Friday, February 23, 2018

Law in the Age of Grace – The Sixth Commandment

Wednesday, December 1, 2010, 0:01
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Law in the Age of Grace

The sixth commandment

Leviticus 24:17-23

“Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death. Whoever takes an animal’s life shall make it good, life for life. If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him. Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, and whoever kills a person shall be put to death. You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the LORD your God.” So Moses spoke to the people of Israel, and they brought out of the camp the one who had cursed and stoned him with stones. Thus the people of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses.

This lex talionis aspect of the Law of God was necessary in these days before the coming of the Gospel. Men had nothing to restrain their sinful behavior but the fear of equal retribution. One would be inclined to think twice before stealing from or harming a neighbor if he understood the consequences which could ensue.

The Law was given, in a certain way, to restrain the sinful practices of men (Matt. 19:8). In these days of grace, when the Gospel and Spirit of God are at large in the world, while we do not deny the principle of retributive or restorative justice, our application of it may be moderated by grace, at least, to a point. As God is longsuffering toward those whom He is calling to Himself, so human beings must exercise patience and restraint in seeking justice for crimes committed against the peace of individuals and society. Harsh punishments—such as the death penalty—are not completely done away with; however, they and other forms of retributive justice are not as frequently or severely applied.

Implicit in this is the hope that sinful men might be reformed, but only the grace of God can accomplish this.

In this series of In the Gates we present a detailed explanation of the Law of God, beginning with the Ten Commandments, and working through the statutes and rules that accompany each commandment. For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the practice of ethics, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to and click on our Book Store.

In the Gates is a devotional series on the Law of God by Rev. T.M. Moore, editor of the Worldview Church. He serves as dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of twenty books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are The Ailbe Psalter and The Ground for Christian Ethics (Waxed Tablet).

Scripture quotations in this article are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, (c) copyright 2001, 2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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