6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 7 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Mark 7:6–7, NKJV)
The hypocrisy of Israel was reaching its zenith in the days of Isaiah (Isaiah 29:13-14). Israel gave Jehovah lip service, while serving idols, and demanding their own teachings be regarded as divine truth. This verse gives us God’s definition of a hypocritical heart: While saying one honors God, he elevates his own will above the will of the Almighty. Hypocrisy is pretense, pretending to be what one is not. The Greek word was applied to the actor who wore a mask, pretending to be a character in a drama. Christ applied this term to the Pharisees and scribes of His day. Their words honored God, but their hearts were given over to the commandments of men. The Jews had codified their oral traditions (the Mishnah). These men whom Jesus rebuked judged a violation of their traditions to be a violation of God’s law (see Mark 7:8-9). We must avoid accepting human traditions as if they are the will of God, lest we join hands with the hypocrites of Christ’s day. Revealed truth, not the traditions of men, must guide our hearts and our deeds. Otherwise, our worship will be vain.
Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments. (Psalm 112:1, NKJV)
This psalm calls on us to give celebratory adulation of thanks to Jehovah. It reveals the result of such praise, while explaining who actually praises the Lord, and why. The blessing of His favor is the outcome of giving God the praise He is due. The source of acceptable praise comes from a heart that fears the Lord. This person obtains His good favor. Cries of hallelujah (“praise Jehovah” or “praise the Lord”) must combine with genuine reverence for them to be regarded by the Lord and responded to favorably by Him. Nor do we have to wonder who it is that fears the Lord, for it is spelled out here. Fearing God is tantamount to delighting completely in His commandments. We fear God by desiring, cherishing and following His commands. And so, by taking pleasure in His commands, we wholeheartedly praise His name. At this thanksgiving season (and every day), may we delight in the Lord’s commands, rejoice in His good blessings, and thankfully praise His name.
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, NKJV)
Jesus sent His apostles into all the world to preach His gospel to everyone (Mk. 16:15; Matt. 28:19). Before His death, Jesus told His apostles, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (Jno. 13:20). Later, Jesus appeared to Paul (Saul of Tarsus), appointed him to be an apostle, and sent him to preach the gospel, too (Acts 26:16-20). We rightly conclude that there is absolutely no way one can receive Jesus, yet reject His apostles. Truly, the first Christians were commended precisely because “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42). Instead of unsuccessfully trying to separate the teachings of Paul, Peter, John and the other apostles from Christ, cherish and hold fast all they spoke and wrote. By doing so, you are cherishing the Son and the Father (who sent Jesus to the world). To do less is not only a rejection of the apostles, but also of the Father and the Son. The spiritual acknowledge this. Indeed, one is not “spiritual” when he refuses to receive the apostles’ teachings as “the commandments of the Lord.” We need all of the New Testament. All of it is from God (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
If you love Me, keep My commandments. (John 14:15, NKJV)
Love is not unconditional. Worldly-minded people think love is unconditional, allowing them to justify their sin and demand your acceptance of them in spite of their sin. “Love is love”, they say, and, “if you love me you will accept me unconditionally”. These statements display a self-serving definition of love. God teaches us to love sinners, but He never teaches us to love sin or to have fellowship with, endorse or approve those who live in sin (Eph. 5:8-11; 2 Jno. 10-11). Those who love Jesus keep His commands. Obedience is the condition He stipulates as the love He accepts. Jesus went on to say, “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” (Jno. 14:21). Do you love Jesus? Your answer is found in whether or not you are obeying Jesus.
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, NKJV)
Have you ever thought about how God knows that you love Him? And, for that matter, how you know that you love God? You may be inclined to say, “God knows my heart – He knows I love Him.” Yes, God knows your heart. Yet, here Jesus said He knows a person loves Him when that person keeps His commandments. Saying we love God is not enough. The confidence of salvation in Christ and fellowship with the Father and the Son belongs to those who actually keep His commandments. With this information you can answer your own questions. Does God know that you love Him? And, how do you know you love God? We hope your answers are “yes” and “by keeping His commandments”. “Blessed are those who do His commandments” (Rev. 22:14).
This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. (2 John 6, NKJV)
There is a great deception upon the land. Cries of “love” are heard endorsing all manner of immorality. Sin’s reality and presence is swept away by chants of “love”, “love”, “love”. There is no doubt we need love. We need genuine love – the way God defines love – not counterfeits. This is apparent because “God is love” (1 Jno. 4:8). So, if we are to please God, His definition of love must guide us to the love we will practice and endorse. Every false view of love must be rejected as a lie of the evil one. The apostle of the Son of God said love is walking “according to His commandments”. When we obey God, we love Him and one another. Too simple, you say? Do you love God enough to give it a try? Make it your aim to practice love the way God defines it. Obey Him. Walk in love. Walk with God.
You who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 97:10)
Christians love the Lord and abide in His love by keeping His commandments. “If you love Me, keep my commandments” (Jno. 14:15); and If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love” (Jno. 15:10). Loving the Lord also means we will despise or detest (“hate”) evil. We are not loving God when we practice sin. Evil is not attractive to those who love the Lord. See the dangers of sin with clear eyes. Love the Lord by being His obedient child. He will preserve you and deliver you from evil.