"I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary." -Revelation 2:2-3
These false teachers, false prophets, or false apostles are "deceived" and do not know that they are false, and those who follow them are "deceived" and do not know that these teachers are leading them straight to the fires of Hell (2Tim 3:13). They believe that they're on the narrow path to life, but in reality they're on the highway to Hell (Matt 7:22-23; Luke 13:24; 2Thess 2:9-12).
Imagine the horror: To believe that you are saved and that you will enter Heaven upon the day of your physical death, but on that day, you find yourself standing before a Holy God who condemns you to spend eternity burning in the fires of Hell. What a terrifying reality! Unfortunately, such was, is, and will be the fate of many who call(ed) themselves 'Christian;'
as the Lord Jesus Christ warned:
"Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able." -Luke 13:24
"Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’" -Matthew 7:22-23
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." -Matthew 7:13-14
But what if there was ONE SIMPLE TEST that a person could conduct either upon themselves or upon another to find out if they were a real Christian or a deceived False-Christian? -There is! Behold, it is written:
"Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." -1 John 2:3-4
How do we know if we are true, saved Christians? -If we keep Christ's commandments! How do we test whether a certain preacher is true or false? -By watching them to see if he keeps and teaches Christ's commandments.
Of course, this verse (1 John 2:4) flies directly in the face of certain forms of False-Christianity which do not teach the commandments of Christ (or even acknowledge that such a thing exists), but the Word of God is clear: Those who obey the commandments of Christ are saved, and those who do not obey the commandments of Christ are not saved, but are liars (i.e. imposters -2Tim 3:13).
This is why the Lord Jesus Christ, after condemning those who called Him, "Lord! Lord!," says, "depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!" in Matthew 7:23. In that verse, we see people who thought that they were saved --even testifying to the fact that they thought themselves to be spiritually gifted-- but, since they did not live in obedience to the commandments of Christ they practiced "lawlessness" (i.e. "disobedience") and were cast out.
But before we go on, I would first like to address which "commandments" the Apostle John is referring to in 1 John 2:3-4, for there are many who are very confused about this matter:
First and foremost, John was NOT referring to the Law of Moses and the Old Testament commandments when he wrote 1 John 2:4. He couldn't be referring to the Law of Moses, for the whole counsel of Apostles had already made a clear declaration concerning the Law of Moses when they all came together and said:
"But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality." -Acts 21:25
And, as the Apostle Paul made abundantly clear:
"For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”" -Galatians 3:10
The commandments that are being referred to, however, are the commandments of Jesus Christ, which are listed all throughout the New Testament.
Do you remember the famous words of the Lord Jesus Christ, when He told His disciples to: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you..." (Matt 28:19-20a)? What commandments do you suppose the Lord was referring to? -The answer is obvious: Those things HE HAD TOLD THEM prior to that point. For example, Jesus had said the following:
"The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these." -Mark 12:29-31
Obviously, these are two commandments that Christ wanted His disciples to obey and to teach others, especially by the fact that He deemed them the "first" and "second" commandments (even though the Old Testament made no such distinction).
NOT UNDER THE LAW OF MOSES
The Old Covenant, on the other hand, with its Law, is obsolete; as it is written:
"In that He [God] says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete." -Hebrews 8:13a
The Law of Moses is no longer binding upon any Christian. Why is it "obsolete"? -Because Jesus Christ, who is our New High Priest, brought in a "New Covenant" (a new and better agreement or contract) and changed the Priesthood from that of the Levitical to that of Melchizedek; as it is written:
"Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron?" -Hebrews 7:11
So what happened to the Law of Moses? -Why would we now disregard the Law of Moses and cling solely to the new commandments of Christ? -Because it is plainly written:
"For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law." -Hebrews 7:12
The change of the Law was from that of the Law of Moses to the commandments of Christ. Now laws such as circumcision (Gal 5:2-6), keeping feast days (Col 2:16), keeping the Saturday Sabbath (Col 2:16), performing animal sacrifice (Heb 10:12), and various others (Acts 21:25), have been annulled and we must now obey the commandments of Christ listed throughout the pages of the New Testament.
Listen, as the writer of Hebrews goes on to explain:
"For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God." -Hebrews 7:18-19
Did you catch that? -The former commandments, those commandments contained within the Law of Moses, were ANNULLED. Or, again, as Hebrews 8:13 puts it, they are "OBSOLETE."
... and, as the Apostle Paul put it in another place:
"Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God." -Romans 7:4
Christ is now our Head -our Lord and our Master (1Cor 11:3), and we must now obey Him, and Him alone, as it is written:
"No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other..." -Luke 16:13a
If you live in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, you CANNOT at the same time live in obedience to the Law of Moses --and vice-verse. Choose which Master you will serve now --The Law, which brings death (Rom 7:10), or Jesus Christ who brings life (John 11:25-26, 15:6-7; 1 John 3:24).
On the other hand, WE MUST, as Christians, devote our lives to obey Jesus Christ and His commandments. You can only serve one Master. Make it The Lord Jesus Christ Who sits at the right hand of God in Heaven.
OBEDIENCE TO JESUS ALONE
The Lord Jesus Christ came with NEW commandments, which were NOT part of the old Law of Moses, such as baptism (Matt 28:19-20), communion (1Cor 11:24-25), Ekkmasism (the washing of our brothers' feet -John 13:14), and many more.
These new commandments are not only supposed to be observed by Christians, but are to be taught to new converts as well; as it is written:
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you..." -Matthew 28:19-20a
Come now, you who merely call yourself a Christian: Do you practice Christianity? Do you truly follow Christ? You who attempt to make disciples, are you not yet a disciple? Do you obey the commandments of Christ or are you an imposter (1 John 2:4)?
So which commandments are Christians supposed to obey? Which commandments are the Apostle John speaking of when he states, "the man who says, "I know Him," but does not obey His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1John 2:4)? -The commandments of Jesus Christ --the commandments contained within the New Testament of the Bible. Just look at what the new converts of the Apostles' day did:
"They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." -Acts 2:42
What was the Apostle's doctrine? -Read the New Testament! -That's what they left for all believers to believe, study and obey -The New Testament is the Apostle's doctrine!
As the Lord Jesus Christ Himself said:
"If you love Me, keep My commandments." -John 14:15
"He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." -John 14:21
"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me." -John 14:23b-24
"If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love." -John 15:10
Come now, you who say you believe: Don't you know that, "even the demons believe—and tremble!" (James 2:19)? What do you have that the demons do not have? If you ask some modern preachers what you must do to be saved, they'll reply, "You must believe!" -Is that all? If so, so what? For even the demons believe! What good does that do for a demon? -Nothing! So what does a true Christian do that a demon does not do? -A true Christian believes AND obeys the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Come now, you who call yourself a Christian: Who's slave are you? -It does not matter who you say you are a slave of, what matters is your actions, for "Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey" (Romans 6:16a)! If Jesus Christ is truly your Lord, and you are His slave, you will obey His commandments! As the Lord Jesus Christ said:
"But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?" -Luke 6:46
WHAT ARE THE COMMANDMENTS OF CHRIST?
As I have already stated, the Commandments of Christ are written all throughout the New Testament; whenever Jesus Christ or one of the Apostle's tells believers to do, or not to do anything. Pay attention as you read. A new believer in Christ is not going to know all of the commandments of Christ right away, but God's grace and the power of the Holy Spirit is sufficient to lead us into all righteousness as we learn; as it is written:
"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." -Philippians 1:6
Which is why all of us should strive to "add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins." -2 Peter 1:5b-9
But if you are desiring me to point out some of the specific commandments of Christ from the New Testament to you, here are four:
"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" -Matthew 5:44
and again, here are four more:
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you" -Matthew 28:19-20
The Apostles of our Lord obeyed the last command stated above, teaching us many other things which the Lord had told them, which is why we accept the Apostles' words as if they were the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; as it is written:
"For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe." -1 Thessalonians 2:13
This is why we should not accept anyone who calls themselves an Apostle today (but that is another story). The point is that when the Apostles wrote their letters (known as epistles), they related many other commandments of Christ to us, which commandments are not only found in the "red letters" of the Bible; as the Apostle Paul gave a stern warning about in one of his epistles, saying:
"If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord." -1 Corinthians 14:37
What commandments did Paul write which we should acknowledge as the commandments of Christ? -Here are some of them:
- Imitate The Apostles. (1Cor 4:16)
- Excommunicate sinners from the Church and cast them out to Satan. (1Cor 5:1-8)
- Do not keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner— Do not even eat with such a person. (1Cor 5:9-11)
- Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. (1Cor 6:9-10)
- Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. (1Cor 6:18)
- A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. (1Cor 7:10-11)
- A husband is not to divorce his wife (1Cor 7:11) -except for sexual immorality (see also Matt 5:32 and Matt 19:9)
- Be without the cares of this life. (1Cor 7:32)
- A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. (1Cor 7:39)
- Beware lest somehow your liberty becomes a stumbling block to those Christians who are weak in the faith. For when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. (1Cor 8:9-12)
- Do not eat food offered to idols. (1Cor 8:1-13)
- Present the gospel of Christ without charge. (1Cor 9:18)
- Do not become idolaters. (1Cor 10:7)
- Do not commit sexual immorality. (1Cor 10:8)
- Do not tempt Christ. (1Cor 10:9)
- Do not complain. (1Cor 10:10)
- Flee from idolatry. (1Cor 10:14)
- Let no one seek his own, but each one the others' well-being. (1Cor 10:24)
- Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake; for “the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness.” (1Cor 10:25-26)
- Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1Cor 10:31)
- Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God. (1Cor 10:32)
- Imitate Paul the Apostle as he imitates Christ. (1Cor 11:1)
- A man shall not cover his head with anything while praying or prophesying, (prophesying is speaking the Word of God). (1Cor 11:4)
- A woman must wear a head covering, ie. a veil or shawl, when praying or prophesying (prophesying is speaking the Word of God). (1Cor 11:5)
- If a woman will not cover her head let her hair be shaved off. (1Cor 11:6)
- There must be no divisions when Christians come together. (1Cor 11:18)
- Pursue love. (1Cor 14:1)
- Desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. (1Cor 14:1)
- All things in the Church Service must be done for edification. (1Cor 14:26)
- No more than three men may speak in a toungue to the Church and they must be one at a time. (1Cor 14:27)
- If tongues are being spoken in the Church there must be someone to interpret the tongue for the Assembly or else the person must be silent. (1Cor 14:28)
- No more than three prophets may speak during the Church Service. (1Cor 14:29)
- If a prophet is speaking and another prophet in the Church interupts him, the first must be silent. (1Cor 14:30)
- Church Services must not be confusing, but orderly. (1Cor 14:33)
- Women must remain absolutely silent during Church Service, for they are not permitted to speak (Greek: "make utterance"), because it would be a shame. (1Cor 14:34-35).
- If a woman has a question during the Church Service she should wait until she is home to ask her husband. (1Cor 14:35)
- Christians must acknowledge that the things which Paul has written are the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ and that anyone who disregards these commands will be disregarded by God. (1Cor 14:37-38)
- Desire earnestly to prophesy. (1Cor 14:39)
- Do not forbid men to speak in tongues (as long as they are in obedience to the rules previously stated). (1Cor 14:39)
- All things in the Church Service must be done decently and orderly. (1Cor 14:40)
- Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1Cor 15:58)
- Watch. (1Cor 16:13)
- Stand fast in the faith. (1Cor 16:13)
- Be brave. (1Cor 16:13)
- Be strong. (1Cor 16:13)
- Let all that you do be done with love. (1Cor 16:14)
- Christians must submit themselves to those that have devoted themselves to the ministry of the Saints. (1Cor 16:15-16)
- Greet one another with a holy kiss. (1Cor 16:20)
There are many other commandments of Christ listed all throughout the New Testament. Those that love the Lord Jesus Christ will find them and obey them -FOR IT IS HOW WE KNOW WE ARE CHRISTIANS; as it is written:
"Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments." -1 John 2:3
Those who merely claim to be Christian will not obey the commandments of Christ listed throughout the New Testament, which is how we are able to tell if they are liars; as it is written:
"He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." -1 John 2:4