Summary: "And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment." 1 John 3:23-24
This is His Commandment
By Marc Heatherington
Our passage today is from 1 John 3:22-23:
And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
Verse 22 speaks of answered prayer bring the result of keeping His commandments, and doing those things which please God. Although this sounds like a works’ based formula, it is more an alignment formula. If we are not keeping God’s commands, or aiming to please God, then we are living for ourselves, and working to please ourselves. In such a state, our prayers will be selfish, and pleasure oriented.
The first focus is to keep His commandments. This sounds simple, but when asked, many will say the phrase, “His commandments” refers to the Ten Commandments. The Judaizers say it refers to the entire law. Others will say it refers to the Greatest Commandment; to love God and our neighbor. None of these responses are accurate.
In reference to the Ten Commandments, Romans 6 teaches that we are not under law. Judaizers say this refers to the Pharisaical law, not the law of Moses. But Romans 7 gives us an example of what law what being is being mentioned, by saying; “
"I wouldn’t have known sin, except through the law. For I wouldn’t have known coveting, unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” Romans 7:7
That is the tenth commandment of the Ten Commandments. I’ve had legalists go so far as to tell me Paul was wrong, thereby nullifying much of the New Testament. They also reject the rest of the apostles in denying Acts 15.
“The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, to the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings.
“Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law” - to whom we gave no such commandment - it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:
• that you abstain from things offered to idols,
• from blood,
• from things strangled, and
• from sexual immorality.
“If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” Acts 15:23-29
These four items are the only aspects of the law brought forward to Christians. When discussing our freedom from the law of Moses, legalists will then immediately refer to Matthew 5, where Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.” Unfortunately, the legalists ignore the rest of Jesus’s message.
Matthew 5 says;
“I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Matt 5:17-18
Jesus said the law wouldn’t pass away until all of it was fulfilled. Consider the following questions and answers we can take from this passage:
1. What did He come to do?
Answer: Jesus said He came to fulfill the law.
2. Will any part of the law fall away by itself?
Answer: Jesus said NO part of the law would fall away until ALL of the law is fulfilled.
3. When will the law as a whole pass away?
Answer: When it is fulfilled.
4. What did Jesus come to do?
Answer: In verse 17, He said He came to fulfill the law.
5. Did Jesus fail in what He came to do?
Answer: No. He fulfilled the entire law. Jesus is not coming again to fulfill the law.
6. What did Jesus say would happen when the law was fulfilled?
Answer: It would pass away.
7. What happened when Jesus fulfilled the entire law.
Answer: The law passed away. Jesus didn’t come to destroy the law, but He did come to set us free from the law; both from its penalties and its burden.
This aspect of the law passing away is further established in many other passages. One of the best examples is found in 2 Corinthians 2;
“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. “But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. " 2 Cor 3:1-9