A Better Place

Why have our cities become so dangerous? Is it because of foreign terrorism, or does the fault lie a little closer to home? Why has the moral standard seen such a rapid decline? It was not so long ago when children could safely go to play on the playgrounds and women could walk city streets at night with little personal risk.

An elderly woman once reminisced on a friendlier time while growing up on the family ranch in Oklahoma. Doors were seldom locked. Indeed, people would leave their homes unlocked while traveling so others who may be passing through the area could make themselves at home. A note of thanks would be left, along with some money to pay for food and any other incurred expenses.

This describes the world in which we used to live. Unfortunately, a cloud of turmoil has passed over this lovely scene. We have beautified our buildings and our streets, upgraded our transportation and communication systems, and skyrocketed in the world of technology, yet we have regressed terribly in ethics. Because of this, people have become the most dangerous threats in our world.

In a civilized country, when driving on the road, each person depends on the other drivers to abide by laws of traffic. Disobedience to these rules endangers the lives of others on the road. A yellow traffic light warns a moving vehicle that it will have to stop, but what if there were no brakes? What if there were no yellow lights—nothing to indicate that it is time to stop?

This is the condition of today’s society. God gave humanity laws by which to abide and “yellow lights” of warning to assist us in walking in His path. God did not provide any disclaimers to the law, yet people have felt at liberty to add some themselves, teaching that it is okay not to keep the Ten Commandments under certain conditions. People who add ifs, ands, or buts to the law leave the law open to the interpretation of each person’s faulty conscience and perception of right and wrong. Thus the result is all around us in crime and chaos and fear.

What is the cause of the depravation that we hear so much of on the news and see all around us? The answer is plain and simple—ignoring God’s law of love. This disregard of divine guidance is not just found in the lives of individuals, but also in churches and schools. People discount the Ten Commandments and add their own disclaimers—a practice which is known as “situation ethics.” The effect on our society is that there is no more right or wrong. Since nothing is defined as absolutely wrong, or absolutely right, young people growing up today do not have a clear idea at all about standards.

When young people in high schools and colleges have been quizzed about subjects such as cheating, e.g. cheating on your taxes, or cheating at school, they define it as being right or wrong, depending on what kind of a situation you find yourself in because there are no absolute rules, and in short, you become your own god. In this sort of society, moral comforts are lost, there is no sense of moral direction, and there is nothing anymore that is absolute.

The Bible uses very strong language to describe people who try to figure out what is right and wrong on the basis of their own conscience: “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.” Proverbs 28:26. And yet society has turned over the decision of right and wrong to the sinful individual rather than trusting in the moral outline provided by a perfect God. God defined morality; something He would not have had to do were we able to do so on our own accord. Not once did He ever give human beings the right or the authority to decide what is right or wrong.

History demonstrates the result of people, churches, or a government deciding what is right or wrong. Some of the most awful crimes ever recorded are the result of human beings taking this authority.

Repeatedly, when church and state unite, the rights of the minority are trampled upon. In the early days of the United States of America, the citizens of this country were well acquainted with this because many people had fled to the United States of America to escape the religious persecution in Europe and other countries.

God Governs His Territory

The only dependable moral standard of right and wrong is found in God’s word. The word of God contains a simple and complete standard for determining ethics. This is what the Bible says about the commandments of God:

“The works of his hands [are] verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and [are] done in truth and uprightness.” Psalm 111:7, 8.

Notice in these two verses, that God’s commandments have the following characteristics:

They are sure. In other words, they are certain and solid. There is no guess work. It says that they are eternal. They will last forever—a million years from now the law of God will still be in force.

They are true. There is no deceit or falsehood.

They are right.

They have stood the test of time, having been given thousands of years ago. The effects of both obedience and disobedience to the commandments have been demonstrated repeatedly over the course of earth’s history.

“Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin [is] a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34.

The United States is one of the leading nations today, not because of natural resources but because people came here to find happiness and freedom to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience. This country, more than any other country on the earth, has the largest percentage of the population attempting to keep the law of God.

God’s Law Has No Flaws

God’s law is not of human composition. It was first given by God to His people. If they would obey, it would be a safeguard, a protection against all kinds of crime. “The law of the Lord [is] perfect.” Psalm 19:7. If something is perfect, can you improve on it?

God’s law is one law but it contains ten sections. It was written on two tables of stone by the finger of God and given to Moses. Remember, it was one law, it had ten sections, and it was written on two tables of stone.

Men make laws too and it is essential to have laws. Anyone who has been in a foreign, developing country that does not have enforced traffic laws and has gotten into a traffic jam where nobody keeps any kind of traffic laws will know what a terrible thing it is to not have law and order. However, it has been estimated that there have been 35 million laws to control human behavior. The Almighty has given us just ten, and these ten precepts in His law cover everything having to do with morality.

The Principles of God’s Law are Eternal

Nothing can be done morally wrong without breaking one of the Ten Commandments. God wrote them on two tables of stone with His own finger—they are immutable. “This covenant that I gave, I am not going to change it. And what’s gone out of my lips I won’t alter.” Psalm 89:34. His law is of imperishable obligation. It will be in effect as long as God exists, not only in this world, but throughout the universe for eternity. There will never be a time when this law is not in force.

God Writes His Law Himself

When God gave this law, He did not entrust it to be written down by a human being, even Moses. Moses did write the Pentateuch, and we have prophets who wrote the rest of the Old Testament, and apostles who wrote the New Testament, but God’s law is so holy and eternal, it was not entrusted to any human being to write it down. It was written with His own finger on tables of stone.

God has a government, and there is a territory over which He rules. The children of Israel were told: “All the world [is] mine.” Exodus 19:5. No government can exist without law. God has a government also, and His law is the basis of His heavenly government.

A War Broke Out in Heaven

There came a time though when an intelligent being decided that he did not need to be governed by God’s law and rebellion broke out in heaven. It was Satan’s claim that the angels did not need restriction—that they were wise enough to decide by their own intelligence, what was right and wrong. In Isaiah 14:12–14, it says that this rebellious angel wanted to be like God. This was the same as asking God to change the first commandment which says, “You shall not have any other gods beside me.” Exodus 20:3.

This angel was a leading angel and the highest of all the created beings. When he rebelled he attempted to deceive all the angels into rebelling with him. He succeeded in persuading one third of the angels to fight against the law of God. “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, But they did not prevail; nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil, and Satan, who deceives the whole world: he was cast to the earth and his angels were cast out with him.” Revelation 12:7–9.

Rebellion Not Tolerated

This passage of Scripture gives us, in panoramic view, the history of the great controversy between Christ and His angels, and Satan and his angels. The dragon is Satan. God could not tolerate rebellion in heaven—it would threaten the happiness and peace of every being, thus they were cast out.

God is not going to tolerate rebellion in this earth anymore than He tolerated a rebellion against His government in heaven. The rebellion on this earth is temporary and is going to be brought to an end. If we rebel against the authority of the law of God, we rebel against the government of God. It is the same as if one was to rebel against the laws of the United States, they would be rebelling against the government.

When the devil was cast into this world, not only was he successful in the destruction of one third of heaven’s angels, he also succeeded in deceiving the human race and beginning a rebellion on the earth. When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, God visited them in the Garden of Eden saying that because they had eaten of the forbidden fruit, they would die and return to dust.

Satan Claims His Own Territory

Adam and Eve had to leave their beautiful home, but before they left the Garden of Eden, God gave them the single most wonderful promise in the Bible. He promised them that a descendant of Eve would destroy the serpent that had deceived her. (Genesis 3:15.)

Although this was foremost in their minds, Adam and Eve had a divided family. Their two sons, Cain and Abel were very different in character. Abel worshipped God in the way that God had told them, through the sacrifice of a perfect lamb. The lamb represented the coming Lamb of God, the Son of God who would come and offer His life for the sins of the world. It was necessary for mankind to keep in focus the coming Redeemer who would give His life to save them from their sins. The way to keep this in mind was by offering animal sacrifices. At that time they had no idea it would take another four thousand years for that promise to be realized.

Cain worshipped the Lord too, but he did so in a way that a lot of people worship the Lord today, according to his own rules and beliefs of what was right. He did not bring a lamb, but a bloodless offering. The Bible says in Hebrews 9:22, “That without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.” God did not have respect for Cain and his offering. The elder brother became so irate over the favor shown to Abel for his obedience that Cain killed him.

God’s Law Eternal

There are some people who are very confused and say that the law did not exist until Mt. Sinai. However, it says in Romans 4:15, “Where there is no law, [there is] no transgression.” If there had been no law, there could be no transgression for Adam and Eve or Cain. I John 3:4 says, “Sin is the transgression of the law.”

Adam and Eve broke the first, the fifth, and the tenth commandment in the Garden of Eden. In addition to that, Cain broke the sixth commandment. Had there been no law to break, there would have been no sin. It is clear here that the law existed from the time of creation. It was formally given to the children of Israel from Mt. Sinai when they had forgotten it. However, it has existed for eternity. The angels followed God’s commandments out of love and devotion until one angel questioned them and rebelled. Had there been no law, Satan would have nothing to rebel against.

A careful study of the book of Genesis will find every one of the principles of the Ten Commandments before it was written in stone.

In the Bible, Abraham is called the father of the faithful. The reason is given in Genesis 26:5:

“Because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” He is a prototype of all sinners who find salvation. If you are accounted as a descendant of Abraham, then according to the New Testament, you will be an heir of the world.

God’s law has always been the standard of right and wrong. Adam and Eve broke the first, the fifth and the tenth commandment in Eden. Cain broke the sixth. Joseph refused to break the seventh commandment. Joseph also knew about the eighth and ninth commandment as shown when you read in Genesis 44 about the cup he had placed in his brother Benjamin’s sack in Egypt. Adam and Eve also knew about the fourth commandment according to Genesis 2:1–3. Jacob knew about the second commandment. All of these people knew and understood all of the Ten Commandments. Joseph knew that it was wrong to commit adultery and because he refused the advances of Potipher’s wife, he was put into prison for many years. Jacob knew that it was wrong to worship idols (Genesis 35:2), referring to the second commandment.

God’s servants know His law and abide by it. They know that His law, His word, is the same yesterday, today and forever. Yet people today argue against this, saying that we are not living in Old Testament times now but in New Testament times. However, in response, Jesus says, “Do not think that I came to destroy the law, or the prophets: I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For assuredly I say to you that till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle (a jot is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet, and a tittle is just part of a letter) will by no means pass from the law, till all is fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17, 18.

Actually, Jesus stated it even stronger in Luke 16:17: “It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear, than for the least stroke of the pen to drop out of the law.”

Think about that and remember Who is talking. The One who the Bible says created everything in the universe, and Who upholds everything by the word of His power. He has the authority to make it pass away. He could decide to destroy the whole universe and there is nothing anybody could do to stop it. And He said that it would be easier for the whole universe to pass away than for a part of a letter of the Law to fail. This leaves no doubt in the immutability of His commandments.

Jesus Fulfilled the Law

Did you ever wonder why Jesus had to die on the cross? He said to His Father in the garden of Gethsemane, “All things are possible with you, so if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39.)

God the Father said, “No. You have to go to the cross.” In I Corinthians 15:3 we are told that Christ died for our sins. If He had not gone to the cross of Calvary, there would be no hope for you and me and we would face eternal death.

Some may argue that the law was abolished at the cross using Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:15 as support for their claim: “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, that is the law of commandments contained in ordinances; so as to create in himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.”

Here it talks about “the commandments contained in ordinances.” What commandments were those? At the cross, the ceremonial system of sacrifices came to an end. There is no more need for ceremonial sacrifices or the Levitical priesthood since there is no more earthly sanctuary. God’s sanctuary today is in heaven, not on earth.

But did the moral law come to an end at that time also? Absolutely not! The handwritten ordinances came to an end but the moral law remained intact in its entirety. Jesus said, “Go and sin no more.” John 8:11. [If the moral law had been abolished, there would be no definition of sin.]

“Go and sin no more”

If Jesus says, “Go and sin no more,” that means, go and abide by the law.

Some say that they cannot do that. We live in a pessimistic age, but the Bible says. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” II Corinthians 12:9.

Everyone who is struggling with sin in their life, can say, “Lord, I want to go and sin no more, but I am helpless.” And in response, the Lord says, “I have enough grace for you. The weaker you are, the more grace you are going to receive.” (II Corinthians 12:9.)

The devil is still in opposition to God’s law though. He is trying with all his might to lead every descendant of Adam and Eve to eternal destruction. A powerful method by which to do this is through discounting the same law that he rebelled against in heaven. Rebellion against God’s commandments does not happen just by deliberate action against them, but also in taking the unwarranted authority to change any single precept of His divine commands.

Jesus always leads people to obedience. He never ever told anybody to go and sin another day. He never said to go and try to work on it and see if you can slowly quit. Jesus said, “Go, and don’t sin any more.” The Lord can give strength to live a new life. You don’t have to wait and go through some program for months or years. Jesus said to the woman, “Go, and don’t sin any more.” That experience was the beginning of her new life of purity.

Jesus offers new life today. He says go and sin no m ore and He has enough grace to give you the power so that you will not have to sin anymore. He says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15. According to Jesus, keeping the commandments is a test of love and faith to Him. “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love; just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” John 15:10.

A question was sent to Billy Graham asking which of the Ten Commandments still apply to us today. The answer: “The Ten Commandments are never out of date. They express the unchanging will of God for our lives, regardless of changes in human society. If you look at them closely, you will see that the first few commandments deal with our relationship with God. [That’s the first four.] The other commandments deal with our relationship with other people and with things. Our lives would be much happier if we followed God’s commandments.” The Ten Commandments are never out of date; they are eternal. The law of God and the love of God are not two separate things. This is love for God—to obey His commandments.

The Commandments Are About Relationships

Many people today do not understand the relationship between the law and love that the Bible teaches.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37, 38.

Everything in the Bible, everything in the law and the prophets hang on those two principles. You see, love always leads to obedience—never leads to disobedience. We cannot be saved if we persist in disobeying God’s law and live lawless and rebellious lives. If we refuse to keep God’s law, we are placing ourselves on the devil’s side of the great controversy.

This is not to be mistaken for the law being the basis of our salvation. If you could earn salvation by keeping the law, then Jesus would not have needed to come and die on the cross. “For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9. These are the merits that give you the gift of eternal life. Salvation is by grace alone and grace always leads to obedience, never to disobedience.

Consider what the apostle Paul says: “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? Certainly not.” Romans 6:15.

There are many who read this verse and do not get the main point. Notice what it says: “You are not under the law but under grace.” Then it says, “What then, shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace?” Who would take the gift of grace without showing due gratitude through the obedience of the law also? For if it were not for the transgression of the law, there would be no need for grace and the price that grace cost heaven.

To be under the law means to be under the law as a system of salvation. Since I have broken God’s law, this means death. How can I escape that?

“Now, we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God, therefore by the deeds of the law, no flesh will be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:19, 20.

This verse says that the whole world was under the law, and we are all guilty before God. The law condemns and “the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23.

The only way to pay the price for your sins is to die. The death of Jesus upon the cross, however, can forgive you of your past sins, but it does not give you the license to sin in the future. That is not the purpose of the death on the cross.

Forsaking the law of God is the root cause of the loss of law and order in the world today. Jesus died in the sinner’s place on the cross of Calvary so that by His blood our sins can be forgiven and we have the opportunity to live in Paradise. To be under grace means to accept God’s grace as a means of salvation. By faith I accept Christ’s death in the place of my sins.

Being under grace, does not do away with the law, meaning that I do not have to keep it. Notice what Paul says: “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not, on the contrary, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31.

If the law could have been changed, Jesus would not have had to die on the cross. If the law could have just been suspended for a few minutes, or a few hours, in the Garden of Eden, then Jesus would not have had to die on the cross. But the law is of eternal, imperishable obligation. That is why Jesus had to die on the cross. The law is so sacred and holy, that even the penalty for breaking the law cannot be remitted. The penalty had to be paid and Jesus paid that penalty so the human race would not have to.

“But the person who says, I know God, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him.” I John 2:4.

On the Isle of Patmos, John the beloved disciple was given visions that are written down in the book of Revelation. He was shown things that would happen from that time until the end of the world. Concerning the time of the end he writes:

“And the dragon, (the devil) was enraged with the woman (the church, a harlot woman is symbol of a corrupt church, and a pure woman is symbol of a true and faithful church.) The dragon was enraged with the woman,” (a pure woman, Revelation 12, first part; in other words, the devil was enraged with the church) and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring. He went to make war with the last people on the face of the earth who were following God.

Who would these people be? The last of the woman’s offspring would be the Christians who would be alive at the close of the age, when Jesus comes back to this world and takes His people to be with Him. This last generation of Christians will be those “who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17. They will not be part of the lawless element in society. They will not be a part of the terrorists and the violence in society. They will be people who will be keeping God’s commandments, and people who have the testimony of Jesus.

Again in Revelation 14:12, John says, “Here is the patience of the saints. Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”

Our purpose on earth is to get ready for Jesus’ second coming. For what good is our life if we cannot go home with our Creator in the end? Acceptance of God’s grace in our lives is the starting point from which we prepare ourselves for His arrival. We must be a part of the people who keep God’s commandments and have the faith of Jesus. Jesus died to pay the price of our sins. If we love Him, our love for Him will compel us to obey Him. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

Pastor John Grosboll is director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.