Am I intentionally practicing the commands of Christ and teaching them to others?
17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks 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 practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
INSIGHT: I met an award winning Christian video producer over coffee one time. I shared my testimony of how my relationship with God became extraordinary when I got intentional about obeying the commands of Christ. He grew up in a very religious home here in the Bible belt. He saw legalistic righteousness, apart from an actual loving relationship with God, and so the idea of obedience seemed repulsive to him. As a result, he had run to the grace movement and wanted me to know a few reasons why I should probably lighten up. I walked away sad, knowing here was another man who the devil was able to cut off from a personal relationship with God, by perverting the concept of obedience to Him. We can’t know God without intentionally obeying Him (1 Jn 2:3-6).
Have you ever been confused on this whole issue of grace vs keeping the law, etc.? In order to be in relationship with God and to go to heaven, we have to be in right standing with Him (righteousness). In the OT, righteousness came from obeying all of God’s laws (Deu 6:25). However, because of their sin nature, they were not able to keep the law consistently and there were constant breaks in the relationship. Their sin could be forgiven by God through animal sacrifices, but they were not able to completely remove their sin or guilty conscience which still impeded their worship and their relationship with God (Heb 10:1-4).
Think of it like this. The Law of Moses, with all of its regulations and rules, were intended to be like keep out fences around sinfulness. However, because of our sin nature, the Law makes people want to sin even more, (Rom 7:8) making them slaves to sin (Rom 7:14). But, the righteousness that comes from Christ not only cleanses us from all past guilt (Heb 10:22), but gives us a new nature (born again), setting us free from sin, making us slaves to righteousness (Rom 6:16-18). When we are born again, The Holy Spirit lives in us, and as we surrender to Him, He fills us and empowers us. He not only gives us a burning internal desire to live godly, rather than just the old external pressure of the Law, on a guilty conscience and an unchanged sin nature. A “Christian” that still struggles with living in sin, like Paul struggled with under the law (Rom 7:14-20), before he was born again and set free by the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:2), should consider that they may not yet be truly born again. A guilty conscience and a desire to do good is not evidence of being born again. Even sinners can feel guilty because right and wrong is written on their hearts (Heb 10:16). However, a truly born again Christian is no longer controlled by the sinful nature (Rom 8:9-10). Yes, we still have a sin nature that wants its way and creates conflict (Gal 5:17), but it is to be considered dead (Rom 6:11, 15-18) because it is over powered by the Spirit. Christians can still be tempted to occasionally sin, but they will not be able to stay in it, enjoy it, or keep returning to it. (1 Jn 3:9, 5:18) The Bible warns us much about not being “Carnal Christians” who end up missing out on heaven, in spite of how much false teaching tries to twist the Scriptures saying it’s ok (Mat 5:29, Rom 8:6-9, Gal 5:19-21, 6:8, Heb 10:26-27, Titus 1:16, Jude 1:4). Yes, Jesus did abolish the external regulations like circumcision, festivals, sacrifices, don’t touch, don’t eat, etc. (Eph 2:15, Col 2:20-23) but we are still required to uphold the moral law of God (Rom 3:31) and we have an obligation to live by the Spirit (Rom 8:12-13) and grow up into our salvation (Heb 6:11-12, 1 Pet 2:2).