When someone speaks of “the law”, what are they really talking about? There is prevalent in our society today the idea that all of the Old Testament Law has been “done away” and no longer applies to us. Some even go so far as to claim that even the Ten Commandments have been abolished. Are they right? When they refer to the law, just what does that mean? Actually, there are different types of law and when mention is made of the law in the Bible, ofttimes it is referring to some, not all, of those statutes and commandments that are considered to compose the “law”.
There are four basic types of law in the Bible. The earliest type would be the Moral Law, the very mind set of God and in existence for eternity with God. The second type of law is the Sanitary Law or the Clean Food Law, although this type encompasses more than just food. This type of law emerged with Creation, defining those things God considered clean or unclean, including animals, disease and actions that He knew would occur in the future. Thirdly there are the Sacrificial Laws, coming into practice after the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, and later expanded into the Priesthood Law after the Exodus from Egypt. The fourth type of law is the Cultural Law, developing with the growth of Earth’s population and the expansion of man into the world.
The Moral Laws are still very much in effect today
This is the type of law Jesus was talking about when He said that nothing would pass from it. It represents the mind set of God Who does not change
These laws will never pass away, for even in the Kingdom of Heaven, although unlikely to occur, such actions would be wrong. It will always be wrong to murder, steal, lie or covet, or to commit any act whatsoever that violates God’s moral code in any way. To even suggest that the Moral Laws are null and void is to proclaim that the Creator of the universe has changed. It just can’t happen.
The Ten Commandments summarize the Moral Law, but there are other actions covered by this law not directly addressed by them. Let’s look at some examples.
This Moral Law forbids joining a mob (multitude) engaged in wrongful activity, whether a lynch mob, a riot or a large group of corporate thieves. When giving testimony (speak in a cause) do not let the judgment of the majority dissuade you from speaking the truth. The status of an individual (poor man) should not influence your judgment, either for him (verse 3) or against him (verse 6).
Remember Jesus’ admonition to love your enemy? This is an early example of that law. This law requires you to return the displaced property of someone who is not one of your favorite people, and if you see them struggling with something, you should go help them. Don’t argue against it. In His opinion it is the thing to do and don’t forget, the act will heap coals of fire upon his head
Perhaps the chagrin caused by your good act will bring about a reconciliation and you will have gained yourself a friend
This verse is talking about bribery. Because such gifts can sway judgment and cause unjust treatment of a righteous person, it is forbidden to give anything to someone in order to exact a favorable decision from them. A cause should be judged on its own merits.
It is wrong to deny justice to someone simply because they are foreign to your land. We are given a hint of the Golden Rule here, being reminded that having been strangers in Egypt, the Israelites were well aware of how it felt being oppressed by the host culture.
Here the First Commandment, “to have no other gods”, is expanded to instruct not only to abhor worship of them, but to remove all vestiges of them. Just treatment of the stranger in your land does not include exposure of your nation to the risk of God’s wrath by accommodation of their false gods.
The context of this verse is to instruct the Israelites that once they had crossed the Jordan River and occupied the Promised land they were to worship in the place where God would choose, meaning Jerusalem, not to worship just anywhere as they had to do in the wilderness. However, the principle carries over to the present day, maintaining the idea that Christians (metaphorically in the Promised Land) are obligated to conduct themselves according to the moral standards of God and not to engage in the heathen practice today which is referred to as situation ethics. For the full story of this principle, refer to FURTHER STUDY at the end of this lesson.
The Eighth Commandment forbids stealing, taking the property of someone else for your own purpose. Here the finer details are discussed, instructing that stealing is not only the physical appropriation of their property but the extortion of their wealth by selling them less than they pay for. The weights were used on a balance scale, and when a stack of grain was sold for a pound and balanced against a fourteen ounce weight claimed to be a pound, the buyer was cheated out of two ounces of grain. Isn’t this stealing?
Adultery is prohibited by the Seventh Commandment, but here again, the finer points are covered. Homosexuality is a perversion of the nature of God’s design, but that aside, it is adultery and the death sentence still holds for the unrepentant, although it will be carried out much later than most people suppose.
This is perhaps the most far reaching Moral Law of all. Without the passing on of moral teaching to the next generation the knowledge and observance of it will fade away, leaving a world populated with a race of men who rob each other, cavort with their neighbor’s wives, kill for gain (or no reason at all) and promote evil activities that provide pleasure while condemning the righteous few for their “backward and old-fashioned” ways. Sound familiar?
We are bombarded daily with news about murder, rape, robbery and kidnappings. The evening news can be a depressing experience. Every incident reported cites another violation of God’s Moral Law. We were given these laws to live together in a world of peace and serenity but because of the violation of them by those individuals who are disdainful of such “religious trivia”, our world is filled with fear, hurt and loss. Our next lesson will discuss the Sanitary Law.
- Can you think of any situation where the violation of a Moral Law would be permissible?
- What do you think has made the greatest contribution to today’s attitude about honesty, ethics and honor?
1 Timothy 6:10)
- How do you think the world would be changed if everyone kept just one of the Ten Commandments?
FOR FURTHER STUDY:
Exodus 20:1-18 The delivery of the Ten Commandments.
Deuteronomy 12:1-14 God does not want to be worshiped in the same manner as the heathen worship their gods.
Romans 3:31 Faith does not void the law, it establishes the law.
Titus 2:11-12 To deny ungodliness and live righteously requires the guidelines of the law.
James 2:17-20, 26 To be effective, faith must be demonstrated by works, which is, in effect, obedience to the law.
Revelation 22:12 Salvation is a gift of grace, but your reward in the Kingdom of Heaven is determined according to your work.
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