Moral Law Universal or Not?

Deuteronomy 27:9-10 states:

“Then Moses and the Levitical priests said to all Israel, Keep silence and hear, O Israel: this day you have become the people of the LORD your God. You shall therefore obey the voice of the LORD your God, keeping his commandments and his statutes, which I command you today.”

If only “the people of the LORD” obeyed the voice of the LORD in keeping His Law, apostasy would not exist.  Thomas Watson begins his introduction to the Ten Commandments by saying, “Obedience is a part of the honor we are to give God.[1] Apostasy comes from the disobedience of the Law, and it comes from one who walks away from the gospel because he does not obey the commands that God has given “His people.”  Or is it because he – the so-called Christian – does not see that the Law is a part of his gospel-centered life?  Perhaps one of the most important issues in dealing with apostasy and the Ten Commandments is whether or not it is still binding for today’s “people of the LORD.”  It is hard to understand how apostasy deals with the Law if one does not even believe the Law is binding at all; and if it is, there is still the question – to whom is it binding? To believers, unbelievers, or both?

Thomas Watson asks the most important question in understanding to whom the Law is given.  He saw that the Law – although given in God’s decreed will to the people of Israel – was God’s desired will for all of creation, and he understood how important this was when dealing with the Law. He begins his section on the first commandment asking the following question:

“‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me.’ Exod. 20:3. WHY is the commandment in the second person singular, Thou? Why does not God say, You shall have no other gods?”[2]

He answers his own question by saying:

“Because the commandment concerns everyone, and God would have each one take it as spoken to him by name. Though we are forward to take privileges to ourselves, yet we are apt to shirk off duties from ourselves to others; therefore the commandment is in the second person, Thou and Thou, that every one may know that it is spoken to him, as it were, by name.”[3]

The present need to see this truth (that the Law is for all of creation) is much needed, especially in the 21st century.[4] In a day and age that creates their own ethics, tolerates whatever they can, bases truth from their experiences, and lives according to their own personal convictions, the Law is needed; and it is even more so for the “LORD’s people.”


[1] Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments (Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 2000), p. 1.

[2] Ibid. p. 49

[3] Ibid. p. 49.

[4] Cf. Sections on why the Moral Law is universal and important today: Brain Edwards, The Ten Commandments (Surrey: Day One, 2002), p. 8-31; Ed. Stuart Bonnington and Joan Milne, Love Rules: The Ten Commandments for the 21st Century (Carlisle: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2004), p. 5-10; Peter Master’s, God’s Rules for Holiness: Unlocking the Ten Commandments (London: The Wakeman Trust, 2003), p. 9-20; Francis Nigel Lee, God’s Ten Commandments: Yesterday, Today, Forever (Ventura: Nordskog, 2007); J. Douma, The Ten Commandments: Manual for the Christian Life. Trans. Nelson Kloosterman. (Philliipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1996), p. 9-11; and James Durham, Practical Exposition of The Ten Commandments (Dallas: Naphtli Press, 2002), p. 51-72.

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