The Kingâ€™s Rule By Larry Allen
Copyright ÂŠ 2004, 2010 Larry Allen 10226 Hillside Dr. Tyler, TX 75709 All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. Unless otherwise indicated all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Update, (c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. In this work: Footnotes are identified with numbers. Endnotes are identified with lower case letters.
Affectionately dedicated to JOLENE my devoted and beloved wife
Contents 1 ...................................................
The Lord has established His throne in the heavens . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
The Physical Realm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 1. Physical rule operates by the law of cause and effect. . . . . 2 Physical Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Instinct . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
The Spiritual Realm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 2. Moral rule operates by using influences that appeal to self-caused actions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 a. Influence. God rules by using influences upon people that appeal to them to exercise self-control. . . 10 Rule using Influence – Level One: Truth and Acts of Loving-kindness . . . . . . . . 10 Rule using Influence – Level Two: Consequences of Moral Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Moral Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Rule using Influence – Level Three: National Calamity, God’s judgment . . . . . . . . 15 b. Coercion. Sometimes God must use coercive force. God uses an abnormal and unusual control through causation, and temporarily sets aside a person’s normal moral freedom and accountability . . . . . . 19 c. Final Judgment. God controls by removing extreme evil and incorrigible rebellion . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Summary
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Endnotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 -iii-
I must express my gratitude to our Lord Jesus for His help and provision of strength. Many other friends faithfully ministered to bring this project to completion. Among them are; my wife, Jolene; my sons, Paul and Philip; I am very grateful to Jeff Paul and Richard Bender for their gracious help and wise input. They put in countless hours of encouragement and assistance. I want to express my appreciation also for faithful men who have brought such spiritual benefit to my life because of their diligence and example: Gordon C. Olson, Harry Conn, Loren Cunningham, Leland Paris, and Winkie Pratney. Larry Allen September 2004
1 Exod 15:1 (NASU) Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and said, I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted; The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea. 2 The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father's God, and I will extol Him. 3 The Lord is a warrior; The Lord is His name. 4 Pharaoh's chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; And the choicest of his officers are drowned in the Red Sea. 5 The deeps cover them; They went down into the depths like a stone. 6 Your right hand, O Lord, is majestic in power, Your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy. And in the greatness of Your excellence You overthrow those who rise up against You; You send forth Your burning anger, and it consumes them as chaff. 8 At the blast of Your nostrils the waters were piled up, The flowing waters stood up like a heap; The deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea. 9 The enemy said, `I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; My desire shall be gratified against them; I will draw out my sword, my hand will destroy them.' 10 You blew with Your wind, the sea covered them; They sank like lead in the mighty waters. 11 Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders? 12 You stretched out Your right hand, The earth swallowed them. 13 In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed; In Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation. -------------------While men wrestle over the rapidly changing morals and shifting governments in this world, great concern grips many Christians over the visible lack of intelligent understanding about the righteous, loving, and reasonable way that God rules His world. -v-
The Absolute Necessity of Order “Order is indispensable to society, law is indispensable to order, and enforcement is indispensable to law,” wrote the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, 1969. The world needs order, and it needs a just way of life. That is why God gave His laws. But God’s law needs to be enforced. God knows this. So He enforces His laws with consequences. If a law had no consequences, it would not be law, for law without consequences would only be advice. God upholds order because He is loving. He knows that if people do not love God with all their hearts and one another as themselves, they will never get to have peace and harmony. Not only that – if people choose to live selfishly, they not only will harm others, but they will destroy themselves too. Yet if people obey God's laws, they get to have what God’s love wants for them. They get peace of mind, joy, mental stability, health and long life (and a long list of other blessings.) But if they disobey, they end up with sickness, guilt, depression, and death. (Note: not all sickness is because of disobedience.) If you do not obey God, you will not be living the way God designed you to live! You will end up with bad consequences. God does not want this. So God set up His intelligent and loving rule over us. We must obey His rule and be His disciples. How desperately we need to know the way God rules.
The King’s Rule The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His kingdom rules over all. . . . Psalms 103:19 (NRSV) God is never arbitrary. He always has plenty of loving, intelligent reasons for all that He does. These reasons lay down wise boundaries, and God never steps outside of them. His every choice upholds what is for the greatest value for all. This is Love. God never swerves from this course. He walks the path of love and intelligence and never acts selfishly. Therefore, God brings forth wise direction and righteous rule over all He has made. He rules from His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all. He rules with great intelligence! Though He made many kinds of things, God rules over each kind in exactly the right way. He wisely does so that He may bring forth what is most valuable, good, and useful. How exhilarating to study the ways He does it. It shows us so much about God’s character because we see how lovingly and wisely He carries out His authority. In the process, He regulates each aspect of creation according to its design. He does not guide people the same way that He controls a stone. He oversees animals in yet another way. But always, He stays clearly focused on what He intends for the spiritual realm. People are creatures of the spiritual realm. Thus, God uses a different means in ruling people from His means of control over the other realms. Certainly God must rule over creation. He is most qualified. He is most competent. He pursues the path of perfect love. His competence plus love equals His right to rule. To illustrate, suppose I have a toothache, and dash off to get a dentist named Dr. Tenderheart to fix it. He sees my pain and treats me with such sympathy, on the verge of tears because he feels my pain. He wants to help me, but sadly, he skipped all his classes in dental school and never learned what he needed to know. While my pain awakens good will for me in his heart, it brings no benefit because he is incompetent, unable to help me. So I quickly leave his office and go to the dentist down the street. His name? Dr. Frank N. Stein. He is a brilliant man who knows all about my painful tooth and its nerve structure. There is a problem though. He delights in torturing people. And since he knows perfectly the tooth’s nerve structure, he knows exactly how to cause me to have severe pain. Well, I do not want Dr. Frank N. Stein to be my dentist. He is competent, but not loving. For any dentist to help me, he must be both competent and loving. This principle does not only apply to dentists. Rulers must also be competent and loving, and God perfectly matches these qualifications. He oversees our lives with total competence and love. As such He totally deserves our complete submission to Him. It is only right that everybody, everywhere should yield to His direction. We should obey His rule. God is worthy of our lives. Furthermore, every person truly needs God’s wise guidance. If I were to ask you, “Would you obey my every direction, without exception, for as long as we both shall live?” What would you say? You would quickly see that I am asking something that you cannot wisely do. I am inadequate. Well, if I am inadequate for you, I am also unqualified to be the supreme ruler over my own life. I do not know enough, and I am not good enough. Therefore, I ought to admit that I genuinely need God’s rule, just like all people. That is why every knee should bow, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
The King’s Rule
to the glory of God the Father.1 Since I truly need it, and God alone can do it, it thus becomes God’s obligation to direct human affairs. We should admit: It is sensible, reasonable, and necessary for all people to submit to His wise and necessary rulership.
The Physical Realm God rules all of creation. In doing so, He has two great means of operation – one, a physical rule over the physical realm, and the other, a moral rule over the spiritual realm. The Summary Chart at the end gives a brief overview of them.
Physical rule operates by the law of cause and effect.
Physical Law In physical rule over the physical realm, God uses laws of cause and effect – physical laws. With them, He controls physical things – things like sticks and stones and chemicals in the chemistry lab. What is physical law? It is the description of how things occur in the physical realm. Notice that it is a description. Gravity describes how forces cause things to fall. Airplanes fly according to the law of aerodynamics. Heat causes water to boil in the way thermodynamics describes. Under the same set of conditions, a cause produces its effect. It always does. Certainty of results is its unfailing characteristic. With physical law God's will is always being done simply because causation allows no alternatives. We admire these marvels that show God’s great wisdom and power. A stone falls instead of floating. It always does. Gravity causes it. Thus, a stone deserves no praise, nor any blame for falling. When I was a youth, a rock hit me on the head, but the police did not arrest the rock, a jury did not pronounce the rock guilty, and nobody put the rock in jail. Why? The rock simply was not responsible because it did not cause its own actions. It moved because an external force of gravity acted upon it. It was caused to move, and so it was not free, responsible, nor accountable for doing it. It was not guilty for hitting me on the head, and was not worthy of praise nor of punishment. Physical law describes God’s control over physical things by simply using His power: I form the light and create darkness.2 In the physical realm, God rules in omnipotence, using physical forces, and brings absolute control. He uses a cause to get any effect He wants.
Instinct The same is true with the animals. With them God also maintains a beautiful control. He uses instinct. Perhaps you heard the story about a mother skunk who had two baby skunks. One she named “In.” and the other she called, “Out.” Well, In always stayed in, and Out went out. But one day In went out and Out stayed in. After a while it was time to eat and Mom said, “Out, please go out and bring In in because it is time to eat.” Well Out went out and brought In in very quickly. Greatly surprised, Mom said, Out, how did you
Ph. 2:11. Isa. 45:5-7, 12, 18. See also Col. 1:16, 17; He. 1:1-3. God controls using sheer force, either directly or by what we call the physical laws of nature.
The King’s Rule
find out where In was and bring In in so quickly?” Out replied, “Very simple, Mom. In stinked.” Instinct is a mysterious control. Without instruction and without prior experience animals do amazing stuff. They do not think about it; they just do it. They do things without making mistakes. They do not know why they are doing it, but they do what God created them to do in order to preserve them. Arctic Terns are amazing birds that fly a 10,000 mile journey to the South Pole each summer. Then they return right back to their very same nests. Each year the plover birds fly 6,000 miles from Alaska to Hawaii. Such a trip takes great energy, and they cannot eat along the way. So they have to store up energy by getting fat. Yet if they gained enough weight to have enough energy for the whole trip, they would be too heavy to fly. So why are they able to make the trip? They fly together in a ‘V’ formation. The bird at the point of the V removes most of the air resistance, and the other birds can fly with much greater ease. Then every little while, another bird flies at the point of the V, and they share the work of the point. In this way, they can all enjoy a wonderful vacation in Hawaii. What marvelous creations we see about us! How is it that a monarch butterfly can lay its egg on a milkweed plant, and from it, have a caterpillar emerge and spin itself into a cocoon? In just twelve more days the chrysalis inside changes into a beautiful butterfly. Soon it flies all the way from Canada to Mexico, to an area that is just two-square miles in size. The next year it returns home, lays its egg on a milkweed plant and then dies. A new generation emerges to makes this journey though they have never been on such a trip. They never met their parents, had no butterfly to tell them they needed to go, and were given no instructions. How do they know they should make such a trip? How do they make it with no guide? How is it possible? How amazing God is, marvelously controlling all the animal realm using instinct. Jesus said, Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.3 Both physical law and instinct tell how a physical force causes a specific effect without any call to choice. With absolute certainty, a cause produces its effect because it allows no freedom. And where there is no freedom, there can be no responsibility, nor accountability. And it brings its results 100% of the time. ------------------------------------------------------
Mt. 6:26. See also Gen. 9:2; Deut. 32:11, 12; 1Ki.17:4, 6; Mt. 8:20; 17:27.
The King’s Rule
The Spiritual Realm The spiritual realm is the realm of self-caused action. God created people with such distinction and privilege. You have made him a little lower than God, the Psalmist wrote, And You crown him with glory and majesty!4 God created people to use self-control. The fruit of the Spirit is . . . self-control.5 God lets them choose between the influences they face. An influence is an appeal to choice. It is not a compelling force. It can be accepted or rejected. As people respond to their influences, they build their own moral character and end up with the destiny that comes with it. Yet sadly, many reject God. Concerning them, God declares, I have called, and you have refused; I have stretched out my hand and no man regarded.6 Yet no matter what people do, God knows that He still has to provide wise direction over the spiritual realm. All of creation needs regulation. What if God did not provide it? Can you picture the chaos that would result? It is essential that our Creator would have wise ways to guide and direct people. However, people give Him a special problem providing it when they function in the capacities God gave them. How will God oversee people that He designed to be self-controlled? This self-control is necessary for love relationship. Love requires the freedom to choose, and so people must have the ability of self-caused action. This is essential to real life. Life’s real essence comes through the full expression of our personalities. God created us to be on His wavelength, having moment by moment communion with Him. Life is continuous. We cannot store it up. It is spontaneous – a voluntary response to God as He communes directly within us. It is more special than all human relationships because they hinge upon our use of our physical senses. This means that relationship with God is primary; all human relationships are secondary. Therefore, if we try to make any human relationship primary, we will never enter into what God planned for us. We cannot have these special relationships without a special design called personality. So God made us with intellectual capacity, emotional capacity, and the capacity to choose. We have intellectual7 capacity so we can know God and His purposes. This gives us the delight of reasoning, imagination, creativity, and also pleasant memories. It lets us see what is right and wrong. With our conscience comes an inner urge of approval when we do what is right. Of course, it also impresses us with our guilt if we sin. Personality also means God gave us emotional capacity8 so we could enjoy life. We are not like emotionless computers. How boring that would be! God equipped us for something
4 5 6 7
Ps. 8:5. Ga. 5:22-23. Pr.1:24. Intellectual capacity is commonly referred to in the Bible under the term spirit (Pr. 20:27; Is.26:9; Jn. 4:23, 24; 1 Co. 2:11, 12; Ep. 4:23), and under the term mind (Is. 26:3; Ezk. 11:5; Mk. 12:28-31; Ro. 12:1, 2; Tts. 1:15; He. 8:10). Emotions, the ability to experience reactions is commonly called in the Bible, an ability of soul (Ge.2:7; Ps. 42:1, 2; 84:2; Is. 61:10; Mk. 12:30; Lk. 12:19-23; 1Co. 15:44, 45; 1Pt. 1:22, 23).
The King’s Rule
far better because He wanted us to enjoy things. He wanted us to have depth of experience, not superficial experiences. We ought to rise to true heights of worship and enjoy wholesome, virtuous relationships. What a special ability – the ability to appreciate, to adore, and to have joy!9 (Yet this also allows the possibility for dejection, disappointment, and grief.)10 For true love relationships we must also have the capacity to choose.11 This allows us to direct our thoughts and reason to conclusions. God patterned us after Himself. He has self-energizing ability, choosing what He does. And He designed us with the ability for self-caused actions as well. We are not like a robot, reacting to the push of a button. We have the ability to originate our own actions no matter what internal and external influences we face. When my son, Philip, was three years old, he saw me walk past his bedroom door and said, “Daddy, will you lie down beside me?” So I did. Then I decided to ask him a question: “Philip, how much do you love me?” “I love you six,” he replied. “I love you seven.” I responded. He thought a few seconds: “That’s too much to love me.” “OK. I only love you six.” But I could not be content with that answer. I felt like I was telling Philip that I was not loving him with all that I could love him. “No Philip, I love you seven.” Now I was so curious. What would he say? I waited. He was so still and quiet. Then he said: “I love you seven, too.” How thrilled I was (and still am!) This is quality of love. I have been loved in greater quantity, and with greater maturity, but never with greater quality. Philip responded, but not as a robot, but as a person. Philip chose. Like Philip, we have the joy of experiencing a love 9
Sadly, having this wonderful experiential endowment is exactly the reason why mankind generally are so dissatisfied and unhappy, and thus so restless. They have an inner perception of high and noble realms but refuse to pay the price of self-denial so that these abilities may be entered into intelligently. Instead, they try to put superficial things in their place – pursuing things that can never satisfy their created longings. Misery deepens. Jesus warned us not to make our experiences our god. He said, He that loves his life or soul shall lose it, (Jn. 12:25). 10 Emotions, experiences, or reactions always follow what we think about and develop as the treasure of our heart. Therefore, Scripture tells us to control our mind: Ph. 4:8; Ro. 12:2; 2Co. 10:5, Mt.16:23; Ro. 8:6, 7; 14:5; Ep. 4:17, 23; Ph. 2:2, 3; Col. 3:2; 1Tm. 6:5; Tts. 1:15; 2Pt. 3:1. 11 This ability is commonly referred to in the Bible under the term heart (Ex. 36:2; Dt. 4:29; 1Sa.7:3; 1Ki.8:38-40; Jer.29:13; Mk.12:30; Acts 11:23; 15:8, 9; Ro.6:17; 10:9, 10; He.4:12).
The King’s Rule
relationship – something that a pawn on a chessboard can never have. It is true personal relationship, not a mechanical, robotic relationship; it is genuine love relationship.12 If we did not have the ability to make choices, we could not experience this friendship. Friendship! What a purpose. God created us to be friends with us and for us to be friends with Him. God said of Abraham, Abraham, my friend. Jesus tells us, You are my friends, if you do what I command you. Jesus calls this purpose of friendship – life. When He prayed to our Father in heaven, He said, This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. Jesus says here that life is to know God. For this word, know, He uses the Greek word, ginôskô (Strong’s#1097.)13 This Greek word means “to know by personal experience” (like knowing the taste of cherry pie with ice cream because you actually ate it! You did not just read words about it in a book.) It is not just to know words about God. It is to know Him as our friend. It is to experience Him. It is experiential knowledge. Jesus called this our created purpose. He called it life. It is to be in a love relationship with God. It is to know God out of relationship. In other words – relational knowledge of God. St. Paul wrote, But now that you have come to know(S#1097) God, or rather to be known(S#1097) by God . . .Ga.4:9 He says that not only have you come to relationally know God, but God has come to relationally know you as well. It is so sad that many never come to know Jesus in this close friendship. They do religious stuff, but they do not know Him, and Jesus says He does not know them. Someday Jesus will tell them, I never knew(S#1097) you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.14 God made us for such a great purpose. We are so special to Him! He wants us to experience this special purpose. So God created us with the ability of self-direction. Without the ability to choose, we would not be able to love. The greatest choice we will ever make is to choose to love. Our choices stem from the choice to love from our heart.15 Love is a choice – a commitment to seek to bring about the highest good for God and for all of mankind. At its root, love is a choice. Emotional responses normally follow. (Sometimes – like if you are cleaning up the unmentionable mess of a sick baby – emotions do not feel like love at all, but the loving parent chooses to do what brings what is best for the child and for God.)
God intended for us to be blessed through our various human relationships: Ge. 2:18, 20. (people are unique, with distinctive human associations, unlike the animals); Acts 17:26 (one blood or likeness); Ge. 11:1, 4 (companionship natural); 1Sa.18:1, 3 (true friendship so beautiful, David and Jonathan); Ep. 5:24, 25, 28-33 (marriage a total blending of two personalities, that God intended to go beyond the physical and become heirs together of the grace of life 1 Pt. 3:7); Mt. 22:36-40 (all people worthy of equal love); Jn. 17:21-23 (that all may be one in spiritual union); Acts 2:41-47 (the early church); Ep. 4:25 (members one of another); 2 Tm. 1:3-5 (Paul and Timothy in tender fellowship in serving Christ); 1Jn.1:3, 4 (fellowship one with another). God wants people to have fellowship with Him and one another at the same time, in an environment of inspiration. People have both spiritual and physical elements, but they are a unified personality, an integrated whole, designed to fit in with perfect harmony into the way God structured things. 13 NASB Concordance: Strong’s # 1097: γινωσκω, ginôskô; – to come to know, recognize, perceive: a virgin* (has not known a man). (Ga.4:9 . . . Now that you have come to know God . . . come to know by experience . . . See Robertson’s Word Pictures) 14 Is. 41:8; Jn. 14:21; Ga. 4:9; Mt. 7:23. 15 God looks at our heart to see our moral character. Each of us has a ruling purpose that we live for above everything else. It is a voluntary choice within our innermost being which regulates all our activity. Whether we submit to the intelligent will of God or narrow our lives down to live for our purposes above God’s purposes for ourselves – this is entirely our own decision. God appeals to us in every possible way to get us to choose to love, but he does not coerce our wills. If He did that, He would eliminate the very reason for why He created us.
The King’s Rule
Real love is loving as God loves. Scripture declares, God is love.16 This is stark contrast to what Greek culture said about their gods. Greek gods never got above selfishness. The Greek philosopher, Socrates, said the Greek gods exist, not to love, but to be loved. The gods exist for their own sake. They only give in order to get. The true God is opposite to this. The Bible tells us about the living God. He truly loves. He gives out of purity, not in order to get. The Holy Spirit calls upon us to truly love – in deeds and in truth. This is true giving. If I try to love in order to get – this is pure selfishness! This is not like God. Jesus pours out His love on us when we meet Him. If we truly love, we choose not to let our lusts control us. Instead, we rule over our bad thoughts and live like God does. Paul wrote, Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love.17 We control ourselves just as God does. How stinking bad it would be if God did not do this! If He did not choose His actions wisely, but just flew into a rage, He would with a mere tiny breath wipe out the whole world. You see, God chooses out of love instead. He rules lovingly and wisely – regulating the spiritual realm using righteous moral rule.
Moral rule operates by influences that appeal to self-caused action God’s normal means of ruling over the spiritual realm is not by using physical force, but rather by using influences. Influences are appeals to choose. Both good influences and evil influences surround us. Yet we have the ability to say yes or no to a good influence and yes or no to a wicked one. All of us continually face influences, but no influence ever causes us to sin. An evil influence may confront a person, but it can never compel a person to sin. Paul declared, The only temptations that you have are the temptations that all people have. But you can trust God. He will not let you be tempted more than you can stand. But when you are tempted, God will also give you a way to escape that temptation. Then you will be able to endure it.18 We all face bad influences from temptations, but God puts good ones in our path. He calls upon us to respond to them. What are these influences? He brings truth to us. He also surrounds us with the influence of His reasonable and loving character. We can see it in His works, in His care, and provision for us, and through His Word. In addition, the Holy Spirit speaks to us, calling upon us to live out His eternal principles of righteousness. God’s righteous influence comes to us from the truth expressed in God’s absolute standards. These laws19 are a description of how we ought to live. God uses them to preserve that standard of truth so we can know what we ought to do. Right action can only follow right understanding. So God makes certain that we have this light.a Not only did God give us light, He also gave us the ability to obey it.b20 We must choose from among the 16
1Jn. 4:8. Eph. 5:1-2. 18 1Co. 10:13 (Int’l. Children’s Bible). 19 Moral law is a description of how people ‘ought’ to live. These are influences – appeals to choose what is right. Influences call upon people to choose the right action. The moral law presents people’s total moral obligation and makes clear what virtue is and what sin is: Dt.28:1, 2, 9,15; 30:9,10; Is.30:8-11; Jr.6:19; 9:13-16; Dan.9:9-11; Mt.19:16,17; Ro.3:20; 8:3,4; 1Jn. 3:4. 20 People must obey: (Ge.22:18, 26:5; Ex.19:5, 23:21-22; Lv.26:14, 21, 27-28; Dt.11:13, 15, 27:10; 28:1-2; 28:15, 45; 30:2, 8, 10, 17, 20; 24:14-15, 24; Jdg. 2:2; 3:4; 6:10; 1 Sa. 15:19; 28:18, 21; 2 Ki. 18:12; Ps. 81:11; 103:20; Is. 1:19; 42:24; Jr. 3:13, 25; 7:24, 28; 9:13, 11:8; 18:10; 22:5, 21; 25:8; 26:13; 32:23; 34:10, 14, 17; 38:20; 42:21; 43:4, 7; 44:23; Dan. 9:10-11, 14; Mic. 5:15; Hag. 1:12; Jn. 3:36; Acts. 5:29, 32; 6:7; 7:39; Ro. 2:8; 16:19, 26; He. 5:9; 11:8; 1 Pt. 1:14, 22; 4:17). 17
The King’s Rule
influences we face and decide what we will do. Being created with the ability to obeyb God, we are therefore, responsible for our actions. As a result, God holds us accountable to pursue truth and to live up to what we know. God holds us accountable to live up to all that we know. Scripture says, To the one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.21 God has a special reason for ruling our lives in the way that He does. God wants to regulate us by using influences because He wants us to be virtuous. Noah Webster wrote, “Virtue is nothing but voluntary obedience to truth.”22 There would be no virtue in anything we do unless we actually chose it. Our actions originate from us. (A robot can never be virtuous because it can only do what some force causes it to do.) There can be no virtue in an act unless it is something we have chosen. For this reason, God gave us the ability to originate our own actions regardless of the internal and external influences we encounter. God created us with freedom. And since we are free, we are responsible.23 We are also accountable and deserve either reward or else condemnation for what we do. If we do not obey God, we are truly guilty.24
Ex. 19:5 `Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; Ex. 23:22 But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. Lv. 26:14 But if you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments, Lv. 26:18 If also after these things you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. Lv. 26:21 If then, you act with hostility against Me and are unwilling to obey Me, I will increasethe plague on you seven times according to your sins. Lv. 26:27 Yet if in spite of this you do not obey Me, but act with hostility against Me, Dt. 28:1 Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. Dt.28:2 All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the Lord your God: Dt. 28:15 But it shall come about, if you do not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you. Dt. 30:10 if you obey the Lord your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. Dt. 30:17 But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, Is. 1:19 If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land; Jer. 22:5 ‘But if you will not obey these words . . .’ declares the Lord, ‘that this house will become a desolation.’ Zech. 6:15 Those who are far off will come and build the temple of the Lord. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. And it will take place if you completely obey the Lord your God. 21 James 4:17. 22 Noah Webster: Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, under entry, “virtue.” 23 A person is responsible if he is a sentient being (that is, he must have the ability to perceive and understand. A senile or otherwise incapacitated person is not accountable for what he does not understand. 24 People are guilty to the full extent of their understanding. They know God exists. Universal prevalence of religious exercises shows that. Further they have a personal sense of guilt.
The King’s Rule
While God controls the physical realm using physical rule, He guides the spiritual realm using moral rule. Moral laws are descriptions of how people ‘ought’ to live. These are influences – appeals to choose what is right. Influences call upon people to choose the right action. This is moral rule. The Bible gives clear teaching on the way God guides and regulates using this method. Consider moral law. It does not cause a person to act but instead describes what action a person ought to choose for the highest good of all. The key word is ‘ought.’ Moral law calls for a loving choice. In moral rule God uses a means opposite to that of physical rule. God works with a man as a person instead of with him as if he were a robot. So God uses truth. Truth tells a person what he ought to choose. It tells him what is right. Here God is using a process, not a simple cause that brings its effect. The Bible tells of God's patient, careful effort to rule over man. God wisely deals with people made in His own image. God calls upon the sinner to submit to Him. His heart is to salvage as many as possible from the dreadful moral tragedy of rebellion with its eternal consequences. Jesus was painfully grieved because he knew what was in man.25 We read that He told the multitudes in the Sermon on the Mount: For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.26 How tragic – only a few find it. Not all. This is radically different from what happens when God uses physical rule. A physical law is a compelling force that always bring forth its effect.c What a contrast! Why is there this amazing difference between moral rule and physical rule? The answer comes clearly into view through seeing God’s purpose for people. He uses a moral rule so people can do what God created them for – to be the authors of their own actions. If not, they could not function in the "image" of God. Further, if God took away the ‘may’ or ‘may not’ of choice, God would take away His chance to have joy over those people who willingly cling to His will, and are warmed in their hearts by drinking in the reality of His great attributes and moral character. Thus, God will never turn from pursuing His purpose for people and the way He rules over them. Truly, the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.27 Such people bring great delight to God – the delight of friendship. Jesus said, You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.28 Isaiah proclaimed as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you.29 Zephaniah declared: The Lord your God . . . will rejoice over you with gladness . . . He will rejoice over you with singing.30
Struggling with that guilt, many perform great solemnness and personal sacrifice in various rituals and ceremonies, even to the offering of human sacrifices and self-inflicted torment. 25 Jn. 2:25. 26 Mt.7:14. 27 2Chr.16:9. 28 Jn.15:14 (NKJV). 29 Is.62:5 (NKJV). 30 Zeph.3:17 (NKJV). God created people to have an absolutely intimate relationship with God. He made it possible to have perfect and continued fellowship: Ge.1:26, 27; 17:1; Ex.33:11, 14; 2Chr.16:9; Is.57:15; Ezk.11:5; Mt.28:20 (see also Ga.2:20; Col.1:27); Jn.2:24, 25; 4:23, 24; 17:3; Acts 17:24-28; He.4:13; Rv.3:20.
The King’s Rule
To make room for this incredible purpose of intimate friendship, God normally deals with people using a moral rule, not a physical rule. Nevertheless, God will guide and direct mankind. He has three means available to do so. They are: a. influence b. causation c. final judgment. We will now reflect regarding each of these – influence, causation, and final judgment. --------------------------------------------------------------
God’s Rule over People Using a. Influence. How God rules by using influences. He has three levels: 1) Level One: Truth and Acts of Loving-kindness 2) Level Two: Consequences of Moral Law 3) Level Three: National Calamity, God’s judgment First, Level One: 1) Direction using Influence – Level One: Truth and Acts of Loving-kindness God leads His friends through the influencesd of His truth and grace in the freshness of His presence. Because they have the heart to obey, they have the privilege to drink in His goodness and kindness. Joyfully they obey31. God appeals to all people to submit to His rightful authority over their lives.32
People must obey: Ge. 22:18; 26:5; Ex. 19:5; 23:21-22; Lv. 26:14, 21, 27-28; Dt. 11:13, 15; 27:10; 28:1-2; 28:15, 45; 30:2, 8, 10, 17, 20; 24:14-15, 24; Jdg. 2:2; 3:4; 6:10, 1 Sa. 15:19; 28:18, 21; 2 Ki. 18:12; Ps. 81:11; 103:20; Is. 1:19; 42:24; Jr. 3:13, 25; 7:24, 28; 9:13; 11:8; 18:10; 22:5, 21; 25:8; 26:13; 32:23; 34:10, 14, 17; 38:20; 42:21; 43:4, 7; 44:23; Dan. 9:10-11, 14; Mic. 5:15; Hag. 1:12; Jn. 3:36; Acts. 5:29, 32; 6:7; 7:39; Ro. 2:8; 16:19, 26; He. 5:9; 11:8; 1 Pt. 1:14, 22; 4:17.
God appeals to people using influences. (See endnote: “God appeals to people using influences for an expanded discussion of this truth. (Ro. 2:4; Dt. 5:29; 30:19; Josh. 24:15; Ps. 25:12; Is. 1:18-19; 56:4; Rv. 3:20; Ge. 6:5-7, 12-13; 7:1; Ex. 3:7-15; 4:1-9; 1 Sa. 12:6-7; 2 Ki. 20:1-7; Is. 41:21; Is. 55:1-3, 7; Jr. 2:1-5, 9, 13; 29:10-14; Mic. 6:3.) Look at these examples: < Jesus, the world's greatest teacher, appealed using powerful illustrations to penetrate peoples' minds and get them to sit down and think over their lives. < The Holy Spirit: Jn. 14:26; 16:7-15; < The Bible – so that we might know the things freely given to us by God. 1Co. 2:9-13; 1Th. 2:13; 2Tm. 3:16-17. < The Apostle Paul to the Gentiles: to open their eyes so that they may turn . . . Acts 26:18 < (See also: Acts 2:22, 36-38; 4:2, 4, 8, 13, 31, 33; 5:19-20, 25, 29, 33, 42; 7:54, 55-56, 57, 58, 59-60 (but they kept resisting – Acts 7:51); 8:29-39; 17:30-31; 20:21, 24, 25; (according to Paul's custom, he reasoned 17:2-4; 1 Th. 1:5, 9, 6); 17:16-17, 22-33; 18:4-5, 11; 19:8-10, 20;
The King’s Rule
Some surrender to Him. Then as His friends, they walk in self-control.Ga.5:23 The Holy Spirit leads them through their love relationship with God. True Christians really do stay in loving obedience because they do draw strength from the Holy Spirit’s presence. They gladly bow to the influence shining forth from His goodness and kindness and from the touch of His truth. The Apostle Paul declared, For the love of Christ moves us . . . so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.33 God always puts reasonable requirements before us. Therefore, people ought to obey His right and good commandments. Joe and Jane Christian do. They voluntarily control themselves out of their love for God and for all people. They walk out love through their relationship with the Holy Spirit. They experience what Paul promised: if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.34 Joe and Jane do not live by mechanical regulations. Instead, in their intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit, they are pursuing the path of value and automatically do what the law says. Scripture says, For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 35 This is appropriate, and it is what Christians can and must do. God is never going to tell us to do something that we cannot do. Godly character pursues supreme love for God and love for others. It adores moral beauty. Those who hate moral beauty also despise Jesus. They eat corruption because their appetites are their god.36 In contrast, a true Christian grows in character, and that helps him keep going ahead with what he has been doing. There is a momentum that builds from character. However, all character begins with choice. From his choices, he builds habits. He experiences the blessing from the law of the right kind of habits. He develops godly character as the outflow of His relationship with the Holy Spirit.
24:24-25; 26:28); < In Rome, people came in large numbers; he was explaining about the kingdom of God, trying to persuade them from morning until evening . . . Some were persuaded, but others would not believe. Acts 28:23-24. 33
God directs Christians through their obedient response to His influence of love and truth: Ro.2:4; Jn. 8:31-32; 15:14; Lk.12:4; Jn.15:13; Jas.2:23; Dt.5:10; 6:5; 10:12; 11:1, 13, 22; 13:3, 19:9; 30:6, 16, 19-20; Josh.22:5; 23:11; 1Ki.3:3; Neh.1:5; Ps.18:1; 31:23; 69:36; 91:14; 97:10; 116:1; 119:47, 48, 97, 113, 127, 159, 163, 165, 167; Is.56:6; Dan.9:4; Zech.8:19; Mt.5:43, 44; 22:37, 39; Jn.5:42; 8:42; 13:34; 14:15, 21, 23; 21:15, 16, 17; Ro.8:28; 12:10; 13:8, 9, 10; 15:23, 30; 1Co.4:21; 2Co.2:7-8; 5:14; 8:8, 23; Ga.2:20; 5:6, 13, 14, 22; Ep.1:15; 4:2; 5:2, 25; 1Th.1:3; 3:12; 4:9; 2Th.2:10 – “others did not receive (accept, welcome) the love of the truth so as to be saved.”; 1Tm. 6:11; 2Tm.1:13; Tts.3:4; Phle.1:5, 9; He.6:10; 13:1; Jas.1:12; 2:5; 1Pt.1:22; 2:17; 3:8; 1Jn. 2:5, 10; 4:11, 19; 5:2, 3; 2Jn.1:5-6; 2Co.5:14, 15. 34 Ro. 8:13. 35 Ga. 5:13, 14. 36 Ph.3:19.
The King’s Rule
Second, Level Two:
God’s Rule over People Using 2) Rule using Influence – Level Two: Consequences of Moral Law It is so tragic that many people lack godly character and refuse to submit to God’s influence coming from His truth and acts of kindness. Nevertheless God deals with the problems their lives bring to Him. At the same time He continues to appeal to them to turn back to relationship with Him.37 The tragedy here – people turned from God’s purpose for their lives. But God does not give up. Since they moved away from voluntary restraint coming from love, God must now deal with their selfish hearts using another means of rule. God’s desire is that they had lived the way He designed them to live. He never designed for them to plunge into sin. Sin is unnatural. Therefore, to stop people in their tracks, God now uses the next level of influence. It is called moral law. It brings influences upon people using the promise of reward if they obey, and the promise of punishment if they disobey. God declares, If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.38 The rule comes through the influence of moral law. Consider moral law. God is still regulating by using influences. A moral law does not cause a person to act. Instead it describes what action a person ought to choose for the highest good of all. The key word is ‘ought.’ Moral law calls for a loving choice. In moral rule God uses a means opposite to that of physical rule. Instead of using a compelling force, moral law bring direction by using influences. God still works with a man as a person and not as a robot. God uses truth. This tells a person that he ought to choose what is right. Here God is using a process, not a simple cause that brings its effect.
Moral Law Moral law is the description of how things ought to occur in the spiritual realm. Consider the law, “You shall not steal.” Stealing ought not to occur because it breaks the law of love and despises the goal of true intelligence. Therefore, God’s law tells us, “Do not do it.” A moral law presents a principle of truth and love. It then uses consequences (penalties) to enforce that intelligent, loving principle. Without penalties, law would not be law, but only advice. If a person obeys, he will get the blessings that follow living the
God yearns for their friendship: Behold I stand at the door and knock. Jesus said. Joshua declared, Choose you this day whom you will serve . . . The Lord is . . . patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. Yet Stephen spoke truthfully to men ready to stone him: You men . . . are always resisting the Holy Spirit. Jesus lamented, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. To another group of men He declared, (Y)ou are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. And we read in Luke, the emphatic statement: (T)he Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God's purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John. (Rv.3:20; Josh.24:15; 2Pt.3:9; Acts 7:51; Mt.23:37; Jn.5:40; Lk.7:30). 38 The selfish heart is confronted by the consequences of law: Is. 1:19, 20.
The King’s Rule
way God designed him to live. If he disobeys, he will suffer consequences that come from clashing with reality. God gave good laws. They protect and defend people’s value and call upon them to honor that value. Look at it this way. What if I told Lead-Foot Fred, “I will give you two choices: I will sell you a brand-new car for only twenty dollars? Or else you can buy a broken baseball bat from me with that 20 dollars. It's an old weather-beaten one that I bought 25 years ago for five dollars. But I will not sell both the car and bat to you.” Should Lead-Foot Fred buy the car or the bat? If he chose the bat, we would think he made a stupid choice. The point is: Intelligence demands that we choose what is most valuable. Value obligates! Think about it – God is supremely valuable. The existence of the whole universe hinges upon His existence. And so God’s supreme value as well as the value of people press us to live lives that honor, preserve, and protect that value. This is our moral obligation.e God knows we must live that way. Therefore, He gave us His specific moral standards that tell us how we must live. God set up these standards to protect people from the destruction that follows stupid and selfish choices. He gave loving and reasonable laws, not arbitrary ones. He has a whole host of sufficient, intelligent reasons for them. Further, God made us with a specific design so we could carry out a special purpose. With this design and God-given purpose in mind, God gave us exactly the laws that we need. They match what our created design requires. Every design naturally confronts us with design requirements. For example, since a car engine must get lubrication, I must not run the engine without oil in it. Without oil, friction will destroy it. Now God made us with an even more wonderful design than a car’s design – we bear the image of God. This design has design requirements too. God gave us exactly the right laws so that we stay in the boundaries put there by our created design. They preserve, protect, and defend us. God gave laws that are for our good always.39 We face demands from our created design and also from the world around us. Therefore, obeying God’s laws is just as necessary as it is to wear a parachute when we jump out of an airplane flying 5000 feet above the ground. We do not want problems when we hit the ground. Every action brings its consequences. If we live according to our created design, we will get good consequences.f If we disobey God’s commands, we get bad consequences.f When a person sets himself against the influence of God’s truth, goodness, and kindness, then God must bring a stronger influence. Consequences confront him. God, being wise and loving, upholds His necessary laws. He must. He knows that order is indispensable to society and law is indispensable to order. If a person quits living by love, then God confronts his selfish heart with the judgment of His law. Law works. Any person can recall things he turned away from doing because he was afraid of what would happen to him if he got caught. The fear of punishment influenced him to hold back the full expression of his selfishness. While law cannot save a person, it 39
The King’s Rule
does inhibit his selfish actions. A bitter, malicious person may want to kill another, but many such a person stops himself because he does not want to face the punishment he would get. Many a selfish person would rob a bank if he thought he could skip town and never get punished. God’s laws bring boundaries that hold back acts of selfishness. They show us how we must live, not only because of the constraints of design, but also because of the goal of love. Therefore, God intends for people to obey Him. So He declared, “Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever! The Psalmist wrote: You have ordained Your precepts, that we should keep them diligently. The Lord spoke to Joshua, This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success . . . So keep the words of this covenant to do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.40 God gave such reasonable commandments. Moses declared: If you obey the Lord your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul . . . For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. It is not in heaven, that you should say, `Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, `Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.41 So many times the Bible declares that God’s law is great, wonderful, and obeyable: • How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord . . . • How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart . . . They also do no unrighteousness; they walk in His ways . . . I observe Your precepts . . . I am a companion of all those who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts . . . Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word . . . I understand more than the aged, because I have observed Your precepts . . . I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word . . . I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, for You Yourself have taught me . . . From Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way . . . The wicked have laid a snare for me, yet I have not gone astray from Your precepts . . . Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul observes them . . . I hope for Your salvation, O Lord, and do Your commandments . . . My soul keeps Your testimonies, and I love them exceedingly . . . I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies, for all my ways are before You. • Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and 40 41
Dt.5:29; Ps.119:4; Josh.1:8; Dt.29:9. Dt.30:10-14.
The King’s Rule
to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel. (He demonstrated that the law is obeyable.) • The Holy Spirit said of Zacharias and Elizabeth: They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.42 They demonstrated that God’s commandments are obeyable. How tragic that people refuse the self-restraint of love. Then God must confront evil with the strong declaration of law – obey God, or else! A person must see how right it is for blessings to follow virtuous acts, and realize the horrible consequences that follow rebellious acts. This reality must vividly pierce each person’s mind moving him to obey the light of conscience and to fear the dreadful consequences that hit those who turn away from that light. The following chart illustrates this truth. Flowing from obedience are things like joy, peace, fulfillment, blessed relationships, and life. From disobedience flow things like depression, conflict, emptiness, broken relationships, and death. If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land.43
Ps.119:1, 2, 3, 56, 63, 67, 100, 101, 102, 104, 110, 129, 166, 167, 168; Ezr.7:10; Lk.1:6
The King’s Rule
Third, Level Three:
God’s Rule over People Using 3) Rule using Influence –
Level Three: National Calamity
God gave absolute moral laws that uphold the highest good for everybody. But sadly, our Western society is turning away from God's laws more and more. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn saw it. Communists in Russia put him in Siberian concentration camps for decades during the 1900s. While in prison, Solzhenitsyn wrote his book, Gulag Archipelago. In it, he tells of his life in those camps. Later he came to the West. When he did, the American media took to him like a bear takes to honey; he was a hero – that is, until 1976. That was when he gave his commencement address at Harvard University. He saw that Western culture has turned to moral relativity, and he confronted western society's unprincipled pursuit of material happiness, saying: “(Western civilization is) on the dangerous trend toward worshiping man and his material needs. Everything beyond physical well-being and accumulation of material goods, all human requirements and characteristics of a subtler and higher nature, is left outside the range of attention of the state and the social system, as if human life did not have any higher meaning . . . “American democracy at the time of its birth, guaranteed to all, individual human rights because man is God's creature. That is, the individual received freedom conditionally, on the assumption of his constant religious responsibility . . . Two hundred years ago – even fifty years ago – it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual could be granted boundless freedom simply for the satisfaction of his instincts or whims . . . “(However) in the last few decades, the legalistic, selfish aspect of Western thinking has reached its apogee, and the world is now in a harsh spiritual crisis . . . All the glorified technological achievements of Progress, including the conquest of outer space, do not redeem the twentieth century's moral poverty.”44 America will never rise above her moral poverty without turning back to God's moral absolutes. His laws give fixed standards of behavior that apply to every person, everywhere, all the time, in every circumstance, without exception. Our created design requires that we have these universal, unchanging standards of behavior. We bear the same created design. No matter who we are, or where we are, or what situation we are in, we still have it, and therefore, we face the same requirements. Further, God created us all for love relationship with Him and one another, and so we all face the same unchanging requirements of relationship. Therefore, God's commandments must apply equally and unchangeably to every single person. They are universal, unchanging standards of morality. That is, they are moral absolutes: universal, unchanging standards defining how we must live. To deny moral absolutes is to deny that design brings design requirements. God knows we must obey His statutes for our good always . . .45 God intends good! God's laws are good. Therefore, we ought to obey them, and this ‘ought’ is not optional. God demands that we hold to the eternal principles of righteousness. In Four Trojan Horses, Harry Conn writes, 44
A World Split Apart, A Commencement Address delivered by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn at Harvard University, 1976, published in National Review, July 7, 1978, p. 843. 45 Dt. 6:24.
The King’s Rule
All sin is a violation of our design and can have nothing but sad consequences. Moral laws are real, not imagined, and are not to be trifled with. Disbelief has never altered any facts. The purpose behind God's moral regulations is to prevent the destructiveness of sin.46 We must cling tightly to this truth to guarantee the rights and well-being of all. When we take a course of action, we get the consequences inseparably connected with that action. If we live as God created us to live, we get the benefits that come with it. If we don't, we won't. To live contrary to God's loving and intelligent direction is stupid! Yet today, leaders toss out absolutes. They even engraved their view in stone above the door of a prestigious university law college: Law is a living growth, not a changeless code. This buries the beautiful truth that William Blackstone taught. In 1765 he wrote, a legislature’s purpose is not to make law; a legislature’s purpose is to wisely apply God’s Law into all of our relationships. If a nation casts God’s law behind its back and moves away from God’s moral law, then God must bring forth an even stronger means of influence – national calamity. The Levites in Nehemiah’s day recounted how God dealt with Israel using national calamity: But they became disobedient and rebelled against You, and cast Your law behind their backs and killed Your prophets who had admonished them . . . So that they might return to You, and they committed great blasphemies . . . Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their oppressors who oppressed them . . .47 Using national judgment, God bore down upon Judah in the days of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. He asked, What injustice did your fathers find in Me, that they went far from Me and walked after emptiness and became empty? How I would set you among My sons and give you a pleasant land, the most beautiful inheritance of the nations!'And I said, `You shall call Me, My Father, and not turn away from following Me.' Surely, as a woman treacherously departs from her lover, so you have dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel . . . Out of the north the evil will break forth on all the inhabitants of the land . . . I will pronounce My judgments on them concerning all their wickedness, whereby they have forsaken Me and have offered sacrifices to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands . . . Therefore I will yet contend with you, declares the Lord. Has a nation changed gods when they were not gods? But My people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. In that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A scorching wind . . . will come at My command; now I will also 46 47
Harry Conn, Four Trojan Horses, (Milford: Mott Media, 1982), p. 103. Neh.9:26-27. Here are other examples where God used the severe influence of national calamity: • God confronted King Ahaz and Queen Jezebel with famine when they turned to worship Baal. He sent Elijah to tell Ahab, As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word . . . Now the famine [was] severe in Samaria. (1Ki.17:1, 2; 18:1-2.) • In King Jeroboam’s day, God spoke through Ahijah: I exalted you . . . you have done more evil than all who were before you . . . – therefore behold, I am bringing calamity on the house of Jeroboam . . . (1Ki.14:7-10.)
The King’s Rule
pronounce judgments against them. Why should I pardon you? Your sons have forsaken Me . . . Behold, I am bringing a nation against you from afar, O house of Israel, declares the Lord. And I set watchmen over you, saying, `Listen to the sound of the trumpet!' But they said, `We will not listen. ' Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place . . . `Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people . . . that it may be well with you.’ Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart . . . (T)hey did not listen to Me . . . they did more evil than their fathers. Thus says the Lord, Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things. But instead, the sons of Judah have done that which is evil in My sight . . .‘they have set their detestable things in the house which is called by My name, to defile it. They have built the high places of Topheth, . . . to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, and it did not come into My mind . . . (T)hey have forsaken Me and have made this an alien place and have burned sacrifices in it to other gods, that neither they nor their forefathers nor the kings of Judah had ever known, . . . and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind; They have turned their back to Me and not their face; though I taught them, teaching again and again, they would not listen and receive instruction. But they put their detestable things in the house which is called by My name, to defile it. They built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the Lord. Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice nor walked according to it, behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood and give them poisoned water to drink. I will scatter them among the nations, whom neither they nor their fathers have known; and I will send the sword after them until I have annihilated them. Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, that I will punish all who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised . . . God deserves pliable people who respond to Him. They ought to be just as pliable as clay in a potter’s hands. But Israel cast aside His law. So God grieved over them. He asks, ‘Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as a potter does with the clay?’ Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel. Behold I am about to . . . uproot the house of Judah . . . ‘Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds.’
The King’s Rule
God kept reaching out to Judah. He wanted their humble repentance so He would have a wise opportunity to avoid sending Judah into Babylonian captivity. Thus, He once again sent Jeremiah to go after them: Stand in the court of the Lord's house, and speak to all the cities of Judah who have come to worship in the Lord's house all the words that I have commanded you to speak to them. Do not omit a word! Perhaps they will listen and everyone will turn from his evil way, that I may repent of the calamity which I am planning to do to them because of the evil of their deeds.' And you will say to them, “Thus says the Lord, ‘If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law which I have set before you . . . (then) this city I will make a curse to all the nations of the earth.’ ” But Judah clung to her ways, inflexible in the Master potter’s hands. She would not turn away from evil. So God let Babylon carry her away. Yet still He kept pursuing her through the prophet, Ezekiel: Therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me behind your back, bear now the punishment of your lewdness and your harlotries.’ Daniel also told of how right God was in bringing national calamity. At the end of the Babylonian captivity, in the first year of Darius’ reign, I, Daniel, observed the word of the Lord through Jeremiah and prayed. . . to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes . . . I prayed . . . ‘Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances . . . Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame . . . but to the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; nor have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His teachings . . . so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him.’ 48 In the second year of the reign of Darius, Zechariah also came with the same sad message: ‘But (our fathers) refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing. They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the Lord of hosts.’ . . . I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they have not known.’ Thus a desolated land lies behind them so that no one went back and forth, for they made the pleasant land desolate.49 In such situations God has at times used the actions of an evil ruler. He does not cause them to be evil for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.50 But in a 48
Jr.2:5; 3:19, 20, 22; 1:14-16; 2:9, 11; 4:11, 12; 5:7, 15; 6:17; 7:3, 23, 24, 25, 26; 9:23, 24; 7:30, 31; 19:4, 5; 32:33, 34, 35; 9:9, 13-16, 25; 12:14-17; 18:9-11; 26:2-6; Ezk.23:35; Dan.9:2-11. 49 Zech.7:11-14. 50 Jas.1:20.
The King’s Rule
few instances, people reached the point where God could not wisely hold back judgment, and He let evil nations bring it upon them. At times Satan has even served God in this way (as Satan unwittingly does something that ends up resulting to God’s benefit.)51 ---------------------------------------------------
In abnormal and unusual circumstances, God must move beyond the method using influence:
God’s Rule over People b. Control using Coercion. Sometimes God must work using coercive force. In such times, God uses an abnormal and unusual control through causation, where He temporarily sets aside a person’s normal moral freedom and accountability. History shows that many have resisted the influence of kindness and truth, legal consequences, and national judgments. Therefore, God in a particular instance puts a coercive force to work. Sin and its ravaging consequences wreak havoc on God’s creation. Isaiah declared, . . . your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God . . . justice is far from us . . . We hope for light, but behold, darkness; instead of brightness, we walk in gloom . . . We grope along the wall like blind men . . . We stumble at midday as in the twilight . . . Salvation is far from us . . . justice is turned back . . . righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the street, and uprightness cannot enter . . . Yes, truth is lacking; and he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey (It should have been the opposite – getting honor for repenting) . . . Now the Lord saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice . . . And (God) was astonished that there was no one to intercede.52 God abhors the very sight of sin and the injustice it brings. It is not at all His will. He says it displeases Him. He does not create His own displeasure. People bring pain and grief to Him when they turn from His will: God declared, how I have been hurt by their adulterous hearts which turned away from Me . . . He declared, How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? My heart is turned over within Me, All My compassions are kindled.53 Jesus, the only begotten God, bears the same grief as the Father. He showed that God is a God of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. Oh, so much grief hit God’s heart in the days of Noah. The wickedness of man was great on the earth, and every intent of the
1Ki.22:19-23. Is. 59:2, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16. 53 Ezk. 6:9; Hos. 11:8. 52
The King’s Rule
thoughts of his heart was only evil continually, and the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.54 After God led Israel out of slavery in Egypt, they should have obeyed Him, Instead they choked out God’s joy by turning away from Him. The Psalmist wrote, How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness, And grieved Him in the desert!55 Isaiah also told of how people rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit.56 How evil it is to grieve God’s heart! – how utterly wrong to refuse to intelligently bow to His good, acceptable and perfect will. Sin is never God’s will. God does not abuse Himself. He does not deserve to have grief. God grieves because people become inventorsRo.1:30 of evil.57 Sinners are monsters of iniquity! The selfish heart plunges the moral realm into indescribable devastation. Selfishness can never keep a workable order in human relationships. Therefore, at times, God had to use an abnormal and unusual means of control that temporarily sets aside a person’s normal freedom and accountability. God in rare instances uses coercive actions to hold back the chaos that sin causes. In addition, He also had to make some special arrangements that would provide for salvation. God would not stop until He had built the moral foundation that gives Him a wise way to extend forgiveness and mercy. Because people threw away all voluntary restraint, God has, in His mercy, restrained people for humanity’s own ultimate good. This is coercive force. The Scriptures present a group of verses that describe how God enforces things in His providential care.58 God is providential. He provides and prepares for the future. God strategically deals with people. He must do so. They have used their imaginations to devise intensely perverse gratifications and lost sight of their responsibility to their Creator. God must step in. At the Tower of Babel He did. He broke up the unified, concentrated sinful development of rebellion by confusing the language.59 God confronted the rebellious nations in Joshua’s day. These nations tried to stand against Israel and keep them from coming into the promised land. So God told Israel, This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the peoples everywhere under the heavens, who, when they hear the report of you, will tremble and be in anguish because of you.60 54
Ge. 6:6. Ps. 78:40. 56 Ezk.6:9; Hos.11:8; Jn.1:18; Is.53:3; Ge.6:6; Ps.78:40; Is.63:10. 57 The Bible describes people as alienated from God, arrogant, boastful, blind, corrupt, darkened dead in sins, deceived, defiled and unbelieving, depraved in mind, disobedient, enemies of God, evil, fleshly minded, foolish, going astray, guided by Satan, having hardness of heart, hateful, hypocritical, impenitent, indulging the desires, inventors of evil, lovers of pleasure, lovers of self, malicious and envious, refusing belief, rejecting truth, resisting the Holy Spirit, self-satisfied, slaves of sin, subordinating God, unconscious of bondage, unrighteous: Ep. 55
4:18; Ro.1:30; 2Co. 4:4; Mt.7:17-18; Ro.1:21; Ep.2:1; Tts.3:3; 1:15; Ro.1:28; Tts.3:3; Jas.4:4; Mt.2:33-35; Ro.8:6; Mt.7:26; 1Pe. 2:25; Jn. 8:44; Ep. 4:18; Tts. 3:3; Mt.6:2, 5, 16; Ro.2:5; Ep.2:3; Ro.:30; 2Tm.3:4; 2Tm.3:2; Tts.3:3; 1Co.2:14; Jn.3:36; 2Tm.4:4; Acts7:51; Re.3:17; Jn.8:34; Ro.1:25; Jn.8:33; 1Co.6:9. 58
Ex.11:9, 10; Dt.2:25; Josh.11:20; Ps.22:28; Dan.4:17; Lk.4:28-30; Jn.7:30; Rv.17:17. Ge.11:6-9. 60 Dt.2:25. 59
The King’s Rule
God forged a defeatist attitude into the minds of Israel’s enemies. At the sane time, He gave Israel undaunted courage. He also did this in the days of Moses, and of Gideon, Samson, and David. In these times God sent righteous rulers on missions of judgment. God takes His stand against the selfish pride of rulers. He knows how to stop them in their tracks: The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes. For the kingdom is the Lord's and He rules over the nations. The Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes and sets over it the lowliest of men.61 Proud Nebuchadnezzar ate a personal meal of that reality! God had him eating grass. God even used Pharaoh’s daughter to raise up Moses to deliver Israel and to defeat Pharaoh. God used the house of Pharaoh to defeat the house of Pharaoh.62 Therefore, we see that God can and does take away human freedom in special instances. He temporarily sets aside normal moral freedom and accountability and places those people temporarily under a law of cause and effect by whatever way He needs to use. However, God never uses causation in the realm of personal salvation. When a person faces his own eternal destiny, God never coerces his will. God always protects a person’s will, so that each person determines his own destiny. Stephen spoke to those who stoned him: You men . . . are always resisting the Holy Spirit.63 Jesus said of some men, You are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.64 Luke records concerning the Pharisees: The Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God's purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John.65 They rejected the will of God for their lives! Unlike those men, the Apostle Paul submitted when God sent him to the Gentiles to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light . . . that they may receive forgiveness of sins . . . Paul told King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision.66 God clearly revealed His intention that all may be saved: All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. . . The Lord is . . . not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance . . . For God desires all men to be saved . . . For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men . . . Today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.67 61
Pr.21:1; Ps.22:28; Dan.4:17. Dt.9:1-6; Josh.3:7. 63 Acts 7:51. 64 Jn.5:40. 65 Lk.7:30. 66 Acts 26:18, 19. 67 Jesus died that everybody might be saved: Jn.1:29; 4:42; 6:51; 1Jn.4:14; Is.53:6; 2Pt.3:9; 1Tm.2:4; Tts.2:11; He.3:7, 8. 62
• We see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for every one. (He.2:9.) • All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us turned to his won way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him (Is. 53:6.) • Every living person has gone astray, but God laid the iniquity of every person who has ever lived on Jesus . . . Behold, the Lamb, who takes away the sin of the world! (Jn. 1:29.) • For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through Him (Jn. 3:16, 17.) • Truly, truly . . . he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life (Jn. 5:24.) • God is not one to show partiality (Acts 10:34; Ro. 2:11.)
The King’s Rule
If a society becomes absolutely incorrigible,68 God must use an extreme measure: God’s Rule over People c. Control using Final Judgment. God controls by removing extreme evil and incorrigible rebellion. One of history’s fundamental realities is that God does maintain control of history’s direction and purpose. At a few junctures in history (probably only four times during the 4000 years of Old Testament history) humanity moved far away from God’s direction and purpose. Every person in an entire society became incorrigible – absolutely refusing correction and bad beyond correction. They despised God’s tender love and kindness. They rejected His loving and reasonable laws. They absolutely refused correction through God’s wise and necessary judgments. What a tragedy! In the days of Noah, the Lord saw that the wickedness of man . . . that every intent . . . was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart . . . Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God said, Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh . . . But (Noah), I will establish My covenant with you . . .69 About 400 years later, God had to deal with Sodom and Gomorrah. Think how obstinate Sodom and Gomorrah became. The Lord said, (Their outcry) is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. So God sent visitors to Sodom. But the men of the city called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.’ Lot replied, ‘Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly.’ But they said, ‘Stand aside.’ They pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door. At that point, Lot’s special guests told him, ‘We are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it.70 Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire down on Sodom and Gomorrah. Tragically, in this same period of time, the Amorites began their downward moral spiral. They lived in the land of Canaan. They worshiped false gods that would lead them down a road to total moral collapse. God could see where they would end up. But God was
• For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all . . . (2 Co. 5:14.) • This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tm. 2:3-6.) • For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men . . . (Tts. 2:11.) • And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world (1 Jn. 2:2.) If John means only the world of the elect here and not all men who ever will live, then the verse is reduced to a meaningless statement: “And He Himself is the propitiation for the sins of the elect; and not for the sins of the elect only, but also for those of the whole elect.” If this were true, there no longer would be any reason for the verse to be in the Bible. • Rv. 3:20 simply presents the words of Jesus, Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if ANYONE hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me. 68
Incorrigible: “to have an attitude, disposition, and behavior that is depraved beyond correction; hopeless depravity in persons and error in things.” – Webster’s 1828 Dictionary 69 Ge.6:5-6, 11, 17, 18. 70 Ge.8:20; 19:5, 7, 9, 13, 24.
The King’s Rule
patient toward them in His mercy. He waited. The Amorite peoples were heading down a perverse course. God knew that the longer they traveled down that road, the more extreme and obstinate they would increase in their hardened condition. A day would come when they would be incorrigible. Then God’s wisdom could not allow it to continue any longer. God would act, and at the same time, fulfill His promise to Abraham. God told Abraham, Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.71 The judgment of the Amorites came through Joshua nearly 500 years later. Israel’s spies went into Jericho, and evil men pursued the spies to kill them. Only Rahab obeyed God, and because she met God’s wise conditions, she was saved. The rest perished. Jericho’s people walked wickedly and worshiped Ashteroth, a fertility goddess that led people to sensual, perverse gratifications. They built a temple to her where they sacrificed babies three times a week and then sprinkled the babies’ ashes at the four corners of the temple. It seems that all of Jericho had venereal disease. Babies were born blind and crippled. The elderly would go blind, crippled, and insane. Wisdom could find no basis to let the city continue. It would be unloving to the babies and unloving to the incorrigible hearts. It would also be unloving to the rest of humanity to allow Jericho’s irredeemable influence to continue. It would feed the idea that people could push forward in rebellion without God ever bringing a day of accountability. Moral intelligence, sanity, and love must call for this evil to stop! Thus, God directed Joshua to march around Jericho seven days. Then Joshua told the people, Shout! For the Lord has given you the city. Their walls fell down flat! About 400 years later, God found it necessary to bring a final judgment upon another evil people. He faced the perverted condition of the Amalekites. They had grown intensely evil. (One report suggests that they may have even spread venereal disease to the animals.) Finally, God sent the prophet, Samuel, to tell King Saul, Go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has. God even gave strict orders not to bring back any supplies to cover the costs of the war – not an ox, sheep, camel nor donkey.' If God needed a quarantine to protect Israel’s herds from disease, this command makes perfect sense. God always has sufficient, intelligent reasons for everything that He does. When a people move beyond correction, when God can find no wise basis to continue to show His kindness and patience, He must act to uphold what is the highest good for the moral and physical universe. God rules so intelligently – both over the moral realm and the physical realm. Notice the contrast between the physical and spiritual realms. Both kinds of rule perfectly line up with the purpose for that realm and for the design of that kind of creation: Physical Realm
Physical law: A description of how things occur
Moral law: A description of how things ought to occur
Control using causation
Rule using influence
Certainty of Result
Result depends upon the choice made
The Kingâ€™s Rule
Created to be holy, virtuous (1 Pt. 1:16)
No reward nor punishment
Worthy of reward or else punishment Rv.20:13; 21:7,8; 22:12-14
At one atmosphere of pressure, heat causes pure water to boil at 212Â° every single time.
If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, You will be devoured by the sword. Is.1:19-20; Josh.24:15; 2Tm.:21.
The King’s Rule
Conclusion Our wise God made wonderful creations. Each category bears special characteristics. Having designed each one differently for its own unique purposes, God then regulates each one using different means. People are so special. God created them in His image that they might be built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.72 Thus, God made people as spiritual beings, tiny replicas of His own personality. He gave them the ability to understand what is right and wrong. He blessed them with the ability to originate their own actions. He enabled them to pursue His purpose for them. The question is – Would they obey His loving and reasonable will? God must give them the capacity to choose. They could not produce the joy of love if they were robots. Thus God does not coerce man's will. If He did, He would wipe out the very reason for people to exist at all. Therefore, God must regulate people in a special way. He brings truth to their minds and influences them with acts of goodness and kindness. They can know what actions are right and proper. But if they turn away from spontaneous self-control, rejecting God’s truth and kindness,Ro.2:4 and the Holy Spirit’s tender strengthening,Ro.8:13 then God confronts their selfish hearts. He deals with them using the consequences of moral law. He tells them of the blessings that come if they live the way He created them to live, and warns them of the destructive consequences that follow disobedience. God influences them – promising rewards for obedience and warning that appropriate punishment will come upon disobedience. People must choose, but they would always have every good reason to follow God’s law. God’s moral law promotes loving and reasonable requirements and gives a description of what people ought to do. It calls upon them to choose actions that fit the way God designed them to live. People ought to obey. If they abandon God’s direction, they take a path that destroys all beauty and goodness. So God confronts them. He uses every wise influence to get them to make the right choices. He holds them responsible and accountable to choose what is right. Yet He never causes peoples' moral choices. If they oppose His influence of truth and kindness, He confronts them with the influence of law. If the whole community casts His law behind their back, He confronts them with the severe influence that comes from national calamities. At times God has to stop society from morally throwing itself into total chaos. He puts forth an abnormal and unusual means of control in a few particular catastrophic situations, and uses a coercive force. With it, He causes some event to happen and does not let any person change it. In such a case, He temporarily sets aside a person’s freedom and moral accountability. Yet God never works this way in salvation. The purpose of salvation is to reconcile people to love relationship, and this love relationship, by its very nature, is voluntary. Obviously, it is impossible to cause somebody to be voluntary. Salvation does not bring a person into a robotic relationship. Thus, a person must surrender himself to the will of God, and let God save him. At very rare times (probably only four times in the four thousand years before Christ), God brought final judgment on a whole community of people. They had become
The King’s Rule
incorrigible, having come to a condition where they were abhorring all correction. They left God with only one wise choice – final judgment. • In Noah’s day, God brought the flood. • He stopped evil in Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone. • He led Joshua into battle against the Canaanites. • God told King Saul to go up against the Amalekites. Thus, God works with the spiritual realm using • influence • from truth and kindness, or • from moral law, or • from national calamities. • In extreme instances, God must use coercion to stop total, moral collapse that results if people will not bow to His love and wisdom. • Finally and rarely, (only 4 times in 3600 years of Old Testament history) He had to bring final judgment when a society became incorrigible. ----------------------------------------
In Contrast, God’s Rule ver the Physical Realm God’s rule over the physical realm occurs very simply. In the physical realm, God rules by always using the law of cause and effect. A cause always brings forth its effect. The results are always certain. It gives no space for freedom, nor for responsibility and accountability. It rules out any possibility of guilt or virtue since nothing comes from selfcaused action. Obviously, a stone never receives either a reward, nor any punishment for anything that it does (because it does not do it. It was caused to move.)
The Spiritual Realm However, in God’s rule over the spiritual realm, God calls people to a life of selfcontrol. God reveals truth and lets them know how they ought to live.73 They can easily know: • of God’s existence, • of their need of a king, and • of God’s right to their lives. Further, their conscience • gives them moral direction. • It inspires them to do what is right and • confronts them with their guilt if they turn against God. Therefore, people face true guilt if they do not seek out God’s wonderful truth. Paul strongly warned people: See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and
People have access to truth through • observations of creation, • God-consciousness, • reasoning ability, • conscience, • the Holy Spirit, and • the Bible.
The King’s Rule
empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.74 God faithfully spoke to people throughout history. He continually brought special revelation. He spoke to Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and Job. Through Moses, God gave • a formal public revelation of laws. • moral absolutes, • a sacrificial system of mercy and worship, and • political regulations for the nation Israel. God gave a precious written record of His truth by giving the Bible. It stands side by side with the truth people had • from reason, • from conscience and • from creation telling of the glory of God.75 People ought to apply truth in the way they live. They ought to love God supremely and others as themselves. This is a right, proper, loving and reasonable obligation. It is something wonderful – a way of life “for our good always.”76 Selfishness is wrong. Supreme concern for our own happiness above God’s highest good is wrong. No perversion of mind can make it right. It is right to dedicate ourselves to live for "the highest good of God and the universe." God rightfully requires this love from us. If God required less, He would be directing us to live a life of stupidity and moral perversion. Therefore, God calls us to choose wisely. We will experience consequences, either good or bad depending upon what we choose. Some consequences are eternal. From a thought, we reap a choice. From a choice, we reap an action. From an action, a habit. From that, a character. Either we will surrender to God’s provision of salvation, and reap eternal life (experientially knowing God) or we will reap damnation, the consequences of pressing on in rebellion. God does not want any to perish and is reaching out to all men impartially. Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?Ge. 18:25
Col.2:8. Ps.19:1. 76 Dt.6:24. 75
Summary Alleluia; for the Lord God omnipotent reigns. Rev.19:6 The Lord has prepared His throne in the heavens; and His kingdom rules over all.Ps. 103:19
Definition: To rule
! To direct; to regulate; to restrain
God’s Moral Rule Over the Spiritual Realm God normally uses influence, allowing the normal course of accountable, self-caused action. Each person chooses between influences and forms his own moral character and chooses
his destiny. Here God says: I have called, you refused; I have stretched out my hand and no man regarded.Pr. 1:24
Rule Using Three Levels of Influence 1. Influence:
God uses truth and acts of loving-kindness (Ro.2:4; 8:14)
A person in love relationship with God responds to God's direction out of love for
God and love for his fellowman. He is regulated by grace (Ro.6:14).
God uses moral law.
If people reject relationship with God, God brings regulation using moral law. Consequences enforce Law. Good consequences follow obedience. Bad consequences follow disobedience. Regulation and guidance come through the penalty of law that influences people to do what is right – not to steal, not to murder, etc. Law without consequences is not law but only advice. People restrain themselves out of fear of suffering and out of hope of getting some blessing. God brings understanding of right and wrong, along with the associated consequences. This involves understanding truth, making a choice, and then having
emotional reactions when a person experiences the consequences of his choices. God influences, but does not cause a person's moral choices. People are the authors of their own choices. They are responsible for them. They are accountable for them. By the choices they make, they determine the course and destiny of their lives. God, by using influences to regulate people, gives them the opportunity to experience their created purpose: to enjoy loving relationships with God and with each other. Ge.6:5; Dt.30:19; Josh.24:15; 1Ki.18:21; Pr.1:24; Is.1:19, 20; 45:22; Jer.18:5-10; 21:8; Ezk.20:7, 8; Mt.23:37; Jn.1:11; 5:40; Acts 7:51; Ro.2:5-11; 6:16; Ga.6:7, 8; Rv.3:20.
God uses instances of national judgment.
When a nation tosses away God's law, casting it out of their land, God will then confront the whole nation. In Elijah’s day, the
people faced severe drought. In Jeremiah’s day, God sent Judah into Babylonian captivity. 1Ki.17:1; Jr.4:16-18
Control through an instance of causation 4. Coercive force: This is the abnormal, unusual control of man by divine force. God exerts a causation upon a man, temporarily overruling his will, for a
moment removing his moral freedom and accountability. God causes something to happen in order to bring about some
particular plan of His mercy or judgment. In this way God prepares for the salvation of man, and limits the selfishness of government, not letting it go beyond certain bounds. God has had to use coercive force because of the entrance of sin into the world. However, it is imperative that we see that God never uses causation in salvation. Salvation is not a robotic condition but
the joyous interaction of love relationship. Therefore, people choose their own destiny. Acts 26:18, 19 Ex.11:9, 10; Dt.2:25; Josh.11:20; Ps.22:28; Pr.21:1; Jer.32:27-30; 50:9; Dan.4:17, 32; Zeph.3:8; Jn.7:30; 18:31, 32; 19:9-11; Ro.13:1; Rv.17:17
If a society becomes, incorrigible: Final Judgment 5. Destruction: Ge. 6 â€“ 8; 19:12, 13; Josh.6:1-26; 1Sam.15;
Comparing the Three Methods of Regulation Physical realm
Physical Law: the description of how things occur in the physical realm
Instinct: Mysterious control that brings forth the desired results
Moral law: the description of how things ought to occur in the moral realm
Regulation by a causation
Regulation by a causation
Regulation by influence
What is caused is: not free not responsible not accountable
What is caused is: not free not responsible not accountable
What is free is: not caused responsible accountable
The effect is certain
The effect is certain
The effect depends on choice.
Ge.6:7,13; 19:24, 25; Ex.14:16-21; 1Ki.18:38; 2Chr.7:12-14; Ps.93:1-4; 135:5-9; Is.45:5-7, 12, 18 Jonah 1:4,14, 15; Mt.8:24-27; Col.1:16, 17
Ge.9:2; Num.22:22, 23; Job.35:10, 11; Jonah :17; 2:10; Mt.6:26; 8:20 10:29; 26:74, 75; Mk.5:11-13
Ge.3:11; 6:5; Dt.30:19; Josh. 24:15 1Ki 18:21; Is.1:19, 20; 45:22; 66:3,4; Jer.18:5-10; 21:8; Ezk.20:7, 8; Mt.23: 37; Jn.1:11; 5:40; 7:16, 17; Acts 7:51; Ro.2:5-11; 6:16; Ga.6:7, 8; Rv.3:20
God makes sure people have light.
Enough persuasive truth confronts people’s minds and conscience so that they are truly guilty for disobedience. They deserve the eternal punishment of separation from God.
Light coming from natural observations ‘Light’ represents that which reveals to us what our actions ought to be: All things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. When John wrote God is light, and in him is no darkness at all1Jn. 1:5, he told us that God’s every activity comes from perfect divine intelligence. He always does what is absolutely right and proper. Jesus said, I am the light of the world.Jn. 8:12 He is the perfect example for the world to imitate. People can see endless evidence that reveal what their obligation is, both to God and to the human race. The Scripture affirms the great guilt of every person who has attained the age of accountability and is in possession of his reasoning powers: 1. These are the basis of guilt and condemnation.Ro.1:18-20;2:11,12,14-16;3:19,23 (all the world . . . guilty.)Jn.1:9;12:32;16:8-11. Even if people have never heard of the Bible nor of the Gospel, they are still without excuse. While the Gospel greatly adds guilt to those who reject it, it is not the primary basis of condemnation.Ro.1:19-21;2:14 2. Light appeals directly to our minds for acceptance. Yet people may decrease its force by philosophical reasoning.Acts 17:28;Ro.1:18;Col.2:8; 2Tm.4:4 If we do not want to comply to truth, we try to reason it away and suppress the truth in unrighteousness.Ro.1:18 ASB We get taken captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men.Col.2:8 ASB 3. The sources of this moral light: a. We have light from ourselves or our inner beings: our reason, our emotional response or feeling, and our will or directive ability.Ps.8:4 b. We have access to truth from our bodies as they contact the world through our five senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching.Ps.139:14 c. We have evidences from the incredible things we can see in the world that surround us.Ps.19:1;Is.40:26;Jr.10:12;Ro.1:20 d. The Holy Spirit speaks directly to us.Jn.1:9;16:8-1 1;Ro.1:18;2:15;Acts 17:27 4. Moral light presses us to certain conclusions: a. There must be an adequate First Cause. It is impossible for nothing to produce something? The idea that intricate designs are the product of self-generation is absolutely contrary to common sense, human experience, and observation.He.3:4 b. This First Cause is overwhelmingly great in power – all powerful.Rev.15:3 c. He must be exceedingly great in knowledge and wisdom, greater than the product of creation.Ps.104:24;Jr. 51:15 d. He must be kind and good, judging from the multitude of loving expressions we can see. Our basic needs always have a provided means of satisfaction. The end product of a wise creation is the result of a benevolent use of God's great knowledge and intellectual ability. Wisdom equals knowledge plus goodness.Ps.33:4-6;Mt.5:45 e. He must be absolutely faithful in always carrying out His responsibility, judging from the Perfect consistency and regularity in which events occur. This consistency is so absolute that physical laws describe activities from the microscope to the telescope.Lam.3:22-23;1Pt.4:19 f. This First Cause must be a spiritual personal Being. We know our real selves are above our physical existences, and thus, God must be supreme over the physical.Ro.1:20 g. God must be everywhere present, in contrast to our localized existence.Ps.139:7-10 h. God must possess an existence not limited by time, as we perceive ourselves to be, or must possess and unending opportunity of time.Ro.1:20 i. All people are moral beings, whose happiness is just as important as our own.Ga.5:14
All these observations emphatically declare that all sane, sensible people know their perpetual obligation to worship the Supreme Being and to do what will bring Him joy. Sensible people also understand that they must seek to uphold the rights, happiness, and welfare of all people equally with their own. Thus, people are utterly without excuse when they choose to be selfishness and to seek self-interest above the highest good for God and others. People are truly guilty because they changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.Ro.1:25
People had Light directly from God before Moses God always showed true, virtuous love toward people. He suffers when people refuse to receive the blessings He wants for them. To bring people back to Himself, truth must pierce their minds so that they know what true life before God is. To be saved is to come to the knowledge of the truth.1Tm. 2:4 God immediately began presenting this revelation to people as soon as Adam and Eve sinned, and continued down through history. 1. In the days of Adam and Eve: • Telling of penalties for sinGe.2:17; 3:16-19, 22-24 • Giving first prophecy of the coming Savior and of animal sacrifices.Ge.3:15, 21; He. 9:22 2. In the days of Cain and Abel: • All men are religious.Ge. 4:4, 5 • sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master itGe.4:7, 4:16 3. In the days of Enoch: • Of the godly line of SethGe.4:25, 26 • 300 years of walking with God, implying a previous periodGe.5:22 • Had a prophetic ministry.Jude 14, 15 • Doing the will of God a necessary condition of the incredible blessing he received 1Jn. 2:17 • He was translated by faithGe.5:24; He. 11:5, 6 (his witness) 4. In the days of Noah: • The Holy Spirit was striving for 120 yearsGe. 6:3 • It is a testimony of the long-suffering of God1Pt. 3:20 • God gave an intelligent, loving plan and command; Noah obeyedGe.6:14 • Noah was a preacher of righteousness.2Pt.2:5. 5. In the days of Abraham: • God worked to bring a blessing to the nationsGe.12:1-3 , He.11:8 • Abraham believed GodGe.12:6; Ro. 4:3, 18-22; Ga. 3:6 • He receiveda prophecy of the GospelGa. 3:8 • Abraham worshipedGe.12:7 • God gives further visionsGe.13:14-17 • God declares, I am the Almighty God, or the God who is enoughGe.17:1 • Abraham journeyed in expectationHe.11:8-10 • When God tested Abraham, we have the evidence of the usual sacrificial practice and sacrificial lamb because Isaac asked, Where is it?Ge.22:7 H • Abraham understood tithingHe.7:1, 2 • Abraham saw Christ's day prefiguredJn. 8:56 6. In the days of Isaac: • Isaac received a great revelation and continued in sacrificial worshipGe.26:24, 25 7. In the days of Jacob: • Jacob offered sacrificesGe.31:54 • He was conquered by an angelic beingGe.31:54, 46:1 8. In the days of Joseph: • Joseph has dreams of God's visitationGe.37:5-8, 9-11 • He lived in moral purityGe.39:9 • He was endued with God's wisdomGe.41:38 • God achieved his purposes through Joseph in spite of the wickedness of Joseph’s brothers,
Endnotes Potiphar’s wife, and others.Ge.45:5-8 9. In the days of Moses: • God gave Moses a special commission of deliverance Ex. 3:7-10, 16-18 • Moses was a special mouthpiece of GodGe.5:1-3 • God instituted a Passover feastEx.12:3-14 10. In the days of Job • There was sacrificial worship, before the Law given through MosesJob 1:5 • Job was a special servant of God Job 1:8 • Job experienced God's special nearness and vindicationJob 42:5, 6, 7-10
Light before the fall Before the fall, Adam and Eve had a pure perspective of truth. They had a right attitude and disposition of heart that told them what was right and proper. So they knew how they ought to act and react in every situation. However, after they disobeyed God, their conscience deeply pained them. So they twisted their understanding to try to justify their evil – to make it seem not to be evil. To deal with this twisted thinking, God started writing down what their obligations were. These are the ten commandments. This did not originate the law; the commandments merely declared what was always true. They are written expression of God’s intelligence telling how people must live. 1. The moral law added to what people already knew from their conscience and from reasoning: Ga.3:19; Ro.2:12, 14-16. 2. The moral law was an instrument for blessing that ought to be obeyed and rejoiced in. It was not a heavy load that God piled on people to make them unhappy: Ex.24:3, 7; Dt.10:12, 13; 11:22, 23; 26:16-19; 28:47, 58, 59; 30:11-16; Josh.22:5; Neh.9:12-17; Ps.19:7-9; 40:8; 119:97; Mt.5:17, 18; Ro.7:12, 14. 3. The moral law clearly presents people’s total moral obligation and tells what virtue is and also what sin is: Dt.28:1, 2, 9, 15; 30:9, 10; Is.30:8-11; Jr.6:19; 9:13-16; Dan.9:9-11; Mt.19:16, 17; Ro.3:20; 8:3, 4; 1Jn.3:4. ----------------------------------------------------------------------
People must obey God’s will and His law:
Ge. 22:18; 26:5; Ex. 19:5; 23:21-22; Lv. 26:14, 21, 27-28; Dt. 11:13, 15; 27:10; 28:1-2; 28:15, 45; 30:2, 8, 10, 17, 20; 24:14-15, 24; Jdg. 2:2; 3:4; 6:10; 1Sa. 15:19; 28:18, 21; 2Ki. 18:12; Ps.81:11; 103:20; Is.1:19; 42:24; Jr.3:13, 25; 7:24, 28; 9:13; 11:8; 18:10; 22:5, 21; 25:8; 26:13; 32:23; 34:10, 14, 17; 38:20; 42:21; 43:4, 7; 44:23; Dan. 9:10-11, 14; Mic.5:15; Hag.1:12; Jn.3:36; Acts.5:29, 32; 6:7; 7:39; Ro.2:8; 16:19, 26; He.5:9; 11:8; 1Pt.1:14, 22; 4:17
Contrast Between Physical and Spiritual Realms Physical Realm
Physical law: A description of how things occur
Moral law: A description of how things ought to occur
Control using causation
Regulation using influence
Certainty of Result
Result depends upon the choice made
Created to be holy, virtuous (1 Pt. 1:16)
No reward nor punishment
Worthy of reward or else punishment (Rv. 20:13; 21:7,8; 22:12-14)
At one atmosphere of pressure, heat causes pure water to boil at 212° every single time.
If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, You will be devoured by the sword. Is. 1:19-20; Josh. 24:15; 2 Tm.2:21.
An influence is an appeal to choice. It is not a coercive force. It is different from heat causing water to boil. Heat does not say to water, “Boil. ” No, heat causes the water to boil, and the water has no freedom to resist because that which is caused is not free. Another equally important truth is: That which is free is not caused. Freedom cannot exist if God had no made room for selfcaused action. Therefore, for true freedom, God must not use causation, but instead He uses influences in the way He rules over people, and they must choose to obey. The final outcome that comes when God rules using this depends upon how people respond to Him. An influence does not cause a person to act, but calls upon him to make a particular choice. Good influences appeal to a person to choose a good course while evil ones tempt a person to do evil. I once saw an advertisement picturing a camel smoking a cigarette. The slogan proclaimed, “For seventy-five years now, I have been smoking Camels.” The advertizer wanted to influence me. Will I choose to smoke a cigarette? If I choose to smoke, shall I choose one that has Camel written on it? The advertisement was an appeal to me to do something, but it did not cause me to do it. A person always has the ability to say, yes or no to a good influence and yes or no to a bad one. God appeals to people using influences, reasoning with the seeking to get them to choose what is right to do. 1. Ro. 2:4; Dt.5:29; 30:19; Josh. 24:15; Ps. 25:12; Is. 1:18-19; 56:4; Rv. 3:20. 2. God did not cause Noah to build an ark, but reasoned with Noah, telling him the reason for the floodGe. 6:5-7, 12-13; 7:1 3. By reasoning with Moses, God appealed to him to choose lead Israel out of Egypt:Ex. 3:7-15; 4:1-9. 4. Samuel reasoned with Israel on God’s behalf, trying to get them not to choose to have a king:1Sa.8:6-7 5. King Hezekiah reasoned with God to be healed:2Ki.20:1-7. 6. God challenged Israel to reason with Him and give reasons for their disobedience:Is.41:21 7. God not only reasons and strongly urges people to evaluate their lives:Is.55:1-3, 7 8. Through Jeremiah, God pled with Judah in a most compassionate way, seeking to lead them to repent:Jer.2:1-5,9,13 9. God appeals to people to obey, stating His good-will towards them –`For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord, `plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future
10. 11. 12. 13.
and a hope.Jr.29:11 Through Micah, God reasoned with Judah: – My people, what have I done to you, And how have I wearied you? Answer Me.Mic.6:3 Jesus, the world's greatest teacher, appealed to people to choose righteousness, using powerful illustrations that pierced their minds, seeking to get them to sit down and think over their lives. The Holy Spirit appeals to people but Stephen said of the Jewish religious leaders, "You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit;Acts 7:51 The Bible, God’s Word, brings intelligent communication from the Holy Spirit to our spiritual understanding so that we might know the things freely given to us by God:1Co.2:9-13; 1Th.2:13; 2Tm.3:16-17
14. Jesus sent the Apostle Paul to the Gentiles to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins . . . Acts 26:18 15. On the Day of Pentecost Peter declared, Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs . . . let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified. 37 Now when they heard [this], they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ Peter [said] to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’Acts2:22,36-38 16. Peter and John, with a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit, reasoned with the people, expanding the church to about 5000 men:Acts 4:2, 4, 8, 13, 31, 33. 17. The Apostles were so satisfied in the revealed truth of God that they said with overflowing enthusiasm, We must obey God rather than men:Acts 5:19-20, 25, 29, 33, 42. 18. The enemies of Stephen were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking:Acts 7:54, 55-56, 57, 58, 59-60. This brought great influence, but they kept resisting, and Stephen declared, You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit . . .Acts 7:51. 19. Philip met the Ethiopian’s chariot and guided him into an understanding of the Scripture, until he was saved and went on his way rejoicing: Acts 8:29-39. 20. The humble but great Apostle Paul went everywhere with God-given intellectual understanding to confound men's minds as he proclaimed the kingdom of God and the glorious gospel of the grace of God:Acts 17:30-31; 20:21, 24, 25. 21. In Thessalonica according to Paul's custom, he . . . for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures . . . Our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction . . . You turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God . . . having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit:Acts 17:2-4; 1Th.1:5, 9, 6. 22. At Athens Paul was reasoning in the synagogue, and in the market place every day, and also with the philosophers on experiencing reconciliation to God through repentance: Acts 17:16-17, 22-33. 23. At Corinth Paul was reasoning every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. He began devoting himself completely to the word, staying a year and a half: Acts 18:4-5, 11. 24.At Ephesus he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. He later was reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus . . . for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord:Acts19:8-10, 20. 25. The Roman ruler Felix sent for Paul. Paul discussed righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, the principles of God that would require Felix to rethink his whole life. Felix became frightened and was unwilling to do this: Acts 24:24-25. 26. King Agrippa told Paul, In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian: Acts 26:28. 27. In Rome, people came to Paul in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly
testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening . . . Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe: Acts 28:23-24. -----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Moral Obligation that All People Have
An obligation is a rope that ties you to me, and me to you, and that ropes reaches round the world. It is the choice that true intelligence and love makes in order to love God supremely and to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is the call of commitment to uphold • loving and reasonable law, • righteous civil government, and • stable godly relationships • in marriage, • in family, and • in community. It is something that if a person knows it and refuses to do it, he is committing sin. It is the commitment of every Christian to lovingly know and do the will of God. Obligation is a good word. It is simply and logically to live according to love and intelligence in harmony with what is true, matching the design and purpose of our moral relationships. It is to fit ourselves into the true perspective of the moral universe and be willing to live accordingly. It is to refuse to be a misfit in the realm of God. It is being willing to live like God lives. God said, You shall be holy, for I am holy.1Pt.1:16. This is absolutely wonderful! God is so good and so worthy of our obedience. We ought to do everything we can intelligently do to bring joy to Him. He is of supreme value, and no one else is so deserving. Certainly it would be evil, unloving, and stupid for us to forsake Him and to let our own happiness be our supreme concern above the highest good for God and His universe. Secondarily, it is right, loving, and proper to cherish, protect, and defend the value and wellbeing of my neighbor as being equally important to the value of my own value and well-being. Selfishness (supreme concern for my own happiness) is wrong. No perversion of mind can make it right. Instead, we must dedicate ourselves to live for the highest good of God and the universe. This is what the love of God requires. Nothing else is right except to require this as an absolute requirement. And it is not too much to require. This is our moral obligation and will always be so. This is the only pathway given to us by the will of God. An obligation is what ought to be done because of the very design of wholesome and loving relationships. It is the call to pursue that course of action or conduct that is right and proper for all people, in consideration of their relations to God and to one another. It is what an intelligent, loving person will do out of a commitment to pursue what is the highest good for God and for people. God expresses the foundation of obligation in the ten commandments.Ex.20:1-17; Dt.5:6-21 Commandment Number: #1. Prohibits every form of mental idolatryEx.20:3. A person must choose what is most valuable, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. A person always chooses what he values the most. This command calls upon him to adhere to what is supremely valuable, to maintain a correct value system, and to live recognize and honor God who is truly most valuable. #2. Prohibits the making and worshiping of imagesEx.20:4-6. A person has a property in His understanding of truth of who God is. Our opportunity of relationship with God is limited to be no greater than our correct understanding of Him. Preserve, protect and defend what is
actually true concerning God. #3. Against deliberately and carelessly mis-representing the Nature and Character of God to our fellowman. Relationship has five aspects to it: • Respect • Trust • Vulnerability • Commitment • Giving If by word or action, we give other people the impression that God stupid, unloving, and arbitrary, we destroy the basis for having respect for God, we have destroyed the foundation for their having relationship with God (the very purpose of their existence) and have robbed from God what He justly and truly deserves from mankind.Ex.20:7. #4. Against profanation of the Sabbath and idlenessEx.20:8-11. This command calls upon us to always choose correct priorities in the use of our time and energies, to actively pursue what is truly most valuable. We must neither be lazy, nor work to exhaustion, in violation of time that God deserves, and what is loving toward our fellowman and ourselves – making the most of your time, because the days are evil.Ep.5:16 in the context of: `You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.'Mt.22:37 and `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'Mt. 22:39 #5. Proclaims honor to father and motherEx.20:12. The family is the foundation of all human relationships and must operate within the sphere of respect, love, and proper and intelligent use and flow of authority. #6. Against murderEx.20:13. #7. Against adulteryEx.20:14. If the covenantal relationship between husband and wife is destroyed, so is the structure God set up for the well-being and fulfillment of God’s purposes for family. #8. Against stealingEx.20:15. Love is expressed in giving. Love relationship requires the protection and preservation of private property to allow people to manifest love in the realm of their earthly relationships. #9. Against false witnessEx.20:16. We must not deliberately and carelessly misrepresent the character of people to others. Relationship has five aspects to it: • Respect • Trust • Vulnerability • Commitment • Giving If by word or action, we misrepresent the another person (by libel, slander, or gossip – that is, communicating evil about a person to another who is not a part the problem, or part of the solution to it) we destroy the basis for that person to have standing and relationship within the community, (the very purpose of their existence regarding human relationships. #10. Against covetousness of all sorts (dealing with inner thoughts and affections)Ex.20:17. Coveting is a deliberate entertaining and promoting of desires, that tempt us to unrighteously acquire things and pursue objectives that are not ours, and contrary to the will and purposes of God. It is sin to do so. If we do not maintain wholesome, appropriate inner desires (but instead allow the continuation of lust, concupiscence, and coveting), then we erode our commitment to ultimate value, which lead to the violation of the first nine commandments. Jesus summarized the ten commandments in a twofold wayMt.22:36-40; Mk.12:28-34; Lk.10:25-28; Mt.22:40: • The first and great commandment – Supreme obligation of love to God, embracing the first four of the Ten Commandments. • The second – equal obligation and love to all people, embracing the last six of the Ten Commandments.Mt.7:12.
The Apostle Paul, summarized them with the one Greek word, love. • Ro. 13:8-10 (love is the fulfilling of the law); • Ga. 5:13, 14 (Thou shalt love is one word in the original); • 1Tm. 1:5 (the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith). These commandments are absolutely wonderful! God is so good and so worthy of our obedience. We ought to do everything we can intelligently do to bring joy to Him. Secondarily, it is right, loving, and proper to cherish, protect, and defend the value and well-being of my neighbor as being equally important to the value of my own value and well-being. It is right to dedicate ourselves to live for “the highest good of God and the universe.” This is what the love of God requires. This is our moral obligation and will always be so. The will of God gives us no other pathway.
The Reason for Consequences
If people reject God’s guidance and refuse to submit to the warm, gentle appeals of His truth and acts of loving-kindness, then God must use a righteous system of rewards for obedience and punishment for disobedience. With these intelligent options put before a person, he has good reason to choose the good pathway of life and turn away from doing selfish things. (Even though the law cannot save him, it is still vitally important that he does not actually murder a person, even though his heart is filled with bitterness and malice. Thus, while the law cannot save a person, it does draw a circle of love around mankind in order to preserve, protect, and defend them from the hurt and destruction they would experience from those who would otherwise carry out their evil intentions against them. The idea of SANCTIONS (consequences), therefore, is unavoidably associated with the way God must work in order to restrain the selfish heart. It is the method of enforcing wise regulation and direction. God upholds His loving and reasonable commandments with these sanctions. There can be no law without sanctions. Precept without sanction is only counsel or advice, and it would not be law at all. God’s sanctions show us how much God values and cherishes the intelligent, loving truth upheld by His law. They also show how much God cares for people and how much He longs to protect them.
There are two kinds of consequences – rewards and punishment. If the selfish heart did not face consequences, God’s wise rule and regulation would collapse. 1. It restrains selfishness: Is.26:9; Dt.11:26-28; 28:1; 2;15, 45-48, 58; 30:15-20; Is.1:19, 20; 3:10, 11; Jr.18:7-10; 21:8; Ezk.20:7, 8; Mt.23:37; Jn.3:36; 7:17; Ro.2:6-10; 6:16; Rv. 3:20. 2. Without consequences, God would be negligent and cease to be love: Gn.18:25; Dt.7:9-11. 3. God would cease to be righteous and impartial: Ps.7:9; Jr.9:24; Jn.7:18; Acts 17:31; 1Co.4:5; 2Tm.4:8; He.6:10.
God chose consequences justly: 1. God declares His strict impartiality: Ro.2:11; Acts 10:34, 35; Ga.2:6; Jas.2:8, 9; 1Pt.1:17; Rv.2:23; Lk.20:21 (said of Christ). 2. They are according to what a person justly deserves: Dt.24:16; 2Chr.25:4; Ps.94:23; Jr.31:30; 32:17-19; Ezk.18:20; Ro.2:6-11; 14:11, 12; 1Pt.1:17. 3. They are proportional to the seriousness of the offence. What if a little child were hung from a tree limb until dead just because he stole a little piece of candy? Or what if the penalty is too weak? What if a murderer is simply told, “Shame on you; do not murder again.” God does not
make either mistake. He gives appropriate consequences: Jr.32:19; Ro.2:6, 12 (guilt in proportion to moral light); Ga.6:7, 8.
God’s commandments direct people to live in a way that is necessary: 1. They allow favor and friendship with God and with their fellowmen: Ge.3:8; 5:24; 15:1; Ex.19:5, 6; 33:10, 11; Mt.23:37; Jn.14:23; 2Co.6:16-18; Ep.2:22; Rv.3:20. 2. They give God the opportunity to wisely release the life-giving energy of God: Ge.2:9 (tree of life . . . in the midst); 2:16 (freely eat); Jn.1:4; 4:14; 5:21, 26; 6:33, 56, 57; 1Jn.5:12. 3. They result is a blessed state of peace, joy and praise. a. Peace in the depth of heart: Ps.29:11; 119:165; Is.26:3; Jn.14:27; Acts 24:16; Ro.3:17 (way of peace); 8:6; 14:17; 2Co.13:11; Ph.4:7; 1Jn.3:19-21. b. The buoyancy of overflowing joy: Lv.23:40 (Feast of Tabernacles); Dt.30:9, 10 (God's rejoicing); Neh.12:43; Ps.16:11; 89:15, 16; Zeph.3:14-17 (God's joy); Jn.16:22, 24; Ro.14:17, 22; Ep.5:18-21; 1Pt.1:8. c. Spontaneous praise or worship, with singing: 1Chr.16:31, 34; 29:9-13; 2Chr.5:13, 14; Ps.47:6, 7; 98:4-6; 139:14; Lk.24:50-53; Acts 2:46, 47; Ep.5:20; Ph.1:11; He.13:5, 15; Rv.19:5-7. 4. They lead to endless enjoyment of life in God's presence: Jn. 17:3. a. Adam and Eve lived in perfect happiness before the Fall: Ge.1:27-31; 2:7-9, 15-17; 3:2, 3. b. Everlasting existence in God's presence for all returning to conformity: Ps.23:6; Dan.12:2; Mt.25:34, 46; Lk.18:28-30; 20:34-36; Jn.3:14-16; 4:14; 5:24; 6:50; 51; 14:2, 3; Ro.6:22, 23; 2Co.5:1; Tts.3:7; He.5:9; 1Jn. 2:25; 5:10-13, 20; Jude 1:21. 5. When people refuse to obey God and live as God designed them to live, they experience: a. Spiritual separation from God's favor. This is spiritual death (separation from relationship with God, separation from the purpose they were created for: Ge.2:16, 17; 3:22-24; 6:5; Is.59:1, 2; 64:7; Ep.2:1, 5, 12, 13, 18; 4:18; 5:14; 1Tm.5:6; 1Pt.5:5; Rv.3:1. b. Loss of peace and joy. They have a distorted, perverted inner balance of personality coming from the experiences of sin: Is.48:22; 57:20, 21; 64:6; Ps.51:2, 7, 8, 10, 12; Jn.3:36; Ro.3:16, 17; 8:6; 2Co.7:1; Tts.1:15; 2Pt.2:20; 1Jn.3:20; 5:12; Rv.22:11. c. Strained relations with other people, instead of free, happy friendship: Ge.3:7; 4:8; Ex.20:13-17; Mt.5:43, 44; Ro.1:24, 25, 28-32; Tts.3:3; Jas.4:1; 1Jn.2:11; 3:15. d. Physical deterioration, pain, and finally physical death. 1) The body suffers deterioration, decay, and disintegration: Ge.2:9, 16 (the tree of life, freely eat); 3:22-24 (sent him forth from . . . the tree of life); 3:19 (unto dust you shall return); Eccles.12:7; Ro.8:23 (groan within ourselves); 1Co.15:53, 54 (corruptible . . . mortal); 2Co.4:7 (earthen vessels), 16 (is being destroyed, disabled, or brought to decay); 5:1 (our earthly house . . . dissolved); Rv.21:4. 2) A tearing apart of a person’s integrated personality, plainly contrary to God's plan: Ge.2:7-9; 1Co.15:26 (an enemy), 55-56 (has a sting). 3) The essential personality (spirit and soul) is separated from the body and departs to another realm: Eccles.12:7; Lk.16:19-23; 2Co.5:6-9. e. Penalties of sin in people’s earthly life or environment. 1) Decay and death in the natural world: Ro. 8:20-22; Ge.3:14; 9:2, 3; Is.11:6-9 (reversed in the millennial kingdom). 2) Material creation and vegetation changed: Ro.8:20-22; Ge.1:31 (created good, stated seven times); 3:17-19 (ground made less productive and difficult, antagonistic growth created); Acts3:21 (restitution coming). 3) Man expelled from the Garden of Eden to have a life-long conflict with nature: Ge.3:17-19, 22-24. 4) Women to have sorrow, greater burdens, pain, and be in submission: Ge.3:16; Lk.2:34, 35; Jn.19:25-27 (women more susceptible to life's tragedies because of motherhood) 1Co.11:3; Ep.5:22-24; 1Pt.3:1, 2.
Depravity (twisting and distorting of moral character) resulting in aggravated, ever-worsening tendencies to self-indulgence, leading to people becoming inventors of evil that affect themselves, and their surroundings: Ge.3:7, 22 (man now knew evil as well as good); 3:6, 15; Jn.8:44; Ep.6:10-18 (a satanic "beachhead" had now been established within man's heart for endless spiritual warfare against the rulers of the darkness of this world); Ro.7:21, 24 (it now became easier to do the evil than the good); 1Jn.2:15-17. Endless misery and torment in woeful separation from God and holiness. The Bible describes this state by using agonizing words: Ezk.18:30-32; Ro.6:23 (death); Mt.7:21-23; 2Th.1:9, 10 (separation from God); Rv.22:11 (continued sinfulness); Mt.8:11, 12; Jude 1:12, 13 (darkness); Mk.8:34-37; Jn.3:15, 16 (perish or lost); Mt.7:13, 14 (destruction or perdition); Jn. 3:36 (wrath of God); Mt.25:46; 2Th.1:9; He.10:29; 2Pt.2:9 (punished or punishment); 1Th.4:6 (avenger); Rv.6:10 (avenge); 2Th.1:8 (vengeance); Lk.16:23, 28; Rv.14:10, 11 (torment); Lk.16:24, 25 (tormented or in anguish); Ro.2:9 (tribulation and anguish); Rv.14:11 (no rest); Mt.22:13 (weeping or wailing and gnashing of teeth); Is.66:24; Mk.9:48 (figuratively like fire and the gnawing of worms); Jn.5:28, 29 (a resurrection of judgment). No longer abiding with God but instead in a horrible place: Lk.16:28 (a place); Ps.9:17 (Sheol, an Old Testament word meaning the underworld, the region of the dead, used also of the saved); Lk.16:23 (Hades, a New Testament word with the same meaning, an intermediate state, not the final state of punishment); 2Pt.2:4 (Tartarus, understood as a supposed subterranean region, the underworld); Mt.5:29, 30 (Gehenna or hell, a valley near Jerusalem where garbage was dumped and a constant fire was kept, with its vermin, first used by the Lord Jesus to describe the place of eternal punishment); Rv.20:14, 15 (lake of fire). Various words tell of the awful intensity of remorse of conscience and conscious spiritual torment, expressed by words like: Lk.12:49 (fire); Mt.3:10, 12 ("tree" and "chaff"); Mk.9:48; Mt.8:12; 24:51 ("worms," "darkness," "cut . . . asunder," "brimstone"Rv.21:8; etc.); Jn.5:28, 29; Rv.20:11-15 (the resurrection bodies of the unjust appear to have similar immortal characteristics to those of the just â€“ Mt.25:46: These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life). Suffering will be exactly proportional to personal guilt, as openly declared: Is.3:10, 11; Ezk.18:4, 20; Mt.11:20-24; Ro.2:6-11, 12; Ga.6:7, 8; Rv.20:12, 13. The duration of this agonizing punishment is eternal or unending. The same words describe both eternal punishment and also eternal glory and existence of God and the endless happiness of those reconciled to God through Christ: Ro.16:27; Rv.22:5; 14:11; Mt.25:46; Dan.12:1-3; Mk.9:43, 47, 48; Jn.5:28, 29.