The Truth About…Law (Part 2)

This month’s blogs focus on law, or the rules of conduct in society.  In a Christian worldview of law, there is natural and biblical law.  Natural laws are laws that occur naturally, in all peoples and all times.  An example of this is laws that are universally found such as “don’t steal” and “don’t kill.”  Whether people have the Bible or not, cultures have these common laws.

On the other hand, biblical laws are laws found in the Bible.  Some are for the Old Testament Israelites, while some are for all people, regardless of their location or setting.  In these biblical laws, there are 3 Old Testament law categories.  It is essential to know these, because Christians are often falsely charged with hypocrisy for not obeying all the biblical laws.

One category of biblical law is the civil laws.  Civil (or political) laws are unique to the Jewish nation and society of the past.  We don’t follow these since they only apply to the past generations of Jewish people.  Examples of these laws are the death penalty for rapists (found in Deuteronomy 22:25-27) and paying taxes to Caesar in Luke 20:22-25.

A second category of biblical law is the ceremonial laws.  These are the laws regarding sacrifices for sin and worship ceremonies.  An example is found in Leviticus 5:5-6, where prescriptions are given for offering an animal sacrifice.  We don’t follow these laws because Jesus was offered once as a sacrifice for all, as it says in Hebrews 10:11-12.

However, we do follow the third category of laws in the Bible called moral laws or commandments.  These timeless truths on how to live are universally applied to all people, wherever and whenever they live.  An example is the 10 Commandments as found in Exodus 20.  These laws are still valid for us today.

How do we know that?  These laws are repeated in the New Testament, as evident in 1 Timothy 1:8-11.  Besides these examples, there are others, such as Ephesians 6:4, when Paul writes a New Testament letter and “cuts and pastes” Old Testament law into a section of moral commands intended for a non-Jewish audience in Ephesus.  It is due to these examples that we see the universal application of God’s law for all people at all times.

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