The Law (1 of 2)


[Heb. torah (to-raw')] - "a precept or statute, especially the Decalogue or Pentateuch:--law" (Strong's Dictionary)

[Gr. nomos (nom'-os)] - "law" (Strong's Dictionary)

The term "law", as used in the Bible, includes various meanings, based on the context:

A specific kind of law (e.g., Ten Commandments (aka the moral law), Civil Law, Ceremonial Law)

The Pentateuch (Writings of Moses - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)

The Old Testament Scriptures

Within this topic, unless specified otherwise, "the law" refers to the moral law.

Kinds of Law Mentioned in the Bible

Moral Law  The Moral Law

The Ten Commandments (Ex 20:1-17)

Also known as the Decalogue, the Testimony, the law of God, and the law

Testifies of God's character (Mt 22:37-40, Ro 13:8-10) (compare 1Jn 4:8)

Defines sin (1Jn 3:4)

Ceremonial Law

Sacrificial system and ordinances (ritualistic) (Ex 25-31, Ex 35-40, Lev 1-9, Lev 16, Lev 23-25)

Pointed forward to Christ's sacrifice on the cross and His priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary (Heb 10:1-4,11,12,19,20, 1Co 5:7)

Ended at the cross (Eph 2:15, Col 2:14,16,17, Heb 7:11,18,19, Heb 10:1,4,8,9)

Health Law

Clean and unclean foods (Lev 11, Dt 14)

Treatment of diseases (Lev 12-15)

Since our bodies have not changed, the health laws are still relevant today.

Civil Law

Commands, decrees, judgments, civil ordinances, statutes (Ex 21-23, Lev 18-20, Dt 15-25)

The civil law was an interpretation and application of the moral law for the Jewish theocracy

Used by judges (Dt 17:8-12)

As a source of better understanding the moral law, the civil law is still of interest today.

Physical Law

Decree for the rain (Job 28:26)

Laws of the heavens (Job 38:33)

Man's Law

Traditions of men (Mt 15:3-9, Ac 5:29, Ac 15:1-10, Col 2:8)

Human attempts to extend God's already perfect law

Law of the Sinful Nature

Law of the sinful nature (Ro 7:21-25)

Also know as the carnal (flesh) nature

Law of Faith

Law of faith (Ro 3:27)

We are justified by faith alone. (Ro 3:28)

The Law Existed Before Sinai

The law existed in heaven and was first challenged and broken by Lucifer. (Ps 103:20, Eze 28:13-17 compare 1Jn 3:8)

Some examples of pre-Sinai knowledge of the law (Ge 26:5, Ex 16:28-30)

Every sin committed is a violation of God's law. (Ro 4:15, 1Jn 3:4)

Some examples of pre-Sinai sin and knowledge of sin (Ge 4:7, Ge 18:20, Ge 39:9)

1. Do not have other gods (Ge 35:2-4)

2. Do not have idols (Ge 35:2-4)

3. Do not misuse the Lord's name (Ge 12:7,8 and Ge 21:33 indicate the reverence held for God's name)

4. Keep the 7th-day Sabbath holy (Ge 2:1-3, Ex 16:23-30,35)

5. Honor your parents (Ge 9:20-25)

6. Do not kill (Ge 4:5-11)

7. Do not commit adultery (Ge 39:7-9)

8. Do not steal (Ge 44:8,9)

9. Do not give false testimony (Ge 27:8-12)

10. Do not covet (Ge 13:8,9)

The Law Was Formalized at Sinai

1. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." (Ex 20:3)

2. "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." (Ex 20:4-6)

3. "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." (Ex 20:7)

4. "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." (Ex 20:8-11)

5. "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." (Ex 20:12)

6. "Thou shalt not kill." (Ex 20:13)

7. "Thou shalt not commit adultery." (Ex 20:14)

8. "Thou shalt not steal." (Ex 20:15)

9. "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." (Ex 20:16)

10. "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's." (Ex 20:17)

The Law was Repeated in the New Testament

1. Do not have other gods (Mt 4:10)

2. Do not have idols (Ac 17:29, 1Jn 5:21)

3. Do not misuse the Lord's name (1Ti 6:1)

4. Keep the 7th-day Sabbath holy (Mk 2:27,28, Lk 4:16)

5. Honor your parents (Mt 19:19)

6. Do not kill (Mt 19:18, Ro 13:9)

7. Do not commit adultery (Mt 19:18, Ro 13:9)

8. Do not steal (Mt 19:18, Ro 13:9)

9. Do not give false testimony (Mt 19:18, Ro 13:9)

10. Do not covet (Ro 7:7, Ro 13:9)

The Law was Amplified in the New Testament

The law is focused around love. (Mt 22:36-40 compare Lev 19:18 and Dt 6:5)

Commandments 1-4 define our relationship of love to God.

Commandments 5-10 define our relationship of love to other people.

Lust is adultery. (Mt 5:27,28, 2Pe 2:14,15)

Hate is murder. (Mt 5:21,22, 1Jn 3:15)

Fornication, uncleaness, covetousness, and other lusts are idolatry. (Col 3:5 compare Ro 7:7)

The Law is Perfect and Cannot be Changed

The law is perfect. (Ps 19:7, Jas 1:25 compare Jas 2:11,12)

The law is eternal. (Ps 111:7,8, Ps 119:143,144,152 compare Ex 25:16,21, Ps 119:160 compare Lev 26:46)

The law is unchangeable. (Dt 4:2, Ps 89:34, Mt 5:17-20 (context Mt 5:21,27,38, compare Heb 4:15), Lk 16:17 (context Lk 16:18))

If the law could be changed, Jesus would not have had to die for us. (Ro 4:25, 1Pe 2:24)

The Law is the Written Revelation of God's Character

Delivered directly by God to the people

Spoken by God (Ex 20:1-19, Dt 4:12,13, Dt 5:23-27)

The only part of the Bible written directly by God's own finger (Ex 24:12, Ex 31:18)

Other laws delivered indirectly to the people through Moses (Ex 34:30-32)

God refers to it as the Testimony (i.e., His Testimony). (Ex 25:21,22)

Placed the Testimony in the ark of the Testimony in the Most Holy Place (Ex 40:20,21 compare Heb 9:4, Rev 15:5)

Other (ceremonial) laws placed beside the ark (Dt 31:26)

The law reveals God's holiness and righteousness. (Ps 119:172, Ro 7:12)

The law reveals God's love. (Mt 22:37-40, Ro 13:8-10) (compare 1Jn 4:8)

The law reveals God's truth. (Ps 119:142,151) (compare Jn 14:6)

The Law Leads Us to Christ, Who is the Living Revelation of God's Character

The law acts as a mirror revealing sin and the need for the Saviour. (Ro 3:20, Ro 5:13,20, Ro 7:7,13, Gal 3:24, Jas 1:23-25)

Jesus is the living revelation of God's character. (Mt 5:17, Jn 14:9, Col 2:9, Heb 1:1-3)

We are Not Made Righteous by Keeping the Law

A mirror cannot clean us.

Our works do not make us righteous (Isa 64:6, Jn 15:1-5, Ac 13:38,39, Ro 3:20,27,28, Ro 4:1-5, Ro 9:30-32, Ro 11:5,6, Gal 2:15,16,20,21, Gal 3:11, Gal 5:4)

Note: A "legalist" is a person who believes his good works make him righteous.

The Sabbath rest from works symbolizes righteousness by faith. (Heb 4:4-6,9-11)

The Plan of Salvation Has Always Been the Same  The Sacrificial System  Jesus Crucifixion

Faith in Jesus has always been the only means of salvation. (Heb 10:3-5, Heb 11:1-40 note verses 39,40)

In the old testament, the sacrificial system pointed forward to Jesus the Saviour. (Ge 4:3-5, Ge 22:10-13, Heb 11:4)

In the new testament, we look backward to the finished work of our Saviour.

The blood of Christ is the soap that cleanses us from all sin. (1Jn 1:7, Rev 7:14)

We are saved through grace, by genuine faith in Jesus. We are not saved by works. (Hab 2:4, Ro 4:13,17, Eph 2:8,9)

Grace - "The free unmerited love and favor of God." (Webster's Dictionary 1828) (emphasis supplied

Grace was active in the old testament. (Ge 6:8, Ex 33:12, Ps 84:11, Zec 4:6,7)

The gospel was preached in the old testament. (2Ch 6:41, Eze 36:26-29, Jn 5:39, Jn 8:56, Ro 3:21,22, Heb 3:16,17 then Heb 4:2)

Enoch, the seventh from Adam prophesied about the Lord's coming. (Jude 1:14,15)

David prophesied about the Son of God. (Ps 2:7 compare Ac 13:33)

God does not change. (Mal 3:6, Heb 13:8, Jas 1:17)

We Keep the Law Because we Love God

Our obedience and our works are a natural result of genuine faith in Jesus and love for God. (Ps 119:97-104, Jn 14:15,21, 1Jn 5:3)

The presence of works is evidence that our faith is genuine, that Jesus lives in and through us. (Jas 2:17,20,22,26)

Jesus is the source; we are the branches; our works are the fruit. (Jn 15:1-5)

It is not through our own power that we keep the law.

Christ (living through us) enables us to keep the law. (2Co 5:21, Gal 2:20, Gal 5:16,22-25)

The law is written on our heart. (Ps 37:30,31, Ps 40:8, Jer 31:33, Eze 11:19,20, Eze 36:26,27, Mt 15:1-3,7-9, Ro 2:14,15, Heb 8:10 compare 2Co 3:3, Heb 10:16)

Love is the Essence of the Law

Love is the essence of the law. (Dt 6:4,5, Lev 19:18, Mt 7:12, Mt 22:35-40, see also Mk 12:28-31, Mt 23:23,24, Ro 13:8-10, 1Jn 5:2, 2Jn 1:5,6 (compare Jn 13:34)

God Expects Obedience to His Law

God expects obedience to His law. (Dt 5:32, Pr 28:4,9, Isa 24:5,6, Jer 7:8-10, Ecc 12:13, Hos 4:6, Mal 4:3-5, Mt 28:19,20, Jn 14:15,21,23, Jn 15:10,14, Ro 2:13, Ro 7:21-25, Ro 8:7,8, 1Co 7:19, Heb 5:8,9, 1Jn 3:4-10, Rev 22:14)

Grace did not abolish the law. (Ro 3:31, Ro 6:1,2,14,15, Ro 8:3,4, Jude 1:4)

The law is not obsolete. (Isa 42:21, Mt 7:21, Heb 8:10, 1Jn 2:3-6)

Jesus kept the law perfectly. (Jn 15:10, Heb 4:15)

The wicked are characterized by lawlessness. (Da 7:25, 2Th 2:3,8,9, 2Pe 2:7,8)

In the last days, God's faithful remnant people keep His law. (Rev 12:17, Rev 14:12)

We are Blessed by Keeping the Law

We are blessed by keeping the law. (Dt 6:24, Ps 19:8, Pr 3:1,2, Pr 29:18, Isa 48:18)

Breaking the Law is Serious

There are no small sins. (Jas 2:10)

The fall of man and the curse of the earth resulted from one act of disobedience. (Ge 3:17-19, Ro 5:17-19)

Christ died on the cross because of our sins, which are the breaking of the law. (Ro 4:25)


Imagine what the world would be like if everyone obeyed all the commandments.

The commandments are protecting walls, each commandment is indispensable.

Satan's widespread deceptions concerning God's law:

Satan tells us: "You need not obey God's law."

The implication being: "So take it off your list of priorities."

Satan tells us: "You cannot obey God's law."

The implication being: "So stop feeling guilty about habitual sin."

Satan tells us: "You should not obey God's law."

The implication being: "So keep away from all teachings that uplift God's law."

We should keep God's law more and more, rather than less and less.