The Spiritual Law Before Moses
[Notes From Today’s Discussion-MCW3/07/20/2018/FB]
These are some of the key points from a Facebook discussion today, one focused upon the nature of that law written in the hearts of both the Pre-Moses unregenerate (carnally observed and manifested, and which cannot please God) and the Pre-Moses regenerate (spiritually observed and manifested by the grace and effectual working of God, and thus in a manner pleasing to Him) — along with any direct/verbal commandments/statutes/etc. given to them.
The goal isn’t to belabour the point on this blog; it is to preserve a bit of a record (outside of Facebook) of the the types of questions asked and the responses so far given in this hotly debated topic. Some of it is repetitive (in light of prior, similar posts) but so is the nature of the challenges, inquiries, and concerns. However, this one sheds some new light because it specifically goes to what Pre-Moses believers understood of law/commandment/sin and how this evidences a law that not only pre-existed Moses, but that went far beyond merely rituals, ceremonies, baptisms, dietary and civil restrictions, etc., and that (I strongly believe) still exists today, and that the believer loves/delights in/serves in newness of (spiritual) life.
My commentary below is in light of the following exchange [since these are notes, I am not really worried about the formatting]:
One with an opposing view: “I didn’t suggest that BELIEVERS delighted in the Law of Moses, but that UNBELIEVERS delighted in the Law of Moses, such as the Pharisees. Also, I think you are failing to recognize that when the Old Testament psalmists referred to laws and commandments, they were either referring to their Scriptures as a whole, or to the Mosaic Law in particular. We don’t have the same law as them because our law is based upon the New Testament revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to love people as He has loved us. However, the Old Testament saints didn’t have the full revelation of Christ, as we do, so their law was based upon less revelation of Christ, meaning that their law was different than ours. Also, I think you are failing to recognize the huge difference between the relationship that the Old Testament saints had to God and our relationship under the New Covenant. At that time, they weren’t under the New Covenant, but the Old Covenant. Therefore, they had a different law. As Hebrews says, when there is a change of priesthood (implying a change of covenant), as there was when the Old Covenant was abolished and the New Covenant ratified, there is of necessity a change of law also.”
My response: “So help me to understand your stance… Pre-Moses; what law did the saints have? From Adam to Pre-exodus Moses?”
His response: “That’s a good question because I didn’t think of those saints. I believe that they had the laws of their consciences, as well as any additional law that God revealed to them. For example, Adam and Noah were both commanded to be fruitful and multiply.
…Per Romans 5:13,
“For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed [charged to one’s account, laid upon them] when there is no law.”
So, amongst other possible examples, we see in…
Genesis 4: Cain was punished for killing Abel because he sinned.
Genesis 6: “GOD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually” — which wouldn’t be possible unless they sinned, and they could not have sin imputed to them if there was no law against said sin.
Genesis 7: The entire world of Noah’s day was destroyed, every single person (except for the eight), because of sin.
Genesis 12: Pharaoh knew what a grievous sin it was to commit adultery.
Genesis 13: God declares that the “men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly” so they must have been breaking all manner of commandments.
Genesis 18: “And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;” — again, more on their sin, iniquity, transgression of the law, seein that “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” per 1 John 3:4.
Genesis 19: God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah because of that sin. Moreover, the daughters of Lot got him drunk to commit incest which clearly implies they knew it was a sin to do that wicked thing that they were doing.
Genesis 19-20: Abimelech knew what a grievous sin it was to commit adultery.
Genesis 25: Esau despised his birthright which we later know was sin.
Genesis 26 – God declares “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” Wow… God had commandments, statutes, and laws in play even at that time… well before Moses.
Genesis 26: Abimelech knew what a grievous sin it was to commit adultery and murder.
Genesis 34: The use of “harlot” suggests they understood the commands against sexual immorality / fornication. The murderous acts of Simeon and Levi were also deemed sinful I believe.
For the sake of time, I have to stop here but clearly there was a very strong, clear, and actionable law (commandment/imperative set) that existed Pre-Moses.This same Pre-Moses law is the law that the people of God delight in, love, and serve. It is the same law that was indeed elaborated upon in the New Testament (all of the extant commandments/commands/imperatives/reproofs/ etc.) but it was the same law nonetheless. It was the Law of Christ for the believer then and now, it was the Royal Law, it was the Great Commandment, even to love (which encapsulates faith in) God with all your heart/mind/soul and to love your neighbor as yourself. There could have been some written/verbal commandments, maybe even many, or it may have been mostly along the lines of:
Romans 2:14-15 “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things CONTAINED IN THE LAW, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew THE WORK OF THE LAW written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and [their] thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another…”
Note that for the Christian, it isn’t just the work of the law but the law itself, written by God on their new hearts/minds/spirits, so that it can be spiritually received and discerned. The unregenerate can only follow that law on the heart in a mercenary, servile, corrupt way — one that can never please God. The spiritual-in-Christ, follow this “Law of Christ” spiritually, in newness of life, seeing He is their life, and seeing that the words of God (including His extant commandments/law) are both spirit and life (and light for that matter).
Also, faith is manifested by (good) “works of faith.” Love is manifested by “labours of love.” Both good works and labours of (agape) love, are based specifically on God’s extant commandments and our actions that flow in light of God-wrought obedience to them. Agape love is 100% yoked to obedience to the word of God seeing:
Romans 13:8-10 “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath FULFILLED [literally, carried into effect, brought into realisation, made manifest, executed/performed fully] the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended [i.e., summarised, declared in as a summary, summed up, included under one umbrella heading] in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 (AGAPE) LOVE worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore (AGAPE) LOVE [literally is] THE FULFILLING OF THE LAW.”
Such love really is the plērōma/G4138, the fulness, fulfilling, keeping, filling-up, carrying into effect, executing/performing, bringing into realisation, and manifesting of the law of God.
2 John 1:6 “THIS [literally] IS (AGAPE) LOVE, that we walk after his commandments (plural). This is the commandment (singular), That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.”
***AND PER 1 John 3:23*** “…this is his COMMANDMENT (singular), That we should BELIEVE ON (have faith in) the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and LOVE ONE ANOTHER, as He gave us [that great, singular, royal, spiritual] COMMANDMENT.
1 John 5:3 “FOR THIS [literally] IS THE LOVE OF GOD, that we KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS (plural): and his commandments are not grievous.
So please, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS: for this [is literally] THE WHOLE [duty] OF MAN” per Ecclesiastes 12:13 — and this we can do (though absolutely nowhere even remotely close to perfection) by His sovereign grace and effectual working, all in light of the Finished work of Christ, and the perfect righteousness established in Him and by Him. The born-again saint has NO REQUIREMENT to keep this law perfectly because they have already done so by Christ (vicariously in Him). He is our Righteousness. We are free to work out said righteousness, making manifest obedience to God’s word, works of faith, and labours of love, as His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto those works that He before ordained that we should walk in. So again, we can do this, and we do fulfill this, to the degree that he works out in us seeing:
Hebrews 8:10 “For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put MY LAWS INTO THEIR MIND, and write them IN THEIR HEARTS: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people…”
Ezekiel 36:24-27 “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and CAUSE YOU TO WALK IN MY STATUTES, AND YE SHALL KEEP MY JUDGMENTS, AND DO [them].”
Hebrews 10:16 “This [is] the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put MY LAWS into THEIR HEARTS, and IN THEIR MINDS will I write them;”
[Just as with the saints in the Old Testament, from Adam to Moses, from Moses to Christ, and from Acts (the NT era) forward].