Moral Law? All Of God’s Laws Are Moral!
by Christine Egbert
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “moral law” as: “a general rule of right living; especially such a rule, or group of rules, conceived as universal and unchanging, and has the sanction of God’s will, of conscience, of man’s moral nature, or of natural justice revealed through human reason.”
“Human reason” is at the heart of this man-made dichotomy which divides YHVH’s instructions for living into ceremonial and moral laws, terms found nowhere in Scripture.
Teachers of this man-made dichotomy want us to believe that those laws they deem ceremonial are now irrelevant. But Scripture tells us that God never changes! He decreed that there is “One Law” for His Covenant People and for the strangers dwelling among them!
The man-made doctrine that divides God’s instructions into moral and ceremonial, then dismisses the latter, causes cognitive dissonance (inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes relating to behavioral decisions) in those of us who believe the Bible is God’s WORD, and that God is not a man that He should lie. Throughout Scripture God commands His people “to guard and to keep ALL of His Judgements, ALL of His Testimonies, and ALL of His Statutes,” and to do it “FOREVER”!
When Was This Heresy Birthed?
This heresy was birthed in Eden, in the Garden, when the Serpent whispered, “Hath God really said?” It reigned during the time of the Judges, when Israel did that which was right in their own eyes. It caused King Jeroboam to decree that the House of Israel would no longer go up to sacrifice in Jerusalem, the city in which Yahweh placed His name. Instead, they would erect two golden calves, one in Bethel, the other in Dan, and worship the Most High there. They would change Lord Yahweh’s appointed time for celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles, from the 15th day of the 7th month to the 15th day of the 8th. And they would raise up priests, not from the sons of Levi, but from the lowest of people.
Keeping only those laws they agreed with was rife among many of the Gentiles coming to faith during the first, second, third, and fourth centuries. Church Fathers such as Justin Marty decried God’s Sabbaths and Feast Days, calling them “just punishments imposed on the Jews”. Antisemitism caused many new Gentile believers to twist Paul’s words, which prompted the Apostle Peter to warn that “some of Paul’s writings are hard to understand, and that the ignorant and unstable pervert what Paul writes to their own destruction.” That’s the reason Peter warned that we should not to be led astray “by the error of the lawless.”
Roman Catholic Theologian Thomas Aquinas divided God’s instructions into what he called moral, ceremonial, and judicial laws. The moral precepts, Aquinas claimed, were the only permanent ones. The others were no longer in effect. They were temporary. The Catholic Church claimed that only those laws which they decreed to be moral existed prior to Moses at Mt. Sinai and therefor they remained in effect.
Really? The laws the Catholic Church deems “ceremonial” didn’t exist prior to Moses receiving them at Mount Sinai? If that were true, how did Noah know which animals were clean and which were unclean? When God instructed Noah to take only one pair of the unclean animals (like pigs) onto the ark, but 7 pair of the clean, why didn’t Noah ask, “What do you mean, Lord? Which animals are clean and which are unclean?” And after the flood, when plants were no longer growing, and God gave Noah permission to add meat to his formerly vegetarian diet, why didn’t Noah eat any of the unclean animals? And we know he didn’t or we wouldn’t have any unclean animals alive today. No one would be gorging on Easter ham to celebrate Yeshua’s resurrection. And what about Yahweh’s instructions to Noah not to eat flesh in it’s life or its blood? Aren’t they the sort of laws the Catholic Church and later the Protestants marginalized as “ceremonial”?
And what about Abraham? “In his seed,” God said, “all nations would be blessed.” Why? BECAUSE Abraham (who lived long before Moses was born) obeyed God’s Commandments, His Statutes, and His Judgements. (Gen 26:4-5)
Wikipedia says this about Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas: Ceremonial precepts (the “ceremonial law” dealing with forms of worshipping God and with ritual cleanness) and judicial precepts (such as those in Exodus 21) came into existence only with the Law of Moses and were only temporary. The ceremonial commands were “ordained to the Divine worship for that particular time and to the foreshadowing of Christ.” Accordingly, upon the coming of Christ they ceased to bind, and to observe them now would, Aquinas taught, be equivalent to declaring that Christ has not yet come, for Christians a mortal sin.
However, while the judicial laws ceased to bind with the advent of Christ, it was not a mortal sin to enforce them. Aquinas says, “If a sovereign were to order these judicial precepts to be observed in his kingdom, he would not sin.” Although Aquinas believed the specifics of the Old Testament judicial laws were no longer binding, he taught that the judicial precepts contained universal principles of justice that reflected natural law. Thus some scholars refer to his views on government as “General Equity Theonomy”. Unlike the ceremonial and judicial precepts, moral commands continue to bind and are summed up in the Ten Commandments (although assigning of the weekly Sabbath to the 7th day is ceremonial).
According to Catholic Church doctrine, after Christ came the ceremonial law ceased to be binding. Yet, in Matthew chapter 5, Yeshua declared that until Heaven and earth pass away (and they’re still here) not one jot or tittle would pass from the Torah or the prophets until all was fulfilled (and all prophecy has not been fulfilled), and that whoever breaks and teaches other to break the “least” of these laws would be “least in the Kingdom”, but that those who keep and teach others to keep them would be Great.
|“We believe, teach, and confess that the distinction between the Law and the Gospel is to be maintained in the Church with great diligence as an especially brilliant light, by which, according to the admonition of St. Paul, the Word of God is rightly divided. The distinction between Law and Gospel is that Law demands obedience to God’s will, while Gospel refers to the promise of forgiveness of sins in the light of the person and work of Jesus Christ.”|
Between 1580 and 1713 (considered the age of Lutheran Orthodoxy) this principle was considered of fundamental importance by Lutheran theologians.
Paul asked, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. (Romans 3:31)
Wikipedia writes: “The view of the Reformed churches or Calvinism, referred to as Covenant Theology, is similar to the Roman Catholic view in holding that Mosaic Law continues under the New Covenant, while declaring that parts of it have “expired” and are no longer applicable (the parts they don’t like). The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) divides the Mosaic laws into three categories: moral, civil, and ceremonial. In the view of the Westminster Divines, only the moral laws of the Mosaic Law, which include the Ten Commandments and the commands repeated in the New Testament, directly apply to Christians today. Ceremonial laws, in this view, include the regulations pertaining to ceremonial cleanliness, festivals, diet, and the Levitical priesthood.”
Calvinists believe that only those laws “repeated” in the New Testament apply to Christians today. The problem with this logic is that most theologians today fail to recognize when one of the so-called ceremonial laws is mentioned in the New Testament. Take for instance these scriptures:
2Co 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the “unclean thing”; and I will receive you,
Eph 5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor “unclean” person … hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness…
I can assure you, these New Testaments mentions of uncleanness are not in reference to someone needing to bathe. They refer to Yahweh’s instructions (His Torah) regarding what is and is not clean.
“…I am the LORD your God which have separated you from other people. You shall therefore put a difference between clean beasts and unclean… you shall not make your souls abominable by beast or by fowl or by any manner of living thing that creeps on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. And you shall be holy unto me for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people that you should be mine.”
Lev 5:2 Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcass of an unclean beast, or a carcass of unclean cattle, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty.
Lev 7:19 And the flesh that touches any unclean thing shall not be eaten…
Lev 7:21 Moreover the soul that shall touch any unclean thing, as the uncleanness of man, or any unclean beast, or any abominable unclean thing, and eat of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which pertain unto the LORD, even that soul shall be cut off from his people.
Lev 11:4 Nevertheless, these shall ye not eat of, them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof, as the camel, because he that chews the cud, but divides not the hoof, he is unclean unto you.
Lev 10:10 And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean…
Make no mistake, when the writers of the New Testament say things like “no unclean person has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ”, or when uncleanness is listed among the works of the flesh, it is regarding God’s instructions in the TORAH.
Here is an excerpt taken from a Christian website called Got?.org
Question: “Do Christians have to obey the Old Testament law?”
“Answer: The key to understanding the relationship between the Christian and the Law is knowing that the Old Testament law was given to the nation of Israel, not to Christians. Some of the laws were to reveal to the Israelites how to obey and please God (the Ten Commandments, for example). Some of the laws were to show the Israelites how to worship God and atone for sin (the sacrificial system). Some of the laws were intended to make the Israelites distinct from other nations (the food and clothing rules). None of the Old Testament law is binding on Christians today. When Jesus died on the cross, He put an end to the Old Testament law. Christians are now under the law of Christ, which is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself.
That’s a fact! We are commanded to love God and our fellow man. But it’s also a fact that Yeshua’s laws are His Father’s laws. In John 7:16, Yeshua declared that His doctrines are not His, but His Father’s. And in John 6:38, Yeshua made it clear that He came down from Heaven not to do His will, but the will of His Father. And 2nd John 1:5-6 explains that we love our fellow man (a commandment which we have had from the beginning) through obedience to God’s commands.
Read it for yourself! (2nd John 1:5-6) “And now, dear lady, I am writing to you not a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another, and this is love, that we walk in obedience to His commands.”
I could go on and on, citing the definitions of various denominations as to what the moral law is. And believe me, they all have a slightly different take on the matter. (And why wouldn’t they? They’re doing what is right in their own eyes.) But instead I will close with a teaching by my pastor, Matthew Miller, regarding “judgement, testimonies, and Statutes”. But first let’s define Torah, that word which most New Testaments translate simply as LAW. Its number one definition is “instruction.” It comes from the Hebrew root word yārāh which means to ‘show, direct, and instruct.’
Deu 4:45 These are the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments, which Moses spake unto the children of Israel, after they came forth out of Egypt…
These are deeds we are told to do or not do, that are logical to our human thinking, things like “Do not kill! Do not steal! Feed orphans!” (These are God’s instructions which have been classified the MORAL LAW. Why? Because most of humanity concurs with these instructions.)
These are instructions that the human mind would not have logically thought up: like wearing tzitzit or tefillin. (These are more holy than the Judgements.)
These are the MOST holy. Why? Because they are spiritual! We accept these by FAITH. Our human minds do not easily understand God’s instructions regarding dietary and family purity laws. Statutes about not mixing wool with linen are irrational to man’s natural thinking.
So what is the moral law? Its every one of the Most High’s instructions. We might not understand all of them (for His ways are not our ways), but make no mistake, the Creator of the Universe does. He knows exactly why He gave each one of them.
Scripture defines sin as a violation of God’s Law. Through Adam’s sin, death entered the world. Using a scientific term, we might say entropy entered God’s creation. Entropy is defined as a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system.
“Information theory” measures the rate of transfer of this information in a particular message or language. Lack of transfer of this information causes a gradual decline into disorder.
Those who believe in “manmade global warming” blame man’s invention of the combustion engine for destroying the planet. But SIN (violation of our Creator’s instruction manual), not the combustion engine, is what wreaks havoc on God’s Creation. SIN brings disorder to His system.
Those who love the Messiah must strive to keep His commandments, which are His Father’s commandments, to the best of their ability. YHVH’s Righteousness is Forever! His Torah is TRUTH! (Psalms 119:142). God has called His people to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. Heaven and earth have not passed away, neither have His instructions. If you’re serious about slowing down entropy (corruption) in your life and in this world, keep Lord YHVH’s TORAH!
A Closing Thought
In Matthew 22:37-40, in answer to the question, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Torah?” Yeshua replied that loving God was the greatest commandment. He then explained that loving our neighbor as ourselves was the second. But he didn’t stop there. He went on to explain something, which those who classify Torah’s commandments into moral and ceremonial must seriously consider. For the commandments dealing with loving our fellow man are the ones they have classified as “moral” and they keep. It’s the commands they claim are ceremonial that they reject, and these are the very ones that deal with showing our love for God. Now that is something worth thinking about.