“Keep My Commandments”

THE TRUE CHRISTIAN has the best intentions in the world. He fully intends to please God, the Heavenly Father, and to please his Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, and as much as possible, his brethren. His good intentions go still further, reaching out to all those with whom he comes in contact, including those in the world. “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”—Gal. 6:10

We all realize that serious errors are made with the very best of intentions, and many an innocent person has suffered greatly through no cause of his own, when another simply acted with good intention.

The Apostle Peter, by his own actions on one occasion, gives an excellent illustration of good intentions, which, if followed, would have brought disaster. Peter, of course, learned his lesson, but it was a hard one. Jesus had announced that “he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord. … But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan [Adversary]: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”—Matt. 16:21-23

The disaster that would have resulted if our Lord had followed Peter’s advice would have been overwhelming. Jesus would have gone directly against his covenant of sacrifice which he had made with God when he said (Heb. 10:7), “Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.” These were the words of Jesus when he presented himself to God at the river Jordan and was baptized of John. Here the antitypical Passover lamb died legally in the sight of God. If our Lord had followed Peter’s advice there would have been no redemption for the world of mankind, because thus Jesus would have taken his sacrifice off the altar. There would have been no ransom price to pay for the release of Adam and his race from the power of the grave. Then again, what of himself—would he not have lost his own life for his unfaithfulness? These thoughts are appalling, but such an outcome was possible, nevertheless. Is it not written, “He (who in the days of his flesh, having offered up both prayers and supplications, crying aloud with tears to him who was able to deliver him out of death, and was heard for his devotion.)”—Heb 5:7, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott

The statement is often heard: “Good intentions get you nowhere.” This is quite true from the same standpoint, that intentions without results are of no value, James tells us: “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:20) Good intentions, like faith, must be backed up by a righteous zeal in the service of God which, of course, means service for the truth and for the brethren. Just how far would we get in the Christian way without good intentions, without right motives, without a firm resolve? The answer is, of course, nowhere. We would be like a ship without a rudder.

The will must be exercised in harmony with the principles of truth and righteousness, and also in harmony with the Divine plan of the ages, even as we now cooperate with our returned Lord as the Chief Reaper in the precious harvest work at the end of the age. The exercise of the will in connection with the desire to do the will of God and come to a knowledge of the doctrine is brought to our attention by Jesus, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.”—John 7:17

With these thoughts in mind, we appreciate the fact that the Christian is to be a firm, positive character, well rounded out in the fruits and graces of the Holy Spirit, like unto Jesus his Lord, rooted and grounded and established in the faith. (Col. 2:7) He has a fight on his hands—a hard fight—and the foe is strong and cunning, but then the Lord said, “My grace is sufficient” enabling the Christian to engage in a “good fight of faith.”—II Cor. 12:9; I Tim. 6:12

The Master gave us “a new commandment,” the law of love, one that went far beyond the law of Moses, one that called upon us to “love one another” as he loved us. (John 13:34) The Lord loved his disciples to the extent that he died for them, and “having loved his own, … he loved them unto the end.” (John 13:1) We see, therefore, that the lesson for us is that we should lay down our lives for one another, love as Jesus loved. We cannot do it so well, or in so spectacular a manner, but we must, as the Apostle Paul said of himself, “fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church.” (Col. 1:24) Thus we bear affliction for the church’s sake; thus we love our own as Jesus did; and so it is stated, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.”—I John 3:14

Who would be so foolish as to think that God or Christ would take good intentions alone as all that is required to fulfill this new commandment? Nay, we all must know, that it is our efforts to perform this law and conform to its requirements which prove our zeal, our real attitude of heart and mind. As Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.”—John 14:15,21

In trying to do these things perfectly, the effort is the proof of our sincerity. All through this Gospel Age, ever since Pentecost until the present time, the Lord’s people have been hindered by their weaknesses, some more, some less. They have neglected to put the commandments of Jesus into full operation in their lives. There has been some excuse because we are not perfect; we need the covering robe of Christ’s righteousness. And how thankful we are that God looks to Jesus for our sufficiency, and that we are “accepted in the beloved.”—Eph. 1:6

We wish to call attention to one commandment of Jesus that seems to be almost forgotten or, at least, not followed very strictly. If this were followed more closely, we believe that it would bring a speedy end to many of the trials and difficulties that sometimes are permitted to go on and on until good fellowship among brethren is disrupted. We refer to Matthew 18:15-17, which gives us the rule, and reads, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he shall neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”

In these verses in Matthew 18, ‘If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him’, we note that this is a trespass on the other brother’s part against us. Then in Matthew 5:23,24 we see that the Lord reverses the matter, for in this case, it is our trespass against another: “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Here it is a question of our brother having something against us, that we have trespassed against him, so the rule works both ways.

Anything that is wrong and is important enough, must be rectified. If the matter is too small to bring to our brother’s attention, it is also too small to consider, and too small to affect our brotherly fellowship in Christ, and should be forgotten. But if the matter is something that affects our spiritual growth, something to retard it, something to affect the growth of the ‘joints’ in the body of Christ, then we should proceed with the rule Jesus gave, acting in wisdom and in love.

In conclusion, let us keep in mind that good intentions are not enough, that love for the Lord, the truth, and the brethren will lead us to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only. “Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”—James 1:22-25; John 14:15

Dawn Bible Students Association
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