What is the purpose of God’s moral law?

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By BibleAsk Team


The concept of God’s moral law is central to the Christian faith. It encompasses the commands given by God, primarily through the Scriptures, that delineate the standards of right and wrong behavior for humanity. Understanding the purpose of God’s moral law requires examining its various functions, including revealing God’s character, guiding human behavior, convicting of sin, and pointing to the need for a Savior. This essay explores these purposes supported by references from the Bible.

Revealing God’s Character

One of the primary purposes of God’s moral law is to reveal His character and holiness. The law reflects God’s righteous nature and sets the standard for human conduct.

  • Leviticus 19:2 NKJV: “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.'”

The call to holiness underscores the nature of God as inherently holy and righteous. By adhering to God’s laws, people are called to emulate His character.

  • Psalm 19:7-9 NKJV: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

These verses highlight the perfection, purity, and righteousness of God’s law, which in turn reflect His own nature. The law serves as a testament to God’s moral excellence and His desire for humanity to live in a way that mirrors His attributes.

Guiding Human Behavior

God’s moral law provides a comprehensive guide for ethical and moral behavior, instructing humanity on how to live in a manner pleasing to God and beneficial to others.

  • Deuteronomy 6:1-2 NKJV: “Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.”

The statutes and commandments are designed to be observed and followed, guiding individuals and communities in their daily lives. By doing so, they cultivate a society based on justice, compassion, and reverence for God.

  • Psalm 119:105 NKJV: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

This metaphor illustrates how God’s law illuminates the way forward, providing clarity and direction in moral and ethical decisions. The guidance of the law helps individuals navigate the complexities of life with wisdom and righteousness.

Convicting of Sin

Another crucial purpose of God’s moral law is to convict individuals of their sin and reveal their need for God’s grace. The law acts as a mirror, showing humanity its moral shortcomings and the extent of its sinfulness.

  • Romans 3:20 NKJV: “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

The law exposes sin, making individuals aware of their transgressions and their inability to achieve righteousness through their own efforts. This awareness is essential for understanding the need for redemption.

  • Galatians 3:24 NKJV: “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

The law serves as a tutor or guardian, leading individuals to Christ by highlighting their need for a Savior. Through the law, people recognize their sinful nature and their dependence on God’s grace for salvation.

Establishing Justice and Order

God’s moral law also aims to establish justice and order within society. By outlining principles of justice, fairness, and equity, the law promotes social harmony and protects the rights and well-being of individuals.

  • Exodus 23:6-7 NKJV: “You shall not pervert the judgment of your poor in his dispute. Keep yourself far from a false matter; do not kill the innocent and righteous. For I will not justify the wicked.”

These commands emphasize the importance of justice and the protection of the innocent. Upholding these principles ensures that society operates fairly and justly, reflecting God’s own concern for justice.

  • Micah 6:8 NKJV: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

This verse encapsulates the ethical demands of the law: justice, mercy, and humility. These principles are foundational for a society that seeks to live in accordance with God’s will.

Pointing to Christ

The Law serves only as a mirror to show sin and it leads us for Christ the Cleanser from sin. God’s moral law ultimately leads the sinner to Jesus Christ and the gospel. The law highlights the impossibility of achieving righteousness through human effort, thus preparing the way for the redemptive work of Christ.

  • Matthew 5:17 NKJV: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

Jesus affirms the enduring relevance of the law, emphasizing that He came to fulfill its requirements and this be an example for us. Through His life, death, and resurrection, Christ accomplishes what the law demanded and then helps man to achieve full victory over sin.

  • Romans 8:3-4 NKJV: “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

These verses explain that Christ’s sacrificial death fulfills the law’s requirements, providing a way for believers to attain righteousness through faith in Christ and His enabling power to obtain victory over sin.

Enhancing Relationship with God

God’s moral law also serves to enhance and deepen the relationship between God and His people. By following His commandments, believers demonstrate their love and commitment to God.

Obedience to God’s law is an expression of love for Him. It signifies a desire to live in accordance with His will and to maintain a close, intimate relationship with Him.

  • Deuteronomy 10:12-13 NKJV: “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?”

These verses highlight that the commandments are given for the benefit of the people, guiding them in a way that fosters a loving and obedient relationship with God.

Promoting Holiness and Sanctification

The moral law promotes holiness and sanctification among God’s people. By adhering to the law, believers are set apart from the world and are conformed to the image of God.

  • 1 Peter 1:15-16 NKJV: “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.'”

Believers are called to reflect God’s holiness in their behavior, which is facilitated by living according to His moral standards.

  • Romans 12:2 NKJV: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

The transformative power of God’s law renews the mind and spirit, leading to a life that aligns with God’s perfect will and demonstrates His holiness.

Providing a Basis for Moral and Ethical Reflection

God’s moral law provides a foundation for moral and ethical reflection. It offers clear guidelines and principles that help individuals discern right from wrong in various situations.

  • Psalm 119:11 NKJV: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”

By internalizing God’s word, believers are better equipped to resist temptation and make morally sound decisions.

  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Scripture, which includes God’s moral law, serves as a comprehensive resource for teaching, correction, and training in righteousness. It equips believers to lead lives that reflect God’s standards.

Enhancing Social Cohesion

The moral law fosters social cohesion by promoting values such as honesty, integrity, compassion, and justice. These values are essential for building strong, healthy communities.

  • Leviticus 19:18 NKJV: “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”

The command to love one’s neighbor as oneself is a cornerstone of God’s moral law, promoting harmonious relationships and social stability.

  • Romans 13:8-10 NKJV: “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

These verses reiterate that love is the fulfillment of the law and is fundamental to maintaining social cohesion and mutual respect within the community.

Offering a Standard for Judgment

God’s moral law provides a standard for divine judgment. It delineates what is right and wrong, ensuring that God’s judgments are just and fair.

  • Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NKJV: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

The moral law serves as the basis for God’s judgment, ensuring that each person’s actions are evaluated according to His righteous standards.

  • James 2:12 NKJV: “So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.”

Believers are reminded to live in accordance with the law, recognizing that they will be judged by it. This awareness encourages them to adhere closely to God’s commandments.

The Old and New Covenants

In the Old Testament, the Lord wrote His moral law on tables of stone (Deuteronomy 4:13). He planned that His law should also be written on the hearts of the people. But the Israelites were content to regard it simply as an external code and their observance a matter of surface obedience. God did not plan that His law should be regarded as such. He wanted to give His children the experience of a new heart.

  • Ezekeil 36:26, NKJV: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” But they were happy with only an external religion.

Under the new covenant in the New Testament, the people’s hearts and minds are changed by the conversion work of the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 5:17). People do good, not by their own power, but because Christ dwells in their hearts, living out His life in them. Paul wrote:

  • Galatians 2:20, NKJV: “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Believers are born of the Spirit and bear the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23). The Holy Spirit, is the one who energizes the Christian life in the believers; He gives them the strength to live the victorious life, and power overcome the devil.This transformation can be done only by God’s power.

  • Philippians 2:13, NKJV: “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

God provides the stimulus for the believer’s initial determination to accept salvation and gives the power to make that decision a reality. This does not mean that the believer has no role to play but that God provides the desire to be saved, to enable him to make the decision to attain salvation, and to give him the energy to make the decision effective so that salvation is accomplished. Thus, redemption is a cooperative work between God and man, with God providing all the needful powers for man’s use.

Conclusion

The purpose of God’s moral law is multifaceted. It reveals God’s character and holiness, guides human behavior, convicts of sin, establishes justice and order, and points to the need for Christ. Additionally, it enhances the relationship between God and His people, promotes holiness, provides a basis for moral and ethical reflection, fosters community cohesion, and offers a standard for divine judgment. Each of these purposes underscores the profound significance of the moral law in the life of believers and the broader society.

By understanding and adhering to God’s moral law, individuals and communities can live in a way that reflects God’s righteous character, fosters justice and harmony, and ultimately leads to a deeper relationship with Him. The moral law is not merely a set of rules but a divine guide of the New Covenant that points humanity towards a life of holiness, love, and fulfillment in God’s presence.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

Categories Law

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