“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
What it means to live for Christ is best summarized by Jesus’ words in John 14:15. In this cause and effect statement, we have basic Christianity. The word “basic” means elementary, plain, simple and essential. John 14:15 is the core truth of what it means to live a Christian life.
The causal portion of John 14:15 reads as follows: ““If you love me…” The word “if” (ἐάν; ean) implies a condition that if, or since, something is true or real, there will be a corresponding consequence because a certain preceding condition is true. In this particular verse, the particular condition is loving Christ.
The word “love” is from the Greek verb ἀγαπάω (agapao). This is a self-sacrificial love of the will. It is a present and an ongoing love. It is a love not based on the emotions of the moment but rather it is a commitment of one’s will perhaps in spite of one’s emotions. It is a resolute love. A determined love. A self-renunciation type of love.
The object of such a love is not a pastor, a church, or a particular fellowship of believers but rather Jesus Christ. If the believer truly loves Christ as described in today’s text, there will be an assured consequence Jesus said. There will be a certain result of such a love for Christ.
The effect or result of such a love for Christ is stated as follows: “…you will keep my commandments.” The phrase “you will keep” is one word in the Greek: τηρέω (tereo). It is a future active verb which means that an obedience to Christ in the future is based on a preceding love of Christ in the present. Obedience to Christ is the result of first loving Christ and love for Christ is based upon God the Father’s love for us (I John 4:7-11).
How do believers display their obedience to Christ? By keeping or obeying His commandments. The word “commandment” (ἐντολή; entole) are those imperatives Jesus Christ or God gives us in His Word: the Bible. Obedience to God’s Word is the evidence Jesus gives that we truly love Him.
Today’s text cannot be removed from its particular context. This statement by Jesus is framed by His previous words to His disciples that they will do greater works than He. However, whatever greater works we see unfold in the disciples lives and ministry in the Book of Acts, the foundational work for Christ is obedience to the commands of Christ.
It is appropriate that the Holy Spirit used the Apostle John to reiterate this basic truth throughout John’s first epistle. Reflect and meditate on what the Spirit says through the apostle.
- “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” I John 1:6.
- “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” I John 2:3-6.
- “If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.” I John 2:29
- “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” I John 3:9-10.
- “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.” I John 3:21-22.
- “Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.” I John 3:24.
- “And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” I John 4:21.
- “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” I John 5:2-3.
Pastor Burk Parsons concludes by saying, “Our love for Christ does not merit salvation, and neither does keeping His commandments. But keeping His commandments reveals that we have been united to Him for salvation and possess the genuine love that is the consequence of genuine faith. Let us subordinate our desires to Christ today and seek to keep His law.”
Soli deo Gloria!