Leonard Lauriault: Church of Christ
In Matthew 28: 20, Jesus told his disciples to teach us everything he commanded. Obeying Jesus’ commands is how we show our love for him (John 14: 15) and receive blessings from him, the first of which is salvation (1 John 5: 21-23).
Belief in Jesus as the Son of God (John 6: 28, 29; 8: 24; 12: 44) is the first command we must obey. However, it is not the only command Jesus gave, and faith, by itself, cannot save (Ephesians 2: 8-10; James 2: 17-24). Faith does not nullify any other command, rather, it is t he basis for obedience to all of the other commands Jesus gave. Our response to faith is just taking God at his word and doing what he says. In fact, without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11: 6).
And whatever we do, if it is not done in faith, is sin, even if God commanded it (Romans 14: 23).
If we believe who Jesus is and want to show our love for him and please him, we will learn what his commands are (Ephesians 5: 10) and obey all of them as we learn them (Philippians 3: 15, 16). In that process, we will also learn what displeases God and begin avoiding those things or activities.
We are very specifically told what separates us from God’s pleasure in Isaiah 59: 1-8 (particularly verse 2). This passage mentions some pretty gross sins as that which separates us from God. However, sin is sin, w hether we murder someone or drive faster than the speed limit (James 2: 8-11).
Jesus commanded us to repent for our own good so that we can avoid the punishment for sin (Luke 13: 3; Acts 17: 26-31). God has placed each of us in this place and time to give us the opportunity to repent because of his patient love for us (2 Peter 3: 9). So, if we recognize that God loved us so much, in spite of our sin (John 3: 16; Romans 5: 6-8), we will put away the sin from our lives, which begins with repentance (Romans 2: 4-11).
But what is repentance? It is a change in our will that causes us to leave our life of sin and live to please God. Everyone has sinned (Romans 3: 23) and therefore, broken their relationship with God (Isaiah 59: 2). While it should break our hearts that we have done this, repentance is not being sorry that the relationship is broken, but the correct response to that sorrow (2 Corinthians 7: 10).
Both the motive and the response are related to our relationship with God. Sorrow for being caught or sustained fear of punishment will not please God (2 Corinthians 7: 10; 1 John 4: 18).Although Christians don’t live a sinful life (1 John 3: 4-10), we still have a constant battle with temptation and sin (Romans 6: 1-5; 1 John 1: 5-8).
So, repentance becomes a lifelong struggle against sin (Romans 7: 14-25; Colossians 3: 1-10). Like sustained faith (Revelation 2: 10), and possibly even more so, repentance is a difficult task.
It involves acknowledgement of our weakness in not overcoming temptation, even though God gives us the ability to do that (1 Corinthians 10: 13). It demands that we a ccept of the fact that we are the ones responsible for breaking the relationship with God. And it requires us to humbly approach God to restore the relationship, which he will do for his Christian children (a redundancy in terms, Galatians 3: 26-4: 7), if we but ask (1 John 1: 9-2: 6).
Have you come to know Jesus by obeying his commands? Are you studying God’s word for yourself to be sure that you are being taught everything Jesus commanded (Matthew 28: 20; Acts 17: 11).
Belief in Jesus as the Son of God and the desire to please him by obeying his commands will lead us to repent of the sins that break our relationship with him. They also lead us to find out what Jesus’ other commands are. Keep watching this space as we continue to study God’s word together to find out how to please him t hrough obedience.