Are Keeping the Commandments Necessary for Salvation? by Matt1618
Are Keeping the Commandments
Necessary for Salvation?

by Matt1618

I. Matthew 19:16-26 , Jesus' Teaching on the Issue
(Plus other passages)

II. 1st John on the Commandments
III. Paul and the Commandments
IV. Psalm 119 and the Commandments


In this paper, I will look at the issue of the question of the relation of keeping the commandments to salvation. Generally, those Protestants who believe in the theory of 'Sola Fide', or justification by faith alone, will argue that keeping the commandments is not causative of salvation. They will usually relegate Jesus as not specifically teaching on the issue of salvation much, and interpret Paul as teaching that no one can keep the commandments to God's satisfaction. Supposedly if you tie keeping the commandments to salvation, if you break them at all, you will not be justified. This is supposedly 'work righteousness.' They argue that attempting to keep the commandments are important, but one's salvation is not dependent on keeping those commandments. Once one is justified, one gets Christ's righteousness imputed to ones account, and God will not look at any sins (in relation to your justification), and on to Christ's perfect righteousness. You will try to keep the commandments however, as a demonstration of your love for God. Catholics will agree that you keep the commandments because you love God, but will also argue that it is tied into one's salvation. Now, Catholics will agree that it is very difficult to keep the commandments perfectly, but one's justification is not dependent upon keeping the commandments perfectly. As God is a loving Father, he will not cast you out of his grace over small things, but only if you mortally break his commandments. With that said, keeping the commandments are possible and necessary for salvation.

I. Matthew 19:16-26, Jesus' Teaching on the Issue, plus other passages

Matthew 19:16-26

16 And behold, one came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?" 17 And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments." 18 He said to him, "Which?" And Jesus said, "You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 20 The young man said to him, "All these I have observed; what do I still lack?" 21 Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 25 When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Here a young man comes up to Jesus and asks him what good he must do to achieve eternal life: what must one do achieve salvation. Now, in other instances Jesus taught that one must believe for salvation (Jn. 3:16). He also taught one must eat his flesh and drink his blood (Jn 6:51-58). He also taught that one must be born of water and spirit (Jn. 3:5) and repent and be baptized (Mk. 16:16). Now, because he doesn't speak of these things here, does not mean to exclude his other teachings on salvation. His teachings must be looked at in totality. However, this very teaching here in relation to the commandments, is a part of that totality and can not be ignored. In too many cases, when apologists from different stripes assess the biblical teaching on salvation, this passage is ignored.

Here is a specific request where a young man asks Jesus what one must do in order to have eternal life. Thus, his answer is of the utmost importance. (The passage in Mark 10:17:27, closely parallels this passage.) He tells the young man that in order to enter life, he must keep the commandments. Thus, the short answer is yes, to enter life one must keep the commandments. He does not say that it is impossible to keep them. Then Jesus teaches further. He reiterates some of the commandments as necessary. Then the young man inquires further, he instinctively knows he is still short. Jesus then tells him to love from the heart, and sell what he has, and follow Jesus. Now the rich young man was very attached to his possessions, and he ultimately decides to forgo eternal life because of his attachment to those possessions. Jesus saw that he was too attached to those possessions and asserts those attachments detached that young man from eternal life. The young man was too attached to his possessions to give them up. Jesus goes on to say that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom when he makes his famous comparison to the camel and the eye of the needle. Jesus does not say however, that goal is unattainable. On the contrary, He says that with God it is possible. So it is possible for the rich to attain eternal life. It is not merely a rote thing of keeping the commandments but putting one's love into that. Ultimately one must love from the heart, and detach oneself from anything that can distract from the service of God. The young man was so distracted by his possessions that even Jesus call could not break him from them. God gives the grace necessary, but one must respond to that grace, out of love. He chose not to do so.

This is unlike Zacchaeus who was a tax collector and very rich. Next we see what Zacchaeus did and Jesus' response:

Luke 19:1-10

1 He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man named Zacchae'us; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchae'us, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today." 6 So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it they all murmured, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." 8 And Zacchae'us stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold." 9 And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost."
Salvation came to Zacchaeus because he loved from the heart and followed Jesus and repented from his sins. He had stolen from people breaking the commandment to not steal, and in addition had coveted things not lawfully his. He repented from those sins, and out of love followed Jesus. Unlike the rich man, he knew from his heart where he was short, and voluntarily offers half of his possessions to the poor and he promises to restore to those he had defrauded their possessions four fold. Jesus now says, with this offer, salvation has come to Zacchaeus and his house. Zacchaeus didn't even need to be prompted, he did so voluntarily. Zacchaeus, unlike the young man, loved from the heart. Thus, when Jesus speaks that one must keep the commandments to enter eternal life but notes that the young man falls short because of his attachment to possessions, we have an example in Zaccheus showing that it is in fact possible, even for a rich person to keep the commandments. Jesus never said that keeping the commandments is unattainable.

In fact we see that Jesus speak of the commandments as not only not too hard to keep, but it is a sign of being a Christian:

John 14:15-17

15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.
Jesus says that one will keep the commandments if one really loves Jesus. He does not say that keeping the commandments are impossible. On the contrary, he says that if you really love Jesus, you will keep the commandments. The first reason to keep the commandments is not necessarily that you will get salvation if you keep it, but that is a necessary byproduct. We don't keep the commandments because it is a law we have to do. Now, as Jesus taught in Matthew that it is the means to the eternal life, but our primary reason to keep the commandments is because we love Jesus.

John 15:9-14

9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. 10 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. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
Here we see Jesus' stress on love. Again, we don't approach keeping the commandments as a thing of just a thing we must do. Yes, it is a thing we must do, but the main purpose of keeping the commandments is because we have a love relationship with Jesus. It is He who loved us. We want to abide in his love, and in order for us to continue to abide in his love, according to Jesus, we must keep the commandments. Thus, his love for us is dependent upon us keeping the commandments, according to Jesus' own words. We only are his friends if we do keep his commandments. Remember however, that Jesus did say if we love him we will keep the commandments.

Mk. 12:28-34

28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?" 29 Jesus answered, "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." 32 And the scribe said to him, "You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he; 33 and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And after that no one dared to ask him any question.
Here Jesus explicitly teaches what is the most important commandment. Here he does not teach the 'do not' of the 10 commandments, but a way to approach life that will give the hearer the ability to keep the commandments: The first three commandments (four in the Protestant numbering system) are kept if we give our whole heart to God and love Him. The primary commandment is to love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Obviously, if we do so, it would make it impossible to sin against any of the commandments that focus on the worship and honor of God. Then the next commandment is that He says if we love our neighbor, there is nothing greater than this: If we actually love our neighbor, then we won't commit or even think of committing adultery with that neighbor, or be envious of them, or steal from them, or kill/hate them, or lie about them. Unfortunately we can be in a perspective of don't do this, don't do that, but that is not the attitude we need to have. We need to positively love God and our neighbor, and we'd be much less tempted to actually break the commandments we are told not to break. Obviously if these commandments are impossible to keep, it would be foolish for Jesus to say that we can keep them. He shows us the best method in being able to keep them.

Does it mean if we break the commandments, our relationship with God is broken? Well, Jesus does in fact say that we must be careful. He calls us to an even higher standard. He tells us that if one looks at a woman lustfully he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your eye causes you to sin, you must pluck it out. If one does commit such an act, he will be committing himself to hell, and so figuratively he says one must pluck out your eye and cut off your hand (Mt. 5:27-30). In fact, he calls us to a higher standard, than just the mere letter of the law. Just prior to that, he said one must not relax the commandments. He does say that your righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees in order to enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 5:20). He does not teach that since we can't keep the commandments, we try as showing our love for Jesus, but we get Christ's perfect righteousness imputed to our account.

So how does Jesus deal with this? We need to examine this issue a littler further. Jesus came to us so we can be free from sin's bondage. He said he came to set us free from its bondage:

John 8:30-36:

30 As he spoke thus, many believed in him. 31 Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." 33 They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham, and have never been in bondage to any one. How is it that you say, 'You will be made free'?" 34 Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not continue in the house for ever; the son continues for ever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
Here Jesus speaks of the need to continue in His word. If you continue in him, you will know him (He is the truth, via John 14:6), and He will make us free. Free from what? We will be free from the bondage of sin. He gives us the Holy Spirit to empower us to be free from its bondage. Only then can our righteousness exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, and enable us to be free from sin's power and enable us to keep the commandments.

Jesus shows that we are in a Father-Son relationship. When he spoke of Zacchaeus, he called him a 'son of Abraham'. He portrays the Father-Son relationship when he speaks of the parable of the prodigal son. He squandered his inheritance. He shows that one breaks a commandment mortally, by the prodigal son, when he repudiated his Father's gift to him and went into loose living. When the son repented of his sins and came back to the Father, we see the Father come running back to him. He had committed sins with prostitutes (Lk 15:30) and squandered all his money. Now, for those who argue that if you are God's child, you can not lose your inheritance, Jesus teaches otherwise. The other son, guilty of a sin of envy confronted the Father over him throwing over a party for the son who had strayed. Jesus has the Father telling the envious brother not to be envious but to rejoice that his brother, who had indeed sinned mortally and had severed his relationship with the Father. He tells him on two occasions the following:

Luke 15:24, 32

24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry.
32 It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.
Jesus teaches that the prodigal son had so sinned that was indeed cut off from his relationship. However, since he repented, and though initially reluctant, this repentance eventually brought him back to a relationship with the Father. He turned around his life and entered again into his relationship with the Father. There is thus sin that separates one from the Father. However, implied in this is the fact of the other brother's envy. He had some envy, but not to the point of severing his relationship with his Father.

We see elsewhere that Jesus speaks of the differences in sin. He speaks of there being sins where there are varying lashes (Lk 12:47-48). Some sins can lead to severe beating, others lead to light beatings. Jesus also teaches that there are sins such as the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit that will not be forgiven, but implies that there other sins that will be forgiven in the age to come (Mt. 12:31-32) .

Jesus did commission the apostles to forgive sins. So even if we mortally break the commandments that we are commanded to keep, we have a recourse to repair that relationship with God. We see this given here:

John 20;22-23:

22: And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23: If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
The Church recognizes the need, per Jesus' own words, to keep the commandments, for our salvation. However, the church also recognizes that we will fall short at times. He says above 'If you forgive the sins of any they are retained.' Thus, it recognizes as well Jesus commission to the apostles to forgive sins. This commission was passed on, and is still the means of forgiveness of sins, when we fall short.
So in sum Jesus teaches that we do need to keep the commandments. This is essential for salvation, according to Him. But we also note that Jesus recognizes the difference in sins. If we sin mortally we break our relationship with God, but Jesus also has provided the medicine of the sacrament of confession. Smaller sins damage the relationship with God but do not sever that relationship. Now, this is another issue, but I go over a biblical study of this passage and others in this article:

II. 1st John on the Commandments

The apostle John heard Jesus parables. He heard his teaching to the rich young man in Matthew 19. He heard Jesus' commission in John 20. This apostle wrote much in his short epistle on the topic of the commandments, salvation and sin, so any study of this issue should take into account his writing. Let us look at what he wrote specifically on us, sin, and the relevance of commandments to our eternal destiny.

1 John 1:6-10

6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; 7 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. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
John says that we do not have fellowship with God if we do not live according to the truth. He also says in order to be cleansed from sin, we must walk in the light. We must walk in truth. Now John on the one hand says that we are a liar if we do not admit that we have not sinned (1 Jn 1:8, 10). Though we sin, we are to confess our sins to be cleansed. Since John heard and recorded Jesus explicit commission of the apostles to forgive sins, no doubt he is telling readers of the need for the sacrament to get those sins forgiven. But regardless of whether one thinks there is an inference to any sacrament of confession, we are told of being in communion with God we must walk in righteousness and if we do sin, confess those sins in order to get cleansed from our unrighteousness.

1 John 2:3-5

3 And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He who says "I know him" but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him:
The way that we know God, is if we keep his commandments. This reflects perfectly Jesus teaching that we saw earlier in John's gospel. We can not say that we know him if we disobey his commandments. Apparently the only way that we are sure that we are in him is if we keep those commandments. Thus, keeping those commandments are foundational to our relationship with God.

1 John 3:21-24

21 Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 All who keep his commandments abide in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us.
John writes that we have confidence to ask and receive from him answers to our prayers, on the condition that we keep his commandments. The commandment that we have is not only believing in Jesus' name, but that we love one another. John again signifies what Jesus did, that we abide in Christ only when we keep his commandments. Thus, if we break the commandments we cut off our relationship with the Father.

1 John 5:1-5

1 Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God, and every one who loves the parent loves the child. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Here John shows us that we are children of God. Our relationship with God is a Father/Son relationship. However, as children we must obey our Father, we must love other children of God. We know that we love the children of God when we both love God and obey his commandments (v. 1-2). Why would that be? Because when we love the other children, we do something positive for them, and we do not steal, envy, hate, or commit adultery. One other thing that is noted though that is of utmost significance is that John says that the commandments are not burdensome (v. 3). It is possible to keep the commandments. The Protestant idea that we can not keep the commandments, and must look to Christ's righteousness to cover us, is done away with by not just Jesus who says if we love them we will keep the commandments. John, who heard Jesus himself says here that to keep the commandments are not burdensome. Why is that, because by God's grace we overcome the world (v. 4-5).

1 John 5:16-17

16 If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal.
In this epistle John has told us in order to have a relationship with God and to be in his grace, we must keep the commandments. Also, the commandments are not burdensome. However, he also told us that we are liars if we admit we have not sinned. Does it mean that if we sin, and break the commandments, even in very little things, that we are cut off from a relationship with God? Not quite. John clarifies here that there are distinctions in sins. In v. 16 John spells out that there are sins that are mortal, and sins that are not mortal. Thus, some sins (such as hate, adultery, etc.) do cut us off from God, other sins do not cut us off. Now, some will claim that here John is only speaking about sins that lead to actual death, from sins that do not lead to death (Catholics will call those sins venial). However, the context in this whole epistle is about eternal life and death, not any physical death. In v. 13, (and basically the whole epistle) he just wrote about eternal life. The mortal and venial sins thus relate to eternal life and eternal death. The distinction that Jesus spells out in relation to sins that lead to spiritual death, and those that don't, is spelled out likewise by John.

III. Paul and the Commandments

Sola Fide apologists often use Paul to show that we can not keep the commandments, nor keep the law. This is a study that can be very, very extensive, but I do not want to do so here. I just want to highlight some things that Paul writes, and to briefly address some Paul comments that seem to indicate that it is impossible to keep the law.

1 Corinthians 7:18-19

18 Was any one at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was any one at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God.
Paul writes here that circumcision and uncircumcision, a thing of contention between Judaizing Christians and those such as Peter and Paul who got the message through various means that circumcision was not necessary for Gentile Christians. However, that issue is not important, but what is very important is keeping the commandments of God. It would be foolish for Paul to write that it is important to keep the commandments of God, if it was impossible to do so. Obviously Paul means that it matters if we can keep the commandments, if we can actually do so.

Romans 13:8-14

8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. 11 Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; 12 the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13 let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Here in the letter to Romans, which speaks much on justification, Paul writes of the way to keep the commandments. He shows that in keeping the commandments the best way to do them is to do positive things, that will make it impossible to break the commandments. He writes that if you love one another, you will not covet, nor kill, nor still, nor commit adultery. This reflects Jesus teachings earlier that we saw in Mark 12:28-29 that if we love our neighbor, we will not break the commandments. Thus Paul writes if we approach our neighbor with love, we will not do wrong against them. Paul writes that if we truly love our neighbor, we fulfill the law (v. 8, 10).

Ephesians 6:1-3

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 "that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth." 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Here Paul writes that children need to obey the commandment to honor their parents and reiterates the promise that one will live long if he does so. He also applies this commandment to even the Father, who must not agitate their children. The Father must bring them up in the Lord. Paul believes that this commandment should and must be kept.

Romans 2:4-13

4 Or do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 For he will render to every man according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality. 12 All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
Here Paul writes that one can keep the law, although it must be within the realm of grace. One must recognize it is God's kindness that leads one to repent (v. 4). We will be judged based on our works (v. 6). If we seek and do good, glory and immortality, we will achieve eternal life (v. 7). We get this glory, honor and peace only if we do good (v. 10). It is not enough to hear about the commandments, Paul writes that we must do the law, and only when we do the law, will we be justified (v. 13). Thus, keeping the commandments is a requirement for our own justification before God.

Romans 2:23-27

? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." 25 Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law; but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For he is not a real Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. 29 He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal.
Here Paul notes that one should not 'boast' about the law. Those ones who break the law are hypocrites. In v. 25 we see that obeying the law is important and can be obeyed. Those who were only going by the law, often were relying upon things such as circumcision and outer rituals to get them heaven's ticket. . Paul here stresses that there is some value to circumcision only if you obey the law (v. 26). Paul obviously would not write that one can keep the law if it is impossible to do so. Those who are uncircumcised can keep the law, and will condemn those who follow the written code, and get circumcised (v. 27). Paul stresses that the written code avails nothing, but one must be circumcised in the heart (vv. 28-29).

Romans 8:1-4

1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
For those who are in Christ, in his grace there is no condemnation. However, this promise is for now, not a guarantee for all time. In fact, Paul elaborates on what he means when he mentions how one will escape condemnation. First he states that the law, which required perfection, could not be met by us. Paul says that we are free from the law of sin and death. The law of Moses, in and of itself, leads merely to sin and death. The exacting, 100% perfection required could never be met by any person (except Christ of course, although as noted, there is no hint of Christ's righteousness being imputed to one's account). The law of Moses does not provide salvation. However, the law of the Spirit could be met by who? Those who walk in the Spirit. Not those who appropriate Christ's imputed righteousness. Thus, those who will not be condemned are those who go by the law of the Spirit, and approach God through his eyes of grace. Obedience is necessary. Here there is absolutely no hint of a mention of imputation. Who meets the requirement of the law of the Spirit? The just requirement of the law is met by those who walk in the Spirit.

Galatians 6:1-2:

1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Paul specifically writes here that by bearing another's burdens one fulfills the law of Christ. Thus, just as Paul mentions one can be justified by the law of the Spirit in Romans 8:2 when he fulfills the righteous requirement of the law, one fulfills the law of Christ by bearing the burden of others. Thus, when one is in Christ and living by the Spirit, this law can be fulfilled by the believer. Paul as a matter of fact in Galatians 6:2 writes one can sufficiently fulfill the law of Christ. This is only because one is in the realm of grace, when in the Spirit.

But how can all these passages be reconciled with Paul's admonition that we can not be saved by law. After all, he does write that we are discharged from the law, and the law held us captive, and included a mention the mention of coveting (Rom. 7:5-7). Paul also writes that we are not justified by 'works of the law' (Rom. 3:20, 28). He reiterates this in Gal. 2:16, 3:10. He even writes that one is severed from Christ if one seeks to be justified by law (Gal. 5:4). And how can this be reconciled with the numerous passages given above that we can keep the commandments and by doing the law we will be justified? Well, it is that if we try to 'earn' our salvation by attempting to do the law, without the Holy Spirit, we will not be justified. The law, in and of itself, gives us no power to keep the commandments. The law gives us commands that we can not keep by ourselves. We can not be justified by a system of law. If we try to tell God, 'I am doing this so I am owed salvation' we are approaching God outside the realm of grace. Then he requires perfect obedience, which is absolutely impossible. The system of law does not justify. We must operate within the realm of grace.

A couple of my articles that deal with Paul's view of the law and salvation can be found here: Romans 4, David and Abraham - One Time Imputation Or Process?, Galatians 3:10-14, Faith, Works, and Works of the Law, and Dialogue With an Ex-Catholic, Now Protestant Author on Justification.. But for the purposes of this article, keeping the commandments are necessary for salvation, according to Paul, but that can only be so when we recognize that God is the cause of all that is good within us, and we cooperate with the grace with us to keep the commandments. That can only be done when the Holy Spirit comes into our life and transforms us into conformity with Christ. Any self commending, self doing thing, where we try to keep the commandments on our own power, would only lead to our condemnation.

Now, the other thing is that we are no longer 'under' law as Paul writes, but under the Spirit (Gal. 5:18). We are sons, and as noted by both Jesus and John, God recognizes distinctions. Notice that we are adopted as sons:

Galatians 4:3-5

3 So with us; when we were children, we were slaves to the elemental spirits of the universe. 4 But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
Christ came to redeem us. In Galatians 3:26, just before this, Paul wrote that we are sons of God through faith, and the means of being sons of God, is through baptism Gal. 3:28, which is the means to put Christ on. Now, here in Galatians 4, he says Christ came to redeem those who were under the law so we can become adopted children. God thus will look at us through the eyes of grace.

Romans 8:12-17

12 So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-- 13 for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" 16 it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
First, note that we are debtors (v. 12). We owe Christ something. Owed what? We are thus required to live by the Spirit. Here Paul writes that if we, don't, and live according to the flesh, we will die. He is speaking not of a physical death but a spiritual death. One can not put to death the deeds of the flesh by himself, but by the Holy Spirit who resides within us (vv. 12-13). We are not slaves, but we are adopted as sons of God (v. 14). As we are children, we will inherit the kingdom. However, we will only inherit the kingdom of God if we suffer with him in order to be glorified with him. . Obviously when we put to death the deeds of the flesh we are doing so by keeping the commandments.

Just as Jesus and John make distinctions between sins that cut off our relationship with the Father from those that do not, so does Paul. Paul, although noting that we must keep the commandments realizes, as did Jesus, that not all sins have the same result. He spells out for example, that there are mortal sins that cut off one's relationship with God and send us to eternal damnation, as noted in Gal. 5:21-22, Eph. 5:3-5, 1 Cor. 6:9-11. Of course, if one turns towards away from that sin, and confesses them, those mortal sins will be forgiven (as noted in 1 Cor. 2:10) for example. Catholics would argue that a true contrition of sin, and a confession of those sins in the sacrament that Jesus himself established (Jn 20:22-23) would be the means of reconciliation of God (2 Cor. 2:10, 2 Cor. 5:21). He also notes that there are lesser sins that hurt our relationship and we may break the commandments in a lesser way, that does not cause us to lose our relationship with God. For example, we see Paul write the following:

1 Cor. 3:10-17

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw-- 13 each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? 17 If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and that temple you are.
Here Paul writes of the final judgment and how everyone will be judged for their works. The background is that there was sin that Paul was lambasting the Corinthians for. He speaks of jealousy & strife (3:3). After this Paul complains about their boasting and deception (vv. 18, 21). Here Paul writes that we are to be careful on what kind of works we perform. If one does good works that are spotless, which is commensurate with gold, silver and precious stones, God will reward them with immediate entrance into heaven with no punishment (vv. 13-14). However, if one's work is faulty, as with wood, hay, and stubble, those works will be judged and the man will be saved, but only as through fire. There will be punishment, but he still will go ultimately to heaven. Catholics find in this a reference to purgatory, but regardless if you accept that or not, we see a distinction in how one's works are judged. Thirdly, in v. 17, we see a distinction that if one destroys God's temple (his own body), he will be destroyed. Thus, that person will not be saved, and will go to hell. This is eternal punishment. In 1 Cor. 6:18-19, after spelling out sins that will separate one from God, including immorality in 1 Cor. 6:9, Paul writes that one's body is a temple and to shun immorality, which basically is the destruction of one's temple. This is what he speaks of in 3:17. So we see one's ultimate destiny rests on whether one sins mortally or not.

Hebrews relates something that is related to this issue on the distinction between sins that separate one from God, from those that do not. In Hebrews 12:5-11, he speaks of how a son who commits sin that does not separate one from God, where one is merely disciplined, and chastised. God treats us as sons (v. 5-7). God disciplines us to conform to his image so we can conform to his holiness (v. 11). We see Hebrews also says that we must pursue holiness without which no one can see the Lord (v. 14). Thus, there are sins that only bring discipline from a Holy God, whose purpose is conforming us to His holiness, and do not separate one from God. However, we are also warned that we can become immoral or irreligious like Esau, and then fall short of his grace. One can fail to obtain God's grace if we become defiled, and become rejected by God (vv. 15-17). There is a reference in v. 15 to a 'root of bitterness' which sprung up when the Israelites committed idolatry when they served gods of the other nations (Deut. 29:18). There is no forgiveness for turning away from God and to idols. Obviously Hebrews 12, gives us a distinction between small, venial sins, from sins that can separate one from God. Paul also writes that on the knowledge of about one's culpability also impacts the severity of sin, and how God's mercy applied based on that knowledge (1 Cor. 1:13).

So in sum Paul does write that we can keep the commandments. We have to be in God's grace, and act as sons of God. It is through the law of Christ and the law of the Spirit, that we are freed from the law of sin and death, which gave us no power to keep the commandments. We can do so only through the Holy Spirit. However, we owe God our lives to live via the Holy Spirit to put to death the deeds of the flesh. Since he is a loving Father, we can sin in a lesser fashion, without breaking the commandments in a mortal manner which separates us from Christ.

IV. Psalm 119 and the Commandments

Throughout the Old Testament there are commands given by God to keep the commandments, with an assumption that the commandments are possible to be kept. I want to focus on one beautiful Psalm that is often used by Christians of all persuasions for spiritual edification. Here I just want to focus on how this Psalm looks at the commandments and how we are to approach them. This is because this Psalm is one of the most prominent in all the Old Testament that addresses the issue of law, commandments, ordinances, and the relation of one's actions relate to one's relationship with God. There are 176 verses in the Psalm, which is composed of 22 strophes of eight verses. This impacts the very issue we are studying: How should we look at the commandments? Is it something that is intricately related to our own salvation as the New Testament indicates? Or is it something that is impossible to keep, and our justification before God depends on an exterior righteousness, credited to our account? The importance of keeping the commandments is shown throughout this Psalm. I will focus on the first half (11 of the strophes) and we will see how important the commandments are. I will look at particular verses in each of the first 11 strophes that comment on the commandments, other times called testimonies or statutes.

Psalm 119:1-8

1: Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! 2: Blessed are those who keep his testimonies , who seek him with their whole heart, 3: who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! 4: Thou hast commanded thy precepts to be kept diligently. 5: O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping thy statutes ! 6: Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all thy commandments. 7: I will praise thee with an upright heart, when I learn thy righteous ordinances. 8: I will observe thy statutes; O forsake me not utterly!
Those are blessed who walk in God's law. Blessed are those who keep his testimonies with their whole heart, who do no wrong, and walk in his ways. We can seek Him with our whole heart, as Jesus said in Mark 12:29. If no one could actually keep the commandments, this psalm would not apply to anybody, but it does, so obviously it is possible. He is to keep the precepts diligently. His ways are to be steadfast in keeping those statutes diligently. He will observe the statutes, but, the only way that he can do this, if God does not forsake him. Thus, the Psalmist sees keeping the commandments as something to delight in with one's whole heart, but is totally dependent upon God's grace to enable him to do it.

Psalm 119:9-11, 15-16

9: How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to thy word. 10: With my whole heart I seek thee; let me not wander from thy commandments! 11: I have laid up thy word in my heart, that I might not sin against thee. 15: I will meditate on thy precepts, and fix my eyes on thy ways. 16: I will delight in thy statutes; I will not forget thy word.
One must follow his word, and rely totally upon God & His word to be enabled to not wander from the commandments. Thus if we seek God, we will not wander from God's commandments. The Psalmist says he will delight in the commandments. He is not frustrated, because through God's grace, one can keep them, and even delight in them. He couldn't delight in His statutes, if to him, it was impossible to keep them.

Psalm 119:17, 20-23

17: Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live and observe thy word.
20: My soul is consumed with longing for thy ordinances at all times. 21: Thou dost rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from thy commandments; 22: take away from me their scorn and contempt, for I have kept thy testimonies. 23: Even though princes sit plotting against me, thy servant will meditate on thy statutes.
The Psalmist here starts off this strophe when he speaks in prayer to God. He speaks for us to God. He calls for God to give to him his favor, his grace. What for? So he can live and observe God's Word. Thus, if God does not do so, he would not be able to observe his Word. He is not speaking about physically living, but spiritually living. Thus, He is consumed and longs for God's ordinances. It is something to look forward to. He then notes that those who wander from the commandments are accursed. Who are those accursed? Those who wander from God's commandments!! But just as Jesus says if you love me you will keep the commandments, the Psalmist says 'I have kept' thy testimonies, and thus the commandments he just wrote of. So the Psalmist is speaking of salvation, and it depends on us keeping those commandments. We are not to be afraid of those commandments, and depend on somebody else imputing a perfect righteousness to our account, but we want to say as the Psalmist writes 'I have kept thy testimonies.'

Psalm 119:25-26, 28, 30-32

25: My soul cleaves to the dust; revive me according to thy word! 26: When I told of my ways, thou didst answer me; teach me thy statutes!
28: My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to thy word!
30: I have chosen the way of faithfulness, I set thy ordinances before me. 31: I cleave to thy testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame! 32: I will run in the way of thy commandments when thou enlargest my understanding!
The Psalmist starts off the next strophe by proclaiming how without God, he is basically dust, lost. Only with God can his soul be revived; God's grace at work within him. The Psalmist then says 'I have chosen the way of faithfulness'. Thus, he reasserts his ability to keep the ordinances. Next, he asks for God's guidance to not only keep the testimonies, but for help in not getting put to shame. Then he says that he can run in the way of his commandments only when God gives him the understanding and wisdom to do so.

Psalm 119:33-35

33: Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I will keep it to the end. 34: Give me understanding, that I may keep thy law and observe it with my whole heart. 35: Lead me in the path of thy commandments, for I delight in it.
The Psalmist asks for God to give him understanding of God's statutes. But he makes a confident assertion that if he allows the Lord to teach him, he can keep those statutes to the end. The only way that the Psalmist can keep the law, is if he gets understanding from God. But when he gets that understanding, he can observe the law with his whole heart. Then, he asks God for help in the commandments' path, because he can delight in it. If all it did was point to his inability to keep the commandments, surely he could not delight in them.

Psalm 119:41-45

41: Let thy steadfast love come to me, O LORD, thy salvation according to thy promise; 42: then shall I have an answer for those who taunt me, for I trust in thy word. 43: And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in thy ordinances. 44: I will keep thy law continually, for ever and ever ; 45: and I shall walk at liberty, for I have sought thy precepts.
47: for I find my delight in thy commandments, which I love. 48: I revere thy commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on thy statutes.
The Psalmist first indicates in this strophe that steadfast love that comes from God, is how we get the Lord's salvation. His hope is in God's ordinances. If those commandments could not be kept, he'd have no hope. Then he asserts that he will keep the law continually. Also, this is not a burden (cf., 1 Jn 5:4), unable for one to keep, but he will keep the law continually for the rest of his life. He finds delight in his commandments, which he could not do, if it was impossible to keep. When he can keep the commandments, he is at liberty. In the New Testament Jesus teaches that He is the one who has set us free from sin's bondage.

Psalm 119:51-52

51: Godless men utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from thy law. 52: When I think of thy ordinances from of old, I take comfort, O LORD.
Godless men make fun of the Psalmist. However, he does not turn away from the law. Again, he asserts the ability to keep the law. When he thinks of the ordinances, he does not think 'I can't keep them, but I take comfort in them.' That is because the Psalmist has already admitted that it is not he himself who does it on his own power, but the source of this power is God.

Psalm 119:55-60, 63

55: I remember thy name in the night, O LORD, and keep thy law. 56: This blessing has fallen to me, that I have kept thy precepts. 57: The LORD is my portion; I promise to keep thy words. 58: I entreat thy favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to thy promise. 59: When I think of thy ways, I turn my feet to thy testimonies; 60: I hasten and do not delay to keep thy commandments.
63: I am a companion of all who fear thee, of those who keep thy precepts.
Remember in v. 1 it said 'Blessed are those who keep his testimonies'. He says he keeps God's law in the first verse of this strophe as well. He then in this new strophe says that the blessing is that he has kept the precepts. It is not a mirage, the Psalmist is not fooling himself, but says that the blessing he has is that he has kept the precepts. He would not proclaim a blessing if he was unable so keep God's precepts. But again he shows that this is not a Pelagian, 'I can do it on my own' thing. He begs God's graciousness that allows him to keep the precepts. He then reasserts that not only has he kept the precepts, but he rushes to do so. He has many companions who do not delay in keeping the commandments.

Psalm 119:65-69

65: Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according to thy word. 66: Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in thy commandments. 67: Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now I keep thy word. 68: Thou art good and doest good; teach me thy statutes. 69: The godless besmear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep thy precepts
Here he again puts his reliance upon God to give him good judgment. He believes in the commandments. God gives him insight to stay true to those commandments. Then he asserts that beforehand, he had strayed away from those commandments, but through God's wisdom being imparted to him, he then became able to keep God's Word. God teaches him the commandments. The Psalmist is enabled by God to keep God's commandments. The godless speak evil of the Psalmist, but his concentration is to keep them, with his whole heart, and he has been able to do so.

Psalm 119:73, 77-78

73: Thy hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn thy commandments.
77: Let thy mercy come to me, that I may live; for thy law is my delight . 78: Let the godless be put to shame, because they have subverted me with guile; as for me, I will meditate on thy precepts.
God has fashioned the Psalmist. But he also gives the man understanding. God's mercy comes to the Psalmist (us) so that he (we) can live. How can he live? By living the law, this is his delight. If it is his delight, obviously he is able to keep them. Thus, living the law (within grace) brings salvation. He will meditate on God's precepts, while the godless will be put to shame.

Psalm 119:81-2, 86-88

81: My soul languishes for thy salvation; I hope in thy word. 82: My eyes fail with watching for thy promise; I ask, "When wilt thou comfort me?"
86: All thy commandments are sure; they persecute me with falsehood; help me! 87: They have almost made an end of me on earth; but I have not forsaken thy precepts. 88: In thy steadfast love spare my life, that I may keep the testimonies of thy mouth.
The psalmist says he longs, languishes for his salvation. His hope is in his Word. God is the source of all his hope. The commandments are a rock to the Psalmist. He calls for help from God. They are violating the eighth commandment by bearing false witness about him. The Psalmist can confidently proclaim that he has not forsaken God's precepts. He asks for God's help in sparing his life. His steadfast love, becomes foundational, so he is enabled to keep the testimonies of God's mouth (Word). This is not merely flowery language, but is tied into the Psalmist's (and our salvation).

This concludes the first half of the Psalm and if I wanted to go through the rest of the Psalm we could see more of this type of language, which shows God expects one to keep the commandments, and gives one the grace to keep them, and it is tied into our own salvation. Similar language can also be found throughout the Old Testament. But the point is made quite convincingly that one can keep the commandments. Now of course in hindsight, we know that the only way that one can keep the commandments is through Jesus Christ's grace. Paul writes that God sent Jesus to redeem and cleanse us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people zealous for good works (Tit. 2:11-14). It is not law, on its own power. This agrees with Paul. However, when one utterly relies upon God's help and grace, one can actually say 'I have not forsaken thy precepts.' This Psalm is just as inspired by God as any other book in the New or Old Testament. Paul's writings can not be interpreted to contradict Psalm 119 or its spirit. However, this confirms that the commandments can be kept. It is only through God's grace that we can keep it. Our salvation is also depended upon keeping the commandments, as shown throughout the Psalm. God is there to pick us up and as the epistle of John says, his commandments are not burdensome.

Zechariah's Example

Another example to show that it is possible to be righteous and to keep the commandments, is Zechariah. Notice below the reference to him found in the gospel of Luke. Lk 1:5-6, 11-13, 18-20, 63-68

5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechari'ah, of the division of Abi'jah; and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechari'ah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechari'ah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.

18 And Zechari'ah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." 19 And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time."

. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, "His name is John." And they all marveled. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea; 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, "What then will this child be?" For the hand of the Lord was with him. 67 And his father Zechari'ah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, 68 "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people,

Notice that Zechariah the priest was righteous before God, and was blameless in keeping the commandments. It did not mean that he was absolutely perfect. He is one, who like the Psalmist of Psalm 119, was justified before God via keeping the commandments within grace. However, unlike Mary who responded with faith ('Be it done to me according to thy word', v. 38), Zechariah responded with doubt. He doubted that he could actually Father a child and that his wife Elizabeth could bear a child. Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin (Rom. 14:23). God disciplined him, just as Hebrews 12:5-11 relates, when he made him mute. Now, he did not deny God, nor did he turn his back on him, he just had some doubt. This was no doubt a sin, but not mortal. He was still in God's grace, but God disciplined him by causing him to go mute. He was not like Esau, who spurned God's blessing over porridge (Heb. 12:17, Gen. 27:30-40). He believed in God and loved God. But God discipline him, and after this discipline, he pronounced God's blessing and reveled in the fact that God has redeemed his people. So thus, though he kept the commandments, when he fell short some, he still stayed within God's grace, was disciplined, but learned to become a better witness about God.


This look at the view of the commandments from Jesus, the apostle John, the apostle Paul, and the Psalmist gives us a good synopsis of what the Bible teaches on the issue of us and the commandments. Of course there are writings other than what I highlighted from Jesus, John, Paul, and Psalm 119. Other Old and New Testament books also address the issue of believers, the commandments, and it's relation to our salvation. However, in this study, we have seen from these teachers some very important facts:

1) Our salvation is dependent upon us keeping the commandments. Jesus, Paul, John and the Psalmist each show that if we do not keep the commandments, we can not be in God's grace. In fact, as John highlighted, we are seen to be a liar if we say we are God's children, but disobey the commandments'

2) The law, outside of God's grace, does not give us the ability/power to keep the commandments. As Jesus highlighted, apart from him we can do nothing. Paul wrote that we can fulfill the law of the Spirit (Rom. 8:2-4, Gal. 6:1-2). We have been set free from the bondage of sin, through God's actual grace being imparted to us. The Psalmist showed that only through God enlightening and powering us can we keep his commandments. Apart from God's grace, we are unable to keep those commandments. However, within the realm of God's grace, we are empowered, by God to keep those commandments (Psalm 119:22, 31-32, 56, 60, 87, 1 Jn 3:24, Jn 14:15, 1 Cor. 7:19);

3) We are God's children. He treats us as a Father treats a Son. As a Father, he recognizes the difference between us totally turning our back on Him, by committing serious sins, and sins that partially wound us and partially hurt our relationship with God. He will discipline us when we commit smaller sins, and we face consequences for those sins, where the discipline is meant to make us more holy (Heb. 12:5-11). We are told to repent from all our sins. However, there are also mortal sins, which separate us from God, and can cut off our relationship with God, as Esau did, Heb. 12:15-17. John writes of the distinction between mortal and venial sins. We also saw the example of Zechariah, though he was justified by his keeping of the commandments, when he fell short because he did not believe like he should have, after being disciplined, he still stayed within God's grace. Although Jesus calls us to perfection, if we fall short on some occasion, it does not mean we are cast out of his grace, unless we turn our back on God with a mortal sin;

4) Although our salvation is dependent upon keeping the commandments, we must keep the commandments not based on fear, but the love of God. Our love of God is the primary reason to keep the commandments. A benefit of this is our own salvation.

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