Obedience Expected

In Deuteronomy 29:29, we read that God desires that “we may do all the words of [His] law.” Does this verse apply to us today? Or is it relevant to ancient Israel only?

It helps to note that our Lord Jesus Christ says in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets … but to fulfil them.” If that doesn’t make the point clear enough, Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 5:18-20: “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” So clearly, the law is still applicable to us today. We are not set free from its standard of holiness, even though Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross has set us free from the “curse” of the law for our failure to keep it.

Jesus in His sermons on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) goes beyond the surface keeping of the law to challenging views on what it means to obey the Ten Commandments. Jesus says that to look with lust is to commit adultery in the heart. Similarly, when referring to the command of “You shall not murder”, He included everything that leads up to murder, such as fits of anger.

But why does our obedience matter to God? The key word is: relationship. At Mount Sinai, God makes His Laws known to His people, so that by living accordingly to it, they would show to the world that they belong to Him. But how can sinners keep God’s perfect laws?

At this point, all may seem hopeless. But underlying God’s expectations of obedience is the fundamental promise of grace, which is made possible by God’s great love for us. In the Garden of Eden, there was the tree of life. God’s plan for humanity is that they may enjoy eternal life. But Adam, like us in our sin, foolishly sought the transient pleasure of sin. Thankfully God, in His loving grace, provided a means for recourse. We see this in Genesis 3, where the offspring of the woman will bruise the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15).

And we see this grace most evident in our Lord Jesus Christ. He came and dwelt among us. Through Him did God condescend Himself. While Adam did not obey God, Jesus completely fulfills God’s Laws. We can have hope because despite our erroneous ways, Christ’s full obedience is imputed to the believer. So keep striving in obedience! Jesus bore our punishment, and God deserves our best behavior.

Let’s walk in increasing heart-felt, grateful obedience to God’s law—not in order to fulfill it through our own efforts; but rather because it has already been fulfilled in us by the gracious work of Another—Jesus Christ!

*All Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV.

Written By Sean Tong for YMI

1 reply
  1. Sean Anderson
    Sean Anderson says:

    What a great piece, Sean! It seems that many people can get mixed up about the Law, but it’s clear that we are to love it and conform to its morality. And when we at times inevitably fail, it’s heartening to know we are not chained to it because Christ obeyed it perfectly – so this is all the more encouragement to pick up the pieces and get back on track. I hope all is going well. Keep up the good work.

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