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The Nature of God’s Law

How does God's law function in our universe? Why does it matter?

God’s Law In The Bible

Many people believe that the term “God’s law” refers to the Ten Commandments. While the term is used sometimes to refer to those Ten Commandments, the Ten Commandments are not God’s Law.

The Ten Commandments are temporary imposed commands that point to two design laws. Notice what Jesus said when He was asked, “Which is the greatest commandment?”

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “(Matthew 22:37–39).

According to Jesus, the two greatest commandments are:

  1. Love God.
  2. Love your neighbor.

In other words, “express and practice love toward every other living being in the universe.”

The Law of God is Love; or, God’s law is love.

Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10).

The Bible tells us that when we love others, we are keeping the law of God.

Natural VS Imposed Law

There are two kinds of laws with which humans are familiar: imposed and natural.

Imposed Law

Imposed laws describe arbitrary principles that require oversight by a controlling authority. They require enforcement by a controlling authority. They have no innate negative consequences, so they require punishment for law-breaking.

Consider, for example, a speed limit law. When I drive across Texas, at times the speed limit on the highway is 55 mpg. At other times, on the same stretch of road, that speed limit is 75 mph. Some states have roads with no speed limit!

Speed limits that are now 75 mph were once 60 mph. Why did it change?

The speed limits are different in different places and change at times because speed limits are arbitrary. Travelling 60 mph down a highway has no natural negative consequence. You can change the speed to 55 mph or to 75 mph, and there is still no victim. The speed limit is arbitrarily set based on what someone believes is a good idea.

Because there is no natural, negative consequence to travelling at a certain speed, a policing authority must monitor the population for any law-breaking (speeding) behavior.

If the policing authority catches you breaking this arbitrary law, you will be given an arbitrarily determined penalty (generally a monetary fine and/or a period of imprisonment).

Natural Law

Natural laws describe automatic principles that do not involve a controlling authority. There is no oversight needed, and no enforcement required. When violated, natural laws have innate negative consequences, so they do not require punishment for law-breaking from a controlling authority.

Gravity and the second law of thermodynamics are natural laws. They function automatically without being managed by a governing authority.

For example, you are probably familiar with the laws of human health, some of which include:

  • breathe clean air (oxygen)
  • eat proper quantities of nutritious food
  • exercise your muscles
  • sleep to rejuvenate, revitalize, and heal your body

Nobody is required to monitor you for breaking these laws. These laws do not have to be enforced. Breaking these laws naturally leads to negative health: injury, disease, or death. If you break the law, nobody needs to punish you; the punishment is innate.

If you do not get enough sleep, what governing authority punishes you? Or do you simply suffer the effects naturally?

If you eat a non-nutritious, “junk” diet, what governing authority imposes a punishment of heart disease on you?

If you eat too much bad food, what governing authority punishes you with obesity?

These are all natural laws that have natural consequences when violated.

So, which is God’s law? Is it imposed or natural? Is it arbitrary or reasonable? Does God have to punish you if you break His law, or will you suffer natural consequences?

The Law In Acts

Many people believe God’s law functions like an imposed law. They believe that God monitors our behavior and enforces law-breaking with threatened or enacted punishments.

Back in the Old Testament book of Daniel, the prophet prophesied that an evil power would attempt to change God’s law. Many Christians today believe that this change occurred when the Ten Commandments were modified, when Sunday was substituted for the original, seventh-day Sabbath. While this was, indeed, a change in God’s Ten Commandments, it was not the change in God’s law that Daniel prophesied about.

Daniel saw a change in the nature of God’s law, not its composition. He saw Satan’s deception of convincing humanity that instead of being a designed natural law, God’s law functions as an imposed law, similar to the imperial laws of man-made governments.

The change in the Ten Commandments could only be made if the law was considered arbitrary or imposed. The Sabbath change is a head-fake to make you miss the real change!

 

Think about it. A ruling authority can arbitrarily change an imposed speed limit law. No ruling authority can vote to change the natural law of gravity. Well, they can, but it will not work. Gravity will continue to function no matter what you vote about it.

When Jesus left planet earth after his resurrection, the church proceeded to spread the Good News about God and His natural law of love.

The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).

…sin grows and brings death (James 1:15 NCV).

The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction (Gal 6:8).

Notice what the Bible teaches is the consequence of sin: death.

Because death is a natural result of violating God’s law of love (sinning), God does not have to punish you for your disobedience to the law. The punishment is built into the law itself.

The New Testament church understood this. They taught that Jesus came, not to pacify an angry judge or satisfy a legal debt, but to provide us a Remedy for our disease, so that we can be healed back to righteousness and not have to suffer the natural consequence of our sin!

Jesus wants to heal us from our condition, not provide a legal pardon.

Healing results in heart change. A legal judgment does not.

Healing transforms us into the likeness of Jesus. We come to trust God and love others.

A legal judgment does nothing for our character. We remain afraid of God and infected with a selfish nature.

The Infiltration Of Christianity

Soon after, however, this infant church was infiltrated by God’s enemies. Satan was able to deceive the church into thinking that God’s law was not a natural law, with natural consequences, but an imposed law, that requires God to punish with torture or death any unrepentant law-breakers.

This has a huge consequence on how we view not only God’s law, but God Himself.

Instead of seeing God as a loving Father who wants us to return to Him and be healed of our fatal disease, it makes us view God as a punishing dictator who threatens to kill us if we do not comply with His orders.

The Bible is clear: The natural consequence of sin is death.

God does not need to kill you.

Therefore, God does not threaten to kill you. He offers true hope, not despair. He draws you to Him with tender mercy and love, not with threats of punishment.

God wants to heal you! He gave His life to save you!

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13).

God is calling you to trust Him, not threatening to kill you if you reject Him.

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