In John 14:15, Jesus makes this statement:
15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (NASB)
Seems simple enough, right? We all, as blood-washed, Spirit-filled, born again believers, want to love Jesus. So what better way to indicate that then by doing what He requires? But hold on there. Is that what the verse is saying? All we got to do is obey and we will be showing our love for Him?
See how easy it is to “move” that verse around? Change a little wording here, tinker with the structure a little there, and WHAM! We just became the Pharisees. A Pharisee you say? Yep, a Pharisee. Let me demonstrate.
The Pharisees believed that to win God’s approval, be declared righteous, one had to obey the Law. In fact, to obey the Law perfectly, the Pharisee created some 613 additional laws to make sure The Law was not violated. Surely, they thought, God would approve of their devotion and commitment. But did He?
No. He did not. Even though they may have kept most of the Law, their hearts were far from Him. The Law was not given as a list to start checking off…didn’t blaspheme today, check…didn’t commit adultery today, check…let’s see, did I kill anyone today? Nope, check. Truth is, it is impossible to keep the Law. THAT was the purpose for the giving of the Law. To show us that we can’t keep it. That it is impossible to please God…without faith. But faith in what?
Glad you asked. Faith in the good news of what Jesus did on the cross. Faith that His death, and by Him bearing the wrath of God for the violations of the Law we commit, satisfied God’s anger toward us, freeing God to love US, and allowing God to change our heart so we could love Him back.
1John 4:9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins….19 We love because He first loved us.
So what does “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” mean? Let’s look at it closer. We have an “if”, or if you will, an “if – then” clause. It’s conditional. “If something is true, “then” the other will be true. So what is this “something”? You loving Me, He says. Well first, according to what was posted above, we have to have been loved first, to love Him. In other words, our sins have to have been propitiated, or satisfied…paid for. So, one who has been redeemed, or saved from the eternal punishment is one who can love Him.
So we have, “If you are saved, redeemed, you can love Me.” Then we have, “you will keep My commandments.” Notice it doesn’t say, “try”, “attempt”, or “give a go at it”. It says “you will”. What we have is an indicative and an imperative. The indicative is “the one who loves Him”. That is who you are. You are indicated as the one who loves Him. So “if” you are indicated as the one who loves Him, then the imperative will also be true. You will keep His commandments. The imperative is a natural byproduct of the indicative.
Let me illustrate. Ever see a teenage boy fall for his first love? What happens to his hygiene habits? He goes from showering every 2-3 days to showering every day! He doesn’t say, “I will shower every day to win her love.” No, he loves, and as a result, his love drives him to please her by smelling nice. It’s a natural response to the indicative.
When we put the imperatives BEFORE the indicatives we get what the Pharisees did. Trying to get clean to win favor. See, in reality, this verse has every thing to do with what is known as the Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. What that means is that God has called you for a purpose. That purpose is to love you, and for you to love Him back. As a result you will naturally want to please. From the moment He called you, to the day you will stand in His presence glorified, He will work in your life to deepen your love for Him, thus deepen your obedience. This is called Sanctification. The doctrine means that you will persevere, because He is in control and never fails at what He seeks to accomplish…which is you glorified.
So, stop trying to obey to attain some sort of love for Him, rather, read about all He has done, all He is, all He has sacrificed, and fall in love with Him…because you will see that He first loved you, and how much He loved/loves you. THEN, you will see, that miraculously you are becoming obedient, and you will be looking for ways to be more obedient to flow from the love you have for Him.