What is the Law?
Text: Psalm 19:7-11
I. Frequently, when people try to force an odd interpretation on the Scriptures or desire to ignore a portion of the Writings, they declare “Oh, that is part of the law, but I’m not under law. I’m under grace.”
A. Seventh-Day Adventist divide the Old Testament into civil and moral laws to explain how they can say the Old Law has gone away, yet still keep a portion of that Law today.
B. Some doctrines are advocated by distinguishing between law and covenant. The Law ended, but covenants never end, we are told.
II. We generally use multiple terms to describe a single object. Any one term rarely gives us a complete picture.
A. When talking about me, I could call my self a preacher (my occupation), a programmer (my former occupation), a father, a husband, a man, a Mid-Westerner
1. Each gives details about who I am, but none of the terms alone give a complete description of me.
B. The same is done with Jesus.
1. He is also the Christ, the Savior, the Son of man, the Son of God, and God
2. All give us a viewpoint of who Jesus is, but none is a complete picture by itself.
C. Or the church
1. It is the kingdom, the body, the called-out, and a family. It has been called a field, a building, or the temple.
2. Each term helps us see the church from one aspect, but to get a complete picture, we must walk around and see it from the other views.
D. It is no different with God’s message for men. There are a variety of terms which describe the same written message.
1. Each is an accurate description, but none is a complete description by itself.
2. When people artificially divide the terms and insist on that each refers to different things, they lose the richness of the sum total.
III. A Portrait of the Law - Psalm 19:7-11
A. The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul
1. We often think of laws as a list of regulations as we find in our government books, but the word here means “instructions” or “teachings.”
a. Proverbs 1:8 where it speaks of the teachings or law of your mother.
b. Proverbs 4:1-2 where the teachings of a father
c. Commandments can be teachings and teachings can be commands - Proverbs 3:1
d. God’s word is our instruction - Isaiah 1:10
2. David said the instructions of God are complete. There are no gaps.
a. Peter said God has given us everything pertaining to live and godliness - II Peter 1:3
b. Paul said that the Scriptures are able to make a man complete - II Timothy 3:16-17
3. That complete instruction is able to restore a soul to its God.
a. It has the power to save man - Romans 1:16
b. But only if we hold fast to it - I Corinthians 15:1-2
B. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple
1. The teachings of God not only instruct us, but they also serve as a witness or testimony to God.
a. What other nation was given laws like those of the Israelites? Notice the variety of terms used to refer to the laws - Deuteronomy 4:1-14
b. This is why Moses put the tablets of the Testimony into the ark of the Covenant - Exodus 32:16
c. As each generation learned the instructions of God, they also learned the testimony of God’s power - Psalm 78:1-7 (notice the variety of terms referring to the law)
2. That testimony is sure. It is well established and firm.
a. The plagues in Egypt proved to Israel who God was - Exodus 10:1-2
(1) But they also prove God to the Egyptians - Exodus 7:4-5
(2) And it was proven to other nations - Exodus 18:10-11
b. The events recorded are proof of God - Ezekiel 39:27-29
c. God has proven His abilities - Isaiah 5:21-23
3. Only a fool would ignore the evidence - Psalm 14:1
4. But when we heed it, we become wise
a. It gives light - Psalm 119:130
b. God’s laws teaches wisdom - Proverbs 2:1-7
c. II Timothy 3:15 - Able to give wisdom
C. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart
1. Precepts are directions or guidance of God. It is the way God wants us to walk.
a. The word is used exclusively in Psalms
b. Psalms 119:45-48 - By God’s guidance we can walk freely, but notice again the other terms
c. When we talk about God’s way or the Way, we are talking about God’s precepts.
2. When we follow God’s way, we find that they are always right -
a. Jeremiah 10:23 - Man cannot find the right path by himself
b. Proverbs 20:24 - God directs our steps
3. This guidance becomes our delight - Psalm 119:24
a. It was a joy to Paul to concur with God’s laws - Romans 7:22
D. The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes
1. Here is what we normally think of as laws. These are God’s orders or His ordinances.
2. God’s laws are clear. They are not obscured.
a. They are like refined silver - Psalms 12:6
b. Romans 7:12 - The law is holy
c. I Timothy 1:8 - It is good when it is used properly
3. The purity of God’s law enlightens us
a. It improves us - Psalm 119:98-100
b. It becomes a lamp to guide our feet - Psalm 119:105
c. Notice the terms - Proverbs 6:23
d. What was written was for our instruction - Romans 15:4
E. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever
1. We don’t often think of our fear or reverence for God as another term for God’s word
a. Yet fear is the beginning of wisdom - Proverbs 1:7; 9:9-10
b. If you think back to those passages where many words were used to describe God’s laws, you will find fear in them.
c. See how it is used to describe the Spirit of God - Isaiah 11:2
d. We need to learn the fear of the Lord - Psalm 34:11-14
2. The Law gives a reverence for God that is without blemish. It is whole, without any taint. As we would expect from a pure God - I John 1:5
3. Filth is a sign of decay, but God’s word is permanent - I Peter 1:22-25
F. The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether
1. The law contains God’s decisions, His judgments on various matters and well as His determined consequences when His laws are followed or disobeyed.
a. Statutes and judgments - Deuteronomy 4:8
2. God’s judgments are always right. They are the truth
a. Psalm 119:142 - His law is truth
b. John 17:17 - God’s word is truth
c. Revelation 16:7 - Righteous and true are God’s judgments
d. Revelation 15:3 - Righteous and true are God’s ways
IV. We do not live under the Old Law
A. That law has passed away - Hebrews 7:18-19; 8:6-13 (again note the terms being used).
B. But it does not mean we are without laws
1. Law of Christ - Galatians 6:2
2. A law of liberty - James 1:25 (Remember God’s guidance gives us freedom in our walk?)
C. The Old Law was marvelous, but the New Law of Christ is even better
D. It cannot be ignored - Hebrews 2:1-4
V. Will you obey God’s law and become His child? - I John 2:3-6
The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
The precepts 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; they are righteous altogether.
They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.
Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, so that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. Your eyes have seen what the LORD has done in the case of Baal-peor, for all the men who followed Baal-peor, the LORD your God has destroyed them from among you. But you who held fast to the LORD your God are alive today, every one of you. See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him? Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today? Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons. Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when the LORD said to me, 'Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.' You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness, cloud and thick gloom. Then the LORD spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form--only a voice. So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone. The LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might perform them in the land where you are going over to possess it.
Listen, O my people, to my instruction; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers That they should teach them to their children, That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children, That they should put their confidence in God And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments.
Hebrews 7:18-19; 8:6-13
For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. For finding fault with them, He says, "BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH; NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS ON THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT; FOR THEY DID NOT CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT, AND I DID NOT CARE FOR THEM, SAYS THE LORD. FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS. AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN, AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, 'KNOW THE LORD,' FOR ALL WILL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM. FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE." When He said, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.