The Purpose of the Law
Recently I heard a speaker dismiss the pro-life work of Berrien County Right to Life (BCRTL). BCRTL works alongside Right to Life of Michigan to pass laws that help save the lives of the unborn and the marginalized. We also educate people as to why these laws are necessary. I wholeheartedly agreed with the speaker’s statement that day, “The law will never change the hearts and minds of people, only the gospel can do that.” I agree, but I felt that he missed the point and the purpose of the law which can and does affect the hearts and minds of the people. Therefore this blog seeks to bring into perspective as to why we need just laws in place to protect people.
The history of government began in Genesis in the Garden of Eden with the first man and woman. Adam and Eve were given one law: you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die (Gen 2:17). They were given every tree for enjoyment, but they were restricted from one single tree. Obedience to this law would be the gateway to life. Failure to obey would lead to death.
To succeed at keeping this law, Adam and Eve had to self-govern. And as we all know, they failed. Through their failure, sin entered into the world, and all men, from the beginning of time until now, struggle to self-govern. The inability to self-govern in Adam’s day led to an increase in violence and eventually led to destroying one another as in the case of Adam’s sons—Cain and Abel. Violence continued and after the flood, God intervened and delegated to man the responsibility of governing other men to protect human life. The inability to self-govern is just as prevalent today—we are still bent on destroying one another as demonstrated by the passing of Proposal 3 which will greatly harm women and children by the eventual removal of the 41 laws designed to protect them.
The 10 Commandments in the Old Testament were given to teach the people how love God and love others. These laws also showed the people that they couldn't keep the law perfectly thereby transgressing God's perfect standards. This demonstrated to them their need for a Savior. Before Jesus came, the positive reforms of kings like Hezekiah and Josiah, instituted laws that restored worship, accomplished good, and revealed God’s goodness. When government functions as it should with godly leaders at the helm, people follow and as a result God is glorified and people are blessed and protected.
When Jesus came, man’s ability to self-govern was restored when God’s laws were written on man’s heart and interpreted by the Holy Spirit within. This was prophesized by Prophet Jeremiah, “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD (Jer 31:33-34).
Herein lies the heart of the gospel, knowing God through Jesus Christ and receiving the forgiveness of sins for transgressing God’s perfect standards. The great preacher Charles Spurgeon reminds us: “The gospel has not come into the world to set aside the law. Salvation by grace does not erase a single precept of the law, nor lower the standard of justice in the smallest degree; on the contrary, as Paul says, we do not make void the law through faith, but we establish the law.”
Just laws place a moral restraint on an individual’s activities. It is dangerous to live a life without a standard by which right and wrong is determined. We can exercise our freedom to challenge moral laws, even ignore them. But in doing so, it will come at a cost and we will experience the lingering consequences for generations to come. If a person feels there is no consequences for his actions, he won’t treat others justly. Even unbelievers understand this as explained in Romans 2:15: They demonstrate that God's law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. A Christian has an even higher reason to obey the law--because he believes that he is accountable to God for his actions and just treatment of others. Therein lies the purpose of the law … making sure people are treated justly.
Tilly Dillehay, in her article "Both Sides of Roe", profoundly explains how the hearts and minds of the people are affected by the law: "When Roe was struck down, more was accomplished than the erection of more hoops for abortion-minded mothers to jump through. It was a moral marker for our nation. Every time a human government makes or upholds legislation that reflects accurately the good established by God in his world and word, it functions the way it was meant to function. It sends a message about what is right and what is wrong. It establishes a moral code that does in fact work in the hearts of the people."
The message sent by SCOTUS in overturning Roe v. Wade reminds us that when laws are unjustly made, we must take corrective action to preserve the dignity of human life. Our Declaration of Independence states, “All men are created equal.” The writers of this document knew that the concept of inalienable rights comes from God Himself and included the statement to ensure a way of life for us that respects the dignity of every individual. Human rights and equality come from the biblical idea that all people are created in the image of God. Therefore, we need to preserve this dignity by creating and preserving just laws that protect the unborn and the marginalized.
From the earliest days of our nation, we have enforced laws to protect what belongs to the Lord—life, marriage, children, worship, and property. The absence of moral constraint will destroy our Constitution and eventually our lives. Rather than allowing our government to act unjustly by perpetuating evil and failing to protect life, let’s instead fulfill the law of Christ as stated Mark 12:28-31: “Which commandment is the most important of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Let's keep and pass laws that protect human life and preserve the dignity of one another. And let's not ignore these laws to our peril so that we can enjoy the abundant life Christ came to give us.
Both Sides of Roe: My Own Journey from Death to Life by Tilly Dillehay, Desiring God Guest Contributor, January 21, 2023: Desiring God.
Accessed January 21, 2023.
The Law Written on the Heart by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, October 29, 1882, Scripture: Jeremiah 31:33 From: Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 28. Accessed January 27, 2023.
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Jenny Cummings -