Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Moral Law

Q. 40: What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?
Answer: The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience, was the moral law. (WSC)

When God created the world, he revealed to man the moral law. The “moral” law refers to the unchanging standard of right and wrong based upon the holy character of God and the way he designed the world. The moral law can be called “natural law,” since it is based on the nature of God and creation. This law does not offer forgiveness to sinners, but instead condemns the least violation of its perfect standard.

The moral law is revealed both through natural revelation and special revelation. Originally, Adam and Eve had knowledge of the moral law in their conscience, being created in the perfect image of God. Even among those who are in rebellion against the law, the law continues to work on their hearts through the conscience (Rom. 2:14-15). Man is confronted by the purpose evident in the created order and in his conscience, but he seeks to silence these sources of conviction. Therefore, as we will see in the next catechism question, this same law is revealed, with more power and clarity, in Scripture (Rom. 7:7, Ps. 19:7-11).

The moral law of God is not arbitrary. It is “holy and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12). As John Murray remarked,
“What is moral law? Law frequently sounds to our uninstructed ears as something very primitive, crude, temporary, arbitrary. Antinomian tendencies inherent in our sinful hearts, and given widespread currency in much of what professes to be evangelical teaching, are responsible for this. It is due, however, to complete misunderstanding, or still worse, perversity. Moral law is in the last analysis but the reflection or expression of the moral nature of God. God is holy, just and good, and the law which is also holy, just and good is simply the correlate of the holiness and justice and goodness of God. Man is created in the image of God and the demand, the inescapable postulate of that relation that man sustains to God as responsible and dependent creature, is that he be conformed in the inmost fibre of his moral being and in all the conditions and activities of his person to the moral perfection of God. ‘Ye shall be holy, for I am holy.’ ‘Ye shall be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.’… Moral law is the moral perfection of God coming to expression for the regulation of life and conduct.” (“The Sanctity of the Moral Law,” 1935).

No comments: