Commandments to Promises
Sometimes experience is shared when discipling another person. Discernment should still be used to insure the principles being taught are not in opposition to Scripture. There may not be a specific verse or passage that speaks literally to a situation, but principles of Scripture can apply to many ideas. Discernment is the key. If it is good, then the origin is from God. If something is evil, it is not from God or it has been corrupted or misused by the evil one.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to
James 1:16-17 ESV
Temptation comes from the evil one, luring and enticing us by our own desires. But everything good comes from the Father. So, the only question about the good thing is, am I supposed to engage with it or in it at this time? It is a walk of obedience in doing what we know to do, and abstaining from what we are not to do.
That said, when one is not convicted whether or not to engage in something, it is my belief that there is freedom to determine for oneself whether or not there will be engagement. This may in fact come back to reflect something within a person such as love, heart condition, compassion, or any number of attitudes. Do what is right in the sight of God, guided by Holy Spirit, personal spirit, and conscience.
As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
James 4:16-17 ESV
Always do the right thing.
With that bit of information, let’s move into the topic, Commandments to Promises. My thought is this, a level of maturity is crossed into when the commandments of God become promises to the child of God. As we walk in the presence of God, the need to worry about commandments and failing to keep them fades away. First let’s consider the commandments for the body of Christ in the new covenant.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love
for one another.”
John 13:34-35 ESV
This is the primary directive to our behavior.
When Jesus was in conversation with some Sadducees, a scribe asked Him a question about the commandments.
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that He answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus
answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your
strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no greater commandment than these.”
Mark 12:28-31 ESV
The commandment to love God with our whole being is the primary directive in our relationship with God. We once again observe Jesus answering a question, just as He answered to temptation, quoting the Word of God; Scripture.
The verses Jesus quoted about loving God are called the Shema, or Shema Yisrael, meaning, “Hear, O Israel”. The Shema is a prayer that serves as the centerpiece of the morning and the evening prayers in the Jewish faith.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV
The second part, concerning loving one’s neighbor, is quoted from Leviticus, another from the books of Moses.
“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”
Leviticus 19:18 ESV
Jesus took His answer a step farther than the original question. The second part rounded out the concept of the love of God, which includes the concept of unity. Loving God and loving one another brings a wholeness to the idea of love in the kingdom of God. Jesus was the living example of this idea. The apostle John tells us that God is love.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:8 ESV
John also tells us that we only love because God loved us first.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:18-19 ESV
Jesus takes His answer to yet another level with the Pharisees.
But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question to test Him. “Teacher, which is the great
commandment in the law?” And He said to him, “You shall love 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 22:34-40 ESV
All of the Law and the Prophets depend upon loving as in these two commandments. These are the two commandments to which we need pay attention. These two commandments cover all the commandments of God in regards to our relationships with God and with other people. When done successfully, we can rest assured we are fulfilling the law. Apart from Christ, it is not possible. In Christ, our success is directly related to the depth of our relationship with Him. The apostle Paul wrote that we have the mind of Christ.
“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:15-16 ESV
To have the mind of Christ requires an intimate relationship with Him. His mind is to love God and one another. He also has not succumbed to temptation. It is in the power of Christ that we also can walk in righteousness. The apostle John tells us of the confidence we have in Christ.
We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.
1 John 5:18 ESV
Only in being born again can we have this intimate relationship with God. Only in Christ, having the mind of Christ, and the power in Christ, can we overcome evil with good. The good is the fruit we are to bear.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me
and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
John 15:4-5 ESV
An intimate, loving relationship is necessary for one to operate in love, fulfilling the Law and the Prophets. There are many promises of God in Scripture, and I believe they all have a condition attached to them. Let’s consider abiding with God.
Jesus answered 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 home with him.”
John 14:23 ESV
The promise is that the Father will love the person, and the Father and the Son will abide with the person.
The condition is loving Christ. The evidence of such love is the keeping of His word. Could the keeping of His word also be a promise? The one who loves Me, will keep my word? As in a promise that the one in such a relationship with Christ Jesus, due to that relationship, will keep His word.
I do not intend to cover all six hundred thirteen commandments in the Pentateuch, but let’s take a look at the ten commandments.
And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.”
Exodus 20:1-3 ESV
This is instructional for the Israelites, having come out of a land with many gods. They will be going into a land which also has many gods. The commandment is to have no other gods, or to worship no other than Yahweh. The condition is to have Yahweh as the Lord your God.
To the born-again believer this promise becomes, you will not have any other gods before Me, or none but Yahweh. This is a promise in that no others will be needed because Yahweh is our all in all. Surrendering oneself to Christ Jesus as Lord and being born again brings one into the household of God, being given the right to become a child of God, and joint heir with Christ.
But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of
John 1:12-13 ESV
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that
we may also be glorified with Him.
Romans 8:16-17 ESV
Again, this is all about being in a loving relationship with the Creator of all things seen and unseen. He initiated it, and He will see it through to the end for those in faith.
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow
down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing
steadfast love to thousands of those who love Me and keep my commandments.
Exodus 20:4-6 ESV
The commandment is to not make, nor have, any idols. God jealously protects His own and desires a deep intimate relationship with each person. He is the provider of all we have need for, and we have no need to turn elsewhere. The believer will reap the blessings of the steadfast love of God, whereas all others will pass along the fruit of the world to their generations.
And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead
of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”
Genesis 22:13-14 ESV
The promise is that we will be loved and cared for by Jehovah Jireh, Yahweh will provide. The condition is to have Yahweh as the Lord your God.
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”
Exodus 20:7 ESV
This is a commandment, and a warning of sorts, not to bring disrepute on the name of God, or on His character. The consequence given here is no light issue. The Creator of all things is due reverence, and His name is to be respected.
As a child of God in a loving relationship with Him, there is no place for irreverence. Walking in the authority of Christ there is no need for swearing by the name of God. The promise is that one will not walk in irreverence or misappropriating the name of God. The condition is to have Yahweh as the Lord your God.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall do no work, you, or your son,
or your daughter, your male servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested
on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
Exodus 20:8-11 ESV
For the religious person, the Sabbath day is something that must be observed and tends to be a source of anxiety for many in religions that observe it.
The promise to the child of God is the blessing of the Sabbath to enjoy the benefits of it, just as the Creator did when He established it at creation. The condition is to observe it, or keep it, for all the proper reasons.
And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
Mark 2:27 ESV
The religious see the Sabbath as something that must be served, making it a burden. The born-again child of God ought to see it as a promise of a day of rest. The condition is to follow the example which is laid out for us by God, our Father.
Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
Exodus 20:12 ESV
The promise is clear in this commandment; long life in the promised land. The condition is equally clear; honor your father and mother. And I see no limitations on this condition be it time, age, or even death of the parents. Appropriate respect for parents and their authority permeates society as those attitudes are extended to others.
Whereas the Israelites were being given the promised land, the current children of God enjoy long life on the earth in the personal relationship with God. Paul put it this way for the new covenant believers:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live
long in the land.”
Ephesians 6:1-3 ESV
What we see in society, and in the culture, is a direct reflection of first, our relationship with God, and second, the honor and respect we show one another which primarily begins in the home with our parents.
“You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not
covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Exodus 20:13-17 ESV
These five commandments have the same elements of commandment, promise, and condition. This all goes back to love; fulfilling the two commandments upon which the Law and the Prophets rest.
These five commandments are clear, and we are clearly commanded to not do these things. One does not need to be a born-again believer to see the evil or wrongdoing in these five commandments. Even to just live by the saying, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, exhibits the wrongness of breaking these five commandments.
It is time to think back to the beginning of this study. What does love have to do with the commandments? How does love change commandments into promises?
God is love and we are instructed to imitate Christ as disciples. We are called to be love. Just as the Father expressed love in sending the Son to redeem us, Christ sends us into the world to express His love with the ministry He has given us.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in
Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ,
God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the
righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 ESV
There are a few points here.
- “Regard no one according to the flesh”
- Seeing through God’s eyes – to the heart of a person
- “he is a new creation”
- We die to the fleshly man, the spiritual man has come
- “gave us the ministry of reconciliation”
- Short of dying on the cross, we take on the ministry of Christ
- We are to reconcile the world to God – through Christ
- Reconciliation: restoration to favor
- “we are ambassadors for Christ”
- Ambassadors: a messenger; a delegate; the herald or proclaimer of the divine word
Christ saw each person individually with love and compassion. Can we say the same of ourselves? Can we do the same as He did? We need to progress in that direction, having the mind of Christ. We are to engage others first from the point of view of loving them.
Now, back to the last five commandments:
- Can I display love for someone while murdering the person?
- Can I display love while committing adultery?
- Is that displaying love for my spouse?
- Does it display love to lead another into sinful behavior?
- Do I display love for someone while stealing from the person?
- Do I display love for my neighbor while lying about the person?
- Do I display love for my neighbor while coveting what my neighbor has?
The answer to all is no. Breaking the commandments does not display love for God or another person. When there is no love involved, what is our motivation to do the right thing? One’s motivation may be fear of punishment for doing the wrong thing, whether in this world, at the day of judgment, or both. One’s motivation may be based in one’s own selfishness. Whatever the motivation is, without love, it does not lead to us becoming the righteousness of God.
To the contrary, when one’s motivation is love, the action serves others and God. Loving someone is to see the need of a person and do what can be done to meet the need. For example, this past valentine’s day I gave my wife a different sort of valentine. We don’t care to support the greeting card companies on a day that someone has determined for us to show our love to one another. We display our love for each other daily. I saw the dishes and some baking pans were needing to be washed. Frankly, this is a job I really don’t care to do. I knew my wife had been tired lately and I also knew that she would be appreciative of my efforts. I saw the need and did what I could do to rectify the situation. I washed and dried the dishes, other than a couple of items that needed some soaking. I was correct in that she was greatly appreciative of my efforts. She brought home a cupcake from a bake sale at work to give to me as a valentine. We were both happy.
It is living in this state of love for God that the commandments become promises of sorts. I believe that I cannot love and sin at the same time. I believe that if I commit a sin, my love has gone into a lapse as my selfish desires overtook the wellbeing of others, as well as my own wellbeing. Afterall, we are to love others as we love ourselves. Sin is a selfish thing as it comes from our lusts and desires.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
James 1:14-15 ESV
We birth sin within ourselves. According to James, the temptations we receive are based upon our own desires. The enemy uses those desires to lure us into sinful behavior. The way to combat this is to change the desires of our heart. This goes back to what we talked about in episode 18, Abundance of the Heart, and episode 45, Renewing the Mind.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you
James 4:7-8 ESV
Having filled the abundance of our heart with godly things, and renewed our mind to have the mind of Christ, we can resist the devil and he must flee from us. Not even that he must flee, but he’ll want to flee. The enemy does not want to be around the righteousness of God.
The commandments become promises of sorts.
- Loving God is loving God
- Truly loving and serving God means there is no need for other Gods
- Truly loving and serving God means there is no need for idols
- Truly loving and serving God means there will be a proper reverence for God, and one will not use His name in vain
- Truly loving and serving God means the Sabbath He has provided for us will be appreciated properly
- Truly loving and serving one’s parents will naturally cause one to honor and respect the parents
- Truly loving and serving others means one will not murder them
- Truly loving and serving others means one will not commit adultery against, or with, them
- Truly loving and serving others means one will not steal from them
- Truly loving and serving others means one will not bear false witness against them
- Truly loving and serving others means one will not covet what they have, or allow jealousy to creep into one’s heart
And what is the condition that is attached to these promises? That one loves God with the whole being, and loves others as oneself.