Home » Thursday: The Law of God    


Thursday: The Law of God — 31 Comments

  1. If you want to do some reading to expand and challenge your mind on the topic of the Law of God, try C S Lewis's book, "The Problem of Pain" Chapter 3 "Divine Goodness" and Chapter 4 "Human Wickedness". Here is an example:

    Some modern theologians have, quite rightly, protested against the excessively moralistic interpretation of Christianity. The Holiness of God is something more and other than moral perfection: His claim upon us is something more and other than the claim of moral duty. I do not deny it: but this conception, like that of corporate guilt, is very easily used as an evasion of the real issue. God may be more than moral goodness: He is not less. The road to the promised land runs past Sinai. The moral law may exist to be transcended: but there is no transcending it for those who have not first admitted its claims upon them, and then tried with all their strength to meet that claim, and fairly and squarely faced the fact of their failure. (Emphasis mine) p53 ibid

    • Hello Maurice - Yes, "God may be more than moral goodness: He is not less." At this point in human history we know more about our heavenly Father and moral goodness than any People have known in the past. By 'know', I mean understand!

      God gave us His Son Jesus Christ our Savior, as well as His Gospel Word containing the Power to transform hearts and minds. If we believe His Gospel message, we follow its teachings by faith and apply it in our daily lives, knowing that Jesus' Faith accomplished the work required for our Salvation. By Faith and God's Grace we are now covered with God's Righteousness in Jesus - 2Cor.5:21.

      Moral goodness, among the 'not less than this', is being established in us because God made us in His Image; He can do no less if we are to be reunited with Him applying our Faith.
      That we understand this process of re-unification correctly is the issue at the core of the Law. If we still understand it to be obeying the letter of the Law, we fall short. If we understand it to mean obeying the Spirit of the Law - God centered Love - we will be well on our way to meet our heavenly Father; Matt.22:37-40

      Hopefully, C.S. Lewis was able to find peace in recognizing God's Grace inherent in the Love of the Father who knows His children well enough to not require perfection from a fallen creature. Our humble Faith and Jesus' perfect Faith stand in the gap to bridge the 'demands' of the letter of the law and the Promised Land.

    • When you mentioned C.S. Lewis's The Problem of Pain, I was thinking that he might have been writing partly from experience, after A Grief Observed, in which he chronicles about his grief over the death of his wife. But when I looked up the chronology A Grief Observed was published in 1961, while The Problem of Pain was one of his earlier apologetic books, written before The Abolition of Man, 1943 (which some might not consider apologetics), Miracles (1947, Rev.1960) and Mere Christianity (1952).
      It seems that Lewis's philosophizing came before personal experience!
      I believe Mere Christianity is his best and most persuasive apologetic books for Christianity. It helps that none of his books are long. 🙂
      But then, The Problem of Pain deals with an issue that many people struggle with, leading some modern Christian teachers to come up with what I consider unbiblical solutions to resolve the problem.

    • From the perspective of my experience I see this as profound:

      The moral law may exist to be transcended: but there is no transcending it for those who have not first admitted its claims upon them, and then tried with all their strength to meet that claim, and fairly and squarely faced the fact of their failure.

      From my experience, I see this: We cannot fully appreciate the grace of God and the sacrifice of Christ until we have first put all our strength into trying to bring our lives into harmony with the Law of God. It is only when we recognize our inability to "keep" the Law and in our helplessness throw ourselves on the mercy of Christ that can experience the full joy of salvation.

  2. This pandemic is spreading worldwide, infecting people from droplets in the air making them sick and even killing millions. The scary thing is someone standing next to you could be sick and you won't know it, and what comes out of their mouth could infect you.

    What about their souls are they sick? What about my soul, am I sick? What makes a soul sick? Jesus told the people what defiles a person - makes a soul sick.

    Mark 7:20-23 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man, For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

    Praise the LORD, there is a vaccine for my soul, ask the LORD to send the Holy Spirit to transform my soul into their image!

  3. David is in harmony: "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord , And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand."
    Psalms 37:23‭-‬24

    Again He will take us by His hand "Let Your hand become my help, For I have chosen Your precepts."
    Psalms 119:173

    If we put our trust in the Lord, and lean on Him. Our duty to the Law is out of love. "Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble. Lord , I hope for Your salvation, And I do Your commandments. My soul keeps Your testimonies, And I love them exceedingly.
    Psalms 119:165‭-‬167.

  4. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.....the commandments of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes...the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
    Ps 19:7-14.

    The Law of God
    The law of God is perfect, enlightening and pure. It cant save but it directs sinners to a loving Savior. It has power to convert the soul. It points our humans sins, evil ways and bad behaviors. But it does not stop there. It shows us how we can be restored to a Holy Father who cares for us.
    Many times people like to do wrong or go the wrong way and think there is neither a 'good' or 'bad' way, but its man conception of what is 'good' or 'bad'.

    According to Michel Foucault 'all systems of morality were merely human constructs, human ideas put in place by those in power in order to control the masses.' Do we see any truth in this? I must say when we look at the world around us presently and in the past, some systems that he probably looked at and base his findings were true.
    Humans had always constructed systems to favor its kind, those who agree with them, those who looked like them etc. It is only the bible understood correctly can stand against such evil forces. That is why the bible says it was holy men as they were moved by the Holy Spirit who wrote the bible. Men who allowed the Holy Spirit to direct their thought and we can understand about a loving father. We now should allow that same Holy Spirit to direct our minds to what is right, good and pleasing in his site.

    • Lyn - you make a great point! Even if, like Foucault, people think that morality "were merely a human construct", it is still better to do what is good and right instead what is wrong.
      Israel knew what was right, but did not follow the Ways of the Lord and did that which was evil in His eyes. The 'unbelievers' lived rightly, and God declared them to become partakers of His Covenant.
      Yes, once the Holy Spirit begins to moves in the heart of man, he is called to face a higher authority than himself to know and do what is right.

  5. Morality is the term used to refer to what is right/good and what is wrong/bad.

    Have you considered what makes something right? What makes something wrong? Is something good/right or bad/wrong merely because God says so? Or does God say so because He is aware of the underpinning reality of something?

    I would propose that it is the underpinning reality that 'objectively' denotes whether something is right or wrong, good or bad.

    What is this underpinning reality? We refer to it as natural law - the law/s that constitute the 'mechanisms' that are a vital component of the reality of true/'abundant' life. And natural Law in its most fundamental/foundational form is the constant/principle of other-centered beneficence.

    Thus, that which advances other-centered beneficence is good/right. Conversely, that which is not other-centered beneficence is bad/wrong.

    What makes other-centered beneficence good/right? The fact that it alone is capable of maintaining life (in conjunction with God as the ongoing Source of The Breath of Life: Genesis 2:7; Act 17:25,27).

    What makes anything other than other-centered beneficence bad/wrong? The fact that such is incapable of maintaining life (1 John 2:16).

    This is why God's Law is still "binding" and 'perpetual' - because God's Law is reality.

    (Am I saying that reality is bigger than God or separate from God? No!)

    • Hello, Phil – Yes, I agree with your premises that “God is reality” and He has established it. I believe that the reality He established relates directly to *who* He is. We give Him names like the 'I AM', the 'Alpha and Omega' in which is the Beginning and End or simply God.

      His reality does not only exist as matter, it also exists as His moral code/law - this includes His creative Spirit. And this is where the revelation and the inspiration of the Law is found.
      Yes, the Spirit of the Law is, as you point out again and again, selfless Love! Since we do not ‘create’ but can only ‘reflect’, our part in the relationship to the God and His Law rests in *Intent* – Gen.6:5.

      Our relationship with the heavenly Father has been recalibrated. We are now enabled to reflect His Nature when living His Law of righteousness through Faith – Matt 22:37-40.
      God established that His Law in now on everyone's hearts and mind – Heb.10:16. From now on, everyone can know what is the Law/Will of God; it all depends on who we accept to be our master.

        • Hello, Inge – ‘God is reality’ means to me that there is nothing which exists, *is*, outside of Him - John1:3-5. Reality means that we live in a physical environment which was established by God, observable, visible as well as governed by His laws instituted and commissioned to regulate this physical environment. John 8:54-59 – “before Abraham was, I am.” We are part of His creation!

          I do not consider this to be Pantheism as you might understand it; to me it is spiritual reality - Truth. God is Spirit and Truth and to be worshiped in this way – John4:24. God was *before* the beginning when nothing that now is was and only existed in *potentiality*; He spoke into existence that which now is and has powers to establish that which is not yet - and it is so. This reality originates from and expresses one source – I AM.

          Pantheism definition:
          1. A doctrine which identifies God with the universe, or regards the universe as a manifestation of God.
          2. Worship that admits or tolerates all gods. (definitions from Oxford Languages)

          I do not subscribe to the pantheism as defined in number 2. I want to point to John1:1 to clarify what I believe in: “ *In* the Beginning* was the *Word*, and the *Word* was *with God* and the *Word was God*. I believe that the Word was in the Beginning, ‘was with God’ and that ‘the Word was God’. There is no other God outside of I AM. This is the reality I am referring to.
          Included in His reality is His Holy Spirit which shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not! – John 1:5

          • Brigitte, all you write after the first sentence I can affirm. However, the following is problematic:

            God is reality’ means to me that there is nothing which exists, *is*, outside of Him

            Like your previous comment, this makes it sound like everything that exists is part of God. That is the primary definition of pantheism - that the universe is a manifestation of God. [Literally pan = everything + theism = belief in God = everything is God] That's what your original statement seemed to say as well:

            "His reality ... exists as matter"

            That is not what John 1:3-5 says. It does say that the Word was God at the very beginning and that the Word was the Creator of all that is. He is the Creator of all matter, but He is not "matter."

            The Christian world view affirms John 1:3-5, namely that that God created the universe and that He exists outside and beyond His creation, the universe.

            You do say

            God was *before* the beginning when nothing that now is was

            That is part of the Christian world view, but your initial statement and the previous one are confusing in that they seems to imply that the creation is actually part of God or "inside" God .. or?

            Perhaps you mean to say that everything that exists is under God's control? If so, that harmonizes with the Christian world view.

    • Phil, could you please explain a little more what you mean by "God's law is reality." [It reminds me a little of C S Lewis's The Great Divorce. I have this image of the "great lady" walking effortlessly over the grassy landscape of heaven, while the little man who used to be her husband, well respected on earth, finds the hard, unbending grass an impossible obstacle. But I don't know if you have the same idea in mind.]

      • By the expression "God's law is reality" I was meaning that:

        a) reality consists of law/s - principles/constants that create the order that is necessary for the reality of life (as opposed to absence of order that leads to chaos) and

        b) that because reality consists of law/s, the law/s can't be 'done away with' without also doing away with the reality that they uphold (ie life). Hence, God's law - as underpinning constants/principles of reality - are 'perpetual' or 'binding' as long as life is in existence.

        • On one level I have no argument with your definition.

          There's just one problem: This is not how 99.9% of the population understands the word reality. I suspect that most people have definition c (3) of "real" [below] in mind. That's the definition for which the dictionary compilers easily found examples.

          Thus stating that "God's law is reality" doesn't really connect with anything for hearers/readers.

          Is there another/clearer way to state what you mean?

          Definition of reality (Merriam-Webster):
          1 : the quality or state of being real
          2a(1) : a real event, entity, or state of affairs
          //his dream became a reality
          (2) : the totality of real things and events
          //trying to escape from reality
          b : something that is neither derivative nor dependent but exists necessarily

          Definition of real

          1a : having objective independent existence
          //unable to believe that what he saw was real
          b : not artificial, fraudulent, or illusory : genuine real gold also : being precisely what the name implies a real professional
          c(1) : occurring or existing in actuality saw a real live celebrity a story of real life
          (2) : of or relating to practical or everyday concerns or activities left school to live in the real world
          (3) : behaving or presented in a way that feels true, honest, or familiar and without pretension or affectation
          //That was the tragedy of Nurse Jackie … Great nurse. Flawed human being, and an irreparable one. That's also what made her real, and relatable, and what Falco brought so fully to the role …— Verne Gay
          //On the afternoon of May 28, resident Rick Grant told The Enterprise as he waited with other grievers in the town hall's town-board room for his turn before a board, "We all want the same thing: Be real on the taxes, do a proper assessment, a fair assessment." — The Altamont Enterprise
          //For every follower of the PEANUTS comics knows about the Little Red-Haired Girl, the character who intrigues a shy Charlie Brown. Hem he does, and haw he will, and every reader fidgets, too, knowing that such moments are utterly human and all too real.— Alysia Gray-Painter
          //We're living through strange times in America, but that hasn't stopped Chrissy Teigen from being her wonderfully authentic self on social media—from showing up to husband John Legend's Instagram Live concert in a towel to sharing some real talk about childbirth.— Abby Gardner //Coach Tucker has always just kept it real with me from the start. … He's been one of the most honest coaches. He's not about the B.S., hype and all that.— Kameron Allen
          //"The thing that makes college basketball so fascinating to me is that almost everyone's a hair away from the dream …. And, let's keep it real, a lot of them are in school just for the experience needed to get to the next level."— LL Cool J
          //Do you actually think you left popularity contests behind in high school? Please, get real.— Jillian Mackenzie

          • Thanks again for your feedback.

            I am drawing upon 'reality' definitions 1 and 2

            and 'real' definition 1 c(1). That which exists in actuality.

            Thus I am referring to reality as encompassing (a) that which exists, as well as (b) the underpinning actual mechanism that enables each 'that which exists' to exist.

  6. Forgive me if I've asked this before. If it is impossible for humans to keep the law, then why does God punish us for failing? It's that like spanking a child because she can't fly the space shuttle?

    • Hi Rob,

      We cannot keep the commandments on our own and Jesus does not expect us to keep them on our own. That is why when He tells us to keep the commandments out of love He promised to send us the Holy Spirit as a Helper.

      “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—”
      ‭‭John‬ ‭14:15-16‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

      • Thank you. It makes sense to my now that if we sin, even with the Spirit to guide us away from sin, we need to be corrected.

    • As humans, we cannot keep the holy Law of God. But Christ in us can keep the Law. That's why Paul wrote of the mystery of "Christ in you, the hope of glory." Col. 1:27 When we submit ourselves to Christ, He will direct our lives through the Holy Spirit so that our lives come more and more into harmony with God's holy Law. While we are submitted, His perfections make up for our imperfections. Check out 1 Peter 2:23-25, Gal. 2:20, Gal. 3:13, 2 Cor. 5:21.

      • 1st I agree whole heartedly, and you are on par with a few others as best explanation. I do believe you validate the statement my pastor of 33 years ago made. "Good works are a reflection of our relationship with Jesus Christ."

    • Hi Rob

      I would offer that God does not punish us for failing. It is sin that inherently punishes (see Romans 6:23 in light of Galatians 6:7,8 and James 1:14-15).

      For example, if I am out of harmony with the laws of health, no-one punishes me - but I will suffer the inherent effects of ill-health.

      I would propose that somehow we have gotten a wrong focus and emphasis upon "keeping the law". We tend to think this means we need to do all the 'right behaviours'. And yet God does not look at the outward behaviours, but upon the heart (motive). Is it therefore possible that someone has the right heart motive (other-centered beneficence - the most fundamental Law/principle/constant that exists) and yet has not yet gotten all the behaviours 'right'?

      I am not saying that behaviours are not important - they are and we need to be growing in these in order to experience progressively greater degrees of the abundant life that God desires/intends for us to experience (eg Romans 6:14-16; Galatians 5:1). But it appears that what is more important from God's perspective is the motive of our heart (see 1 Corinthians 4:5). When the heart motive is as it needs to be, behaviour reform will progressively follow.

    • Hi Kenny

      Only because you asked...

      In short, God.

      And God is real.

      Therefore all the reality that is God and that pertains to God and the abundant life that God experiences.

      This includes the foundational 'Law'/principle/constant of other-centered beneficence - as this was the dynamic that existed within, among and between the trinity - and all the other consequential laws that are necessary for the order that comprises reality (the 'domain' comprised of all that is real).

      I am not implying that reality is bigger than God.

      I am well aware that some will believe that I am thinking (speculating) beyond what is supposed to be considered. But what has taken me to that point is exploring the key issue of arbitrary that Satan has alleged (via insinuation - the most subtle form of deception) from the outset regarding God and 'His Ways'. I want to substantiate in my own mind (to the highest level that I can glimpse) how God is absolutely not arbitrary.

      Arbitrary means that something is to be or exist a certain way merely because someone has decided it should (eg, road speed limits). Non-arbitrary means to be embedded in reality - meaning that way of being is necessary in order to enable that aspect of reality (that thing which is real) to exist in the form that it optimally needs to in order to be (ie "abundant life" - the highest expression of righteousness).

  7. Rob- the bible says, For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whosoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
    1 John 5:3-4

    Instead of releasing man from obedience, it is faith, and faith only, that makes us partakers of the grace of Christ, which enables us to render obedience. SC 60,61.

    Does God punish man for failing? Does God really punish man for doing anything wrong/evil? Does God who is good join with bad/evil?

    For example- I self diagnosed myself with arthritis, no doctor told me so. I read up books and according to what happens to me with pain, I said I have arthritis. The very books also said sugar contributes to the arthritis pain. When I keep away from sugar and sugary food, my body is like perfect. When I indulge in eating sugary snacks and sugary food, I hurts a lot. Would anyone say it is God who punishes me for not being obedience to the science of health? Or he is punishing me for eating a lot of sugary foods? This can apply to anything in our lives. If I steal and get caught, in the process I get damage by the owner. Is it God who allows me to get damage because he was not protecting me when I was stealing?

    Today is October 22nd 2020. Today marks the 176 anniversary since October 22nd 1844. Let us not forget this date. Many were disappointed and blamed God.

  8. I see Psalm 19, "The law of the Lord is perfect..." quoted above. So I will add to that: "I delight to do thy will O my God: yea, thy Law is within my heart!" (Psalm 40:8)

    It is Paul who shows that the mind, having been transformed by the "renewing of the Holy Ghost" will "prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God"(Rom 12:2, Titus 3:5).

    Both the law and will of God are said to be "perfect", and should be as they are both one and the same.

  9. Most fair-minded individuals might admit that they understand the need for rules and laws to govern human actions. We may disagree and debate what characterizes acceptable rules and laws, but unlike philosopher Michel Foucault mentioned in the above lesson, won't argue for the complete abolition of rules and laws! Why? Well, most fair-minded individuals, given their understanding of humanity's need to live socially and share the physical space of Earth, can reason that we would rapidly descend into painful chaos without the benefit of rules and laws (Jdg 17:6; Rm 13:1-3; 1 Tim 2:1-3).
    I believe Seventh-day Adventists understand this basic principle that is outlined in Scripture. God's written laws, like painted roadway markings, keeps us safely within our lanes. We understand the relevance of God's written law with respect to the suppression of our evil side (Gen 3:22). But what about our good side? Does God's law, as we define it, have any relevance with respect to our good side? How does that work?
    I believe that a justified fear of our evil side, coupled with a reverent fixation on God's law ironically exposes the average Seventh-day Adventist to becoming stuck in a quagmire like that of the rich young ruler in Mt 19:16-20. Especially for those, like me, who have been members for a while, it's easy to succumb to the void we feel after "...all these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?" (Mt 19:20 NKJV).
    We are at risk of becoming lost in our daily living when unfortunate statements like those found in the last paragraph of the day's lesson are misunderstood and applied. It states, "Therefore, all Seventh-day Adventist education must emphasize what Ellen White has called “the perpetuity of the law” (The Great Controversy, p. 63), which includes the Sabbath. If education is to help restore the image of God in us as far as possible in this life, then even at the most basic level God’s law must be held up, in light of Christ’s example, as the moral code that shows us what truly is right in God’s eyes." Did I understand it correctly as saying that Jesus "held up...God's law...that shows us what TRULY IS RIGHT IN GOD'S EYES."? What if we put this hypothesis to the test in the life experience of two individuals in Scripture, Joseph (Mt 1:18-20) and Peter (Act 10:3-6)?
    In the unfolding of our lives, we are all free to marry, as in Joseph's case. While Scripture offers general counsel as a foundation for successful marriages, it does not name our marriage partners. How does God's written laws relate to the specifics of our lives? When Joseph's prospective wife, Mary, appeared to have been sexually unfaithful, Joseph, whom Scripture calls "a just man" (Mt 1:19), sought to disregard Scripture's counsel (Lev 19:20; Num 5:11-31; Dt 22:23-25) regarding Mary's apparent infidelity. Was Joseph in the process of making a "good" or "evil" life-decision based on his knowledge and feelings as he "minded to put her away secretly"? How should/could God's law relate to his life-decision? Would Joseph have behaved "justly" had he followed his hurt feelings--supported by Scripture--over a personal, Divine directive (Mt 1:20)? Are "personal, Divine directives" valid and/or reliable in the 21st century?
    I believe that when we become fixated on the written laws from God without a loving, dynamic relationship with the God who gives all good laws, we expose ourselves to the very real risk of dishonoring the same God we're supposed to serve in all our life-decisions (1 Cor 6:19-20)--not just by refraining from the evil we're so prone to doing--but also by doing ONLY the good prompted from us by God's law written in our minds by His very own finger (Heb 8:10-11; Ex 31:13,18).

    (PS Since this became longer than I planned, I'll omit what I planned to say on Peter in Act 10:3-6, but strongly encourage interested readers to consider how laws in Scripture may or may not apply in our daily living.)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags allowed in your comment: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>