Have you ever wondered if laws are helpful? I mean if a person is intent on doing bad, will a law change their mind? Why do we have laws anyway? In short I would say laws are in place to help people understand the boundaries for safety and to avoid chaos and anarchy.
Let’s say you are driving 55 miles per hour on a country road when you come upon a traffic sign that says “curve ahead 30 MPH” The law says slow down to 30 for this upcoming curve. Why? Because continuing at 55 MPH will put you in the ditch. The law is there for your safety and that of others, either in your car or on the road.
There are other laws on the books to encourage kindness such as no ‘jake-braking’ of semitrailers near a hospital. It is a sound ordinance. It is not for safety but it is for comfort and peace.
Of course we have laws to protect society and discourage violence. Such as crimes against sex abusers, physical assault, murder, even domestic disputes.
But are these laws helpful? Yes and no would be my answer. It depends on the character of an individual. Have you ever exceeded the speed limit? Whether you were caught or not doesn’t matter. If your answer is yes, than you have violated the law. You are guilty of a crime.
Laws are in place to keep peace and safety. Yet, a person has the free will to violate them at any stage. So what keeps us from violating laws? Character!
In the days in which the New Testament of the Bible was written the Jewish people had 613 moral laws to follow. This of course included the Ten Commandments. The Laws of God were given to the people by God through the man Moses. But a lot of the 613 laws were additions added by the Jewish religious leaders of that day. These laws were also interpreted differently by different leaders in some cases. For instance, some leaders felt to have a bowel movement on the Sabbath took effort and therefore to do so was to violate the law that stated you should not work on the Sabbath. (I am not quite sure how they enforced that law or discovered if a person violated it.)
Jesus, the Son of God-The Son of Man was accused of breaking the Law when he healed a person on the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6) or when he pulled some grain from a stalk and ate it while walking from one place to another (Mark 2:23). In these cases, the law was being misused by the leaders who were the care takers of it. So how does a person then know when a law is truly for the wellbeing of the public, or a political agenda for those in power. Character!
Laws must have a foundation of moral purpose to be valuable to humanity. But simply making laws will not secure the wellbeing of the public. A foundation of understanding of the difference of right from wrong, the respect for human life from conception to natural death. These make up the fabric of our laws. But when a society begins to muddy the waters and willfully and ‘lawfully’ kill their own children and vulnerable adults. Then laws become violated with greater frequency because society is now making laws based on personal desires rather than moral conviction.
The reason God sent His laws to humanity, via Moses was to provide the foundation of understanding and respect for God and one another. Jesus expanded that understanding from merely obedience to the law to fulfillment of the law through Him. History has proven that we do not obey laws simply because it says “You shall or You shall not do something.” We follow order and peace because it has been established in us to do so. Hebrews 8:10 from the Bible states…”I will put My laws into their minds, And I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” In other words, when godly character is established in the life of an individual, they will know right from wrong, they will respect life and others, they will respect laws that are established for the safety and wellbeing of others and not for a political agenda.
Ultimately it comes down to the question which was posed to Jesus by a lawyer (Mark 12:28-31) “What commandment (LAW) is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is…The Lord our God is one Lord; 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.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Look beyond yourself. Love God (the person and bases of law) and love others (the benefactors of law). If we have the willful character to do this, we actually could have less laws on the books and more peace and care for one another.
Rev. Kevin L. Norton
Hibbing Alliance Church