God’s Law is Good

Christians, do you believe God’s word? Be careful here. I am not asking if you believe the parts that are easy for you. Do you really believe that, as Paul told us, all Scripture is inspired and profitable?

IF you believe that God is good and God’s word is good, you will have to allow that to impact how you think and feel about the Old Testament. While we are a New Covenant people, and we are grateful not to be under the old sacrificial system, we should nonetheless rejoice in the words that God gave his people.

Look at what God himself says to us about his word, particularly what he is going to tell his people in Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 4:5-8 – 5 See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? 8 And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?

In that last verse, we see a fascinating question. God says that those who see his people abide by his word will ask, “What great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law?” God is telling us that he is good, that is word is good, and that is law is perfectly just. Either these things are true, or God’s word is not true.

Since we are a people who love the Bible, we must understand that his words are true here as well. His law is good. His principles for justice are right. His orders for Israel, as a nation, were perfect.

While I’m not suggesting that it is the responsibility of the Christian to attempt to establish legal systems that are identical to those of ancient Israel, I am wanting modern Christians to grasp this point if nothing else: God’s law is good. When God told Israel what to eat and what not to eat, for them, at that time, it was absolutely and perfectly good. When God told Israel the penalty for crimes against one another or against God, his justice was good. When God told the people with what particularity they are to address his holiness and his worship, it was good.

Christians, when you begin to think through the law of God, will you be careful to start here? Will you start with the assumption, the word-centered, God-honoring assumption that his law is righteous and good? If you do not start here, you place yourself in a position to say that some of God’s law is good and some is not. You, in that mental move, place yourself in a position to judge the Lord, and that is akin to original sin itself.

Christians, love the word. Love the New Testament. Love the law. Understand that, no, we are not Old Testament Israel. We are not under the same dietary restrictions as was Israel. We are not bound to their ceremonies. But we can look to those ceremonies and find hints of the gospel. We can look to the law to see the glory of being a people set apart for the Lord. WE can look to the law to see our deep sinfulness and need of a Savior. WE can look to the law and see God’s great holiness. We can look to the law and see what justice looks like. We can look to the law and know better what pleases the Lord. God is good, all good, including his perfect and righteous law.

The Gift of God’s Law

The title of the book of Deuteronomy literally means second law. Moses is reiterating for the people of Israel the commands of God. The nation left Egypt nearly four decades ago, an entire generation lies buried in the desert. And now it will be time for the people of God to enter and take possession of the land.

Before the nation enters the land, God will use Moses as his spokesman one final time. God will have Moses remind the people of the laws of God that the nation received when they were still children, fresh out of Egypt. For the first 3 chapters of this book, Moses reminded the people of their basic history. In chapter 4, Moses begins to point to the law. And what Moses has to say is beautiful.

Deuteronomy 4:1-2 – 1 “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.

As God prepares to send Israel into her land, he points them directly to his word and his promise. He has promised them the land. But he has also shown them, as a people, how to live so as to be under his favor. And it all centers on the word of God.

Moses tells the people not to add to or take from the word of God. They are not to make up new commands, laws, or styles of worship that God did not command. They were not to adopt the religious practices and pagan moralities of the people living in Canaan. Nor were they to bring to the table new, fresh, never-before-seen ideas about who God is and how he is to be considered. They were to stick with the revelation of God they had received.

Neither was the nation to take from the word of God. It was not for Israel to enter the land and then ignore what God had commanded them about sacrifice, about marriage, or about justice. They were to worship as God prescribed. They were to shape their society as God had prescribed. And they, if they were to continue to be in God’s favor, were to keep his law without cutting it down.

As Christians who live under the New Covenant, we are not necessarily required to obey the laws that God gave to Israel about camping in the desert or the laws of sacrifice that were a shadow of the perfect sacrifice of Christ. But we would be fools not to see that the law of God shows who God is and what are his standards. God’s law teaches us about justice, genuine justice. God’s law teaches us about marriage and family. God’s law teaches us about God’s requirements for human sexuality. God’s law teaches us about God’s holiness. God’s law shows us that no sin has ever been forgiven without a substitutionary sacrifice, a perfect sacrifice—the sacrifice of Jesus—making atonement.

When God had Moses tell the people to keep his law and neither to add to nor take from it, God was showing the people that he had blessed them greatly. God had given them the information they needed to live as his people. This is a kindness from God beyond what we can imagine. God is not required by any external standard to let us know who he is or what he desires. God has every right to cast us into hell for sin even if he never tells us what sin is. But God chose to graciously reveal himself in his word. God chose to graciously reveal his worship, his standards, and his ways in his word.

May we never be a people who do anything less than treasure God’s word. Yes, from time to time we will need to examine Old Testament law closely to learn what is the timeless principle for today’s application. But there is such a thing. God’s law is perfect. God’s word is good. And we as the people of God love the law of God because that law reveals to us the God we worship if indeed we worship the true God. Never let any part of the word of God go. Never stop loving the word of God. Never change or twist the word of God. Let the law of God reveal to you our God and lead you to worship Jesus, the Son of God, who perfectly fulfilled the law of God on our behalf.