|Sec. 10: The Moral LawPDF Print VersionQ40. What is the duty which God requires of man?A40. The duty which God requires of man is obedience to His revealed will1, 2.1. Eccl. 12:13, Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.2. Micah 6:8, He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?Comments:1. As creatures of God, we have a duty to obey His revealed will. God reveals Himself and His will to man in two main ways, viz. through nature and through His written word, the Bible. The first way is called “natural revelation”, by which man knows from creation and his conscience that God is great, good, and governs all things. Man’s fallen nature causes him to suppress and distort truths such that he worships the gods of his imagination instead of the true God (Rom. 1:18-25). 2. The second way God reveals His will is called “special revelation”. Through the written word, man is brought to a conviction of his sins, and shown the way of salvation in Jesus Christ. Those who are saved, “by grace, through faith, in Christ alone”, are enabled by the Holy Spirit to obey God’s revealed will, even if imperfectly while in this life. Q41. What did God reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?A41. The rule which God revealed to man for his obedience is the moral law1, which is summarized in the ten commandments2, 3.
Notes: Following Spurgeon, we have appended the answer of the subsequent question to this one.
1. Rom. 2:14-15, For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them.
2. Deut. 10:4, And He wrote on the tablets according to the first writing, the Ten Commandments, which the LORD had spoken to you in the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly; and the LORD gave them to me.Matt. 19:17, So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”Comments:1. We are left without doubt as to what God requires of us for He has given us the moral law, which is summarized in the ten commandments. The moral law was first “written” on the heart of Adam. In other words, he was given a consciousness of what God required of him. That consciousness, although affected by the Fall, continues to operate in the heart of man so that he is left without excuse for sinning against God (Rom. 2:14-15 cf. 1:20).
2. The moral law, as summarized in the ten commandments, was given to the nation of Israel so that the Jews were even more guilty for breaking God’s law (Rom. 2:21-24). The moral law should not be confused with the ceremonial law which governed worship in the nation of Israel in the Old Testament time, and the civil law which governed the life of the nation at that time. The ceremonial law has been fulfilled by the coming of Jesus Christ (Heb. 10:5-10) so that Christians no longer have to keep them. The civil law ceased to be applicable when the nation of Israel was conquered, first by the Babylonians, then by the Romans. Unlike the ceremonial and the civil laws, the moral law is applicable to all man in all ages (Matt. 5:17).3. The modern nation of Israel must not be confused with the Old Testament nation, which served God’s purpose until the coming of Christ (Matt. 3:9-11; Mark 2:21-22). Modern Israel does not play any special role in God’s plan of salvation. Jews will be saved “by grace, through faith, in Christ alone” just like the non-Jews (Rom. 4:16; 11:23, 30-31). All who believe in Christ, both Jews and Gentiles, constitute the true (spiritual) Israel of God (Rom. 11:26; Gal. 6:15-16). They are the children of God and the seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:26, 29). They are members of one body, one flock, the middle wall of separation between them having been broken down by the coming of Christ (Eph. 214-17; John 10:16). Q42. What is the sum of the ten commandments?A42. The sum of the ten commandments is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbour as ourselves1.
1. Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Comments:1. Being a summary, we must extend the principles taught in each of the ten commandments as widely as possible to our thoughts, words and deeds, covering things to do and things to avoid (cf. Matt. 5:21-22; 27-29). The moral law serves to: (i) expose sins (Rom. 3:20); (ii) convict us of guilt (Rom. 3:19); (iii) drive us to seek salvation in Christ (Gal. 3:24); and (iv) guide us in our sanctification (Eph. 5:26-27; 1 John 5:2-3). Together, the first four commandments have been called the First Table of the Law. They teach us true worship, which includes the object, the manner, the attitude, and the day of worship. Together, the last six commandments have been called the Second Table of the Law. They teach us how we are to serve God, covering the sanctity of lawful authority, of life, of marriage, of property, of speech, and of the heart. The Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Churches combine the second commandment with the first, and break the tenth commandment into two, in order to still have ten commandments. This does not make sense since we do not need two commands to teach about covetousness, while obscuring how we are to worship God.
2. The law is good, and is a reflection of God’s perfect character. The breaking of any point of the law is tantamount to the breaking of the whole, making us liable to eternal damnation (James 2:10). But thanks be to God, there is deliverance from sin through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:3-4). The Lord Jesus Christ summarized the ten commandments by the two great commandments of loving God with our whole being and loving our neighbour as ourselves. We do not keep the law in order to be saved, but when saved by grace through faith in Christ, we do keep the law.
3. Two common errors are made with regard to the ten commandments. The first error is to think that faith in Christ must be supplemented by the keeping of the law to make our salvation secure or better. This was the view of the Judaizers in the New Testament time (Gal. 4:9-11; 5:6). The Roman Catholic Church teaches a form of this “faith plus” theology, in which faith in Christ must be supplemented by the works of attending mass, confession of sins, baptism, etc. The Churches of Christ (also called Campbellites) mostly believe that baptism is necessary to salvation. Another error, called Antinomianism, claims that the ten commandments belong to the Jews of the Old Testament and are not relevant to Christians. A variation of this error found today, which calls itself New Covenant Theology, wrongly identifies the Ten Commandments with the old covenant and claims that Christians do not have to keep the Ten Commandments since the old covenant has been replaced by the new (Heb. 8:7ff). In particular, the need to keep the Christian Sabbath is denied with the claim that the fourth commandment is “not repeated” in the New Testament, and therefore not binding upon Christians. The Lord, however, teaches that He did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17). He warned His disciples against breaking any of the commandments, or teaching others to do so (Matt. 5:19). He showed that the law required His disciples to be perfect (Matt. 5:48).
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