God's commands: threats or promises?

How are we to understand the commands of God recorded in the Bible? Some view them as threats ("Do this or else!"), others as promises ("In me, you shall do this"). Here we find a key distinction between a legalistic and a grace-based view of obedience to God. While legalists view obedience as what must be done to avoid condemnation (or to earn rewards), those living by grace view obedience as the outflow of the relationship they have been given with God in Christ through the Spirit. While legalists obey God out of obligation, those living by grace obey God because they are part of his family.

As noted in the helpful sermon below from Peter Heitt (lead pastor at The Sanctuary in Denver), this difference of viewpoint is seen clearly in how people interpret Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount.

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