Do we have to keep God's commandments? Can we be saved if we don't keep them? Do they matter at all?
Before sin and suffering entered the universe, God didn't necessarily need to have a written code of 'conduct' (i.e. law) because everyone loved God and loved others and so naturally kept the law. However, here on this sinful planet, we are naturally inclined to think first of ourselves, often to the detriment of those around us. Selfishness is the root of all sins and it is the opposite of God's law of love. Because we have failed and fallen far short from God's perfect standard of love, we need the forgiveness that Jesus' sacrifice has made available to us! Can we be saved by keeping the commandments? No, because that would require us to have lived a life that not only exhibited the most perfect conduct but also would require us to have a heart that was always perfectly loving and filled with the purest motives. Can anyone claim this as a description of themselves?
We cannot be saved by commandment-keeping. In Ephesians 2: 8,9, Paul says: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast."
However, it is crucial to understand that God's plan of salvation encompasses not only freedom from the guilt of sin but also from the power of sin in our lives. God doesn't just want to forgive us for the wrong things we've done, He also wants to help us to live a new life- He wants to replace our impatience with His patience, our insecurities with His confidence, our laziness with His energy, our resentment or anxiety with His peace, our anger with his self-control and so on! There is so much He wants to give us...His plan of redemption is so much greater than we realise!
When we make commandment-keeping about our efforts and try to keep the law to elevate ourselves and make ourselves feel that we are ' a good person', then we have missed the point. Commandment-keeping is a work that GOD does in us, it is He who gives us a new heart that desires to walk in His ways and it is HE who gives us the power to follow through.
" I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. " Ezekiel 36: 26, 27
"For you, brethren, have been called to liberty. Only do not use your liberty as an opportunity for the flesh (i.e selfishness) but instead serve one another in love. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this, " you shall love your neighbour as yourself." " Galatians 5:13, 14
"Love does no harm to others, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." Romans 13:10
" And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." 1 Thessalonians 3:12, 13.
"I will put my law in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." Hebrews 10:16
It is the Lord who does a miraculous work in our lives- our role is simply to cooperate with Him and to trust Him enough to let Him lead our lives according to His will.