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Our God: Revealed through His Attributes, Reflected in His Law, & Illustrated by His Ceremonies
Romans 7:12, 14, 16, 22, 25
Today we are looking at the backbone of God’s Word the Bible. That backbone is the Law. God explains His Law as being the teaching, or rules, or directions of the Divine Teacher.
In the Old Testament we see God giving His Law. The word in Hebrew for law is a word many of us have heard, it’s the word torah. Torah means the teachings of a teacher. When used of God’s Law it means that God came as the Divine Teacher, and gives His Divine Teaching.
Because God is Eternal, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, and All-Wise: His teaching is unlike any other.
The Divine Teacher Speaks
God’s Law (or teaching) once and for all, perfectly delineates what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad. Order comes from rules, laws, standards, and fixed points. God says that for life to be right His rules must be kept.
What is right and what is wrong?
Is there any way to determine right and wrong?
The Simple Answer to Everything
Today we look at the core of all that we hold onto as believers. The foundation of everything is that God is True, that He has given Truth, and that we hold the special revelation of God’s Truth in written form in God’s Word the Bible.
God has revealed Himself in nature, but most powerfully in His Word.
God’s Word is offered as the only final answer for all of life’s questions, problems, needs, challenges, sorrows, and disasters. The simplest test of truth is the determination of right and wrong.
Everything comes down to right and wrong.
So, What is right and what is wrong? Think about how simple and how profound is the answer to this question:
How Are Right & Wrong Determined?
Is there any way to determine right and wrong?
Yes, there is an absolute way to determine right and wrong; but it is only one way:
God’s Word has revealed that conformity to the moral character of God, the Creator & Owner of Everything, makes things right; and any lack of conformity to God’s moral character makes things wrong.
That’s it. It is really just that simple.
Conformity to God’s Moral Character = What’s Right
So what is God’s moral character? In the Bible we have been given three incredible tools to discern, understand, and apply God’s moral character.
God’s Attributes are the explanation of His moral character.
God’s Law is the application of His moral character.
God’s Ceremonies & Rules are the illustrations of His moral character.
Join me for an amazing study today, perhaps one of the most vital we could ever do. In this one study we can connect and sum up everything that God wants us to know.
God says that the most amazing discovery we ever make in life is when we come to know His truth.
God’s Word is the Truth. When we were saved we begin to love the truth. But truth only comes from God; and only His truth sets us free. So we go now to God as the source of absolute, liberating, life transforming truth.
How Has God Revealed Himself?
|First, there is Only One infinite and eternal God,
existing as God the Father, Son & Spirit who has revealed Himself.
|Next, that One God has revealed Himself.
There is General Revelation of God all around us in the universe,
but God’s Special Revelation is in His Word both written and incarnate.
|Finally, God has explained Himself to us by His Law, the Scriptures.|
God’s Laws Reflect His Eternal Character
In the book of Romans, the greatest doctrinal portion of God’s Word, we find a comprehensive explanation of the eternal nature of God’s Law.
As we open to Romans 7, Paul is explaining the conflict that goes on in the life of a normal, healthy, growing follower of Jesus Christ. Paul as he wrote Romans was a mature, godly believer; and in chapter 7 he reveals the human side of the daily struggle we all face with sin. Then in chapter 8 he reveals the Divine side. These two chapters are not conflicting, they are corresponding.
As we stand, listen to Paul explain the Law of God and how it is at work in his life as a mature, godly believer. Note these five declarations about God’s Law from the chief doctrinal treacher of the New Testament Church, the Apostle Paul.
Romans 7:12-25 (NKJV) Therefore the law is holy, and the commandmentholy and just and good.
14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.
16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.
22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
Romans 7: God’s Law is Forever Good & Holy
In Romans 7 Paul says:
The law is holy, just and good (v.12);
The law is spiritual (v. 14);
I agree that the law is good (v. 16);
I delight in the law of God (v. 22);
I serve the law of God (v.25).
Paul is not talking about the Pharisaical, external, legalistic quest for human achievement by keeping myriads of man made rules. That is not the Law of God.
How is Law Used in the New Testament?
To understand what God’s Law is we need to see how Jesus uses this term in the New Testament and then how His Apostles refer to the Law as they write the Epistles. When we read through the New Testament we can see that there are four different ways that Jesus and those around Him referred to the Law.
- The Ten Commandments are called law. Mark 10:17-19 (NKJV)Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” 18 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one isgood but One, that is, God.19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’”
- The Pentateuch is called law. John 8:17 (NKJV)It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true.
- The Old Testament is called law. Luke 24:44 (NKJV) Then He said to them, “These arethe words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and theProphets and thePsalms concerning Me.
- The traditions of the religious leaders are called law. Matthew 15:1-9 (NKJV)Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying,2 “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”3 He answered and said to them,“Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from meis a gift to God”— 6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. 7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 8 ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”
Self-Righteousness, Rule Keeping & Legalism isn’t God’s Law
Paul says the Law of God is just that: God’s revelation of His eternal, holy, changeless, perfect moral character.
Paul says that Law of God’s character, His attributes, His desires, and His commands will never go away.
Paul says that God’s Law will always be what we as His children want to do and to be.
God’s Law Leads to Christ
As lost sinners we were confronted with the Law of God’s perfect standard and fell short.
As lost sinners we hated the light of His Law exposing our sins, and sought to hide from the light and cover up our sins. We found rules we could keep, and proudly kept them.
But God’s Law kept declaring nothing we do in our flesh could ever please God.
Only what is done in the power of His Spirit, from a regenerated and new heart matters to God.
God’s standard never changes. Our response does.
Before salvation the law condemns and kills us.
After salvation the law is a delightful reminder that God is perfect, and He expects perfection. Because we are imperfect, we cling to Christ in us as the perfection God seeks and finds. When we sin we just cling tighter to Christ knowing He has already once and for all died for every sins we will ever commit, saving us to the uttermost.
Each time we sin we confess (agreeing that God’s Law is truth, and we failed again). We reaffirm that Christ paid for all our sins. WE are already once and for all times forgiven. We do not need to ask God again for forgiveness, we are forever forgiven. We only need to seek His cleansing.
Confession is agreeing with God’s Law. We are to constantly be characterized by agreeing that God is holy and apart from His lovee, mercy, and justifying grace we would be forever lost. Each time we sin it is a painful reminder of what it cost God to love us, come and find us, save and cleanse us, and now hold onto us to keep us from falling.
Back to our original question: What is God’s Law? Is God’s Law it a set of rules to be kept, or something much, much greater? The answer we find as we note that:
God’s Law is a Reflection of His Eternal Attributes
|Attribute of God||Explanation by God|
|Truthfulness (Num. 23:19)||So God hates falsehood (Ex. 20:16), and lying lips are an abomination to Him (Pr. 12:22); and finally all liars will find their place in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 21:8).|
|Goodness (Psalm 100:5)||So anything that God says is not goodness is badness. Thus all attitudes and actions that are evil, filthy, and corrupt according to God are sin .|
|Love (1 John 4:8)||So all selfishness, harshness, and hatefulness is sin.|
|Gracefulness, Mercifulness, & Patience (Ex. 34:6)||So gracelessness, mercilessness, and impatience are wrong, and godless.|
|Holiness (Lev. 19:2)||So as the cherubim chant that truth around the Throne, God wrath is forver upon unholiness. Only those who follow after holiness get to see God (Heb. 12:14), and all true believers are characterized by seeking to purge anything filthy from their lives (2 Cor. 7:1).|
|Peacefulness (or Orderliness) (1 Cor. 14:33)||So all confusion, disorder, and unrest is godless and not godly.|
|Righteousness & Justice (Deut. 32:4)||So God is the final say on what is right and what is wrong. Whatever conforms to God’s moral charcter is right; and whatever does not conform tyo God’s moral character is wrong.|
Old Testament Law Has Three Parts
Most students of the Bible see three main divisions in the Old Testament Law: moral, judicial, and ceremonial. The moral law is at the top and is an expression of God’s moral character. Who He is and what He desires from His creatures. Then the judicial law is an illustration of that moral law for everyday life in Israel. The ceremonial law is how God’s moral law is reflected in the worship and rituals of Israel at the Tabernacle and Temple.
In that order the simplest way to explain it would be that God’s Moral Law is a reflection of His character and is for all humans. It is His absolute standard of right and wrong. God’s Moral Law is initially expressed in the Ten Commandments. All of the others laws flowed from that initial declaration of God’s character. Then from that Moral law there are two subsets: the Judicial Law and the Ceremonial Law. Both of those two subsets reflect the Moral Law but both were specifically directed just to Israel.
As long as Israel was a nation there was a Judicial Law that explains all about rules for applying God’s Moral Law in society, defining crimes and their punishments. These laws are good, wise, and given by God to Israel. God wanted to make Israel distinctly different from all the other nations. He regulated their behavior so that they would reflect Him. When Israel ceased to be a nation God ceased requiring that Israel follow these laws.
Then there were the Ceremonial Laws, which encompassed all of the worship that God had prescribed for Israel surrounding the Tabernacle, the Temple, and the calendar of Sabbath days and Feasts. When the Temple was destroyed in AD 70 God declared that there was no more need for Israel to follow the ceremonial law.
God’s Law Reflects His Character
|God’s Moral Law||God’s Ceremonial & Judicial Law|
|Applying God’s Character||Illustrating Good Behavior|
|Applying God’s Desires for Us||Illustrating God Incarnated as Christ|
|Reflecting God’s Holiness to Us||Illustrating the Pathway to God|
|Showing our Sinfulness||Illustrating the Price of Sin|
Today our goal is to understand one simple question, but that question connects everything we read in this book called the Bible. Here is the simple question: What is God’s Law & What Parts are Still Binding on New Testament Believers: None, Some or All?
God Explains His Desires In the Ten Commandments
From the beginning God has revealed that His attributes and character are based on love.
In Leviticus and Deuteronomy we find God declaring His desire that we obey the greatest commandment to love God supremely (Deut. 6:5), and to love our neighbor as our self (Lev. 19:18).
Jesus repeats that truth when questioned in Matthew 22:37. Paul amazingly enlarges this truth to help us understand the law. In Romans 13:8 Paul says that love actually fulfills the law.
If we step back and think about that statement it makes sense. In the first four commandments we see that if we love God:
|Exodus 20:2-11||Love God Supremely:|
|2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.||Love Surrenders: If you love God Supremely: He is in charge of your life|
|4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourthgenerations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.||Love Follows: If you love God Supremely: Nothing else can take His place in your life|
|7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not holdhim guiltless who takes His name in vain.||Love Honors: If you love God Supremely: You seek to honor His Name in every way|
|8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days theLord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.||Love is Intimate: If you love God Supremely: You want to spend time deepening your relationship with Him.|
|Exodus 20:12-17||Love Your Neighbor:|
|12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.||If you love your neighbor as yourself: You never dishonor them.|
|13 “You shall not murder.||If you love your neighbor as yourself: You never harm them.|
|14 “You shall not commit adultery.||If you love your neighbor as yourself: You never defile them.|
|15 “You shall not steal.||If you love your neighbor as yourself: You never take what is their’s.|
|16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.||If you love your neighbor as yourself: You never lie to or about them.|
|17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”||If you love your neighbor as yourself: You never want to have what is their’s.|
God Wants to Write His Law on our Hearts
What is the New Covenant, from which we get the term that we are “New Testament” Christians? It is the grace of God that brought us salvation. What happens at that time we are saved? This is how God describes it:
Hebrews 10:16 (NKJV) “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” (quoting Jer. 31:33
Holy, Holy, Holy #262
 These attributes are stated following Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology chapter 12, and are communicable attributes numbers 5 to 11.