As we mature in faith, we move into a deeper relationship with the Spirit in which we are responding more to his leading and relying less on rules and commands. When was the last time you asked the Spirit to guide you in walking through life?
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth.”
23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.”
3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.
In John 8, Jesus says the truth will set us free. How is there freedom in having to obey? There is, of course, a paradox in freedom and boundaries: we think that boundaries are limits to freedom, yet they are liberating because we have a sense of how far we can go. If you tell a child to stay close, she might play only in the yard; if you tell her she can’t go past the end of the street, the boundary provides more options and allows her to explore the whole block.
Were you an obedient child? Were you a rule keeper or a rule breaker growing up? Why? Were you concerned with approval or punishment? If you were a rule breaker, didn’t you love your parents? When we see that obedience is an expression of love, it makes you wonder…
Why does the follower of Jesus try to do what the Bible says? Is it because we fear consequence? Because we love God? Because the Spirit leads us to make better choices? In our immaturity we may be keeping rules, yet as we mature, we move into a deeper relationship with the Spirit in which we are responding more to his leading and relying less on rules and commands.
Jesus says in Matthew 11 that his yoke is easy and his burden is light – do the commands of God sound light and easy to you? In trying to keep it simple for myself, when I think about the commands of God, I think about Matthew 22:34-40:
34 The Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Do you think if we could keep those two commands of Jesus, that we would please and satisfy God? What’s missing from those commands? I don’t think anything is, because life rolls up to loving God (does my action demonstrate love for God) or loving others (does my action demonstrate love for all others)?
My test becomes what the Holy Spirit is saying to me about life. Some might say there is risk here because I might not listen to the voice of the Spirit. That’s the first and greatest command. If I love God, I will listen to and honour his voice in me. Once I am there, the Spirit of truth can guide me into all freedom as I walk with him.
When was the last time you asked the Spirit to guide you in walking through life?