For our good.
It is no small thing that the obedience God commands from his people is for our good. It’s not for some bizarre divine entertainment, to see how silly he can make us look. It’s not that he derives pleasure from making us suffer. It’s not that he’s getting back at us for how greatly we’ve dishonored him through our sinful acts or that we’re just sinners. No—it is none of these. It is that God’s commandments, through his Son Jesus, are for our good.
As Deuteronomy 6:24 says, what God commands of us, he does “for our good always.”
And not only are his commandments for our good, but also Jesus, having accomplished our salvation by his life and death and resurrection, has given his Holy Spirit to those who believe in his great gospel, that they may have God’s help from the inside for obedience. God’s commands are for our good, and by his Spirit he gives us new desires in our hearts—from the inside—to pursue our good in him.
One of the shapes our love for God takes is obedience to his commandments. 1 John 5:3 says that those who truly love him “keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” God has not designed the Christian life to be a burdensome life of dutiful commandment-keeping. Jesus says to his followers, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). Because God works on us from the inside and changes our hearts by his Spirit, the Christian life is lived inside-out. With God’s help, we become “obedient from the heart” (Romans 6:17). Our obedience increasingly is from the heart “by the Spirit” from the inside. It is not “of the letter” by some mere external command-keeping (2 Corinthians 3:6).
Finally, Christians can’t help but read these verses from Deuteronomy—and memorize them!—differently than the original Israelites heard them. These commands to fear and love and “serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments” were first issued to physical Israelites with natural, unchanged hearts.
But as Christians, God’s commands come to us as spiritual Israelites—ones whose hearts have already been changed, and are continuing to experience transformation, by the Holy Spirit.
Thanks be to God, who purchased our salvation in Jesus, inspires us to obedience for our good in his fatherly care, and increasingly transforms our hearts by his Spirit so that we learn to obey from the inside.