The controversy began immediately in the 1st century and has continued. What is the eternal God's law? Is it that which came down from Sinai through Moses or is it something else that came through Jesus apart from the former law. This divide has been a central issue facing the believers in Jesus, and remains so. It goes back and forth with passion and often recrimination. One side argues: “the law of God is found in the New Testament” the other says “The law of God is that which is found in the book of Exodus and it is incumbent upon us all to submit to this law to be right with God.” This is the argument that is made in the Koran. The Muslims believe that they are keeping the law once delivered by Moses in it's uncorrupted wholeness. This divide is the central issue that is currently drawing the planet ever nearer to the brink of self inhalation because Islam has commanded that all other belief systems be eradicated and all unbelievers in the authority of Mohammad be placed under the dominion of Islamic masters by any means.
Not long ago an ABD comment pointed out that "the law of God will be written on the hearts of believers, so the law of of the Old Covenant was still in affect," end of story. No further investigation would be tolerated. No questioning if the law that was to be written on the heart was a law that God himself would keep. Since God alone is eternal both forwards and backwards, an eternal law would need to be pertinent both forwards and backwards or it would hardly be eternal.
The Decalogue (Ten commandments) is oriented to the human spiritual condition, to a nature that is drawn to evil. How could such a law have existed when God, who is love, was all their was? God's way is love, so then must be his law, and isn't it logical to conclude that this is the higher law? Ideally, this is the law I'd want written on my heart. What wonderful thing can I imagine that God cannot do? Can I imagine an ideal that could top what God has imagined? Not at all. I can imagine a better law written in one's heart than one of 'thou shall nots'. How can anyone believe God would settle for "thou shalt not" being written on one's heart instead of "I want to love"? When God writes on the heart, he is writing the code for the operating system of the mind, and there will be no need for a "thou shall not." I have frequently commented that there is no law against jumping out of an airplane without a parachute as only an insane person would have such an impulse. There is no need for a law against something that is contrary to the nature of human beings, and normally self preservation is very pronounced in that nature, that is, in the operating system of the mind.
Jesus said that 'love toward God and Love toward man' is the basic principles upon which the Law and the prophets were based. This too is said to prove the contention that the law of the Old Covenant is the Eternal law of God; but no real change was produced in the keepers of the law except in a few through God's spirit. it wasn't a result of the law itself.
The heart is in need of a re-creation. The first 10 books of the bible demonstrates that this external law is no final solution for a deficiency that can not be filled from the resources of a human being. I frequently divide law into internal and external varieties. An internal law is one that we follow because it is part of our being as apposed to an external law that has rules that contradict our internal law. We find ourselves struggling with those arias where our hearts have the greatest conflict with the external laws requirements.
The OC law does point to this more fundamental law which is love. The question is how? "The ten Commandments teaches us how to love" goes the rationalization. This statement sounds logical but it is twisting reality to conform to the preconception of the the Decalogue's eternal significance. In other word it is just a rationalization. In reality there is no example of anyone learning to love through a list of things that must be performed. The bible simply doesn't state that this is the case. In fact, the Old Testament’s lessons distilled down to their most potent concentration screams the fact that an external prescription of do's and don’ts does nothing to change the heart. This is the lesson of the entire history of Israel. What the law does is provide a line in the sand, that is, a point of reference so that sin can be identified and the resulting penalties demonstrate a little of what is truly deserved by the sinner; and the penalty was taken for all sinners by Jesus on the cross. This is the love that the law points to. Without the law there would be no means of comprehending the over arching love of our creator.
The results God desires is encoded in law, yet as already pointed out, this goal was not achieved and clearly not achievable via the enforcement of the OC (Old Covenant) law. Mat 22:37 Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' V38 This is the first and greatest commandment. V39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' V40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." The goal God set for these qualities to become a part of human character was not achievable until they could be written in the very nature of man. You might say, in the operating system of man. How can God accomplish this? Through the New Covenant? By adding something unavailable to the people of the old: Col 1:27 “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Christ, like the prize vine of a wine maker is the rootstock of the entire vineyard. Gal 4:19 “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,”
When the very nature of the human being is changed there is no longer a need for a law to curb tendencies that don't exist. The law was made to control the evil nature of man; 1Ti 1:9 “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,”
God knew from the beginning that Israel would fail and yet proceeded with the demand of obedience upon them until they fulfilled the course he had predicted,that being their failure. Deuteronomy 31:16-17 (NIV) 16 "And the LORD said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your ancestors, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them. 17 And in that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed. Many disasters and calamities will come on them, and in that day they will ask, ‘Have not these disasters come on us because our God is not with us?’"
Stated differently; why would God put in motion the epic national journey of Israel through rebellions and it's contrite repentance that repeated over and over until they were cast out of their land when he knew this was to be the outcome? Either God enjoys watching human suffering or God was making a demonstration as to the futility of this external law. The Ten Commandments is an external law that was put in place as a remedy for a problem, as a means of controlling a nature that has desires to do the things that the law prohibits. It did not change the heart nor did it succeed in bringing peace and order except when it was remembered. How much easier would it be to remember something that is not foreign to one's makeup?
A little side note I'd like to add here is how the above verse reflects on peoples view of God when they say things like:"I'm afraid I'll make God angry with me." the Universe makes the earth look like a microscopic dust particle, and God is far bigger. The idea that something that is like a microbe (man) on a particle of dust that is relatively microscopic is an absurdity. God chose to become angry in advance to fulfill the requirements of his demonstration Deut 31:17 “And in that day I will become angry with them.”
The apostle Paul pointed out some of the behaviors that the nature of man is predisposed to that the Old Testament law was designed to control. Galatians 5:19-26 (NIV) “The acts of the flesh (often translated sinful nature) are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Paul then relates the predispositions of an entirely different nature.
“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
Paul juxtaposes these two groups that might represent two pathways to correct behavior. With the first group a control mechanism is required and the second one is not. These are our two choices. When Jesus returns, according to Zech 14:16, those who attack Jerusalem are placed under the Old Testament law. Paul said in Romans 3:31"we uphold the law". Why would he discount one of the means to assure correct behavior when there are those who have not accepted option two. This can be simplified to: there is no vacuum in law, either you will be controlled by an external law or you will be self controlled by the inner law of God's love. 'Written on your heart' is clearly an idiomatic phrase meaning the core of one's being. This phrase is indicative of a new nature. Using the computer as a metaphor we might say that God has replaced the operating system.
These two groups, one of negatives and one of positives represent two possible paths to correct behavior. Focus on the evil and demand that it not be done, or focus on the good and let it crowd out the evil, for bitter water and sweet cannot come from the same source.James 3:11 (NIV) “Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?”
Romans 8:5 (NIV) 5 “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”
Romans 11:32 (NIV)32 "For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. Whatever things are good and noble, think on these things." This is where I want to put my attention. It's one thing to point out what is wrong, but it must at least be balanced out by what is good and right or it poisons the soul. God has given us a weak nature to demonstrate a point. The sentence:”For God has bound” makes this clear. It is incorrect to presume that an eternal law of do this and don't do that is necessary to deal with an eternal weakness in the nature of a sentient being.
Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” The renewing of your mind can only be the new nature growing crowding out the old as water displaces the air in a vessel. It may not happen all at once, but eventually the gas is removed. A gas is what leavening produces to puff up bread which symbolizes vanity, so I like the metaphor of the gas being replaced by the water since water is a metaphor for the Holy Spirit of the Almighty.
It's often pointed out that this earthly creation is so imperfect that it demonstrates that a holy and perfect creator is a myth. This short sighted thinking is similar to that of one who criticizes a building while its scaffolding is still covering its walls and bulldozers and cement trucks are crowding its grounds. God is creating through education and by providing experience instead of just downloading information. Layer by layer the pearl of great price is formed, and that pearl that the Lord sold all he possessed to purchase is you.
A treasure is rare and is formed with difficulty or it acquires no value; And so our lives are not easy and filled with heartache, but God is forging his treasure. The weak nature leading to our experience with sin is a temporary scaffolding needed during construction. This scaffolding seems like a part of natural reality to us, but it isn’t; and to form our perspective of eternity based on presumptions gleaned from our temporal reality will only result in the grievous error of clinging to the scaffolding God must remove to reveal his finished work.
It may not always make sense to us how God works, but we can interfere with our shortsighted presumptions. We need to trust totally. If there is beauty, it is from the mind of God; if there is goodness, it is from the mind of God. This is what faith is; knowing that God is good, that his will is better than we can imagine, that his desire is for better results than we could conceive of. Here's a truth you can tell yourself: “God already knows what I need and his will for me is better than my own.”
How much better to give thanks for a work God sees as completed than to limit God by focusing on trying to fix the building we have no power to build, or for that matter, telling God what we think is wrong and what we think should be done about it, which is to presume that Gods will needs our assistance. I can state what I see as wrong, but faith says that I should seek his solution because his solution will always make mine look like road kill. In all ways God is beautiful, his will is refreshing like white water of the mountain headwaters, rumbling and tumbling over boulders glistening in the bright sunshine of summer. Every trouble is dwarfed by the majesty of his works and the fruition of his desires, that which we commonly call his will. What can I possibly add to it.
It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; ) Acts 17:11