asking us to obey the commandments and laws of religion. In order to understand what Jesus is saying in John 15:10, we have to take a closer look at the following key words; "Keep","Commandments" and "Abide." These three key words here are misunderstood by so many.They form the major bone of contention in this verse and some other verses that are saying a similar thing, as some religious folks try to explain it in their law mindset. But the confusion will go away once a person turns his/her heart away from the veil of the law (2 Cor 3:16).

The word KEEP is translated from the Greek word “Tereo”. It is pronounced as “tay-reh-o” (Strong’s). Here it is used in the literal sense with the idea of “keeping the eyes fixed upon”(The Complete Word Study Dictionary). This implies, to stay focused upon, to concentrate upon. When used in the figurative sense, the word means; to obey, fulfill a duty, precept, Law, observe, etc.

The problem here is that most translators assume that Jesus used this word in the figurative sense, so they usually translate it as, obey, observe, keep, etc. This is what you’ll see in most translations. But you see, when you understand that in the New Testament, obedience to rules and regulations is not a condition for us to enjoy God’s Love, you will realize why it is erroneous for anyone to cajole people to obey the law. Nowhere in the New Testament will you find God urging us to obey Him. He never asked us to obey Him because Jesus has already obeyed Him for us (Romans 5:19). Under the New Covenant, the obedience of Jesus is credited to everyone who receives Jesus as Lord and Savior. This is why we are never coaxed to try and obey God. Instead we are called “obedient children” (1 Peter 1:14).

It is important you understand that under the Old Covenant, Obedience to the Law was the condition for the Israelites' to enjoy the benefits of the Old Covenant. However, for us under the New Covenant, we are never asked to try and obey God in order for us to enjoy the benefits of the new covenant.

Most times we see Christians and ministers who forcefully urge people to obey God or else suffer His wrath. This is very un-scriptural under the New Covenant. Such people do so because they think God is dealing with us today as though we are still governed under the Old Covenant.  They fail to realize this truth, and it’s a pity.

Therefore, the word "KEEP" in John 15:10 does not mean to obey, or to fulfill a duty.

The word "COMMANDMENT" is the next key word I want us to look at.Here it has nothing to do with the commandments of the law, or rules and regulations. Why do most people fail to understand this when they read this verse? It is because they read it out of context. Secondly, they read it with law mentality. Notice in this passage that Jesus Himself defines what he meant by “His Commandment”. He says, “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.”(Vs. 12)And you see, whatever Jesus has already defined, you cannot give it another meaning.

Is Jesus talking about brotherly-love? No! How do we know? We know so because He said, “…love one another, as I have loved you.” The question is what kind of love did Jesus love us with? It is “Agapao” (Strong’s). Agape means, “God’s own kind of love”, not the love of the world.

Finally, we’ll look at the word ABIDE. The Greek from which this word is translated is “MENO.” This word has a range of meanings, which include; remain, stay, take permanent residence, to dwell, depend upon.

“To abide in Christ’s love”(vs. 10), means; to depend on his love, and not on your own personal merit, effort, or performance.You depend on God’s love for you.

So, what is the meaning of John 15:10? What actually did Jesus mean when He said,“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my fathers commandments and abide in His love.”

Jesus is simply telling us (His disciples) that, “If we stay focused (concentrate) on demonstrating love towards one another as He has loved us, then we will be more grounded in His love, just as He is grounded in the Fathers love, because He focused on what the Father called Him to do.” (emphasis are mine)

If you are born again, then love of God (Agape) already dwells in you. You don’t need to pray for love. It’s already there in your born again spirit. All you need is to realize is that it is right there within you and then go ahead let flow out and touch somebody. Let this love flow through you, like rivers of water gushing forth, through every fiber of your being. Pray constantly in other tongues and keep declaring that God’s love is flowing through you.You are blessed!!!
If you have been blessed by this post, kindly send your comments below.



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Anonymous said...

Nice message, it ie eye openening, keep it up.
Christopher Okon