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Sunday: Law in Heaven — 31 Comments

  1. Today's lesson portrays God's moral law as something God has added to reality and as something that is somehow different in nature to natural law. While this view is widely held, I would propose that it is mistaken.

    As the lesson started out, love (other-focussed, other-benefiting) is the overarching as well as foundational characteristic of God and His Way of 'being and doing' (1 John 4:8). And, at the same time, love is also the overarching and foundational characteristic/dynamic of true, abundant life. Therefore, true life is only possible due to the existence and actions of a love-based God who creates and sustains a love-based reality.

    Ultimately and functionally, what is law? It is a principle or dynamic of consistent cause-and-effect. Every cause will produce the same effect every time. This is why we also refer to law as 'constants'. And it is this constant/consistent nature of law that creates and the necessary order that is essential for true life. Without this order there is instead chaos which is incapable of supporting life*. So, law (cause-and-effect constants) is the 'fabric' of reality - the invisible 'mechanisms' that promote and maintain true life. While God ongoingly supplies life energy, that energy is put to work by God through a myriad of consistent cause-and-effect mechanisms ('laws').

    All laws, regardless of whether we artificially divide them into the categories such as "moral" or "natural", share the same functional nature - they are inherent, consistent, cause-and-effect principles. I hope that this helps you see that moral law is not something God added to reality but that it is instead the very foundation and 'fabric' of the reality that is true, abundant life. Thus, the 10 commandments are not the baseline moral law - undivided devotion to God and associated unwavering commitment to other-focussed, other-benefiting love to all others is the baseline moral reality/necessity. The 10 commandments are merely some specific amplifications of how to apply this baseline moral reality.

    Putting this all together, there is only one way that life can and does actually work. That way is true, "abundant" life (John 10:10) and was frequently referred to by Jesus as the 'Kingdom of God'. And this true life is only possible because of the other-focussed, other-benefiting cause-and-effect principles (constants, laws) which make up its 'fabric'. Thus, natural law and moral law are functionally exactly the same. Live in harmony with them and life and benefit will be the inherent outcome (Deuteronomy 30:15-20). Or, be out of harmony with them and absence of life and harm will similarly be the inherent outcome. Understanding this helps us understand the reason we need to live in harmony with the laws of life - natural and moral alike - if we want to live. God's laws are not His required standards - they are the absolutely necessary essentials needed for true life to function abundantly. This is precisely what Moses was saying repeatedly throughout Deuteronomy.

    * Perhaps you can see why sin is functionally defined by John as lawlessness (1 John 3:4). Thus, 'sin' (lawlessness) is the term used to refer to the state of being out of harmony with the laws that are absolutely necessary for life. This is why sin produces death - because lawlessness produces chaos which precludes life.

    • Good day Phil.
      I have read the lesson and do not see where it portrays or implies, that "God's moral law as something God has added to reality". Kindly show me please.

      • Hi Erma

        Thanks for your question. To assist my response to you, I first need to ask you a couple of questions to see what you are currently seeing.

        1) Where do you see the lesson suggesting that moral law comes from and how it came about?

        2) What do you see the lesson suggesting that determines what is right and what is wrong for God's "moral beings"?

    • Amen! To be born again means you delight to do God's will. You don't need arbitrary law to govern you. This doesn't mean there is no law though- God's law of love is immutable. All of creation functions on the basis of selfless love. If a tree were to be selfish and hoard oxygen, we'd be dead.
      Unbelievers need law to govern them. Unbelievers look at things as a list of rules vs seeing God's will as life and life abundant. God's will equates to life. Every choice we make is either building up the life forces or bringing about a faster rate of decay (cellular damage). God is the living God. "In the day you eat you will die", DNA damage became a reality which is why Adam lived to be in his 900's and now man lives on average to mid 70's. Free radicals, oxidative stress and antioxidants is a wonderful object lesson on the law of selfless love. Free radicals steal molecules from stable molecules because free radicals are unstable so they steal to become stable. If this happens enough oxidative stress, cellular DNA damage happens. Antioxidants on the other hand give vs steal. They donate elections to free radicals which neutralizes them. Sin leads to chaos like Phil said. Sin is based on selfishness. We sin to get an unmet need met. If we get our needs met by God we won't feel the need to sin. Paul said walk after the spirit then you won't walk after the flesh. This isn't a command but a promise.

  2. What laws does subatomic particles, oceans waves kangaroo's follows? naturals I would supposed. therefore it is unlikely that these mention in the sentence would not need the moral laws! Right? Moral laws governs both Angels and human. what would you suppose the moral laws that governs the Angels would look like?

  3. I don't like to stretch the comparison of the natural law with the law of God too far. Granted, there are some similarities but there are also some differences. For example, the law of gravity has no moral dimension. Matter attracts matter is not a question of rightness or wrongness but is simply a statement of the interaction of matter. We talk about people defying the law of gravity, but whatever they do, they have to choice to be subject to its effects.

    The law of God is applied within a framework of free choice. We can chose to obey or disobey. Significantly natural law often has immediate consequences. If, per chance, you decide to defy the law of gravity and jump upwards off a cliff, you will immediately be attracted back to the earth at an accelerated pace until your matter and the earth's matter are in close proximity once again. On the other hand, God extends grace to those who sin, giving time for repentance and forgiveness. Freedom of choice comes with responsibility, and responsibility comes with grace, and grace makes room for repentance and forgiveness.

    • Hi Maurice

      I have been reflecting for a few days on what you have mentioned above. And I am also mindful of what you wrote yesterday regarding debating definitions. I am not asking you the following questions to debate definitions but to understand functional working of reality.

      When you say that the law of gravity has no moral dimension, that matter attracting matter is not a question of rightness or wrongness, what are you meaning regarding "rightness or wrongness"? Or perhaps I could ask what you see is the ultimate 'criteria' that would distinguish something being right or wrong?

        • Thanks Maurice

          Not trying to get you to incriminate yourself... What is it that makes a selfless choice right and a selfish choice wrong?

          • Good question Phil. In an environment where we have free choice, a right choice affirms our relationship with God while a wrong choice is one which separates us from Him.

  4. I find this quote below very profound - the LORD wants us to understand His Will, His Character, His plan for peace and harmony.
    He created humans different to animals with a mind to reason and choose not just animal instinct. Accordingly He lets humans know His Principles with their benefits as well as the consequences of disregarding them.

    Do I acknowledge the LORD as the Creator and thus my Master and do I desire to follow His Will for me or do I follow my own thoughts and desires wherever they lead me?

    As Ellen G. White explains: “The will of God is expressed in the precepts of His holy law, and the principles of this law are the principles of heaven. The angels of heaven attain unto no higher knowledge than to know the will of God, and to do His will is the highest service that can engage their powers.” — Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 109.

    I have discovered that many, including myself at times, attribute a negative connotation to the word law as something imposed upon humans, however I believe the LORD's Will expressed in His Principles of Life is a positive choice.

  5. Today, I'd only like to thank God for life, for the moral Law, and specially for Jesus! Today I become 50, and God has shown me such a great love through my past obstacles that all what I can say is "GOD IS AWESOME"! I want to dedicate this and the rest of my days to HIM, WHO gives me everything! May HIS name be glorified and my limitations be transformed by HIS grace!

  6. This text answer all the question one might have....Romans ◦ Chapter 7...7What shall we say then? Is the law evil and selfish because it increases the amount of evil and selfishness we see? Absolutely not! I would not have known what evil and selfishness looked like if it wasn't for the diagnostic efficacy of the law. I would not have realized that coveting was evil and selfish if the law didn't say, "Don't covet."8But selfishness, taking advantage of the fact that the law is only a diagnostic instrument–and not a Remedy–magnified every covetous desire within me. For apart from the diagnostic ability of the law, sin is unrecognizable.9Once I thought I was healthy and free from the infection of distrust, fear and selfishness, but then the commandment examined me, exposed how utterly infected I was, and diagnosed me as terminal.10I discovered that the very commandment given only to diagnose my condition I had unwittingly attempted to use as a cure, and thus my condition only worsened.11For selfishness, taking advantage of the fact that the commandment could only diagnose and not cure, deceived me into thinking that I could be cured by working to keep the commandments; but instead, my terminal state only worsened.12So understand this: The law diagnoses perfectly, and the commandment is the standard of what is right and good, set apart by God to reveal what is evil and destructive.

  7. What "Moral Law" defines "Mercy" and "Forgiveness"? I see no Law in the 10 commandments that define these characteristics of God. In fact, the 10 commandments have no feature of these traits of God at all. That is probably why in the Old Testament the idea of "a tooth for a tooth" was there. But it was The Son of God, Jesus, that took the law farther to show how to be angry with someone was the same as breaking the 6th commandment even though just being angry at someone does not go on to take away that persons biological life etc.

    • Hmm.. interesting q! I'm wondering if the answer lies in the first 4 commands. When we approach doing those well with the help of the Holy Spirit - then we will 'naturally' manifest the mercy and forgiveness that the Lord expects from us.

      • Yes, yes, especially the Seventh-day-Sabbath. We labor all week, then once a week in His kindness, love, and Mercy, He gave us a day of rest. He loves us enough that He gave us a directive to only have one God, Him. Thus we won't get confused, and lost worshiping the god of rain, the god of grain, and the god of prosperity. And there is mercy, and love through out the last 6. He had mercy and love towards us to give us direction to stay out of trouble with our fellow men.

        He loved us enough to give us the way out of perdition.
        Deuteronomy 30:17-18.

        Yes to see all this you have to develop a relationship with God. In His word, and meditation and prayer.

      • The Apostle Peter came to Jesus with the idea that "seven times" was plenty of times to forgive a brother. But then Jesus said to Peter that he needed to go on for 70 times that much and then goes on to tell a parable of a man that owed his Lord "a great sum" that he was not able to pay etc. Now, why would Jesus challenge Peter to forgive like God forgives? And why would Jesus also go on to tell a parable of someone who has no way to pay back what he owes? Yes, Amy Meyer, it is only by the power of God's Holy Spirit that we can do what God asks us to do in living for Him and being a blessing to others too.

  8. Ellen White further explains in the next paragraph:

    "But in heaven, service is not rendered in the spirit of legality. When Satan rebelled against the law of Jehovah, the thought that there was a law came to the angels almost as an awakening to something unthought of. In their ministry the angels are not as servants, but as sons. There is perfect unity between them and their Creator. Obedience is to them no drudgery. Love for God makes their service a joy. So in every soul wherein Christ, the hope of glory, dwells, His words are re-echoed, “I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.” Psalm 40:8." — Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 109

    • Dana - Thank you for providing more of Ellen White's thoughts related to this topic. I am very happy to find my own thoughts confirmed by her writings, as I included an 'amendment' to her thoughts to include the angel's love of God as their motivation.
      Her thoughts address an interesting aspect of 'law' - "...the thought that there was a law came to the angels almost as an awakening to something unthought of." This tells me that the law can be 'unknown' and still lived/followed! Not being 'aware' means that they lived the law as their natural expression of their relationship with God.
      I do not think that we are able to share into this blissful 'unawareness', but loving God with all our heart will produce the same 'eagerness' to live His Will.

    • Thanks Dana for the inclusion of this additional quotation. It hilights a very important point - that what we refer to as 'moral law' was unwritten and inherent in heaven. Something was within the heart of the angels that guided them to always do what was 'right' even though they had no idea this was going on. To them, they were simply carrying out the desires of their heart. And everything was literally 'perfect' while this was the case.

      • It also shows again that our concept of Law seems to need regular re-centering on the fact that God's Law is a transcript of His Love, so where He is, there is Love, Life, and a delight to do His will. 'Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.'
        Great sentence, "love for God made (the angels') service a joy".

    • Hehe! As we say in our household, "You need to go and see Toni!" Toni is my daughter and she is an optometrist. It says "Sunday: Law in Heaven". The two dots make a big difference. 🙂 If you cannot see them, then its time for an eye test. LOL

  9. I find myself again agreeing with Phil, especially that moral law is included in the universally operational laws, applicable to free-will beings for their moral 'compass'. Why not think of the moral 'law' as a hand-held compass influencing the traveler toward his/her destination - true 'North' depicting Eternal life if they wish to go there! After re-reading 'Pilgrim's Progress', I was again impressed how monumentally precious steadfast faith is in the Christian's life-journey toward the 'Promised Land'.
    The lesson writer states: "Because God wants us to love Him in return, He has created us as moral creatures with moral freedom, the freedom inherent in love." I agree with its basic tenet, but I think this statement falls just a bit short of its mark of clarity. Might it not be more accurately worded: 'Because God wants us to be able to love Him in return, He has created us as moral creatures' ...., giving us the compass and His Spirit as guides? 'Free' will means just that, free - free of demands and coercion! In my eyes, this slight difference makes all the difference in man's relationship with his Creator. 

    The Lord's prayer states: ..."Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done in earth as it is in Heaven ...". It appears to me the exercise of free will by Heaven's beings results in much less 'rebellion' than here in earth's 'kingdom' (though the one who rebelled caused earth all the harm). Is it because theirs is a different 'body'?
    Could it be that the 'prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience - Eph.2:2 ESV, aligned with spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places - Eph.6:12ESV; Jude 1:6ESV, seeks to capture man's heart and mind by enticing him to live for the short-term satisfaction of his senses inherent in his flesh?

    Yes, the Creator's universal 'Law based on Love' governs everything in existence. Though this is a fact, this reality does not in and off itself include a demand for man's or angel's moral allegiance. Awareness of the existence of this moral law enables man to use free will and exercise God-given faith, aiding us to withstand Lucifer's 'promise to enhance life' by satisfying the appetites of our senses.
    God's moral 'compass' made known to us, and our capacity to exercise faith based on our trust and love of the Creator is everything the living soul needs and has been provided with to win its spiritual battle decisively! .... and to do His will is the highest service that can engage their powers [because also angels love Him.]" (Ellen White's quote restated)

  10. The moral law is more than a hand held compass. The moral law is a directive, the Hebrew word for command. Yes we can liken it to a GPS, but the only thing it can do tell us how to get there. Now a GPS is a step up from a hand held compass because, it has a map to show you where you are. I would throw out the compass and GPS. The Bible is my compuss and GPS. The Bible has every thing the hand held compass and GPS does not does not for salvation. Now I do agree that the similarities are there. The great similarity is that I can't function on a trip without a GPS. Like wise as a Christian I can't be a genuine Christian without opening the Bible daily. With it I have something to talk about in prayer with my God. And with it I get to know God in my devotions, and even study.

    [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]
    Philippians 3:10 AMPC.

    I can't do that with just a GPS. I need more, I need the Bible.

    We all can repeat, Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. But God word is more.

    Yes I am free, I am so free that I need the Lord every hour and minute of every day.

  11. "The law came through Moses but grace and truth through Jesus Christ." John 1:17.

    Most of the references to the law in the NT are direct references to the Torah, or Law of Moses. To speak of some overarching moral law, and then project that onto texts which mention the law, is bad exegesis. So we need to carefully distinguish between the two, and not imagine that the Torah and the divine will are the same thing.

  12. Happy Sabbath Saints, Quick question,The last 6 commandments have to do with human relationships, so are these laws going to exist in Heaven

    • Interesting question, David.

      First of all, let's think of God's Law in relation to heaven where God and the angels live. Do the Ten Commandments, as written, make any sense in reference to the angels?

      I think not. I think that forbidding the angels to make idols would be unnecessary. And asking them to "honor your father and mother" would be puzzling, to say the least. The same would be true about the commandment against adultery and coveting your neighbor's wife.

      The conundrum is solved by recognizing that the "Ten Commandments" were an adaptation of God's eternal Law for sinful humans.

      Jesus Himself summarized this adaptation of the eternal Law in Matthew 22:36-40, saying that supreme love for God and loving our neighbors as ourselves are the two "great commandments."

      But we can go one step further to understand the underlying principle of God's Law and all expressions of it: The law of self-forgetful love governs all the universe, except this planet, where the first lawbreaker was banished and found his first followers. Lucifer broke that law in heaven itself by focusing on himself, and then he tempted Eve to think of her own advancement rather than trusting God. And that's how we got to the state the world is in now.

      If you like, you can read more on this subject at "God’s Law: The One, the Two, the Ten and the Many".


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