Is God Obligated to Keep the 10 Commandments?

Status
Not open for further replies.

brandonadams

Puritan Board Freshman
I could use some help with this one. In the parts of Robert Reymond's
systematic that I have read, I have learned much and found much to
agree with. However, I am having trouble with one particular passage
he writes in the context of discussing whether or not God is the
author or chargeable cause of sin. He says (with my numbering added):

"Men are responsible for their thoughts, words, and actions because
there is a Lawgiver over them who will call them to account (Rom.
14:12). But God is not "responsible" for his thoughts, words and
actions because there is no lawgiver over him to whom he is
accountable. Contrary to what some might think, he is not obligated to
keep the Ten Commandments as the human creature is. The Ten
Commandments are his revealed precepts for men. They do not apply to
him as the ethical norm by which he is to live. 1) He cannot worship
another God because there is none. 2) He cannot dishonor his father
and his mother because he has no parents (we are not considering at
this moment the Incarnation), 3) he cannot murder because all life is
his to do with as he pleases, 4) he cannot steal because everything
already belongs to him, 5) he cannot lie because his nature disallows
it, 6) he cannot covet anything that does not belong to him because,
again, everything is his already." p.376

Now, my understanding was that God's moral law, unlike his ceremonial
law, is a reflection of "the ethical norm by which he" does live. That
does not necessitate a higher lawgiver, it simply means that the
standard he requires of man is in fact how he lives. That was my
understanding - was I incorrect?

I also find Reymond's reasons to be invalid:
1) If this is valid, then it holds true for men as well. Men cannot
worship another God because there is none.
2) Does not God the Son honor and obey God the Father eternally (even aside
from the Incarnation)?
3) If God had killed Adam prior to the Fall yet after establishing his
covenant with him, would this not constitute murder even though he
created and owned Adam? (perhaps the issue of the covenant muddies the
water here)
4) This seems valid - any objections?
5) The same reasoning could be applied to all of the commandments
could it not? God cannot break his law because his nature disallows
it. That seems to be missing the point of what Reymond is trying to
argue. He isn't arguing that God does not and will not ever break his
commandments, but rather that they cannot apply to him.
6) Again, this seems valid.

Furthermore, God is faithful to his bride, he does not commit
adultery. He also rested from His work in creation and the very fact
he did so is our Sabbath example.

I have heard this reasoning used by NCT.

Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks,
 

JohnGill

Puritan Board Senior
Writing in the morning WITHOUT coffee

From the quoted section it sounds as if he is trying to emphasize the transcendent nature of God and that God cannot be regarded on the same ground as man. The key word seems to me to be "obligated." God is not "obligated" to obey the commandments because they are an expression of his unchanging nature. Everything he does is in agreement with his nature. And God is the creator and not a creature. Man, being God's creation, is obligated to reflect back to God, God's nature. Man can choose not to do this, sin, or choose to do this, obedience. God however cannot choose to violate his law as it would violate his nature and destroy existence. Since his law is an expression of his nature for man to understand his nature, then his law is a limited expression of his nature. What is behind this expression?

As to your points:

1) You seem to have assumed that God and man are on the same ground. Scripture states that men do worship other gods while knowing that there is no other God. It is the nature of sin. To say that it applies to God and men equally is to attribute self-contradiction to God.
2) The quoted section states he is not considering the Incarnation. Therefore your disagreement does not touch his statement.
3) If it is murder then God would not do so as it would violate his nature. If God did do so then it could not be murder as murder would violate his nature.
5) This is a restatement of his point. For God is not a man that he should lie.
6) If you agree with his statement here then you must agree with 5 or you must disagree with 6. By having different answers for 5 & 6 you are self-contradictory

God's nature is the greater, while the expression of God's nature, the law, is the lesser. To use an analogy from nature, the moon, the lesser light, has the sun, the greater light, as its source. The sun is not subject to the moon for light; the moon is subject to the sun. God is not subject to the law; the law is subject to God. God's nature is not subject to an expression of God's nature, but the expression of God's nature is subject to God's nature. And if God is obligated to obey his law, then there is something greater than God which gave expression to the law.

Hope this helps
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
[bible]1 Sam 16:1-3[/bible]
Does this show God telling Samuel to be deceptive and say that he is going to sacrifice when he is really going to anoint a king?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
That's all in the definition of "deceptive."

Not everyone is entitled (has a "right") to every piece of data that will prevent him from drawing an incorrect conclusion.

The fact: that God tells Samuel to take a heifer along with him secondarily, doesn't imply that the heifer is NOT for a sacrifice; in fact we should assume that it IS. The heifer serves another purpose as well--if Samuel is observed going to Bethlehem with nothing but his clothes and staff, it could be reported to Saul that Samuel must have another reason for heading there, which paranoid Saul will then try to seek out the other purpose.

Instead, if Samuel's movements should be reported to Saul, God declares that taking the heifer along will be sufficient to allay any suspicions in Saul's fevered brain. That Saul will draw the erroneous conclusion--i.e. that Samuel has no greater purpose to this visit--is not Samuel's fault.

Nor is it a reflection of "duplicity," properly so-called, on God's part. HE catches the wise in their own craftiness. That is, he often uses their own refusal to submit to him, and to partake of true wisdom, to be the proximate cause of their own destruction.
 

GTMOPC

Puritan Board Freshman
From the quoted section it sounds as if he is trying to emphasize the transcendent nature of God and that God cannot be regarded on the same ground as man. The key word seems to me to be "obligated." God is not "obligated" to obey the commandments because they are an expression of his unchanging nature. Everything he does is in agreement with his nature. And God is the creator and not a creature. Man, being God's creation, is obligated to reflect back to God, God's nature. Man can choose not to do this, sin, or choose to do this, obedience. God however cannot choose to violate his law as it would violate his nature and destroy existence. Since his law is an expression of his nature for man to understand his nature, then his law is a limited expression of his nature. What is behind this expression?

As to your points:

1) You seem to have assumed that God and man are on the same ground. Scripture states that men do worship other gods while knowing that there is no other God. It is the nature of sin. To say that it applies to God and men equally is to attribute self-contradiction to God.
2) The quoted section states he is not considering the Incarnation. Therefore your disagreement does not touch his statement.
3) If it is murder then God would not do so as it would violate his nature. If God did do so then it could not be murder as murder would violate his nature.
5) This is a restatement of his point. For God is not a man that he should lie.
6) If you agree with his statement here then you must agree with 5 or you must disagree with 6. By having different answers for 5 & 6 you are self-contradictory

God's nature is the greater, while the expression of God's nature, the law, is the lesser. To use an analogy from nature, the moon, the lesser light, has the sun, the greater light, as its source. The sun is not subject to the moon for light; the moon is subject to the sun. God is not subject to the law; the law is subject to God. God's nature is not subject to an expression of God's nature, but the expression of God's nature is subject to God's nature. And if God is obligated to obey his law, then there is something greater than God which gave expression to the law.

Hope this helps

I agree with Chris. I think he put it quite well. On the basis of the passage you quoted alone I myself was a little confused. I think it was that I couldn't make out what point he was getting at. In the context of emphasis on God's transcendent nature it makes sense. Without reading the passage in the context of the rest of Reymond's work it sounds awkward, but I'm no authority to say if he is 'spot on' or not. Echoing what Chris said, I would just encourage you to be mindful that the law is an expression of God's nature, not a standard he has to live up to.
 

brandonadams

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for your reply Chris. I think you may have misunderstood me a little, or perhaps I have misunderstood Reymond.

I am not arguing that God is obligated to obey His commandments (I suppose the title of the post is misleading). What I am asking is if the commandments are a reflection of how God acts. My understanding was that Reymond is saying no.

To give an analogy, I understood Reymond to be saying something along the lines of: You cannot tell a man that he must not scream when he is giving birth to a child because a man cannot give birth to a child.
Or was he saying: You cannot tell a woman she must not scream during childbirth because whatever she does during childbirth is what women should do during childbirth?

To simplify: Are the 10 Commandments an arbitrary set of rules for men to live by? Or are the 10 Commandments a reflection of how God lives and interacts with his creation?

Should we to obey the 10 commandments because we should live as God does or is it only because he has commanded us to?
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
Read through the confession and consider what the commandments require instead of what they forbid.

It will then be easier to see God's character in the commandments, what he values and the values that his children will share.

The commandments are a revelation of God's character and far from arbitrary.

They are not a picture of how he lives, they give us a picture of what he values. God values ownership (Commandment 8) of land and property for it points to the fact that he owns everything. God's child is to be pure in language, deed and thought (Commandment 7) for God is pure and so on. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey my commandments."

We obey the commandments because we share God's family values, we are his children. We obey the commandments out of a debt of gratitude, for we were blind and now we see, we were dead and we have been made alive.

To simplify: Are the 10 Commandments an arbitrary set of rules for men to live by? Or are the 10 Commandments a reflection of how God lives and interacts with his creation?

Should we to obey the 10 commandments because we should live as God does or is it only because he has commanded us to?
 

brandonadams

Puritan Board Freshman
These questions sprang up from talking to an NCT advocate:

God's righteousness is an eternal standard for morality regardless of time or location. All people are judged according to this standard and are found guilty. All laws and commandments given in the Bible reflect this standard in some way. Some are given independently (e.g. Gen 9:6), though most are given in the context of covenants.

The Ten Commandments are part of the Mosaic law which is the essence of the old covenant (OC). This set of laws was given to Israel through Moses as a reflection of God’s eternal standard as it pertains to the governing of that physical nation. The OC cannot be understood without the Mosaic law. Hebrews speaks of Christ mediating a better covenant and refers to the OC as obsolete. This would be meaningless if the exact laws given to the nation of Israel are still in force on a spiritual people who are under a different covenant.


The extent to which a law of God is relevant only to a particular time and place is the extent to which that law is not a reflection of God's unchanging righteousness.

You would agree that there are at least some laws that are in forced at a specific time, right? I think not eating unclean food or not cutting the corners of your beard are clear examples we should be able to agree upon. Do you think these laws given as part of the OC were not a reflection of God's unchanging righteousness and holiness?

Correct.

So what do you make of Lev. 11:1-47? It seems clear to me that God's command not to eat unclean animals is related to His holiness.

I would say that Lev 20:22-26 shows the purpose in the laws regarding the beast and the bird. However, if this law is later repealed, is it then not essential to his character?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
There are moral commands, and there are positive commands. The "separation laws" most definitely were related to the "holiness" principle. "Come out from among them, and be ye separate." Naturally this is reflective of God's hatred of sin, and our need to "be holy because I am holy," says the Lord

If I give my child a "positive command" not to eat without washing his hands, or not to play in the street, or not to wear striped shirt and plaid pants, he has to do all those things, since none of them cause him to disobey God. He is obeying the 5th command in all cases, that he also received mediated through me.

God's commands begin with the moral law. He was free to command Israel to keep other laws, and to put some of them aside when they no longer served his purposes. It doesn't mean that there was moral component to those laws, even the ones that are done away with.

Jesus abolished many positive, ceremonial commandments during his ministry in principle, as the disciples understood, Mk.7:19 (which was strengthened and explained by Peter's vision, Acts 10:15). Hebrews teaches the elimination of the religious ceremonies.

NCT types do not distinguish any "form" of the OT Law, moral, ceremonial, or civil. Nor can they handle categories such as "positive" or "perpetual" within their conceptual framework.

God can rescind commands he gives. He's allowed to do that.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top