The story of my salvation can be told in three acts: New Birth, Prodigal Returning, and Running with Revelation. In each of these acts, there are multiple scenes. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on where you sit) I don’t have time to recount them all. For the sake of today’s discussion, I’ll focus on just one — my baptism.
I got saved in a church in Edina, Minnesota but never had the opportunity to be baptized there. I returned to Detroit and became a member of a large Baptist congregation, where I became a candidate for baptism.
I’m going somewhere with this, trust me!
After being baptized, I received a certificate of baptism and church membership, my dues (tithing) envelopes, a Bible, and a bookmark with the Ten Commandments on it. As one of the church mothers presented it to me, she told me, “…You gotta remember these, baby, because you have to keep God’s commandments to live right.”
Her heart — bless it, Lord — was in the right place. However, I discovered — much later — that it was terribly misinformed.
You see, she was very successful in one thing — getting me on the treadmill of religion. It was drilled into me that God was very concerned with my performance. Do this, do that; don’t do that, do this! Then, as I read more of the law, I discovered I had no hope of measuring up. And, because I couldn’t measure up, I gave up. I was spiritually tired…exhausted.
How many of you have felt this way?
Let’s take a look at what Jesus had to say about this:
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you (John 15:10-15)
Here’s what I learned from study — there are 613 commands in the law. Which means the ten commandments are merely the tip of the iceberg.
How many of y’all know that it wasn’t the visible part of the iceberg that sank the Titanic?
And that is a hard burden to bear. So hard, in fact, the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:3 that God sent Jesus to do what the law was powerless to do. What was the law powerless to do? It was powerless to save us. Paul also wrote that the law was but a schoolmaster to groom people until faith came:
Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. (Galatians 3:23-25)
“What does that mean, preacher?” You ask.
It means you are under the law until you have faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Everyone who is unsaved will be judged by the law. And just like in a natural courtroom, ignorance of the law will be no excuse!
But, if you are in Christ, you will be judged by the finished work of Jesus. He was made sin so that you will be made righteous (2 Corinthians 5:17). And God said through the author of Hebrews that he would remember our sins no more — twice, in fact (Hebrews 8:12, 10:17)!
Here’s the kicker, if Jesus meant for us to keep the law, He would have never said He came to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). To fulfill something means to satisfy the requirements of it. And He couldn’t have said His yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matthew 11:27). And the law certainly doesn’t give you rest — not even a moment of it!
I say all this to say, I — like many of you — have been mislead. I was made to believe that keeping the law would make me righteous and lead to holy living. And I was lead to believe that if I “backslid,” I had to “confess my sins” to get right with God. And so I was back and forth between the world and the kingdom. Between heading for heaven and high-tailing it to hell.
I was so confused. I was told I had to keep these commandments or I was doomed.
Or was I?
So I’ve gone way around the bend here — so it’s time to dovetail this to a conclusion…
What is Jesus’ commandment?
His first indication was in Matthew 22:
Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40)
That’s pretty simple — Love God with all that I am and love others as I love myself. And I learned from this that I cannot truly love myself without first loving God and understanding His love for me! And I have to love others simultaneously as I love myself.
But even that wasn’t simple enough for Jesus. The great commandment is found in the midst of our core text, in verses 12 and 13:
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
Here it is: we are to love to the point of laying down our very lives for God and one another. You see, we are heirs to the promise of Abraham, who was called a friend of God. Jesus said in John 15:15 that He calls us Friends! So, as Jesus laid down His life for us, so are we to lay ours down for him!
Now, don’t get it twisted, this doesn’t mean we have to suffer and be crucified as He was. No, He took care of that part for us! We are to lay down our own desires and take up his — by doing so, we present ourselves as a living sacrifice and keep His commandments.
We have to love Jesus to be in Him and for Him to be in us! And because we love Him we do keep his commandments! And if we find we are not keeping his commandments, we may want to revisit our salvation.
© 2014 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)