Cecil B. DeMille, the legendary American filmmaker, is quoted as saying “God gave us free agency, and then gave us the commandments to keep us free.”
While some persons reject commandments, and indeed religion, as too restrictive, my own experience is that God’s kind commandments are indeed liberating, life enhancing and designed to bring us peace and joy now and hereafter.
I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Each week in our worship services as we partake of the emblems of Christ’s atoning sacrifice we reflect on what Christ the Redeemer has done for us and quietly resolve to always remember Him and keep His commandments.
We teach our youth high standards, many of which differ dramatically from the moral relativity of an unhappy world. As writer G.K. Chesterton once noted, “The Christian life has not been tried and found wanting: It has been found difficult and left untried.”
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What a liberating blessing it is to decide once and for all early in life what you will do and what you will not do with regards to honesty, modesty, chastity, fidelity in marriage, the sanctity of life, and avoiding the plagues of pornography and addictions. Such choices are made when a person, young or old, comes to know and love the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus was no ordinary man and He did for us what no ordinary man could do. In the words of the Apostle John, one who walked with the Lord in life and witnessed His Atonement and crucifixion, “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
By loving one another and obeying His commandments we demonstrate our love for the Savior. “For this is the love of God,” said John, “that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3).
Elder Larry W. Gibbons, a physician serving in a leadership position in my church a few years ago, shared his thoughts about why God gives us commandments and why they matter.
“As someone trained in medicine,” he said, “understanding the complexity and the order and the harmony of the human body reinforces my faith in a creator. I believe in God. I believe He created us. And if God created us, it is not logical that He would then leave us alone. It makes sense He would give us guidance. Some of this guidance has come in the form of what we call commandments. Commandments are not given to burden or restrict us. Rather, they are guideposts from an all-wise Heavenly Father to keep us out of trouble, to bring us a fulness of happiness in this life, and to bring us safely back home to Him.”
I can attest with Elder Gibbons that God has not left us alone. The empty tomb of Easter morning is just one manifestation of the living, resurrected Christ. I am a witness that Christ guides his Church today through revelation to divinely chosen, living prophets and apostles who affirm God’s commandments.
There was only one perfect man, and He was the Son of God. As our faith grows and if we are humble in our efforts, the Lord’s enabling grace strengthens us to the task, and we can count blessings associated with keeping His commandments.
“And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world,” declared John, “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous…. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:1, 3).
May we know the Lord better in our daily walk and keep His kind commandments.