God’s Law: The One, the Two, the Ten and the Many
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Law isn’t very popular in our society – especially moral law. Doing your “own thing” is promoted in popular media and commercials. Postmodern culture is allergic to absolutes, and laws are absolutes.

Law even seems to have a bad reputation in Christian circles. After all, Paul said that the Law is no longer needed after a person comes to Christ, right? (See Gal. 3:24) We are now free in Christ – free from law!

And that has some Adventists defending the Law of God with vigor – sometimes to the extent of eclipsing the gospel and the grace of God. Perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at what we mean by the “Law of God.”

But first let us consider the role of law in other areas of life.

The function of law

What would it be like to live in a community without laws? It may sound good to be free to do whatever we want to do. But others would be free do what they want to do too. They could murder, steal goods and people, including your girl friend, wife or child, burn your house down, steal your iPhone. And no one would stop them or order them to give things back. You would have to get yours back by force, if you could. And if it involved weapons, you could lose your life over an iPhone.

That’s what we call anarchy, and it’s the kind of situation that prevailed in the French Revolution. Does such a lawless society sound like a good idea?

We’ve had glimpses of brief periods of anarchy in recent revolutions around the world, and we know that it results in looting, killing and raping. That’s what happens when there’s no rule of law. And it helps us understand that law is necessary to protect the freedom and safety of citizens.

Law and government

When we think about it, law is the foundation of any government. Without law, there is no government.

Law also reflects the character of the government in power – whether good or bad. Good rulers – whether individuals or democratic bodies – make good laws. Bad rulers make bad laws that benefit themselves and their cronies. Nevertheless, even in bad governments, laws provide at least some predictability and order.

So what about God’s government? Could God be God without law? Would it not seem logical that law is also at the foundation of God’s government?

If God has a Law – and we believe He does – is it not reasonable to conclude that God’s government reflects the character of God?

Israel at Mt. Sinai. Image © Standard Publishing from GoodSalt.com

And that brings us to the Ten Commandments which God introduced from Mt. Sinai with billowing clouds of smoke, rolling thunder and flashes of lightning. When He had the people’s attention, He pronounced the ten precepts personally, in clear majestic tones, to a nation of some three million or so people. Not only that – but He wrote the Ten Commandments on tables of stone – twice! 1 Truly a singularity in human history and a demonstration of the importance  of this Law.

Are the Ten Commandments the eternal Law on which the government of God is founded? Were angels, who are not sexual beings, according to Jesus, told that they must “not commit adultery”? Were they told to “honor your father and your mother,” when they had no “mother”? Were beings adorned with riches beyond our imagination2 told they must not steal? Were the beings who live in the continual presence of God forbidden to make images of their resplendent Creator?

Sounds a bit ridiculous, when you stop to think about it, doesn’t it?

God’s Eternal Law

It seems that the Israelites were on to something profound when they summarized the Ten Commandments as two “great commandments,” as Jesus quoted them:

Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39 NKJV. See also Deut. 6:4-6 and Lev. 19:18)

Jesus went on to observe, that “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:40 NKJV) His words imply that the Ten Commandments were but an expansion of the principles of the two “great commandments,” adapted to the needs of humanity. The “judgments” and all the other laws and subsequent instructions God gave to the people through Moses demonstrated the applications of the Ten Commandments, adapted to the culture of the time. Some applications would look different in our culture, but the principles remain as valid today as they were when given to Israel.

The first “Great Commandment” is expanded in the first four commandments of the Decalogue which spell out what loving God looks like: We put Him first in our lives, we relate to Him directly, instead of making images to “remind us” of Him and bowing before them, we don’t use His name carelessly in speech, nor do we knowingly misrepresent Him with our words or actions. And we reserve the day He blessed and sanctified at creation as special time with Him.

The second “Great Commandment” is expanded in the last six commandments of the Decalogue which spell out what loving others as ourselves looks like: We honor our parents, we avoid anything that damages or destroys the life that only God can give, we honor God’s design for sexuality and marriage, we respect the property of others, we are careful not to suggest anything false about our neighbors either by words or by silence, and we are thankful for what God gives us, instead of coveting what He gives to our neighbors. There’s more of course, and Jesus demonstrated in His own life what that “more” means.

One prophecy concerning Christ’s time on this planet was this:

7 Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
8 I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within my heart.” (Ps 40:7,8)

When He walked this earth in person, Jesus said that He had come not to destroy but to “fulfill” the Law.3

What it means to “fulfill” a law? It would certainly mean to do all that the law demands, and Christ did just that. In the process, He revealed the breadth and depth of the Law of God. He demonstrated that the heart of the Law is self-renouncing love that is willing to die that others might live. He demonstrated that the essence of the character of God is self-renouncing love. (1 Jn. 4:16)4

And because Christ had demonstrated the deeper meaning of the Law, He could give a new commandment – that we love one another as He has loved us. (Jn. 13:34) Not only did He give the commandment, but Jeremiah foretold that He would actually provide the means of fulfilling it. He would write His Law in the hearts of believers. (Jer. 31:31-33) 5 Until He demonstrated it in His own incarnation, even sinless beings could not fully understand the principles of God’s Law.

The Apostle Paul taught that love fulfills the Law of God.6 He also demonstrated that he understood what Christ had done when He wrote,

5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

6 Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
(Phil 2:5-8 NLT)

I also like the way another author puts it:

“In the light from Calvary it will be seen that the law of self-renouncing love is the law of life for earth and heaven; that the love which “seeketh not her own” has its source in the heart of God; and that in the meek and lowly One is manifested the character of Him who dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto.” (Ellen G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 20)

“The law of life for earth and heaven.” That makes sense.  A law of self-renouncing love makes a lot more sense for angels than a law that tells them not to commit adultery. The Ten Commandments are, after all, the embodiment of the eternal Law adapted for the understanding of humanity.

The One, the Two, the Ten and the Many

The law of God thus can be thought of as the one eternal Law of self-renouncing love, adapted for man as the two principles of supreme love for God and unselfish love for humanity, further explicated as the ten great principles of the Ten Commandments. These principles were then spelled out in a way to adapt them to the culture of the time in the form of many civil laws and judgments for the people of Israel. (The principles in these laws and judgments are as valid today as they were when they were given.)

So we can think of the Law of God as the One great law, the Two great laws, the Ten great principles, or the many laws of application – the One, the Two, the Ten and the many.

When we discuss the moral law on which God’s government rests, it is helpful to remember that it comes in several manifestations. Confusing specific applications of the great eternal Law as the Law of God only serves to denigrate the eternal Law. That was the problem of the Pharisees of Christ’s day, as it is the problem of their modern counterparts. They mistook their own interpretations of the Law for the law itself and, in the process, transgressed the eternal Law of love and every principle of the Ten Commandments as well. Their modern counterparts still do the same.

The eternal Law, the law of self-renouncing love, is also the guiding principle in the life of the individual Christian. It is the spring of action from the renewed heart that only God can give. 7 It is the Christian’s power, fueled by the Holy Spirit. After all, if we accept Jesus as Lord, we necessarily accept His Law as the law of our lives. If we do not demonstrate self-renouncing love, we do not keep the law.

With our poor memory of things divine, we should often review Paul’s description of what the law of love looks like:

4 Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t sing its own praises. It isn’t arrogant. 5 It isn’t rude. It doesn’t think about itself. It isn’t irritable. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs. 6 It isn’t happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth. 7 Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.

8 Love never comes to an end. (1 Cor. 13:4-8 God’s Word Translation)

It seems to me that the person in whose heart the law of God is written by His own finger will be the most loving and lovable person in the neighborhood. Others will be drawn by the love of Christ in the heart of a man, woman or child, just as they were drawn by the love of Christ when He walked this earth in person.

May we allow Him to write His law in our hearts so that others may see the Good News of the Gospel reflected in our lives.


  1. Further reading: “The Law Given to Israel,” from Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 303-314
  2. See the description of the archangel in heaven Eze. 28:13
  3. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matt 5:17 NIV
  4. Christ on the Cross Image © Pacific Press from GoodSalt.com
  5. See also the chapter “God With Us” in  Desire of Ages, pp. 23-26
  6. See Rom. 13:8-10, Rom. 14:15, Gal. 5:14
  7. Jn. 3:16
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God’s Law: The One, the Two, the Ten and the Many — 33 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for the wonderful and comprehensive description of the law of God. I only wish that more time had been taken to explain the process of how God will write His law in our hearts. Self renouncing love is a wonderful discription of the love Jesus has for all of his creation, but how do we acquire " self renounsing love" . Are we even capable of acquiring it on our own? Finally, my desire is to have a self renounsing love, but I am incapable of acquiring this love on my own. Oh Lord please help me love as you love.

    Like(1)
    • Jose, whether you realized it or not you answered your own question.

      We can't change our hearts, that is something that only God can do which is what you stated. Your prayer seems to acknowledge.

      It is through the acceptance of the new covenant promise found in Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews 8 that a our heart is changed. While we pray for a new heart we also need to realize that sanctification is both completed and yet a work of a lifetime.

      Paul's letter to the Corinthians states, "to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus" (1 Cor 1:2 NKJV) and again, "But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor 6:11 NKJV). Notice that they were already sanctified "in Christ" and yet Paul did not think of himself as perfect, "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me (Phi 3:12 NKJV).

      So while we are set aside for God (the meaning of sanctified) through the ministry of the Holy Spirit we are also growing up into His likeness day by day through the same ministry.

      One other thing needs to be said. Our desire for a changed heart must be honest. We can't hope for the change to happen if we stubbornly choose to continually sin.

      Like(1)
    • This self renouncing love comes by loving GOD. Only by yeilding ourselves to HIM, the I AM whose principles of love is embodied in HIS commandment or rather, HIS relationship with us and our relationship with our neighbours. Who is our neighbours? The man, woman and child that comes into contact with us every day!!! These contacts gives us the privilige to be like JESUS showing/reflecting that self renousing love that is received from GOD. We might not get it right the first time, today but our LORD will grant us that opportunity to do better tomorrow, the next time. Review our mistakes and be more like HIM the next time. This is what our lives are about....we eat, we sleep, we work, we play, we learn........its all about that self renouncing love. We cannot receive it without giving it. So Jose.....its not just praying for it.....you need to practice it as you receive it from GOD.
      Keep on loving Jose, not just your friends and family but also the strangers and most definitely your enemies.
      Love always.
      Delroy

      Like(1)
  2. Thank you for your comment, Jose.

    I believe you point up the purpose of the law in our lives: It is to remind us that we need a Savior, because we cannot manufacture such love on our own.

    We used to live next-door to a man who claimed that he could think up better laws than the Ten Commandments. That just demonstrated that spiritual things are spiritually discerned. As an agnostic, he could not see beyond the shallowest meaning of the exact words.

    Like(1)
    • Inge, I am not to sure that what you say isn't also a major problem with many in the Seventh-day Adventist church today. We seem to be oriented to interpreting things strictly in a literal way and that spills over into things such as the Ten Commandments. In other words if it isn't spelled out explicitly as a tangible concrete thought it doesn't seem to register which was the problem the people had with the sermon on the bread of life (John 6:53-66).

      Like(1)
  3. "Are the Ten Commandments the eternal Law on which the government of God is founded?........Sounds a bit ridiculous, when you stop to think about it, doesn’t it?"
    What law did Satan and his angels break? what laws?
    Like David, I find the law of God (which from the original language means: the directions of YHWH) is what I need in my life: Psa 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
    8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
    9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
    10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
    11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
    There are 2 great laws: on them hang the 10, on the 10 hang the statutes that God gave to explain the 10!
    Isn't he good to us?! He wants to convert our souls, make the wise simple, enlighten our eyes, warn us and give us great reward. Plus they are to be more desired than gold, and sweeter than honey!

    The word law comes from the Hebrew word torah, which means teachings, instructions, directions (which include the 2, the 10 and the statutes and judgments and the testimonies that David wrote about above).......(also see Psalms 119 in the KJV)
    when people say they are "not under the law", they are really saying they are not under the instructions of the Almighty One of Heaven. So whose instructions are they under? The last I heard there are only two choices. We are given free choice......so are the angels in heaven. "Chose you this day whom you will serve......."

    Like(0)
    • Hi Shelley,

      Thanks for your comment. :) You ask,
      "What law did Satan and his angels break?" And I think you go on to answer it, with the beautiful texts from Psalm 19:7-11.

      As I suggest in my original post, the "two great laws" to which Jesus referred can be summed up as the great Law of self-renouncing love which He demonstrated by His life and His death for us. It was that law which the angels broke -- even though they were not even conscious of there being a law, because it was inscribed on their hearts -- in the same way as in the new-covenant promise (Jer. 31:33). Sin originated in self-seeking. It is interesting to read the descriptions of Lucifer Isa. 14:12-20 and see how much focus there is on "I."

      The Law of God -- whether the One, the Two, the Ten or the many -- simply describes what love looks like in action. Any "love" that violates the Law of God is not genuine love for God or man.

      On the other hand, love fulfills the Law. And any law that is not an outworking of self-renouncing love is not part of the eternal Law of God.

      Paul does write of not being "under the law, but under grace" (Rom. 6:14). I believe he means that we are not under the condemnation of the Law because we are justified by the grace of Jesus Christ, and that makes us free to live in harmony with the Law. When we fall, He picks us up, and we continue to walk in faith.

      Like(1)
      • "What law did Satan and his angels break? what laws?"

        They broke the first commandment --
        "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
        By defying the authority of God and attempting to place self above God they broke that commandment.

        Satan broke the fifth commandment --
        "Honor thy Father -- God had given life to Lucifer and as such was entitled to that honor, but Lucifer decided not to give honor.

        Satan broke nineth commandment --
        "Don't bear false witness"
        He was spreading all kinds of dubious ideas amongst the angels about God.

        And how about the tenth commandment? -- Thou shalt not covet.
        Satan coveted the authority and honor due only to God. He wanted it for himself.

        And there are probably more--

        Yes, by breaking these commandments he was going against the law of love, -- God's unselfish love. But that law of love also has the ten to define love.

        Like(0)
        • Are you sure that the expression of the principles of love takes precisely the same form in heaven as on earth -- that the angels have a law against adultery and against coveting their neighbor's wife? Angels marry??

          And are you sure that we will be exhorted in the new earth not to commit adultery and not to covet our neighbor's spouse?

          From what Jesus said, I got the idea that there will be no marriage in heaven. (Matt. 22:30) And, by extensions -- that angels do not marry. How do you interpret His words?

          Like(1)
        • Actually Inge,
          From my observation of the way sexuality has been preverted I think the fallen angels take great delight in defiance against that law of purity.

          Also, for a God of love to create beings incapable of intimate relationships is a little hard to believe.

          You see, I don't interprete the ten commandments in the narrow way of limiting the seventh commandment to a physical act. It is a law of purity and covenantal commitment in a binding relationship.
          While scripture seems to indicate that angels don't have exactly the same type of relationship like humans, they probably still have intimate relationships of some kind that are rich in blessings when abiding by God's design.

          The seventh commandment has a vast depth to it -- next to our covenant with God, it embodies our covenant in a relationship with another human being.

          Like(0)
        • Ulrike, I agree with you that the commandments go much further than the surface interpretation we so often give to them. But I also agree with Inge. God meets us where we are and in our situation it is somewhere down in the sewer. So I believe the stated commands were tailored to meet us there and communicate to us on our level the meaning of love.

          As for your statement, "While scripture seems to indicate that angels don’t have exactly the same type of relationship like humans, they probably still have intimate relationships of some kind that are rich in blessings when abiding by God’s design." it seems to me to be inadequate. Scripture doesn't "seem to indicate," when Jesus said, "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God1 in heaven (Mat 22:30 NKJV) he was equating what our relationship will be in Heaven with the relationship angels have which He does in the context of marriage. Furthermore, while it is interesting to conjecture about the relationships that angels have it is sometimes rather dangerous to go beyond what is plainly stated.

          Like(1)
  4. Inge asks......

    "In what way was Christ born “under the law” (Gal. 4:4)? And was Paul talking about the same eternal law that I wrote about in my post?"

    I don't believe this is an "either/or" scenario.
    Christ willingly placed Himself under the condemnation of the law as a Substitute and Surety for the human family.

    He was also "under the law" as a rule of life, and kept it perfectly as our example.

    The beauty of this is to demonstrate that God is not an "elitist" who makes laws for His created beings that He Himself will not subject Himself to.

    This was a major charge of Lucifer against God's government.

    So, Jesus is not only "under the law" as pretaining to the laws penalty and condemnation, He is also "under the law" as a rule of life and keeps it.

    Bill Sorensen

    Like(1)
  5. Not to belabour to point, but I'd like to point out that the applicability of the most literal interpretation of "under the law" goes beyond the book of Galatians. Let's just try things out.

    Galatians 4:4: God's Son was born under the condemnation of the law? No, He was born under the domination of the law -- under extreme pressure from the legalists -- in order to redeem us from all of that.

    Galatians 4:21: Some of the Galatians desired to be under the condemnation of the law? Hardly. They desired to be under its domination, and Paul said they were foolish.

    Romans 6:14: Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under (the condemnation of) law but under (the approval of) grace. Really? Mere approval can break the dominion of sin in the life? Try this. Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under (the domination of) law but under (the power of) grace. Law's domination cannot break the dominion of sin in the life, but grace has the power to do it.

    Yes, that last one was rather a fine point, but I love having a consistent interpretation of Paul's oft-used phrase "under the law" that makes sense every time -- especially when it only means taking the most literal approach possible.

    Blessings!

    Like(1)
    • Thank you, R.G., That makes sense.

      Let's see if I can say it "in other words."

      In other words, for the person who has accepted Christ, the Law no longer has the final say about his/her destiny. Through Christ, grace has the final say. (The Law can only condemn.)

      I would like to think also that a Christian's focus is not primarily on what s/he must do, according to Law, but the focus would be on Christ and what s/he can do, by His grace and power.

      It makes a difference.

      Focusing on "must-do's" is the focus of a slave. Focusing on Christ and what we can do by His grace and power is the focus of the child of a King.

      Like(1)
  6. Thank you for the article. I heartily agree that all of the law hangs on the two great commandments of whole-hearted love for our creator and love for one another. On the other hand, this does not mean the rest is not eternal. Scripture makes clear a wider application of the ten commandments than to suggest adultery is only sexual (note what all our creator calls adultery elsewhere in scripture--Ps. 73:27 and many more). I am not so sure that the ten commandments (as well as statutes not directly tied to the Levitical priesthood) were first introduced to mankind at Mt. Sinai, given that Abraham walked in Yahweh's commandments, statutes, and law--Gen 26:5.

    You ask a question in the opening of the article which may be misleading to those not familiar with the balance of Paul's writings:

    Law even seems to have a bad reputation in Christian circles. After all, Paul said that the Law is no longer needed after a person comes to Christ, right? (See Gal. 3:24) We are now free in Christ – free from law!

    Law does generally have a bad reputation in today's society--"Christian" or not. This may stem partially from the injustice of many of the world's laws we live under, but is likely primarily an outworking of rebellious characters which don't want to be under the leadership of anyone but number one (same problem Satan had in heaven). As such, would we want to equate this "reputation" of law to Paul's comments in Galations? To say "we are now free from the law" must either be interpreted in harmony with our savior's words "If you love me, keep my commandments," or pit Paul against our savior (not to mention Paul against Paul elsewhere in his writings).

    If we do love our savior, we will love his law like David did--meditating on it day and night. If his law is the transcript of his character, as I believe it is, then we cannot truly claim to love him if we do not love his law. It's not a matter of focusing on "must dos", but rather by his grace I "can do" and "get to" live in harmony with this wonderful law/character--he can lift me out of the gutter I'm in and make me fit to be a child of the king.

    Following the previous quote, the article goes on to say:

    And that has some Adventists defending the Law of God with vigor – sometimes to the extent of eclipsing the grace of God.

    Is it not the grace of our creator and redeemer who lives out his life--the righteousness of our Messiah--within us, causing us to walk in his statutes as promised in Eze. 36:27? If it is grace which brings us into harmony with the law/character of our creator and thus fits us for the society of heaven, how can a defense of that law eclipse the grace of the lawgiver? Did not our Messiah come and die with the express purpose--among others--of vindicating the law of our creator? If the great controversy is over the law of our creator, which side are we on? Those who seek to set aside the law of our creator will not find themselves in good company. Those who defend his law are in good company... however--and this has often confused the issue--, not all those who on the surface appear zealous for his law are; those who add or take away from his law are breaking his law (Deut. 4:2). The Pharisees who crucified our savior were in this latter camp, and so were breaking the law--they made it of none affect by additions as well as their traditional and wild interpretations which in some cases placed the exact opposite meaning on the words of the law. We are in the same camp as the Pharisees when we add to or take away from our creator's law.

    I appreciate a later comment posted by the author:

    The Law of God — whether the One, the Two, the Ten or the many — simply describes what love looks like in action. Any “love” that violates the Law of God is not genuine love for God or man.

    Would it be fair to say that another way to put this is that the moment we are breaking the least instruction in our creator's law that we are in need of that schoolmaster to show us what true love looks like so we can turn in repentance to our saviour and ask him to change our heart in this area where the schoolmaster has shown us our need?

    I no longer need my math teacher when I can work out math problems accurately. If I don't like the fact 2+2=4, I need my math teacher. In the same way, if I don't like a part of my creator's law, I submit I am very much in need of that law.

    Our savior cautioned us to be careful what we teach men not to do--and that we ought to keep not only the letter of the law, but the spirit of it (which does not do away with the letter):

    Matthew 5:17-22 KJV Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. (18) For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (19) Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (20) For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (21) Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: (22) But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

    I love my creator and his law/character and am grateful for a redeemer who offers the grace to create that character in me--bringing me into harmony with the eternal law of love in all of it's specific applications.

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    • Hello Walter, I can agree with you on a lot of what you say but there are a few things that perhaps need clarification.

      First, it is my understanding that what Inge was saying is that the Ten Commandments were worded expressly for man especially what was given at Sinai. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t based on principles that Heaven abides by eternally. All Ten Commandments have much deeper meaning than what we generally see on the surface and that just might be the principals of God’s government that go down in depth infinitely.

      To see this I shall use the fourth commandment as an example. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27 NKJV). In it He doesn’t include angels. I suppose that we could extend that to Heaven but as I read Revelation I get the impression that they worship God on a continual basis (for instance Rev 4:8-11). Furthermore, since the timing of the Sabbath hours is based on the rotation of earth on its axis it would result in a logistical nightmare with all the various worlds that probably exist out there perhaps each one spinning at a different rate. Even if we were to conclude that only Heaven and earth are inhabited, we still have a problem and I’m not too sure that Heaven spins at all (it certainly doesn’t need to). So from my perspective the Sabbath command, at least, is geared specifically to this planet.

      Second, you said, “You ask a question in the opening of the article which may be misleading to those not familiar with the balance of Paul’s writings.” I think when Inge uses a question mark and an exclamation mark she is raising a question, not making a statement.

      Third, you asked, “If it is grace which brings us into harmony with the law/character of our creator and thus fits us for the society of heaven, how can a defense of that law eclipse the grace of the lawgiver?” If a person is putting himself under the conditions of the old covenant he/she most certainly can and often does. Besides that if we, like Peter take our eyes off the source of the law in our hearts and our ability to keep the law and rather focus on the doing, we will end up sinking like he did.

      No one is here advocating diminishing or erasing one bit of the law. The question here is, whether we are to focus our attention on self or on Christ the one works in us.

      “I love my creator and his law/character and am grateful for a redeemer who offers the grace to create that character in me–bringing me into harmony with the eternal law of love in all of it’s specific applications.” Amen, according to the new covenant He does it not me!

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    • Thank you for your comment, Walter. We appreciate such thoughtful commentary.

      I'm sorry that my representation of certain attitudes in society was so unclear that it could be mistaken for my views. I shall have to watch that in the future. Tyler did a good job explaining what I really meant.

      Let's take a closer look at what is eternal and what is not. God's character is eternal. Thus the principles of the Law that are an expression of His character are eternal. That would include the two "great commandments," which are an application of the law of self-renouncing love.

      I proposed that the Ten Commandments are an application of the principles of the two great commandments to the condition of mankind on this planet. The Jews recognized this when they summed up the Ten Commandments as loving God supremely and our neighbors as ourselves.

      You rightly suggest that each of the Ten Commandments has a wider application than the specific words suggest. That wider application represents a recognition of the underlying principles.

      You also cite an instance in which God compares his relationship with Israel to a marriage. (And there are many more such instances.) Here we need to recognize that this is an analogy, similar to Christ's parable when He likened the Kingdom of Heaven to a precious pearl, a shepherd seeking the one lost sheep, a woman seeking a lost coin, etc.

      Marriage is, by definition, a close emotional-mental-physical relationship with one of the opposite sex, designed by God to be the foundation of a family. I'm sure you recognize that when God compares His relationship with His people to a marriage, He is not saying that He has an actual physical-sexual relationship with any human being.

      My point was that the specific wording of the Law of God that includes reference to sexual relations is not applicable to heavenly beings who do not have such relationships. And, by extension it is not applicable to redeemed humans who will be "like the angels," according to the words of Christ. (Matt. 22:30)

      Tyler mentioned the fourth commandment, in the very heart of the Ten, which demonstrates that the Ten Commandments were "made for man." Since Jesus specifically designated the Sabbath as being "made for man," it follows that the expression of the Law of God that contains rules for keeping the seventh-day Sabbath, with reference back to the creation of this planet, is also "made for man."

      While this understanding may not make much difference to a lot of people, it does make a difference to thoughtful people who try to wrap their minds around the implications of the "eternal" Law of God.

      I appreciate your reference to the new-covenant promise that God will write His Law into the heart of the believer. (Eze. 36:26,27 See also Jer. 31:31-33) This, of course, will result in keeping the Law of God, not just in the letter but also in the spirit (recognizing the underlying principle of self-renouncing love). I thought my whole post was a "defense of the law."

      I also agree with you when you state:

      "Would it be fair to say that another way to put this is that the moment we are breaking the least instruction in our creator’s law that we are in need of that schoolmaster to show us what true love looks like so we can turn in repentance to our saviour and ask him to change our heart in this area where the schoolmaster has shown us our need?'

      And that points up the role of the law in the life of the Christian. The law cannot save us. Even law-keeping cannot save us. Only Jesus Christ can save us. However, the Law is the eternal standard of righteousness. It is analogous to a mirror. When I look in the mirror and see that my face is dirty, I do not try to use the mirror to clean my face. I use soap and water. In the spiritual sphere, when we recognize that we are out of harmony with the Law of God, we need to seek the cleansing that only Christ can give. To stay clean, we need to stay connected with Him, so He may empower our choices moment by moment to walk in His ways, not the ways of our own choosing.

      I also appreciate your closing statement, which recognizes the underlying principle of all expressions of the Law of God:

      "I love my creator and his law/character and am grateful for a redeemer who offers the grace to create that character in me - bringing me into harmony with the eternal law of love in all of it’s specific applications."

      Recognition of the underlying principle will prevent us from trying to "keep" the letter of the law while transgressing its foundational principles. Any time we act in a manner that is contrary to the law of self-renouncing love, we are violating God's eternal law, whether or not we appear to be in harmony with its "letter."

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  7. We will always be sidetracked if we forget the purpose of the law.
    This is where a sharply focused understanding of the Great Controversy comes into play.

    The question is not so much "*who* is the Boss?" As it is "who *is* 'the Boss?"

    If we understand that the law is a transcript of God's character as *fully* revealed in the person of His Son Jesus Christ our Saviour, we can then work backwards from Jesus and see the law in the right perspective.

    For too long for some, we have used Jesus to bolster our conception of the law. That is, we use Jesus's words about not abolishing the law to beat people back into our concept of how to keep it perfectly.

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    • Thank you, Andrew, for your very perceptive comment.

      I may not have expressed my idea as well as I could, but I agree totally that Jesus demonstrated the one eternal Law of God in His character. His life and character is the ultimate expression of God's self-renouncing law of love.

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  8. As a Seventh Day Adventist, I try not to preach too much about the Sabbath Observance but about loving God and fellow humans. The Ten Commandments are indeed binding in 2012 and so shall they ever be. Once logic and reason has been used, even the lowest of minds should understand that God expects us to obey him fully and not make excuses about any of his word. We should preach as to not be offensive neither to impose but preach that our God is one of love and so are his commandments. Maybe as Adventist we should come up with tactful and creative ways to preach about the Ten Commandments so that's its palatable even to the unbeliever. It's not all about what you say but how you do it...just my view

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    • Soren, you suggest:

      Maybe as Adventist we should come up with tactful and creative ways to preach about the Ten Commandments so that’s its palatable even to the unbeliever.

      I believe that if we present the law of God for what it really is - the law of self-renouncing love that is expressed in a number of different ways - it will be much more "palatable" to unbelievers. Additionally it will prevent the rampant self-righteousness seen in those who believe they are obeying the law by adhering to the mere letter of the Ten Commandments.

      Seeing the Law for what it is - an expression of God's character which is also the foundation of God's government in heaven and on earth - helps us realize that we cannot possibly live up to this lofty ideal. All we can do is surrender ourselves fully to Christ so that He can mold our characters into His image.

      The "surrender" is the move from being a rebel to being an obedient servant of Christ. It cannot be done part-way.

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    • May I suggest a little different approach? Since the world is obsessed with a me first attitude I believe we need to reach them on that level, where they are. Why not present the Ten Commandments as a protective barrier against intrusions into what “we” have. For instance, if it weren’t for a law that says not to murder our lives would be hanging on a thread ready to be cut at the whim of anyone who didn’t like us being alive. Also working to have possessions would be useless if it weren’t for a law that said not to steal.

      In other words I think we need to talk to them about the things that mean the most to them. After that sinks in and they see the necessity for the law then we can talk to them about other benefits of the law like those that Inge suggests. We could at that point also witness to how great Heaven will be because law exists and everyone looks out for the well being of others.

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      • Yes, Tyler, you're right. We need to offer solutions to the felt needs of the people around us. And for those who feel the need for security, we can demonstrate that God's Law fills that need.

        On the other hand, doesn't everyone feel the need for love and relationships? And God's Law provides the underlying principles for loving relationships. The glory of heaven is in the overflowing love that will bind all hearts to God and to each other - the natural result of being in harmony with God's law of self-renouncing love.

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        • Inge, to a great degree I have to agree with you concerning the majority but there are a good number of people out there that I honestly wonder if any real love exists at all. Their only real thought is what “I” can get which in many cases extends over to their marriage as well. I also believe that the devil is doing his best to erase any image of God in humanity that exists. This is the reason that I think it might be more effective to first approach the problem from a security point of view but I certainly don’t think it is worth arguing over indefinitely. To me as long as people see that the commandments are truly beneficial then the objective is met.

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  9. God's Divine and Eternal Law is perfect-ly suited and adaptable for every world and every creature that has the ability to choose. God gave it to us in words that would fit our (fallen) circumstances and covers every possible offense. And for the angels, it could be just as perfectly appropriate in their situation (and ours when we shall dwell with them), though it might be worded differently in than our 10, but it would be based on the same principles as the 10 given to our sinful world. We only need to know the law as it applies to us (Eccl 12:13) no matter where we find ourselves placed by God. The underlying principles that are the foundation of God's government are capable of being applied for every need that might arise in all of creation and our "10" show this to be true. For us, here and now, "the law of the Lord is perfect..."

    I believe that this is the best "argument" to prove the existence of God and the inspiration of scripture: the law is PERFECT. How do we know??? We are in perfect agreement when it comes to how we would want to be treated in all situations.

    Here's an illustration: a reporter in New York years ago met a lady on a street corner shouting to all who could hear; "The law of the Lord is PERFECT", but not in those exact words. What she was saying was "it's just not right!!! What they did to ME was wrong!!!"

    "And what was that?" asked the reporter. "Those men there," she said pointing down the street as a small group of men made their way home with their arms full of loot, "they stole all my things from me! Those are MY things! They belong to ME! What they did was not right!"

    "What things?" the reporter asked. Well, it so happened that the men had taken from her the things she had just stolen from a store during an power black out. Many were looting and she thought nothing about God's perfect law until SHE was the one offended, and there she stood, with loud voice, proclaiming that "the law of the Lord is perfect!"

    In the great controversy, the Law of God, as demonstrated in the life and death of Jesus, stands as exhibit A, which led to Satan being cast out. (John 12:31)

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  10. Hi Soren and all,
    As a preacher like you, I always preach the Sabbath in the light of Gods covenant. As you read the bible you would always see, “the Sabbath of the Lord thy God”; “My Sabbath.”
    Sabbath means; rest, cessation. Does God needs rest? Does He ever get tired? Of course not. But Christ made it plain; “Sabbath was made for Man, not man for the Sabbath;” “I demand mercies not sacrifice”.
    Ezekiel 20:12, Moreover also I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.
    It is a covenant from God that He will rest on the seventh day, for man. He is not an idler, but a concerned God, giving us quality time, and giving us chance to give our quality time for Him, our family, and all that is within our gates.
    As Jesus said, “what I saw my father doeth, that I do.”

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  11. Oh my goodness Ms. Anderson! I’ve been asking the Lord to help me understand how do you actually get your name written in the Lamb’s book of life? After praying about it today, the Holy Spirit brought this principle to my mind… “People will know that you belong to me if you love them as I have loved you.” I’ve read that text many times, but tonight it was like an epiphany that made me ponder His love for me and how I have applied it in my interactions with others.

    Later on I felt impressed to go to SSNET and what did I find? A beautiful and simple description of what God was trying to teach me. As you said, “The Ten Commandments are, after all, the embodiment of the eternal Law adapted for the understanding of humanity.” It seems that God picked those ten applications because they are the sins that so easily beset us, the things we are most prone to doing.

    Can you imagine how difficult it was for Jesus to make it through each day surrounded by the selfish nature of people who claimed to know the ways of God? As you said, “Until He demonstrated it in His own incarnation, even sinless beings could not fully understand the principles of God’s Law.” No wonder Jesus groaned and was troubled in Spirit. Like the rich young ruler, we do church and keep Sabbath with fervor, thinking we are rich and in need of nothing. But we are lacking in the overarching principle of self-renouncing love, which makes us wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. I certainly don’t want to spend my life in church and end up hearing those dreaded words, “depart from Me I never knew you.”

    I just love this quote… “the law of self-renouncing love, is also the guiding principle in the life of the individual Christian. It is the spring of action from the renewed heart that only God can give. It is the Christian’s power, fueled by the Holy Spirit.” The more I experience God’s love in a personal way, the more I want to follow the example of Jesus and extend that love to others. But I can only do it by the power of His Spirit, because that kind of love is not in me. Praise God for sending Jesus to reconcile us back to our heritage of love and may God continue using you in His service.

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    • Thank you for your thoughtful sharing, Rosalyn. I believe our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life as soon as we surrender our lives to Christ who is the Lamb. And that results in a love relationship.

      I pray that we may each grow daily in our extending Christ's love to others.

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