God’s Moral Law

This post is a quiz! Most Christians acknowledge a moral law at work in all men, seeing this in myriad places vU2zJin Scripture – most explicitly, perhaps, in Romans 2: For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.

Here’s the quiz: Where is the moral law defined in Scripture and when was it given to man? Please reason your answer to this two-part question with the Word of God. The goal here is to stir our thinking and draw us to Scriptures, not relying solely on what men have taught us.

I’ll tell you what think after some of you answer. Have fun!


Thanks to all who participated! It’s not likely what you will read next will satisfy everyone, but please read carefully and seek to understand what is written.

One of the problems we must all acknowledge is that the Bible does not provide a definition of “God’s Moral Law”, nor does it use that term in describing it. This is where many presuppositions come into play.

Three statements for your consideration: 1) There is a moral law from God that has been written on every soul, leaving no person with an excuse to claim he did not know. 2.) This moral law was given to man at the Fall, not at Creation. 3.) This moral law shines through the Decalogue, is not defined nor contained in the Decalogue.

As for the first point, I think the citation from Romans 2, above, proves that well enough. Those who want to argue against this point will have to be very calm and biblical to be heard. As for the second point, consider the biblical record: before the Fall, Adam and Eve had fellowship with God and knew the goodness of God. It was not until after Adam sinned that they had knowledge of both good and evil (Gen 3:7 and 22). As Paul wrote in Romans 7, knowledge of the law (here, he is talking about the Decalogue, which applied the Moral Law to the Hebrews) brings knowledge of sin. Adam knew not sin until he sinned. Since he sinned, he had need of the Moral Law. God wrote His Moral Law on Adam’s soul and Eve’s when He banished them from the Garden.

Thirdly, the Moral Law of God shines through the Decalogue, which applies that Law to the Hebrews, wrapping it in ceremonial language that applies to them alone. If one looks at the biblical context and direct biblical commentary about the Decalogue, there is no reason to claim those “tablets of testimony” as binding on all men everywhere. The 17th century theologian John Owen observed this in his Works, 22:215:

The nature of the decalogue, and the distinction of its precepts from all commands, ceremonial or political, comes now under consideration. The whole decalogue, I acknowledge, as given on mount Sinai to the Israelites, had a political use, as being made the principal instrument or rule of the polity and government of their nation, as peculiarly under the rule of God. It had a place also in that economy or dispensation of the covenant which that church was then brought under; wherein, by God’s dealing with them and instructing of them, they were taught to look out after a further and greater good in the promise than they were yet come to the enjoyment of. Hence the Decalogue itself, in that dispensation of it, was a schoolmaster unto Christ. 

But in itself, and materially considered, it was wholly, and in all the preceptive parts of it, absolutely moral. Some, indeed, of the precepts of it, as the first, fourth, and fifth, have either prefaces, enlargements, or additions, which belonged peculiarly to the then present and future state of that church in the land of Canaan; but these especial applications of it unto them change not the nature of its commands or precepts, which are all moral, and, as far as they are esteemed to belong to the Decalogue, are unquestionably acknowledged so to be.

I share Owen’s basic point, but differ in some details. What we see in Exodus 20 is not equal to the moral law, but communicates that law in the context of the covenant God made with Israel. I think there are “prefaces, enlargements, or additions, which belonged peculiarly to” Israel in the 2nd through 5th and the 10th  words of the tablets. Read what is recorded in Ex 20 and compare it to Deut 5 and ask yourself if what Owen and I say is true. Then realize that God’s Moral Law must be discerned by careful reading, studying and prayer. Failure to do this has caused many to blithely assume the Decalogue is equal to God’s Moral Law (something first proposed by a Roman Catholic in the 12th century). The difficulty in interpreting and applying the Decalogue as God’s Moral Law can be seen in the last 1,000 years of church history.

If there is interest, I would be willing to post a four page article I wrote last year as a result of studying this question in context of how the 1689 London Baptist Confession addresses it.

71 thoughts on “God’s Moral Law

  1. God outlined His moral law with His first interaction with Adam and Eve in Genesis. He forbid them from eating the fruit (probably pomegranete) of one specific tree in the Garden of Eden.

    They failed.

    He then witnessed Cain slaying Abel from jealousy, after Cain insisted on presenting  the works of his own hands as a sacrifice, rather than the blood sacrifice which God had dictated.

    Man always fails because he wants to develop his own brand of “self-righteousness,” rather than being obedient to God.

    The rebellion of disobedience to God is the definition of sin.

    Eventually God revealed the ten commandments to Moses, to reveal to man their need for a savior.

    Jesus Christ completed the revelation of the morality of God by sacrificing Himself.


  2. “Where is the moral law defined in Scripture?”
    It is most clearly defined in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17).

    “When was it given to man?”
    The law was first “given” to man at creation, as it pertains to the image of God. This is seen, for instance, in Romans 2:14-15 (“by nature”; “written on their hearts”). No doubt, this law was marred or distorted after the Fall, which is why God had to write it on stone after the exodus, and it’s why it must be rewritten on our hearts in the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8).

    Did I pass? LOL


  3. Thanks to both of you for stopping by and commenting. I will get back to you soon with a slightly different view that I hope will stir us to be aware of our own presuppositions.

    Soli Deo Gloria!


  4. Thought provoking question, to my knowledge the bible does not delineate between any types of law , the law is simply the law, transgress one law , and you have transgressed every law.


  5. Assuming these aren’t trick questions, I understand the Moral Law to have been best articulated through Moses, although the fact that it’s written on mankind’s heart/conscience (Rom. 2) would suggest that it was given from “Day 1,” as some have mentioned here. Certainly God’s prohibition of eating the fruit of a tree in the Garden of Eden, and man’s disobedience “to become like God,” presupposes a violation of the “to-be-clarified” first and second commandments.

    While the Moral Law includes the Ten Commandments, it goes beyond them in Leviticus 18-20, even going so far as to specify punishments for breaking them. And Jesus’ summary of the Moral Law in Matt. 22:36-40 guarantees a continuation of the relevance of Moral Law to the believer (and the unbeliever through evangelism), not to mention Paul’s warning that those breaking the laws of Leviticus would not inherit the Kingdom of God (e.g., 1 Cor. 6:9-10).


  6. I would have thought eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would be the point in time it was given to man. It was spelt out at Sinai but clearly in force much earlier. God held Cain responsible for the death of Abel.


  7. Jesus defined the moral law when He said all the Mosaic laws were wrapped up in two commandments. Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. That’s all there is to it.


  8. Alan – Actually, Jesus said that on those two commandments hung Moses and all the prophets. That’s the entire Old Testament, not merely the Mosaic Law.


  9. I’d say the very first instance for moral clarity comes well before the six day when God gives Adam and Eve their marching orders, here:

    Genesis 1:4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.
    5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.


  10. Interesting. If that is so, which law is written on our hearts as per the New Covenant? And why? If the moral law is already there it had to be something else…


  11. Eve, As Jeremiah tells us, when we are born again and made participants in the New Covenant, we are given hearts of flesh to replace the hearts of stone that we had by nature. The law written on stone condemns men; the law written on fleshy tablets instructs us in what is pleasing to our God. It is as John wrote in 1 John 2- “Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old command that you have had from the beginning. The old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.” We have more than the universal moral law that judges all flesh. Plus, we are not bound to the law nor judged by it.


  12. Thank you Manfred

    If that is the case why doesPaul say:
    Rom 5:13
    13 (For until the law sin was in the world:but sin is not imputed when there is no law.


  13. Eve – the word “law” refers to different laws in Scripture, which means we discern its meaning by context. In Romans 5:12-13 Paul is referring to the law given to Moses – much of his use of that word refers to the Decalogue, which is described in Scripture as “tablets of the covenant”. So from Adam to Moses, there was not the law of the Jews, but sin reigned. Men were condemned by the moral law, the works of which were written on their “hearts” (souls) from the Fall.


  14. Yes he is. I would disagree that he limits it to the Decalogue though. That is an assumption I used to make buti don’t believe it can be supported by Scripture. So what is God writing on our hearts? Which law? How is it different from the moral law? Or theTorah?


  15. Manfred, good article. It is good to cut through assumptions and see exactly what the Bible says. If we build our thinking on assumptions that may be mostly right but are a little bit off-base, it is like building a skyscraper on a foundation that isn’t quite level. It may not seem bad at first, but by the time you’ve built up 30 stories, you realise you have a major problem.

    One minor quibble: “God wrote His Moral Law on Adam’s soul and Eve’s when He banished them from the Garden.” If I understand the account in Genesis 3 well, that happened as soon as the fruit was taken. Awareness of having violated God’s Moral Law was present immediately, it didn’t wait until the banishment. But this is a very minor point.

    The great thing about this topic is that, from the Fall, conscience (and with it guilt) is written on the heart, but under the new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34), obedience (love for God and neighbour, and all that flows from that love) is written on the heart. The second writing wins.


  16. Eve – there is no concise list or definition of God’s moral law nor of the law He writes on the hearts of believers. There are principles of both in the Decalogue. The new law is, I think, an attribute of the Holy Spirit that causes us to love the Word of God and to want to please Him.

    Jon – Thanks for your encouragement. Too many people are strident in their presuppositions that are not fixed in Scripture. I agree with your observation about Adam and Eve’s reaction to taking the fruit, but the Bible says the first sin was when Adam ate it. I should have been more precise in identifying that moment when the moral law was given to man.


  17. Where does it say he writes a new law on our hearts? It says it is His law. Since he is the same yesterday, Today and forever when did his law change?


  18. Eve – It’s not new in the absolute sense, any more than the “new command” John gave was. It’s new in the sense that it’s part of the New Covenant. God doesn’t change but we can only see in time, so He reveals things to us in the context of what we call history. The plan of redemption is part of an eternal covenant between the godhead, revealed to man incrementally over our history, according to God’s providential care for the human race.


  19. Has God’s standard changed? I can only find reference to one law pf YHWH. It’s either new or it isn’t. Can you explain from Scripture?


  20. Eve – God’s standard has not changed. Hence all who are not redeemed are under the covenant of works, measured by the law of Moses – which is part of the Old Covenant, a covenant of death. See Gal 4 starting in verse 21. Christ is the One who was able to keep the law of Moses and the prophets and He did so, which gave Him the standing to cut the New Covenant in His blood. The redeemed are not under the condemnation of the Law of Moses (Romans 7) but we are guided by God’s moral law. As described several times already, the word “law” has different meanings in Scripture. Neither God’s moral law nor the law of Moses has changed. The way in which God’s laws work on us changes when we are raised from spiritual death to new life in Christ.


  21. Jer 31:33
    33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel;
    After those days, saith the Lord,
    I will put my law in their inward parts,
    and write it in their hearts;
    and will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
    The word used for law is Torah.

    God will write his Torah on our hearts. How do you explain your views from Scripture.


  22. What we have here is a failure to communicate. The word “law” has more than one meaning in Scripture, it does not always refer to the books of Moses. The Jewish religion was for a time is not Christianity.


  23. Here’s an excerpt from an article explaining the concepts we’ve discussed on this post. I hope it helps clarify a major point:

    “Often it is said that these great commandments are a summary of the Decalogue, and possibly the idea is taken from Rom 13:9:

    “For this, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this word, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The apostle does not say that to love your neighbor is the sum of all the commandments, but that they are summed up in it, that is to say, are included in the scope of it. The two great commandments are much more than a summary of the Ten, and this is evident, for a summary is always derived from the document that is summarized, is of less authority than it, and can never contain anything that is not included in it; where as the two great commandments quoted by Christ far exceed the Decalogue in every way. You might as well say that the Pacific Ocean is a summary of San Francisco Bay as to say that the two great commandments . . . are a summary of the Ten given at Mt. Sinai.”


  24. Indeed, Manfred. Just one specific example should illustrate the point. God commanded the children of Israel not to reap the corners of their fields, so the poor could come and reap. That is part of the Old Testament Law, but not part of the Decalogue.

    Yet, it is certainly included in “love thy neighbour as thyself.” Obviously, that greater command extended beyond the Ten to many other things.


  25. It is. Where do you get your idea that the law written on our hearts is different from the torah a term familiar to those to whom the prophecy of the new covenant was given? Since the Hebrew word there is TORAH I would be interested to know why you insist it means something else.


  26. Manfred I am sorry, all my replies have been directed to you so far. I am also curious about Jon Gleason’s view of the decalogue.
    It is part of the “Old Testament Law” isn’t it?
    Is it for Christians?
    Which bits of the Torah apply today? Which do not and why?
    If parts do not apply which parts of the Bible should Christians be looking to for instruction in righteousness and why?
    Paul says:

    16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
    (2Ti 3:16-17KJV)
    Is not the “Old Testament Law” part of “all Scripture”?


  27. Eve, There is a world of difference between all Scripture rightly being useful for instruction in righteousness and the unbiblical notion that the whole Torah is written on the hearts of all men. Where do you get the idea that this is so? I know of no one else who makes such a claim. Some claim the Decalogue is written on man’s heart, but I’ve read nothing agreeing with your view that the first 5 books of the Bible are written on man’s heart. Please explain.


  28. Eve, the Decalogue is of course part of the OT Law. I hope I gave no other impression. My point is there are things which are part of the OT Law, and part of the greatest commandments (love God, love neighbour) which simply are not part of the Decalogue, and I gave one example.

    As to the relationship of the OT Law to Christians, Christ fulfilled the Law (“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil”). In fact, He fulfilled all righteousness (Matthew 3:15). And His righteousness is imputed to us (Romans 3:21-22, I discussed it in depth: http://mindrenewers.com/2013/01/22/imputation-the-way-it-works/ and in the followup article on justification).

    So, very briefly, we don’t have to keep the OT Law (the Decalogue or any of it) to be saved. None of it. Yet, it is profitable “if a man use it lawfully” (I Tim. 1:8), and teaches much of how we love the Lord our God by living unto righteousness.

    In many cases, living unto righteousness looks the same for us as for the OT Hebrews (no stealing, for instance). But I don’t leave the corners of my field for the poor to reap (thistles and stinging nettles). I am free to find other ways to live out the love the Law taught.


  29. If I understand where this is going, Manfred has no scriptural basis for what he says because he had offered none and I have asked more than once. If you don’t look to Scripture for doctrine where do you get out from?

    And Jon, I agree that letting the law won’t save us. Our discussion is about how we should walk in the light of salvation and you have not answered my questions. Unless you are saying you can pick and choosewhat to apply in your life because when Paul said all Scripture he did not mean it.
    If I have misunderstood please explain your position with scriptural references.


  30. Eve – I’ve told you more than once that the word “law” has myriad meanings; the context of each passage will help us discern that. Do you think in Romans 8:2 “the law of the Spirit who gives you life” refers to the Torah? I’ve asked you to explain why you think “law” only refers to the Torah and you’ve declined to do so. That invitation is still open.


  31. Hello, Eve. Paul meant “all Scripture”, or perhaps we should say the Holy Spirit meant all Scripture, when He said it is God-inspired and profitable.

    I really do not have significant time to spend on this, maybe tomorrow, but let me just say this. Unless you offer sacrifices, unless your husband / sons go to Jerusalem for three feasts a year, unless you leave the corners of your fields, unless you keep the sabbath day on Saturdays, unless you make an altar of stone, unless you give your land a rest the seventh year and keep the year of jubilee, unless you tithe twenty percent a year and another ten percent every three years, unless your husband and sons are circumcised, you do not obey all of the OT Law.

    If you do not obey all of the OT Law, it is because you believe that the Law is not to be obeyed slavishly by Christians, but that further revelation has shown that we are free of such requirements. And that same Paul wrote, guided by that same Holy Spirit, that the Law is not for a righteous man (I Timothy 1). Using the Law lawfully does not mean you pick and choose what to apply. It means you learn (doctrine, instruction) from what God commanded national Israel to do, not try to make yourself into Old Testament Israel under the Old Covenant.


  32. I have not said that. I asked you why all scripture that Paulrefers to does not really mean what he says. As for the new covenant, passage, where in its context do you get the idea it does not mean Torah?
    Romans 8 tells us that the mind set on the flesh cannot subject itself to the law of God. Paul then says we are not of the flesh. The implication being that we are different.


  33. Eve, I responded, but I suspect the WordPress spam filter ate my reply. If Manfred can’t rescue it, I’ll try to respond again, but it won’t be until tomorrow, and maybe not until Monday or Tuesday.


  34. The Hebrew word Torah is translated law 217 times according to Strongs. (I use Strongs only because thedata is readily available).
    Here are some examples…

    Exo 12:49
    49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.
    Exo 16:4
    4 Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.
    Lev 26:46
    46 These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the Lord made between him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.
    Over 30 times in Psalms
    Jer 31:33
    33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel;
    After those days, saith the Lord,
    I will put my law in their inward parts,
    and write it in their hearts;
    and will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.

    The word Hebrew word Torah which missed used of the laws YHWH have him, means law, teaching, instructions, decisions.

    There is nothing in Jeremiah 33 to suggest it is different from what Moses spike of.

    Scripture says God does not change. It tells us he does not change his mind. Where do you find support for the idea he changes his mind about the law (Torah)?


  35. Thank you, Eve. While God doesn’t change (and I’ve never said He did), there’s no warrant in Scripture for saying He has only one body of law for all people. There’s no reason to think the law Jeremiah wrote about, being written on tablets of flesh is the same law give to the Israelites who were not ALL elect and whose religion (which was established by the Mosaic Law) was only a type and shadow of the eternal things (Hebrews 9).

    Jeremiah wrote about a new covenant – it makes sense that the participants in that covenant would be guided by a different law that was the basis for the old covenant. 2 Cor 3 describes the Mosaic Law the ministry of death – it condemns all who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Why would the ministry of death be written on man’s hearts?

    Do you think the Mosaic Law bound pagans in the days of Israel, as well as binding the Hebrew people? Do you think that Law binds Christians? Romans 7 tells we have died to that law and been released from it so we may serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.


  36. Apparently my previous response is lost. I’ll cover some of the bases again.

    “Scripture says God does not change.” You misuse this. God changes in His dealings with different people in different times. Gathering of manna, sacrifices, circumcision, etc. He does not change in His nature, being, character, but His methods and requirements vary.

    You also misuse the truth that Scripture is God-inspired and profitable. It does not mean we obey every command everyone was given. We do not all obey the command to destroy the Amalekites. God does not expect me to take my son to Mount Moriah and tie him on a stone altar. Just because the Law of Moses is God-inspired and profitable does not mean all believers for all times must obey it.

    Should men pray/prophesy with their heads covered? I Corinthians 11 says no. But note Leviticus 8 (especially verse 13), Lev 21:10, I Kings 19:12-14, and Ezekiel 24:17-23. Does God change? No, but His requirements for different people in different times and places may change. What about the Nazarites (long hair on men) compared to I Corinthians 11?

    Look at the places “Torah” appears in Leviticus. Do you keep them? Are you picking and choosing, or you properly recognising that the OT Law was for a specific time for a specific people, and not for all people of all time? The church at Jerusalem (Acts 15) wrote a horrible letter if Gentile believers are supposed to obey the Law of Moses.

    It teaches much about God and how Israel was to apply righteousness and mercy. Thus, it helps us learn much of how we should do so. But it is a teacher, not a ruler. The full righteousness of the Law has been imputed to me. I do not have to keep it.

    “Torah” does not mean the Law of Moses in II Samuel 7:19; Proverbs 1:8; 3:1; 4:2; 6:20; 7:2; 31:26; probably also 13:14 and 28:4,7,9 . In Isaiah 1:10 it almost certainly refers to the prophetic word which Isaiah is giving. Isaiah 51:4 refers to a law yet to come. Ezekiel 43:11-12 is not talking about the Law of Moses.

    “Torah” is a general word. When God says He will write His Torah in hearts, it does not mean people will be perfectly obedient to the Law of Moses. It means their hearts will be changed, turned towards Him, toward righteousness, and toward mercy. Rebellious hearts of stone become soft hearts open to His Word.


  37. Now my response seems to be missing. I will give it time before I try to reply to Jon. But I would ask just in case this goes up how is scripture profitable of if read it and not apply it?


  38. Eve, there are different ways of applying. Let’s go back to not harvesting the corners of the field and not picking up the grain you dropped while harvesting, for example.

    In an agrarian society, what that meant was that the poor could go out and work in the fields to provide for themselves. You were providing a means for them to work to support their families, and at some cost to yourself (your harvest wouldn’t be as great as it would be if you got everything).

    I would look at how to apply that in principle, and say I should be looking to hire people of limited means to do maintenance on my house / car / garden, or buy goods from small traders who may struggle to make ends meet. I shouldn’t always look for the best deal for myself, or the most convenient, I also should look to support those who are working to try to provide for their families.

    If I do, I am accomplishing the purpose (in the society in which I live) of the Old Testament command. I am certainly applying the Law. I learn from it one way I can love my neighbour (provide opportunities for him to work to provide for his family). The Law becomes my teacher, not my lord. I apply the Law’s lesson rather than shrug and say, “I don’t have a field of grain, so I don’t do this.”


  39. I agree,  the law is our teacher. And like any schoolmaster’s wisdom we should apply what we learn throughout our lives. Jesus made it clear that the principle went far deeper than the letter of the law. We see that in the passage about adultery in the heart etc. His sacrifice satisfied all the Temple sacrifices for ever. The consequences of sin, the legal punishment for breaking the law has beenfully met in him.

    The new covenant and the heart of flesh is described in the following passages;

    It is made with Israel and Judah, we only partake as gentiles as Paul tells us in Romans 9, 10 and 11

    The words for statutes and ordinances used in Ezekiel are hooqah and mishpat which refer to law and judgements. Nowhere does it imply that this is a different set of ordinances or laws from those already given.

    Jer 31:31-34
    31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord,
    that I will make a new covenant
    with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
    32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers
    in the day that I took them by the hand
    to bring them out of the land of Egypt;
    which my covenant they brake,
    although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:
    33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel;
    After those days, saith the Lord,
    I will put my law in their inward parts,
    and write it in their hearts;
    and will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
    34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying,
    Know the Lord:for they shall all know me,
    from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord:
    for I will forgive their iniquity,
    and I will remember their sin no more.

    Ezk 11:19-21
    19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:20 That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them:and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord God.

    Ezk 36:25-27
    25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean:from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you:and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

    John tells us this:

    1Jo 3:4-6
    4 Everyone who sins also commits lawlessness. Sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he was revealed to take away our sins, and in him is no sin. 6 Whoever remains in him doesn ‘t sin. Whoever sins hasn’ t seen him, neither knows him.

    But fortunately for us who sin he also tells us this:

    1Jo 1:7-10
    7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we haven ‘t sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

    God hasn’t changed his law to make it easier to keep. He has changed us and provided is with a glorious solution through his son.

    It may well mean we have to look at what we do,  how we worship and much more but surely our goal is to please our wonderful God and saviour and nothing else.


  40. Eve, which parts of the Old Testament Law are written on your heart? All of it? If so, why do you not obey it all, or even try to obey it all?

    I’ve answered your questions about what I believe. You haven’t answered mine. You say God hasn’t changed His Law to make it easier to keep. But you do not keep it all, do you?

    Do you believe Christians today should circumcise their sons, go to feasts in Jerusalem three times a year, offer sacrifices? I’ve asked about these things, and you’ve never responded. I see no profit in continuing this discussion until you answer these questions. Does God expect Christians to keep the entire Old Testament Law, including sacrifices, circumcision, feasts, etc.?


  41. surely, it’s not a matter of what I do but what the Bible says isn’t it? Jesus says the law still stands and Hebrews answer the part about sacrifice. I already explained that in the last response. Paul has addressed circumcision and Baptism in scripture. Circumcision is for those who are physical Jews. Circumcision of the heart is what God requires of all of us.
    Feasts still stand. One day all the nations will go up to Jerusalem for Tabernacles. There is no temple, so we are not physically able to do that part. The sacrifices have all been fulfilled in Jesus. But in so far as any part of the law is possible to keep we should aim to do so. see Mt 5 17-22
    Before you accuse me of legalism I will again point out that Jesus does not say those who don’t keep these commandments are not in the kingdom. It’s not about salvation. It’s about obedience to our saviour Jesus. Either we are to obey the law or he did not mean what he said. He is quite clear that the law was the same as it had always been, not changed or modified in anyway.


  42. One more thing throughout Acts it is clear the early believers were involved in the temple. Paul made sacrifice etc. But for non Jews that was not permitted even then. We are not required to become Jews. Certain things like the temple tax were for Hebrews only. As I said, physical circumcision is one of these things. There are a number of others.


  43. So you acknowledge there are sound Biblical reasons for not keeping all of the Law of Moses today, that there are parts we are not to keep as Christians.

    Logically, that destroys your view that the writing of Torah on the hearts is a reference to the complete Law of Moses and only the Law of Moses. Because God has not written it on our hearts to keep circumcision or sacrifice (at least).

    You cannot understand Matthew 5 properly without recognising what I said when I first began discussing this with you. The key is that Christ fulfilled the Law, and His righteousness is imputed to us. The whole passage is about destroying the self-righteousness of external complicity to the Law. The Law is established by a proper recognition that obedience to it is also a matter of the heart. The only One who could establish / fulfill that did so on our behalf, and that has been imputed to us.

    Matthew 5 simply cannot be a blanket statement that Christians for all time must obey the whole Law and not break “one of these least commandments.” It reads that way on the surface, but Galatians and Hebrews are Scripture, too. They tell Gentile Christians, at least, that circumcision is not necessary, and likewise that sacrifices are no longer necessary. Yet, the Law commanded sacrifices, so they were “one of these least commandments.” You either have to disregard Galatians and Hebrews or you have to accept that Jesus’ statement was in a particular context for a particular purpose.

    That purpose was to teach that the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was insufficient, that we needed a better righteousness. It was not to command obedience to every least commandment of the Law. If it were, Paul and the author of Hebrews will be least in the kingdom, because they taught it was not necessary to keep some of those commandments.

    The key verse in this section of Matthew 5 is not verse 19. The rest of the passage makes it very clear that the key verse is verse 20. What comes before leads up to that, and what comes after elaborates on it. The whole chapter revolves around that verse.


  44. Good comments and analysis, Jon – many thanks! I would also point out that in His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is proving how impossible it is for any mortal to keep “the least of these”, as He told them even their most honored religious leaders did not have what it takes. He is, in fact, convicting them of their sin with the Law so they might see their need of the Lamb who was promised. This sermon is not one urging us to try harder – it’s an order to surrender to the Lord of lords!


  45. I am afraid that I disagree with you about how we apply logic. God doesn’t change. No where does he say he changed his law.
    There is no other law to write on our hearts. Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law to deal with sin and our relationship with God.
    Why does Matt 5 not apply to Christians? Do you belive Jesus did not mean what he said? That is the logical conclusion from what you said.
    Verse 20 is only key if you rely on obedience lo the law to save you which I don’t. I have already explained 1 John defines sin as lawlessness so I leave you with this question: if we say we don’t have to obey the law what does that make us?

    As for the writings of Paul If they appear to differ from what our Lord and master Jesus said we have misunderstood Paul. I find no contradiction. Paul was a Torah keeping Jew. See Acts 21.

    Manfred, I leave you with this question: How do we surrender outside of obedience?


  46. Eve – The obedience we render in our salvation is to believe the gospel; this is what Jesus said as recorded in John 6:29. Once redeemed, once justified and reconciled to Holy God by having received the gift of faith with which we apprehend His saving grace, we obey what He has commanded in acts of gratitude, not as conditions of our justification.

    Paul was a law keeping Jew until he was redeemed. Then he occasionally kept the law so he could reach Jews with the gospel – NOT to earn God’s favor.


  47. But then what, Manfred? That’s the question.

    I don’t think we’ll convince each other so I hope we can leave this in a way that honours our Lord and Saviour. thank you for a thought provoking blog. I know it isn ‘t easy and it can take a lot of time.



  48. I’ll deconstruct this point by point. Then, I expect I am done with this discussion.

    Eve: “I am afraid that I disagree with you about how we apply logic. God doesn’t change. No where does he say he changed his law.”

    Hebrews 7:11-12 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
    12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

    Eve: “There is no other law to write on our hearts.”

    Hebrews (speaking of the new covenant) says there is a change of law. James talks about the perfect law of liberty.

    Eve: “Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law to deal with sin and our relationship with God.”

    Yes, He did. Exactly.

    Eve: “Why does Matt 5 not apply to Christians? Do you belive Jesus did not mean what he said? That is the logical conclusion from what you said. Verse 20 is only key if you rely on obedience lo the law to save you which I don’t.”

    Jesus meant what He said, but you misunderstand it. The context shows what He was saying. So does the rest of the New Testament. Why would Jesus tell Christians (who have His imputed righteousness) that they need righteousness greater than the scribes and the Pharisees? Verse 20 sums up the whole chapter — the scribes and Pharisees have external law-righteousness, we need the real thing to see the kingdom.

    Eve: “I have already explained 1 John defines sin as lawlessness so I leave you with this question: if we say we don’t have to obey the law what does that make us?”

    Answered at the bottom.

    Eve: “As for the writings of Paul If they appear to differ from what our Lord and master Jesus said we have misunderstood Paul.”

    Or, you misunderstand what Jesus said.

    Eve: “I find no contradiction. Paul was a Torah keeping Jew. See Acts 21.”

    Acts 21:28-29. Paul did not circumcise Trophimus. Both the very chapter you use and Galatians make clear that Gentile believers need not be circumcised. That does not contradict our Lord, but it contradicts your errant interpretation of His words that EVERY command in the OT Law must be obeyed.

    Eve: “Manfred, I leave you with this question: How do we surrender outside of obedience?”

    I once heard my children disagreeing about what I told them to do. One understood me to have said one thing. The other understood something different. They both intended to obey.

    Manfred’s post says there is a moral law which “shines through” or underpins the Old Testament Law. We all agree that this moral law is to be obeyed. It is not about disobedience. The only difference here is whether the particular application of the moral law which Moses gave the Old Testament Hebrews still is required of New Testament Christians. The moral law is certainly required — and it is even harder than the Law of Moses, anyway.

    You wrong both Manfred and me by talking about “lawlessness” and “outside of obedience.” You may disagree with us about what our Father has told us to do, but none of us want to disobey, and such rhetoric is inappropriate.


  49. Thank you for that. Had intended to leave this alone but you leave me with so many unanswered questions. l just don’t understand your argument. I cannot agree with your analysis but I do appreciate the time you have taken to explain your point. I may have misunderstood what you said and I am sure from some of the above you have not understood me.

    I do not understand your position when scripture says that sin is lawlessness and you seem to be saying we should not be doing what the law says. That is what lawlessness is. Without it we have the situation that existed in Judges where everyone did what was night in their own eyes.
    I simply cannot understand how it works for you.
    Who decides what is right conduct for you?
    Where are the checks and balances?
    Which parts of Scripture are ” profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction which is in righteousness, 2Tim 3:16?
    Which parts of scripture are not and why?
    Is it something you feel? If so how can you trust those feelings? Jesus said this…
    Mat 15:18-19
    18 But the things which proceed out of the mouth come out of the heart, and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual sins, thefts, false testimony, and blasphemies.
    You have spoken of logic but much of what you are saying is just not logical. You have left me completely baffled …


  50. Eve, what I have said is entirely logical. It does not seem logical to you because we are operating from different assumptions.

    Your assumption is that we must obey the Law of Moses. (Though you do not teach that we should obey every part of it, such as circumcision. That is not logical, for he who breaks any part is guilty of all).

    Because that is your assumption, you interpret “lawlessness” as “violating the law of Moses.” I interpret lawlessness as “violating God’s moral law.”

    I see the New Testament telling me much of God’s moral law. I see the Law of Moses giving the application of God’s moral law to a specific people in a specific time — and thus, as I see its application in that context, I learn much of the underlying moral law. I’ve explained all this.

    If the Law of Moses tells me something is an abomination to God, I know it is an abomination to Him. If it tells me He loves mercy, I know He loves mercy, and I must be merciful. If it tells me the ox is not to be muzzled while it works, I learn the principle that people should not be expected to labour without reward, and I apply that to multiple areas of life. That’s how it works.

    It’s harder than a checklist of dos and don’ts. That’s because God wants a love relationship with us. Christ said He was calling His disciples friends, not servants. He wants us to interact with HIM, to love HIM, not to interact with a checklist. The Scriptures give us guidance, but God wants us to use our brains. He gave them to us for a purpose. He wants us to look at the Scriptures and discern the principles, and apply them. He doesn’t care about the oxen so much as He cares about us. He taught about not muzzling oxen so we could learn that “he that ploweth should plow in hope.”

    I Corinthians 9 gives a great example of how the Law of Moses can be applied today. I do not render the Law unprofitable for doctrine, reproof, etc. I render it stronger by using it as Paul did, to draw the principle out and apply the principle to my time, place, and life.


  51. So if he tells you to keep the seventh day holy or that certain animals are not to be eaten what then?
    If he tells us no not to worship him in pagan ways what then?
    Where do you draw the line and why?
    How do you know you are following “God’s moral law” and not your own feelings?


  52. He doesn’t tell ME that certain animals are not to be eaten. He told the Old Testament Hebrews that. Acts 10 addresses that.

    There is abundant evidence throughout Scripture, not just in the Law of Moses, that pagan worship displeases Him.

    You set up a false straw man. It is not as if it is either the Law of Moses or “feelings.” There is abundant moral teaching throughout Scripture. You could start with Romans 12 and Ephesians 4-5, to just name a couple. Paul absolutely wasted his time writing those things, if the Law is all we need. He could have just said, “And make sure you keep the Law of Moses.” >But no Gentile believer was ever told that in the New Testament.< The answer given in Acts 15 somewhat falls short of that type of injunction, doesn't it?


  53. Thanks, Jon. I got home too late to post anything, but wanted to add what the Lord, creator and judge of all creatures said in 1 Tim 4:3&4, in warning about doctrines of demons – “They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods that God create to be received with gratitude by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,”


  54. Straw man? I dont know why a genuine question about these things gets so labelled. I’d you don’t use the Bible as your guide where else do you go for direction?

    He told the old Testament Hebrews the new covenant was for them too. You just seem to pick and choose. Can you be more specific.


  55. I do not call your questions a straw man. I call it a straw man (say false dichotomy if you prefer) when you suggest that the choice is between “feelings” and the Law of Moses as our guide.

    I think I’ve been quite specific. I’ve said I use the Bible as my guide. Again you use a straw man when you say I don’t use the Bible.

    If you really want to understand, you can go back and read what I’ve written. I’m sorry, but I have a job by which I support my family and a ministry as a pastor, and I simply can’t devote any more time to this discussion. Because of the terms you use in response, I am not entirely persuaded that you honestly want to understand what I’m saying. And I simply don’t have the time to find out. My greater responsibility is to my family and to those who have committed themselves to our church, and I can’t let this discussion hinder me in those.


  56. Add I said. You pick and choose and can’t tell me why. The Bible contains the law of Moses. You believe vision bits silly to us. All the old Testament was written to those you called Old Testament Hebrews. You claim some parts include you and not others. You cannot give reasons why. I am wrote happy to leave it there but I must admit I am disappointed you can’t see the inconsistency of your arguments.
    I wish you well in your ministry and thanks again for your time.


  57. Well, Eve, I’ve tried to explain that “pick and choose” is not what I do, but I obviously am unable to explain it in a way you can understand, at least in this forum.

    But for the record, I do not accept any of your characterisations of what I have written.


  58. Hi all, This topic has been on my mind for the last couple of weeks and I disagree with the theory that Adam and Eve we’re innocent and like babies, this is a false notion because there were plenty of things Adam and Eve knew before the fall. For example…

    Genesis 2:15 – to dress and keep the Garden
    Genesis 2:19-20 – Name every living Creature
    Genesis 2:23 – 1. He knew what bones were.
    2. How could tell the difference between bone and flesh.
    3. He labelled this creature “Woman”.
    4. And knew she was taken out from him.
    Genesis 2:24-25 – 1. They knew about Marriage.
    2. Not ashamed to be naked.

    Genesis 1:28-30 from being fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, to subdue it: and to have dominion over all other creation in and on the earth. So they knew a bit of stuff yeah?

    In order to make a moral choice two sides of the coin need to be present. God’s Verbal Command to not eat. lest they die, And the Serpents opposing statement. Was sin present in the Garden before the Fall? Yes, the Serpent.

    If we agree that God’s Law had been established at Creation on day 1, the dividing of the light and the darkness then I present this theory.

    Adam and Eve, Sinned before the eating of the fruit! Yes they did let me explain.

    What is Knowledge?
    1. Information we perceive, seek out or receive through our senses and store away in our memory.
    a. It can be true or false

    What is Wisdom?
    It is the ability to make correct judgments and decisions based on our knowledge and experiences. It is this process of comparing, analysis and situational awareness that determines our responses.

    The Sin Committed we can all agree on is Disobedience to the Father right?

    What does Jesus explain to his disciples in Matthew chapter 15?

    Matthew 15:17-20 “Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:20 these are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.”

    what occurs first, is inside or internally of us before externally seeing the result, or outward manifestation of the thought, or desire of the heart.

    Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things,
    and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
    Proverbs 21:2 “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.”
    Acts 8:22 “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.”

    According to these Verses, Adam and Eve had already committed the sin even before eating the fruit!

    Sin is committed in the heart first, before the outward manifestation or the action to be performed.

    Hope this helps us all make more sense out of this story.

    God bless you all.


  59. Renegademstr – You reason against what was not said and the biblical record. having child like innocence does not mean having the mind of a child, ignorant of knowledge or unable to reason. It means not stained by one’s sin to degree adults have been. While the Bible tells us – fallen man – that we sin before we cat, the Bible says that sin came into the world by Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12), not Eve’s. since sin would bring death, what Eve thought and did must not have been counted as sin – for until Adam ate, there was no sin. This is because Adam was the federal head for all humanity, this is why when Adam sinned, we all died and we all sinned.

    If your theory is correct, the Bible is wrong and man does not carry Adam’s sin. And Christ is wrong, because just as Adam represented all humans, so Christ represents all Christians. The parallels between the two is unmistakable. But not if your theory is true. Which it is not.

    Hope this helps you make more sense out of the Bible.


  60. Thanks for your feedback Manfred, The first part of my response was a reply a made to a Mormon for his views on Adam and Eve being like a child like state. It was a comment I made in haste before I was leaving work to go home so my apologies!

    I wasn’t implying Eve was the initiator of Sin. Sin was present in the Garden in the form of the serpent but did not come to be realized until Adam ate, but I was implying that through free will (the lack of knowledge to gain experience in this situation) they made a grievous mistake and broke God’s Spoken law, in fact because they lacked wisdom through lack of experience made a really really bad choice.

    Mormons argue that this event is not a sin and needed to happen to advance mankind, so they rejoice over this, I know it’s off-topic but I was addressing their perverted view of the fall of man in another article…the joys of cut and paste!


  61. Renegademstr – Thanks for your reply. I have victimized myself with cut-and-paste, so I understand! Arguing with Mormons (or any other cult) about facts and errors within their religion is doomed to failure. The lost need the gospel, pure and simple.

    I would argue, however, that it was not lack wisdom through lack of experience that caused Adam to sin – it was rebellion against what he knew God’s will was. He would rather follow his wife into rebellion than be obedient to what he knew God had told him.

    Our will is not as pure as Adam’s was when he threw us into the pit. We must walk humbly each day, thankful to God for rescuing us.


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