Basics: God’s Law(S)

Is_God_Fair-_00024238With kids its easy to use vague language and soft discipline in hopes that they’ll just kind of ‘get it’ eventually. I find it difficult through the heartfelt pout of a three year old to be firm with a boundary, even if it’s for her good. In her mind she’s not hurting anyone or putting herself in danger but her disobedience to the boundary impacts our relationship and often it isn’t safe or healthy for her.

With our five-year-old son we have the opposite problem. Graer is a rule follower to the core and if we are inconsistent with boundaries or his sister does something even marginally not in line with an expectation we have set he will sound the alarm. There is no room in his thinking for grace or the idea of severity. Everything is a big deal and he will let anyone around know what they are doing that doesn’t measure up to his understanding of the rules.

I think we can all relate to one of these two types of personalities. The Bible talks about the balance between grace and truth in the life of believers. Early in the book of John we read, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (Jn.1:17).” Jesus is this perfect combination of both attributes and we must look to and lean on His example to understand how to counter our own natural tendencies.

The ‘law’ is not a vague concept or something that we pick and choose from. There are three basic types of laws in the Bible and when we don’t realize they are different we sound pretty silly. Understanding basic hermeneutics will help us immensely in conversations with others and in our own personal application of God’s Word.

Civil Law

This is the law that is used to describe, define and provide legal framework for the nation of Israel. These laws were specific to government enforcement in the context of God’s rule over people. It is not America and it is not the church – this is the nation of Israel and how God prescribed their legal system in the Bible.

Ceremonial Law

God took great care in communicated His holiness and the careful way in which His people needed to approach Him. These laws revolved around ceremonial cleanliness in approaching God in worship by various means and at different holidays in the life of Israel.

Moral Law

This would certainly include the Ten Commandments and the life directed instruction by God for His people. These were guidelines for the good of God’s people and His own glory from their life. This is the law that we as believers need to pay attention to, not because we are bound to it but because we are freed to fruitful living that will look more and more like the principles found inside it. Paul says this law is built to be our tutor to point us to Jesus and in Him, grow closer to the way He has designed us to live.

Jesus said, “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).” Jesus fulfilled all the prophecy that predicted the Messiah and perfectly obeyed the moral law. It might be popular to think of sin as a polite, ‘missing the mark,’ but that doesn’t cover it. Sin is the willful, ongoing and vindictive rebellion of human beings in their actions, attitude and nature against the holy pursuit of God. We are running the opposite direction from God when we choose to sin and if we create paradigms where we can have sin in our life without consequence or conviction and simultaneous pretend to be in a healthy and vibrant relationship with God we are fooling ourselves.

The Bible offers some very clear language to the conviction and consequences that come from sin in the life of a believer (2 Cor.7:9,10; Gal.6:7,8). It’s when I can sin and not sense conviction or experience consequences that I should be most concerned. One passage goes so far as to say that if we don’t experience God’s loving discipline in following Him that we are not legitimate children of God! (Hebrews 12:8) Sin is a part of our lives until we are no longer trapped in this world and to the flesh of our fallenness but we need to be wise about the resulting fruit of transformation in our lives – if we know Christ personally we will experience conviction in line with His Word, not our whims. No matter what culture says in the moment, we are called to counter it with the life-changing power and hope of the Gospel.

Dear Jesus, help us to rely more and more on your Spirit everyday as we aim at walking closer to the ways you have prescribed for us to live in line with your Word to bring glory to you and contentment or us. Protect our hearts from the allure of popularity and cultural acceptance at the expense of faithfulness to you.

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