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What Is The Moral Law?

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.”

At the heart of this false dichotomy of God’s Law into ceremonial and moral law is human reasoning. But Scripture tells us that His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts. Nevertheless, false teaches would have us believe that God, who declares the end out of the beginning and never changes, has changed. He’s changed His mind. He no longer has just “One Law for His covenant people and the stranger who dwells among them.” Now He has two. One for Israel, the other for the Church. And His earlier instructions to guard and keep ALL of His Judgements, ALL of His Testimonies, and ALL of His Statutes FOREVER” and “not add to or take away from them”, well, most of them have been nullified–according to replacement theologians and dispensationalist. Only, I disagree. I firmly maintain that God, who changes not, said what He meant, and still means it today!  

False teachers, in their colossal arrogance, claim that God now (since the time of Christ) requires His people to keep only those instructions which THEY deem moral by their human reasoning.

Moral law, a term found nowhere in Scripture, was coined by theologians who needed to justify their refusal to abide by all of God’s judgements, testimonies, and statutes. God’s instructions, which they disagree with or deem trivial, they simply dismiss, claiming they are only for the Jews.

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 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 Gentile’s coming to faith during the second half of first century. It 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. It’s what motivated Peter to warn them not be led astray by the error of the lawless.

The 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” did not exist prior to Moses receiving them at Mount Sinai? If that were true, then tell me, please, how did Noah know which animals were clean and unclean? When God instructed Noah to take only one pare of the unclean animals (like pigs) onto the ark, but to take 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 there were no longer plants on the earth, 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 that he did not, for if he had there would be no unclean animals around today. Christians wouldn’t be able to gorge themselves on ham in celebration of the resurrection (sick).

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 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) obeyed God’s commandments, His statutes, and His Torah. (Gen 26:4-5)

Concerning the teaching of the Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas, Wikipedia says this: 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 thought, be equivalent to declaring falsely 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.

Now Let’s Hear From The Lutherans.

This is from Wikipedia: Article V of the Formula of Concord (1577) of the Lutheran Church declares:

“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.

To this utter nonsense, I must quote Paul: Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. (Romans 3:31)

What About Those Calvinists?

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 (Yea, 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.”

So the Calvinists believe that only those laws “repeated” in the New Testament apply to Christians today. The problem with this kind of thinking is that most theologians today fail to recognize when one of these 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 those needing to bathe. They refer to Yahweh’s instructions (His Torah) regarding what is and is not clean.

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. In place of the Old Testament law, Christians are under the law of Christ, which is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and to love your neighbor as yourself”

Yeah, well, Yeshua said (John 7:16) that His doctrines are not His, but His Father’s. He came down from Heaven not to do His will but the will of His Father. (John 6:38). Yeshua also said, “If you love me keep my commandments,” (which we have already established are His Father’s.)

And as to loving our fellow man, Scripture tells us how we are to love our fellow man (2 John 1:5-6). “And now, dear lady, I am not writing you 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.”

Well, 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 recap of a teaching my pastor, Matthew Miller, did regarding judgement, testimonies, and Statutes a while back. But first let me give you the real definition of Torah, that word which most New Testaments translate simply as LAW. It’s number one meaning is instruction. It comes from the Hebrew root word y?r?h which means to show, direct, and instruct.’

Deu 4:45  These are the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which Moses spake unto the children of Israel, after they came forth out of Egypt…

JUDGEMENTS/ Mishpatim

These are logical deeds that the human mind would have thought up, like Do not kill, do not steel, feed the orphans. (These are the ones modern Christianity deems MORAL.)

TESTIMONIES/ Edot

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.)

STATUTES/ Chukkim

These are the MOST holy. One must accept them by faith, for the human mind does not understand them, things like dietary law and family purity laws. The most extreme of these statutes are irrational to man’s thinking, such things as not mixing wool with lenin.

So to answer my opening question: what is the moral law? It is every single one of the Most High’s instructions. We might not understand all of them (His ways are not our ways), but make no mistake, the Creator of the Universe does. He knows exactly why He gave each of them.

And if we are saved by grace through faith, if we are in the Messiah, if we love Him, we will strive to keep His commandments, all of them, to the best of our ability, for His Righteousness is Forever, and His Torah is TRUTH (Psalms 119:142). God has called us to worship Him both in Spirit and in Truth, and like Heaven and earth, which have not passed away, neither have any of Yahweh’s instructions.

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One thought on “What Is The Moral Law?

  1. Thanks again for your article. There is much that I agree with about the confusion of these matters of those who claim to be the “church”. And just so you know who I am, I do not claim any denomination of Christendom for myself, but found the Savior through the reading of the scriptures. I had been introduced to them by some Seventh Day Adventist missionaries, but as I came to know the gospel, I fell out of fellowship with them. But on these matters of the Law, I studied diligently back in those days before we had an internet. I had nothing but a KJV bible and the Holy Spirit.
    I agree with you that God’s word never changes or becomes obsolete. The “Old Testament” was the scriptures referred to in the “New Testament” and it is one book from Genesis to Revelation. But as to Jews and Gentiles, there are some things that differentiate us in scriptures. And I would like your comments on the following scriptures to know how you reconcile these scriptures to the discussion you made above:
    1. The whole book of Galatians. Some had come in teaching the Gentiles that in order to be saved, they needed to be circumcised as was still the custom among Jewish Christians. During Paul’s refutation of this he declared that if they, as Gentiles, were trying to be justified through circumcision that they would be bound to keep all the laws of Moses and Christ would be of no use to them. He also said this about the Law, “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” (Gal 3:21-25)
    2. 2nd Corinthians 3, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2Co 3:5-18)
    What does Paul mean by “and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty”?

    3. There was also Peter going into the house of a gentile, Cornelius, which was not lawful for Peter, but God had commanded Him to go and not call those things which he saw in the vision unclean. Jesus also said that it wasn’t what goes into the mouth of a man that defiles him, but rather what comes out of his mouth, Matt 15: 10-20.

    Finally, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works”. (2Ti 3:16-17) All the scripture is to be understood and reverenced. Not just what we like, as you have said. That also includes what I posted here. Man does not live by bread alone, but by EVERY word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

    So I would like to know how these scriptures fit your explanations of Christian duty to follow the dietary laws and so forth which you argue above.
    God bless, Gary