"Fear God Or Keep His Commandments"
Those that know their bibles are very familiar with Ecclesiastes 12:13, and as such know that one of the words in the quotation has been changed. You would think that most would consider this a grievous injustice to God's word, and in essence it truly is. Yet more and more people treat the passage as quoted above rather than what it really says.
The idea is that God gives us a choice of whether to honor Him, or keep His commandments. It is easy to honor God with your lips. Isaiah was first to acknowledge that those who were supposed to be the people of God honored Him with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him (15:8).
There is a similar story in 1 Samuel 15. God had commanded Saul to go and utterly destroy the Amalekites. Saul allowed his people to keep the good cattle and possessions. Samuel challenged Saul about the sheep and asked the question: "Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord?" (15:22). The question that was asked is similar to this: Which is better, to worship God or obey Him? It is hard to fathom, but many people struggle with this very concept all the time.
Going back to the original text the word that was changed to "or" is actually "and". Usually the word "and" is a conjunction that unionizes and equalizes two different things. In our text we read that "fear God" is just as important as "keep His commandments". Those that truly understand God's message to man realize this is a no brainer. You cannot separate these two and still be pleasing to God. You cannot decide if you will do one or the other. No, you must do both.
Those who hold to this mindset do not respect God; neither do they keep His commandments. Yet, they still want to have the satisfaction that what little they do manage to do is enough to please God. You can go from cover to cover and never see that become acceptable to God. God demands obedience, and many do not like the commands. But rather than acknowledge their failure to keep the commandments, they delude themselves into believing that lip service is good enough for God.
Now we realize that there are many commands in the Bible. We should be learning what those commands are so that we can do them. Remember that salvation is made available to those who "obey Him" (Hebrews 5:9). We should be in awe that there are so many commands, and we should know that God wants us to obey all those commands. This seems like a daunting task, and for many, seems like an impossible task. But remember that with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).
Whether we are successful in doing every single command should be of concern. Some feel that it is impossible to keep all these commands, and choose to give up. Most of us realize that we will be saved by the grace of God. Too often, people rely upon that grace to save them, but they do not put forth the effort to keep all the commandments. Yes, we need the grace of God for salvation, but we also need to keep every command of God. At the very least, we should be trying to accomplish this feat. Most people do not even make the effort, but expect God to reward them through that grace. The safest course of action is: "Fear God AND Keep His Commandments".
By Carey Scott
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