Are the New Testament commands optional?

Some Christians appear to have the idea that the New Testament commands are not that important. This author has been told by professing Christians that since obeying the New Testament commands is not necessary for salvation then believers today do not have to obey them. Are the New Testament commands binding on Christians? In other words, are they actual commands to be obeyed or just Divine recommendations?

The New Testament writers viewed the commands they communicated to be binding on Christians. Significant consequences were to be administered to those who did not obey the New Testament commands. Jesus Himself commanded that disobedient Christian’s were to be put out of the church. The Thessalonian church was told to remove those who did not obey the commands of 2 Thessalonians. The Apostle Paul said some members of the church in Corinth were sick and some had died because of their disobedience to God’s commands. In the second and third chaptes of the book of Revelation are strong warnings to several churches. Jesus threatened significant judgment on those churches and Christians who disobeyed Him.

More important than the consequences of disobedience is the confession made by obedience. 1 John says, “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in Him.” Obedience to the commands of God is one of the evidences of genuine salvation. Those who profess salvation but refuse to obey God are frauds. They are not saved. To brush aside the commands of God is to show an incredible disregard for God, His Word and His will. Ignoring God’s commands shows a lack of genuine love for God. Jesus said, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsover I command you.”

To disregard God’s commands because they play no role in salvation is to misunderstand the purpose of the commands. No command was ever given to save men. The Old Testament law was not given to the Israelites as a means of salvation. The Old Testament law was always a teacher to point the sinner to his need of a Savior. Salvation always has been and always will be received through faith in Jesus. However, it does not follow that obedience is unimportant.

God’s commands are given for the good of His children. The commands keep the Christian from sin and teach them how to live pleasing to Him. The New Testament commands work to make the believer more like Jesus. Obedience to the commands of God shows that the believer considers God’s will to be supreme, His words to be law and He to be the ruler of life. By obeying the commands of God the Christian shows that God is truly most important. Obedience is not necessary to salvation, but it is essential to growth, testimony and the glory of God.

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