ESSENTIAL TRUTHS - THE LAW OF GOD
What is the Law of God?
God rules the universe He created by law. We even see His providential government in nature. The “laws of nature” merely describe God’s normal way of ordering His universe. These “laws” are expressions of His sovereign will.
“God is not accountable to any laws outside of Himself. There are no independent, cosmic rules that God is obligated to obey. Rather, God is a law unto Himself. This simply means that God acts according to His own moral character. His own character is not only morally perfect, it is the ultimate standard of perfection. His actions are perfect because His nature is perfect, and He always acts according to His nature. God is therefore never arbitrary, whimsical, or capricious. He always does what is right.”- Essential Truths R.C. Sproul
When we refer to the laws of God, we are referring to the laws given to us by God through His word, the Bible. God has revealed to us His moral law, which is the expression of his own moral character and perfection. God’s moral law is summarized for us in the 10 Commandments, found in Exodus 20:
“You shall have no other gods before me.”
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”
“You shall not murder.”
“You shall not commit adultery.”
“You shall not steal.”
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
“You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.”
God’s law for us is then summarized by Jesus, who says in Matthew 22:37, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” These two commandments are the summary of God’s moral law.
It is important to understand the law of God for a multitude of reasons. First, it helps us to understand what sin is. Sin is any lack of conformity or transgression of God’s moral law, a crime against our holy King. Sin is called “cosmic treason” by R.C. Sproul. The law then helps us to clearly grasp why God must be so severe in His punishment of sin, which then displays the greatness of what Christ has done to redeem sinners. Jesus Christ has redeemed us by following and fulfilling the law perfectly, and taking the penalty for the breaking of the law in His death on the cross. Lastly, the law also informs the Christian how he ought to live in thankfulness to God.
God’s moral law is a reflection of His character, which we are to imitate. His moral law reflects the permanent, transcultural elements of relationships, both divine and human. His moral law is absolute and eternal. Other laws were intended for temporary conditions of society, and may be annulled by God for historical reasons, such as the dietary and ceremonial laws for Israel in the Old Testament. Only God may set aside such laws. Human beings never have authority to set aside God’s law.
In 1 Peter 1, we are called to be holy in all of our conduct, as our God is holy. Our sovereign God, who has created all things, has instructed us how to live in the world He created. His law is an expression of His kindness to us, and in keeping His law there is great reward. Though we will never follow His law perfectly in this life, we are promised that the Holy Spirit is working in us, recreating us in holiness and obedience to His law.
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
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