The Law of God
The great principles of God’s law are embodied in the Ten Commandments and exemplified in the life of Christ. They express God’s love, will and purposes concerning human conduct and relationships, and are binding upon all people in every age. These precepts are the basis of God’s covenant with His people and the standard in God’s judgement. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit they point out sin and awaken a sense of need for a Saviour. Salvation is all of grace and not of works, and its fruit is obedience to the Commandments. This obedience develops Christian character and results in a sense of wellbeing. It is evidence of our love for the Lord and our concern for our fellow human beings. The obedience of faith demonstrates the power of Christ to transform lives, and therefore strengthens Christian witness. (Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 28:1- 14; Psalms 19:7-14; 40:7, 8; Matthew 5:17-20; 22:36-40; John 14:15; 15:7-10; Romans 8:3, 4; Ephesians 2:8-10; Hebrews 8:8-10; 1 John 2:3; 5:3; Revelation 12:17; 14:12.)
Potatoes, pigeons and disrupting a wedding. Struggling to find a connection? Each of these objects or actions is the basis for somewhat strange pieces of Australian legislation, still in effect today!
Thinking of selling or purchasing more than 50kg of potatoes in Western Australia? Well at that quantity these tasty little morsels could land you with a $A2000 fine under Section 22 of the Marketing of Potatoes Act 1946. And injuring a homing pigeon in Victoria or South Australia is a definite offence under the respective Summary Offences Act of those states. Finally, in South Australia, obstructing or disturbing a wedding, funeral or any religious service is an offence attracting a maximum penalty of $10,000 or two years’ imprisonment (Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) Section 7A).
Curiosity satisfied, and knowledge gained, but what do these laws have to do with the Law of God? Answer: Not a lot. They are merely examples of dated legislation, laws that made greater sense in past social contexts than they do today.
So is this true of God’s Law? Do laws hand-written on tablets of stone and delivered to the Israelites all those millennia ago truly still hold relevance for our lives today? Laws passed from God to man, generation to generation—inscribed on stone and parchment, printed on paper and projected onto screens.
Ultimately, this is a decision that you have to make in your heart, but for me, my answer is YES! I wholeheartedly believe that these laws continue to be relevant today.
Growing up as the youngest and only girl, with two brothers who towered over me in both age and height, led to an easy education of observation, watching both the actions and resulting consequences of my brothers’ behaviour. Much like a miniature scientist, minus the lab coat, I would watch my brothers test the limits and learnt exactly where each and every line was placed, so that years later when my turn came, I already knew where the line was and I didn’t have to risk searching for it.
For the Israelites, their experience was not the same. Their role in history paralleled the role of my brothers. Pioneers in the desert. After being captives for such an expanse of time, surely their decision-making abilities were impeded, along with their competence for self-care. Much like the care that my parents took in raising their children and teaching us how to care for ourselves, God, as the Israelites’ Heavenly Father, gave them the Ten Commandments as an act of LOVE. As a hands-on parent, God inscribed these guidelines with His own finger, passing them to His children for their benefit and protection (Exodus 31:18).
That love is the same love that God, our Heavenly Father, has for us today; and those same Commandments are for our benefit and protection, just as they were for the Israelites all those years ago. While our environment has changed—our technology and education—our need for a Saviour remains. Unlike the laws written by men who cannot know the future—laws that fade in importance—our God knew the future when He gave us the Ten Commandments. He knew how the world would transform and He knew that today we would still need His guidance to protect us from the sin that threatens to infringe on our values. Our physical environment has changed, but our spiritual needs remain. God knew this when He gave us His law, all those years ago.
The purpose of God’s law is to guide us through life, to protect us and show us the way. Knowing and understanding God’s law is almost akin to your teacher allowing you to take a “cheat sheet“ into your exam, containing all the formulas that you will need for the scenarios that you will face. But is God’s law a ticket or a barrier? Does following God’s law grant you a place in heaven? Or does the inability to always follow God’s law to the letter present an obstacle to eternal life? Personally, I do not subscribe to either of these theories. God’s law is neither a ticket, nor a barrier. As the fundamental states, “Salvation is all of grace and not of works . . .”, “for by grace you have been saved through faith . . . it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9 NKJV). [pullquote]
We cannot earn our way to heaven, because if this was the requirement, none of us would be there. None of us. Nothing that we can do, on our own, is capable of earning us eternal life. Eternal life is not a question of works, but a question of faith. Accepting God as our Creator, Jesus as our personal Saviour and the Holy Spirit into our hearts is really all that it takes. No fine print and no expiry date. This process is not possible because of anything that we have done, or anything that we will do. The gift of eternal life is only possible because of the great sacrifice that our Saviour made, to pay our wages, to die on a cross for our sins. Jesus’ victory over sin is our greatest gift, an undeserved gift that we are incapable of returning back to Him.
Once again, if following God’s law does not earn us eternal life, then why should we follow it? Well, what if we turned the question on its head? Instead of always asking why should I follow God’s law?, what if we asked, well why wouldn’t I? God’s law has been crafted by the Creator of the universe, the Creator of you and of me. You don’t question the washing instructions that come with a new clothing purchase because you know that the manufacturer knows best what their product is made of and how to care for it. So why do we question our Creator, who knows what we are made of and how to care for us?
I think of Jesus, who embodied the law of God during His time here on earth. He is perfect, and during His time here on earth, He not only rescued us from sin, He also served as an example to us of how to live a godly life—a life lived in constant communication with God, following His laws and being a light to those around us. You see, following God’s law is not only personally beneficial for the follower, who gains a sense of purpose and security, it is also God’s will for our life—to live a life in the safety of His love and protection.
Finally, following God’s law is also a pillar of evangelism, ensuring that our actions speak louder than our words and that those around us notice the powerful difference of God’s love and grace in our lives, opening a door for us to share our hope with them.
What a difference it would make to our lives if we decided to truly and wholeheartedly make the decision to trust our Creator. To humbly accept His will for our lives, and to follow His law—the Law of God.
Brianna Stackelroth is a Law/Business student at Adelaide University, and a Trinity Gardens church member.