Keep the commandments and keep your life; despising them leads to death.
The Old Testament traces the up’s and downs of human existence (in general) by telling the history of God’s chosen people, the Jews. That narrative starts in the Garden of Eden where one simple command would have allowed Adam and Eve to keep their lives…but alas, they broke that command and ushered in the age of death. As the days and years and centuries pass by, the same pattern holds true – keep God’s commands and things go well. Break those commands and life gets ugly quickly, and in some cases, leads to immediate death.
Fortunately, we don’t live under the same Law that we need to strive to keep in order that we may have eternal life. Christ came to provide a final solution for an eternal problem and made a way by which man could be forgiven and justified before a Holy God…once and for all. If you have been born again (Jn. 3:3) by confession, repentance, and placing all of your faith in Jesus’ finished work of death, burial, and resurrection, then the Law of God no longer holds any sway over your eternal soul. Praise God and Amen if that is true for you! However, the Bible makes it just as clear that you are still called to pursue a holy life by obeying Jesus’ commands (Jn. 14:15).
Jesus boiled it all down for his Jewish audience in one conversation where He told them to “love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind…and love your neighbor as yourself” (Mth. 34-40). The entirety of the New Testament then unpacks what Christian living should look like and provides the blueprint that we are called to follow. When we do, we experience the abundant life that Christ has promised (Jn. 10:10). When we don’t, we experience the natural consequences of our sin.
When we walk in harmony with what God has shown us to be good – both towards Him and towards our neighbor and towards ourselves – we will experience the abundant life He has designed for us to live. When we don’t, we won’t lose our salvation (Rom. 8:38-39; Jn. 10:28-29), but we will lose the blessings of obedience, and in many cases, that will feel like death. Keep or Despise…the choice is yours.