On multiple occasions, when someone finds out that I teach that we should keep the commandments, they typically respond by saying that it is impossible to keep all of the commandments in the Bible. But is that true? Is it really impossible keep all of God’s commandments? What does the Bible say on this subject?
In Exodus 16, God gave commandments about collecting manna for six days and resting on the Sabbath, and when some of the people ignored His instructions about not gathering manna on the Sabbath, God spoke these words:
“And the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?” (Exodus 16:28)
It seems that when God gave the commandments concerning the collection of manna on the Sabbath, He expected the people to obey. Look at what He says in another place.
“Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29)
Can you hear the longing He has for His people to obey Him?
But some will say, “The commandments are too difficult, I cannot possibly keep them all”
Let me ask you a question. Do you keep the laws in America (or whatever country you live in)? I know that in the United States, there are more laws than anyone has been able to count, and thousands of new laws are added every year. As citizens of the United States, we are required to keep all of the laws of our country. When you try to count all of the laws, it seems like an impossible task to accomplish, yet the majority of Americans are considered “law-abiding citizens”.
Listen to what God says about it:
“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.” (Deuteronomy 30:11)
So, according to the Bible, the commandments of God are not too difficult or beyond our reach.
This means that we should be able to keep His commandments.
Let me submit to you that we can “keep” all of His commandments,
but we might not be able to “do” all of them personally.
I know that some of you are currently thinking that “only Yeshua kept the commandments perfectly”.
However, listen to what the Bible says about Zacharias and Elizabeth:
“And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” (Luke 1:6)
According to the Bible, the parents of John the Baptist were able to keep all of the commandments of God perfectly.
Let me also submit to you that although Yeshua “kept” all of the commandments perfectly, He did not “do” all of the commandments personally.
I know that sounds strange, but think about it. He was a man, so he obviously was not able to do certain commandments that only apply to women. For example, since He was not a woman, He did not have a monthly menstrual cycle, therefore he could not “do” the commandments that apply to women during their monthly cycle. However, he kept all of the commandments perfectly. Just because you cannot “do” a commandment personally, does not mean you cannot “keep” that commandment.
The hebrew word translated “keep” is the word “shamar” and means, “to keep, to guard, to observe, to give heed, to protect, to wait for, to retain, to treasure up, to observe, and to celebrate”. Obviously, there is more to keeping the commandments than simply making sure you check them off your to-do-list. Keeping the commandments is about making them a treasure, protecting them, making sure they are respected, holding them in high esteem, and not disobeying them.
Some might say, “since you cannot do them all, doesn’t that mean you disobey some?” Absolutely not! We are to do all of the commandments that apply to us. We are to do all of the commandments that we are capable of doing, and guard them all as one would take care of a valuable treasure. You would not throw a treasure away, or let it be stolen, you would keep it safe.
Anyone who says that we can disobey the commandments has not learned to treasure them. That person does not know how to keep the commandments.
Remember that our Messiah said,
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)
Many people estimate that there are around 600 commandments in the Torah. However, not all of those commandments apply to every person. Many of those commandments are only for the priests and Levites. Likewise, many are only to be done when there is a Temple in Jerusalem. Some only apply to kings, and others only apply to women. Some are for slaves, and others are for slave owners. A number of them only apply when you are living in the land of Israel, and some are only for those who own farmland and farm animals. If those scenarios do not apply to you personally, then you are not required to do them personally. However, you are still expected to keep those commandments.
Let me give you an example from the life of Yeshua. As I said earlier, He “kept” all of the commandments perfectly, but He did not “do” all of them personally.
In John chapter 8, we see a very interesting situation take place. A woman who was supposedly caught in the act of adultery was brought to Yeshua to test Him, to see what He would do.
they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. (John 8:4-6)
What kind of test was this? They were testing Him to see if He really knew the Law, and if He would really keep the Law. He was claiming to be the Messiah, and they were trying to trap Him, to prove that He was a fraud or a false teacher. It was a very clever trap, but our Messiah had no difficulty knowing what to do to keep the Law perfectly. Look at what the commandment says about those caught in adultery.
“…the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:10)
Where was the man? They only brought a woman to Yeshua. They claimed that she was caught in the very act of adultery, which means the man was also caught in the act, yet they failed to bring the man for judgment.
To condemn the woman only would be a violation of the commandment.
It is also important to note what He did next:
He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” (John 8:7)
After He said that, all of her accusers went away, and there were no witnesses left to accuse her. This is vital, because there must be at least two witnesses to the crime before a death sentence can be carried out.
“Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness.” (Deuteronomy 17:6)
If Yeshua would have had this woman stoned to death, He would have been guilty of breaking at least two commandments in the Torah. However, He kept the commandments perfectly, and a righteous judgment was given.
And Yeshua said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)
It is important to note that He told her to stop sinning. He didn’t give her permission to continue in her sin of adultery, He expected her to repent and stop sinning.
I bring this story up because I have had several people say that if we want to keep all of the commandments in the Torah, then we must stone people to death. However, as we have just discussed, the qualifications for stoning are very specific, and if you do not meet all of the qualifications, then you cannot stone anyone. If you do, then you would be violating the commandments.
There is a popular idea among many Christians that believe the Bible has “ceremonial laws” and “moral laws”, and they claim that the “ceremonial laws” were somehow abolished, but the “moral laws” are still active today.
Let me be clear, the Bible never makes such a distinction! The Bible simply says “keep my commandments”. At no point in the entire Bible does anyone ever say that a single commandment has been done away with. In fact, listen to the words of our Messiah:
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to make full. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is accomplished. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)
According to our Savior, we should be doing and teaching the commandments, and heaven and earth will both be destroyed before a single dot is removed from the Law. It is obvious that the Son of God wants us to do what His Father commands. He did not come to abolish His Fathers commandments, He came to abolish sin.
Let me leave you with a sobering word of warning from our Messiah.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)
According to the Messiah, there will be “many” who call Him “Lord”, but do not do the will of His Father in heaven, and He says those people “practice lawlessness”. This stands in striking contrast to what was said in Matthew 5:19, “but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
I don’t know about you, but I want to be called “great in the kingdom” not “least”, and I certainly don’t want to be called “lawless”.
Popular Christianity says that we do not need to keep the commandments anymore, saying that the commandments have been “abolished” or “nailed to the cross”, but remember that many travel on the wide road that leads to destruction. Just because something is popular does not make it true. Test everything according to the Scriptures, so that you are not led astray by false teachers.