You shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.
The Apostle Paul, both in his letter to the Romans (Romans 10:5), and in that to the Churches of Galatia (Galatians 3:12), brings this passage to prove that salvation under the Law was by obedience rather than by faith. We may approach the main thought of the text by two preliminary remarks on the relation of these two principles of life, showing the consistency of the Law and the gospel We maintain -
I. THAT, UNDER THE LAW, MERE CONFORMITY OF CONDUCT WITHOUT FAITH WAS UNACCEPTABLE TO GOD. it is a mistake to suppose that God's requirements of his ancient people were satisfied with a purely mechanical obedience. They were not only to "walk in his ways," but they were also to "fear the Lord their God, and to love him and to serve him with all their heart and with all their soul" (Deuteronomy 10:12; see also Deuteronomy 6:5; Deuteronomy 11:13; Deuteronomy 30:16, 20). They were not only to act righteously toward their neighbour, but to love him (Leviticus 19:18). They were to "afflict their souls" on the Day of Atonement and Reconciliation (Leviticus 16:29). There can be little doubt that it was the duty of the priests and Levites to instruct the Hebrew worshippers to present their sacrifice unto the Lord, believing and feeling that he was there to receive their offering and to accept their penitence and their faith.
II. THAT, UNDER THE GOSPEL, A LIVING FAITH IS CONSTANTLY ASSOCIATED WITH ACTIVE OBEDIENCE. We are not saved by works, but by faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:28; Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:8, etc.). Yet the faith which saves is a "faith which worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6; James 2:18, 20, 22, etc.). But the primary truth which is taught in this passage is rather this -
III. THAT SPIRITUAL OBEDIENCE IS THE SECRET AND THE SOURCE OF TRUE HUMAN LIFE.
1. It is the secret of all real life. What is human life? In what does it actually consist? The life of the brute consists in the performance of its animal functions, in its outward, sensible existence. But the life of a man consists in something higher. We live when our souls live, when we live before God and unto him; if a man will do God's will and keep his statutes and his judgments, "he shall live in them;" he will find his true life in the doing and the keeping of these; "this is life eternal, to know thee," etc. (John 17:3). To know God, to know him as he is revealed to us in Christ Jesus, to worship him, to rejoice in him, to love and to please him, to be gratefully and cheerfully obedient to his will in all things, - this is human life; all else is immeasurably below it. There is nothing worth calling life apart from the holy and happy service of God; a spiritual not a servile obedience is the secret of life on earth.
2. It is also the source of the higher human life which is beyond. The Jew who kept God's statutes not only found a true life in his obedience, but he also guided a true life through his obedience. God bestowed on him his Divine favour, conferred on him all those outward blessings which were then regarded as the highest token of the favour of the Eternal; he lived in the smile and the benediction of Jehovah. Our hope is brighter and more far-reaching than his. He had some glimmering of the blessedness beyond, but it was faint and feeble. We know that if our faith in a Divine Redeemer is manifested in a lasting spiritual obedience, we "shall live" a life of which the Jew had little thought, and of which we ourselves can only form some struggling anticipation. We know that if "we are faithful unto death," we shall have "a crown of life." The obedience of faith, continued to the end, will introduce us to the life which is
(1) one of celestial fullness;
(2) free from present care, sorrow, sin;
(3) everlasting. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.