Is it possible to obey the law or keep the Sabbath?
Countless Christians have been taught that since the law is spiritual and we are carnal (Romans 7:14), no human will ever be able to meet the requirements of the law in this life. Others have said that since we cannot keep the law perfectly then there is no point in trying. Is this true? Quoting from the second Commandment, Jesus said “If you love me, keep my Commandments” John 14:15. What did Jesus mean by this if it is not possible to keep His Commandments? Have the Ten Commandments been given by God as some idealistic impossible goal toward which converted souls should struggle but never be able to attain? Is it possible to love God and man perfectly? To do so would mean being perfect as Christ was perfect and that we would not be sinners. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” and 1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Romans 6:23 has the penalty and the solution, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” So can we obey the law perfectly? Not on our own we can’t but through Jesus Christ we can. Romans 8:3-4 states, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
Paul gave light to these verses in Romans 7. “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. No, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, You shall not covet.” (v.7) “…For without the law sin was dead.” (v.8) “Wherefore the law is holy, and the Commandment holy, and just, and good.” (v.12) “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (v.18-19) “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (v.24-25)
Now here is why we need God’s grace. As Paul stated in Romans chapter 7, even though he loves the law and acknowledges that it is Just, Holy and Good, in the flesh he still fails. This is not to become distraught over as Paul explains that for those who walk after the spirit and not the flesh, there remains no condemnation. Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” So why is this? When we fail in the flesh and sin, through faith we repent and believe we are forgiven, that is, we believe through faith that Jesus died for us and paid the full penalty for our sins. Hence when we genuinely repent, we receive God’s grace, which is His unmerited, underserved favour. In fact, if there was no law, there would be no need for God’s grace. Thus by faith and genuine repentance, we are found righteous in God’s eyes through the sacrifice of Jesus. The only way we can fulfil the righteousness of the law is through Jesus Christ.
It is very much about loving God supremely. When we do so, it becomes easier and a more natural occurrence to keep His Commandments as it comes from our heart and something we desire very much to do and should want to do because we do love Him. No one should desire to continue in the sin that nailed their Saviour to the cross.
Jesus said in John 15:10, “If you keep my Commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s Commandments, and abide in his love.” Jesus obeyed the Father’s Commandments and He asks us to demonstrate our love for Him by doing the same. We also find in 1 John 2:1-4 “My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his Commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his Commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
Paul desires with all his heart and mind to obey the law but in the flesh he continually fails. But by the grace of God through faith in Christ, and sincere repentance, he is seen by God as righteous. However, knowing God’s law and having no intention or desire to obey it is wilful sin and hence cannot have genuine repentance. We need to take the following passage very seriously as it says that there remains NO more sacrifice for deliberate sin.
Hebrews 10:12-26, “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;… 14 For by one offering he has perfected for ever them that are sanctified… 26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, … 28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”