What is “God’s Law”?

Helpful hint. When you’re talking about law in the Bible, provide context. Don’t merely say “God’s Law” as if that defines it. Clearly He has given different laws to different people.

Here’s a quick review.

1.) I call this God’s universal law, it’s that which was given to mankind in conjunction with the Fall. This is how Cain knew murder was wrong before God confronted. This is how countless societies that were never given the Mosaic Law knew murder, theft, adultery, etc. were wrong. Some call this “Natural Law” or “Law of the conscience.”

2.) God gave Noah law after the flood abated. Genesis 9:3-6 (HCSB) “Every living creature will be food for you; as ⌊I gave⌋ the green plants, I have given you everything. However, you must not eat meat with its lifeblood in it. I will require the life of every animal and every man for your life and your blood. I will require the life of each man’s brother for a man’s life. Whoever sheds man’s blood, his blood will be shed by man, for God made man in His image.” This is remarkably similar to what the apostles wrote to the Gentile churches in Acts 15; check it out.

3.) God gave Abram law, but we don’t have a concise listing of it. In confirming the land promise to Isaac, God said: Genesis 26:4-5 (HCSB) “I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky, I will give your offspring all these lands, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring, because Abraham listened to My voice and kept My mandate, My commands, My statutes, and My instructions.”

4.) God gave law to national Israel. In introducing the law a second time, Moses said: Deuteronomy 5:1-3 (ESV) And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the rules that I speak in your hearing today, and you shall learn them and be careful to do them. The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. Not with our fathers did the LORD make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today.

Here, Moses is rehearsing the Decalogue with national Israel. The Decalogue is called the tablets of testimony of the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 34:29).

5.) God gave a new law to those in the New Covenant. This covenant is not like Mosaic Covenant (Jer 31:32) and the law is not like the law of the Mosaic Covenant. Hebrews 7:11 says the Mosaic Law was given under the Levitical priesthood; verse 12 says the change of priesthood (going from Old to New Covenant) required a change of law. Verse 18 says the Old covenant was annulled because its law could not perfect anyone. As covenant and law, the Mosaic culture is no longer in force as covenant or law.

The law of Christ is what is written on the hearts of saints. It’s not like the old law, which was carved in stone for people with stone hearts. You can read about it in 1 Cor 9, Rom 10 & 13, Gal 6, James 1 & 2 among other places.

So when you talk about “God’s Law”, please let us know which law of God you mean. Thank you!

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