Seven Things You Need to Know About God’s Commandments by Tony Cooke

Seven Things You Need to Know About God’s Commandments
Tony Cooke

God's Commandments Tony CookeLast month we addressed the topic, “What Does ‘I’m Not Under the Law’ Really Mean?” We established that we are not lawless even though we are not under the law of Moses. God has ordained spiritual influences to govern our lives, and they especially include His word, His Spirit, and His love. This month, we’re going to examine Scripture to see how pertinent the commandments of God are to the life of the believer.

If there are no commandments for the New Testament believer, then the Lordship of Jesus is merely a vague, abstract term that is without relevance or tangible application in our lives. And if God has no clear directives for our lives, then the concept of obedience is equally meaningless. The believer, then, would be free to live a self-willed, self-determined life. If there is no governing authority in an individual’s life, he will likely replicate the behavior of “…doing whatever is right in his own eyes” (Deuteronomy 12:8; Judges 17:6; 21:25).

God’s Word, including the New Testament, is full of commandments from God for His people. It is true that there are many Old Testament regulations that are not binding upon believers today, nor do we take God’s directives and “try to become righteous” by the perfection of our efforts and compliance. No, righteousness comes to us as a gift from God’s grace, is received by faith, and is based squarely on the finished work of Christ. Nevertheless, God exercised His Divine prerogatives and gave us, His children, clear and authoritative directives on how to live.

God did not provide suggestions, hints, innuendos, or options for the believer; He gave commandments. I once heard “commandment” defined as “an order given by one in authority about which there is no choice and from which there is no retreat.” As a result, Christians are not to live fickle, arbitrary lives, governed by their moods, making unprincipled decisions, and possessing no true moral compass. God has given us directives on how to live and has empowered us by His Holy Spirit to obey Him. Let’s look at just some usages of the word “commandment(s)” in the New Testament:

1. Jesus Operated Under God’s Command

John’s Gospel

  • For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.” (12:49-50)
  • …just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. (15:10)

2. Jesus Taught & Gave Commandments

Matthew’s Gospel

  • “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’  This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (22:36-40)
  • teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (28:20)

John’s Gospel

  • A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (13:34)
  • “If you love Me, keep My commandments. (14:15)
  • He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me… (14:21)
  • If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love… (15:10)
  • This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (15:12)
  • You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. (15:14)
  • These things I command you, that you love one another. (15:17)

Acts 1:2, 4
2 until the day in which He [Jesus] was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen…
4 And being assembled together with them, He [Jesus] commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father…

3. Commandments are Prevalent in the Book of Acts


  • So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.” (10:33)
  • And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. (10:42)
  • For so the Lord has commanded us: “I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (13:47)
  • Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent… (17:30)

4. The New Testament Epistles are Full of Commandments

Romans 13:9
9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

1 Corinthians

  • Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. (7:10)
  • Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. (7:19)
  • …the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. (9:14)

Ephesians 6:2
2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise:

1 Timothy 1: 5
5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith…

John’s First Epistle

  • Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (2:3)
  • And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him… (3:22-24)
  • And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. (4:21)
  • By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (5:2-3)

5. The Book of Revelation Refers to Commandments


  • Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world… (3:10)
  • Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. (22:14)

Not only does one of the very final passages in the Bible (Revelation 22:14) refer to God’s commandments, but one of the very early verses in Genesis also refers to God’s divine decree toward man (Genesis 2:16), “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying…”

6. God’s Commandments Were Conveyed Through His Servants

The Apostle Paul was not a power-hungry, domineering individual who was seeking to micro-manage everyone’s life. Actually, he was very careful never to abuse his apostolic authority. He spoke of, “…the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction” (2 Corinthians 13:10; see also 2 Corinthians 1:24). Likewise, Peter instructed pastors, “Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example” (1 Peter 5:3, NLT).

However, we see in Scripture that Paul was not hesitant to instruct people in the ways of God with great authority, and we also see that he advised his protégés to do the same. Consider the following Scriptures concerning how Paul (and Peter) ministered:

Acts 10:48
48 And he [Peter] commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord…

1 Corinthians 14:37
37 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 Thessalonians

  • for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. (4:2)
  • that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you… (4:11)

2 Thessalonians

  • And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you. (3:4)
  • But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. (3:6)
  • For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. (3:10)
  • Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. (3:12)

1 Timothy

  • These things command and teach. (4:11)
  • And these things command, that they may be blameless. (5:7)
  • Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. (6:17)

Titus 1:5   
5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you…

7. God’s Authority Goes Beyond Usages of the Word “Commandment.”

Please don’t think for a minute that the only commandments God has for us are when Scripture uses that specific word (commandment). I encourage you to read through the New Testament and look for statements that are Spirit-inspired commandments for your life. For example:

Ephesians 4:32
32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

What is that verse to you? Is it a good idea? A suggestion? An option? Merely an ideal? Simply a principle for successful living? Or is Ephesians 4:32 a commandment to you? Is it an authoritative directive from God for your life? We should think about this in terms of how we read and apply the myriad of New Testament directives for our lives.

Concluding Thought

Jesus is not merely Savior, but He is also Lord. That implies His rulership and mastery over our lives. God does not give commandments to be legalistic burdens, but to lead us in the path that will bring glory to Him, benefit to others, and blessing to our lives. May God enrich and empower us as we live submitted lives of obedience to the commandments of God.