“And hereby do we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (I John 2:3).
While closely related, the “keeping” of God’s commandments and obedience to them are not the same thing.
The Greek root word for “keep” is tereo, meaning to watch, or guard, or keep from escaping. This implies that we are to receive the Word of God into our hearts and minds, and then to be sure that it remains within us as the guiding light of our lives. The Psalmist spoke to this matter:
“Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalm 119:11).
In this light, we see that hiding or keeping God’s Word leads to obedience rather than it actually being obedience. The distinction is important in our understanding because a life of consistent faithfulness to the commandments of Scripture primarily results not from our disciplined determination to obey, but rather from our response of faith to the presence and power of God that “worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17).
“Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:13). Consistently exposing ourselves to the truths of the Bible fosters new understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ, and also reminds and refreshes us of truths already known. Thereby we keep God’s light from escaping our perceptions and consciousness, thus preparing us to trust Him in that devotion and submission whereby “the obedience of faith” flows from the source of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Reading Scripture, prayerfully responding to its Light, and regularly considering the Word of God with faithful believers establishes a strong fortress within our hearts whereby we “keep His commandments.” Subsequently, we discover ourselves enabled to more consistently obey those commandments because we are vitally connected to the power source of all true godliness…
“By the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
(I Corinthians 15:10)