Observing All the Commandments


The rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all who have separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to adhere to the law of God, their wives, their sons, their daughters, all who have knowledge and understanding, join with their kin, their nobles, and enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord and his ordinances and his statutes (Nehemiah 10:28-29).

This oath comes at the end of a long prayer of confession. The prayer ends rather abruptly without even so much as an “Amen.” But the “Amen” was supplied by the people, who put their very lives on the line. They vowed to “observe and do all the commandments of the Lord.”

Yes, God’s forgiveness is an act of grace, but it takes effort on our part to live out the disciplines of faith. True repentance is always linked with a changed life. The word for “repentance” in both Testaments implies the idea of a “return” to God or to the ways of God. Repentance results in a commitment to put one’s entire life under God’s authority. Our obedience to God is our signature of faith, our “Amen” to his grace.

When you make your confession today, make a commitment to put your life under God’s authority. Reflect on this quote and think of your commitment as a way to consider the seriousness of your sin. Richard Foster states, “If penance is viewed as a way of earning forgiveness, it is dangerous indeed. But if it is seen as an opportunity to pause a moment to consider the seriousness of our sin, then it has genuine merit. Today we take our offenses to the love of God far too lightly. If we had only a tinge of the sense of revulsion that God feels toward sin, we would be moved to holier living.” (Celebration of Discipline, page 148).

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