“…fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments…all the days of your life” (Deut. 6.2).
“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (1 Jn. 2.3)
“This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” (1 Jn. 3.23-24)
But we must be careful not to make commandments where God has not. Jesus fought the Pharisees on this point so many times! He told them, “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men” (Mk. 7.8) and “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition” (Mk. 7.9). Over years of debates, these religious leaders had constructed a system of tradition which eventually superseded God’s commandments! It became difficult to discern between what was God’s law and what was the traditions of the elders.
Friends, we have the same trouble today, and we must look to Jesus for the antidote. Jesus showed Himself able to discern between what was actually God’s commandment and what was man’s reasoning and interpretation. Jesus always went back to the word and took it at its word, and we must follow His footsteps. If we cannot clearly show someone that what we say is God’s will and not our own, we should tread lightly and probably back off.
On the other side of things, we should understand that God’s commandments do not necessarily rule out other things.
Consider David’s Transporting of the Ark
God instructed the Israelites on exactly how to transport the tabernacle and the Ark of the Testimony (Ex. 25.14-15; Deut. 10.8; Num. 4.4-15).
Not Following what Was Commanded
David did not follow those instructions, but he placed the Ark in a new cart drawn by oxen (1 Chr. 13.7), and all were rejoicing until Uzzah put out a well-meaning hand to steady the precious furniture when the oxen stumbled…and the Lord killed him immediately. The rejoicing turned to mourning. Later, David realized “that no one by the Levites may carry the ark of God, for the LORD had chosen them to carry the ark of the LORD” (1 Chr. 15.2). He also admitted, “we did not seek him [God] according to the rule” (1 Chr. 15.13).
Following what Was Commanded…Plus
So the second time ’round, David brought the Ark into Jerusalem with much noise and celebration and with the Levites carrying the Ark “as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD” (1 Chr. 15.15). But David also added his own heart-felt actions to the celebration which God had not specifically commanded. It is written they sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams, and David danced before the LORD in a fine linen robe.
We see the terror in not following God’s commandments exactly has He has commanded them. But, on the other hand, we also see freedom in our expressions of worship before the Lord. Just because God has commanded something specific does not rule out other or additional activities of praise and worship to Him. God desires the free worship of His people. Yes, there are some things which are specifically required and commanded, but that does not mean we are limited to those specific things. I means we should take care to observe all He has commanded and continue to think of ways in which we can best express our adoration for our perfect God.
If David had observed the “law of silence” as some teach today, he would not have danced because God had given specific instructions on how to transport the Ark and dancing was not part of the prescription.
Apparently, what David did was not adding to what God had commanded (Deut.4.2).
By the way, this is not remotely the only example like this in Scripture. Can you think of others?