Most of the Lord's people are still living as if they are unaware of the Lord's commands. We need to understand that unless our righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, we will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
"This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you." — John 15: 12.
"My Commandment." So our Lord Jesus has commandments for His disciples! This reflection may cause surprise if we are uninstructed and unthinking. Grace and favour are the notions most easily connected with Him. It almost shocks to be asked to think of His having claims and making demands upon us. "Commandments" suggest Moses rather than Christ. Many have not learned that there is also "the royal law," "the law of liberty" (James 2: 8; 1: 25), "the law of Christ" (Gal. 6: 2). The need to know the Redeemer as our Lawgiver is a vital one. It is true, blessedly true, that we have been redeemed from under the law of Moses, but it is equally true, and also blessedly true, that we have been placed under law to Christ. It can never be too strongly emphasized that we have not been saved by law, but that glorious statement needs to be accompanied by another, namely, that we are saved unto law. License is, of all things, the most foreign to the spirit of the new life in Christ.
"My Commandment." Here our Lord speaks of one, elsewhere the word is plural, "My Commandments," (John 14: 15, 21). His commandments are many, scattered throughout the New Testament; sometimes spoken by His own lips; sometimes by the lips of His apostles. How many, I wonder, of our Lord's own commandments could the average Christian repeat? The commandments of Moses we know. The Decalogue is in the memory of us all. Why then this strange ignorance of Christ's commandments? Is Moses our Lord? Is it of more importance that we should keep the "law that gendereth to bondage" than the "law of liberty"? Or, is mere morality the ideal of our Christian life? Can it be that we have not yet descried those heights of Christian sanctity which beckon us to their ascent? Such heights as, for example, are caught sight of in such commandments as, "Resist not evil", "Love your enemies"; "Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth"; "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness"; "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Here are some summits in the range of Christian ideal, and it seems an utterly impossible position to be under the Grace of Christ and at the same time aspire to nothing higher than the law of Moses. He who gives us grace must also be allowed to give us His commandments.
It startles us when we realise that the conscience of Christians, frequently, is hardly a Christian conscience at all. Its light is, not Christ, but Moses. . . A Christian conscience, one fears, is surprisingly rare. The ready and crushing proof is in the open fact that transgressions of the Ten Commandments shock us, transgressions of the commandments of Christ stir us but little, if at all. A murder! Robbery! Adultery! We hold up our hands in horror. No one, of course, complains of such sensitiveness. It is right; it is good. But where is equal sensitiveness when the commandments of Christ are broken? Why are we not shocked when we meet a believer who stubbornly refuses to forgive the brother who injured him; or when two sit down to eat bread and drink of the same cup, but who have not spoken to each other since something happened years ago? and why are we not shocked when brother is angry with brother, or when believers, violating the law of their separation, hobnob with that enemy of Christ — the world? Is Sinai, then, of more importance in our eyes than Calvary? In which school was our conscience educated? Is there not urgent need that we should change its teacher, so that it may become truly a Christian conscience, sensitive to every commandment of Christ and shocked by every violation of the same?