The Importance of Natural Law

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 23, 2014 0 comments

by Katie Erickson
It has been said that the only two certain things in life are death and taxes. While taxes are a certainty in our culture today and since many years ago, death has always been a certainty for all human beings, ever since sin entered the world back in Genesis 3. But why is that? Why is it absolutely certain that every human will die? Because of natural law.

When God created the world, He created it with just one law: “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’” (Genesis 2:16-17). The consequence for breaking that law is in it - if the man ate from that one specific tree, he would certainly die. The Hebrew text for that phrase (“you will certainly die”) can be literally translated as “dying you will die.” It uses the same root word twice in a row for emphasis on that fact.

After man sinned for the first time, sin entered the entire world and was prevalent throughout all of creation and in every human being to come. The natural law that God created for the world continued to come into play: every human being will reap the consequences of their actions, according to God’s stated laws, some of which can be found in the Ten Commandments. There are some laws in the Bible that were meant just for the Jewish people of that day, but many are meant for all people in all times. To interpret which is which, we need to be able to read and understand the Bible; but that’s for another blog post.

If a person breaks any one of God’s laws, he or she will experience the consequences. For example, let’s say a person steals something from a store, breaking God’s law against that. If they get caught, they will immediately face the consequences of shoplifting, which could be anything from simply returning the stolen item to spending time in jail, depending on the civil law for that crime. But what if they don’t get caught, and they don’t see the immediate consequences of going against God’s law? According to God’s natural law, that person will still experience a consequence at some point, whether it’s simply the guilt of knowing they committed theft, or that action causing a ripple effect of other consequences in their life.

Because we are human beings living in this world of sin, we know that we cannot break God’s natural law. Every sin will have a consequence, and the eventual consequence of any sin is death (Romans 6:23a). But, even though no human can break God’s natural law, fortunately God can! He is the only one who can give us a way out of that ultimate consequence - death. As the second half of Romans 6:23 says, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus Christ was the only human who was also able to get around God’s natural law - because He is fully God as well. Because of Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection, we have the opportunity to have faith in Him and escape the ultimate consequence. Our bodies will still die on this earth, but we will have eternal life in heaven forever.

But does that mean we’re outside of God’s natural law on this earth, simply because we believe in Jesus? Nope. Natural law applies to this earth, and all humans (whether believers in Jesus or not) will reap the consequences of their actions. Even though we may know what we should do, that doesn’t mean we can do it - see Romans 7:14-25 for more on this. Galatians 6:7-8 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” This passage doesn’t specify whether the person is a follower of Jesus or not; God’s natural law applies to everyone, because we have all sinned.

But natural law isn’t just negative; it can have positive consequences as well. Good actions will have positive consequences. Living a life that is as Christ-like as much as possible and sharing the gospel with others has the consequence of sharing the love of God. Putting your extra money to paying down your debts has the consequence of financial freedom. Similarly, waiting to make a large purchase until you have saved the money, instead of going into debt, also gives financial freedom.

So why is natural law important? We need to realize that every action has a consequence. Good actions will have positive consequences, and actions that go against God’s laws will have negative consequences. That is God’s natural law, and it applies to all human beings, whether you like it or not. When you break God’s law, you will have to pay a price. What actions are considered sin and breaking God’s law aren’t up to us as humankind or as a society; it’s up to God, and based on what He says in His Word.