The term relational obedience has come floating to the top in many of our conversations at church. Which is the concept that Jesus talked about in John 14:15 -“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15, ESV). This truth is found two more times in the same chapter21, 23.
Don Carson is his commentary says that the “if” here is a third class condition. “Jesus neither assumes that his followers love him, nor assumes that they do not, even for the sake of the argument, but projects a condition and stipulates its entailment: they will obey (the future, not the imperative, is the correct reading: cf. Metzger, p. 245) what he commands.” It is simply a true condition if we love the Lord we will do His commands.
The issue is: Do we love Jesus enough to do what His Word commands us to do? In our daily lives we struggle with the inward conflict that only Christians experience, the conflict of our fleshly desires against the Spirit and the Spirit’s desires against the flesh, Gal 5:15-17. The desire to please the Lord or love for Him keeps us from giving into the flesh! God promises that the one who walks by the Spirit will not ratify the desires of the flesh, 5:15.
Here is where the Love for the Lord comes in – Romans 5:5 “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5, ESV). I am convinced that the term God’s love can be taken either way; as God’s love toward us or our love towards Him. The point of this amazing truth is that our Love for the Lord only comes through the Holy Spirit who has been given to every believer. We did not have this love before salvation it came with our salvation.
So the issue is not can we love the Lord to be obedient but will we. Remember this command of John 14:15 is a third class condition, which means it is a real question determined by our choice?
So as a Christian isn’t it time that we seek to Walk in the Spirit as a way of life, so as not to fulfill the desires of our flesh? If we seek to be obedient in our flesh, through our own strength, we will surely fail.
Now the choice of our obedience revolves around the question, “Do we Love the Lord?” I highly recommend Francis Chan’s book “The Forgotten God!” A tremendous book describing the ministry of the Holy Spirit and our submission to Him.
Beloved, we can love the Lord and therefore be obedient to His commands, not to perfection but a lifestyle characterized by Love for Jesus. We need to evaluate what is in control of our lives, the desires of our flesh or genuine love for the Lord and take the appropriate actions of repentance if indeed our lives is characterized by the flesh! So decide love for the Lord or engulfed in fleshly desires!
Metzger B. M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (UBS, 1971).
 Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 498). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.