A Catechism on God’s Law (Part 4)

1. What about situational ethics?

Situational ethicists, who say that a man can act out of love to God and love to his neighbour when he commits adultery with his neighbour’s wife, still stand condemned by God and His word on the final day. This should be obvious to most born-again Christians. They know that “walking in the Spirit” means that, unlike those in “the flesh” (in the sinful nature), they can keep the law of God (Rom.8:5-10); it is “the ordinance of the law” which is “fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit” (v.4) (p.33-34).

2. What will my obedience lead to?

Those who have hearts made right with God, those who have been given a new heart by God, those who wish from the heart to please God, will seek to walk according to God’s commandments (Jer.31:33; Ezek.11:19-20; 36:26-27). A proper heart attitude should lead to proper outward conduct as well. Obedience cannot be restricted to the heart. Jesus not only wanted the Pharisees to realize the inward values of mercy and faith; He did not want them to leave undone the minor outward matters of tithing garden vegetables (Matt.23:23) (p.34).

3. Have God’s commands changed?

Jesus spoke with unmistakable clarity when He said, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of the law to fail” (Luke 16:17). The coming of God’s righteous Son surely could do nothing to change the righteous character of God’s laws, even the least of them, for then they would be exposed as unjust and less than eternal in their uprightness. So Christ issues this severe warning: “Whoever annuls one of the least of these commandments and so teaches others shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt.5:19). The advent of the Saviour and the inauguration of the New Age do not have the effect of abrogating the slightest detail of God’s righteous commandments. God has not changed His mind about good and evil or what constitutes them (p.38).

4. Was the Old Covenant a covenant of grace?

…Even the Mosaic covenant characterised by law is a gracious covenant. The law which we read in the Old Testament is a provision of God’s grace to us (Ps.119:29; 62-64). Every covenant carries stipulations which are to be kept, as we have seen. But prior to that we saw that all of the covenants of God are unified into one overall Covenant of Grace, fully realised with the coming of Christ in the New Covenant. So if there is one covenant enjoyed by the people of God throughout the ages, then there is one moral code or set of stipulations which govern those who would be covenant keepers. Therefore, we must answer that of course New Testament believers are bound to the Old Testament law of God. His standards, just like his covenant, are unchanging (p.42).

5. What about the New Covenant?

The establishment of the New Covenant does not imply the abrogation of the Mosaic law or its depreciation in any sense! The idea of a new law is ruled out altogether, for it is the well known law of God which He says He will write upon the hearts of New Covenant believers. Unlike the Old Covenant where God found fault with the people for breaking His commandments (Heb.8:8-9), the New Covenant will give internal strength for keeping those very commandments. It will write the law on believers’ hearts, for out of the heart are the issues of life (Prov.4:23).
The Holy Spirit of God will indwell the heart of believers, writing God’s law therein, with the result that they will live according to the commandments. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Ezek.36:27). As Paul writes in Romans 8:4, those who now walk according to the Spirit have the requirement of the law fulfilled within them. America’s twentieth century orthodox Protestant leader J. Gresham Machen said, “The gospel does not abrogate God’s law, but it makes men love it with all their hearts” (p.43-44).

6. So, is there a Biblical double-standard?

One of the requirements of His law, which reflects His holy character, is the prohibition of using a double-standard (Deut.25:13-16; Lev.19:35-37). It is ungodly to use one measure or yardstick with some people, and then use an altered measure with others. “Divers weights and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the Lord” (Prov.20:10). Accordingly God requires that we have but one standard or moral judgement, whether it be for the stranger or native (Lev.24:22; Deut.1:16-17; cf. Num.15:16). He abhors a double-standard of right and wrong, and we can be sure that He does not judge in such a fashion. Something that was sinful in the Old Testament is likewise sinful for us in the New Testament, for God’s standards are not subject to fluctuation from age to age. He has one uniform standard of right and wrong (p.44).

7. What was the sin of our first parents?

Our first parents were led to seek a lifestyle which was not bound by law from God; thus they were tempted into deciding for themselves what would count for good and evil. Law would not be laid down to them by God, for they would lay it down for themselves. Demonstrating sin’s lawlessness (IJn.3:4) they became “like God:” law givers of their own making and authority. God’s law, which should have been their delight, became burdensome to them (p.46-47).