The Law

One significant difference between biblical teaching and Mormonism has to do with the nature of God’s Law. LDS leaders teach that salvation/exaltation is gained through faith plus works. To achieve the celestial kingdom (to spend eternity in the presence of God) one must believe in Christ and also keep the commandments embodied in the Law.

“It [the Book of Mormon] promises each of us that ‘all who will come unto [the Savior] and obey the laws and ordinances of his gospel may be saved’ (Robert D. Hales, “Holy Scriptures: The Power of God unto Our Salvation,” Ensign, 11/2006, 24)

Indeed, according to a seasoned BYU Professor of Theology, God Himself is subject to the Law:

“Many traditional theologies conceive of God as some type of divine power, the ‘first cause’ or ‘prime mover’ of the universe, the self-creating, self-motivating source of all creation and progression. Many theologians claim that nothing existed before him, and that all things derive from him. Latter-day Saints, on the other hand, assert that God progressed to his present state of perfection and glory by strict adherence to eternal law. In Mormon theology, law is the first cause and prime mover of the universe, and by adherence to it, people may become like God” [which is to say, people may become Gods] (Victor L. Ludlow, Principles and Practices of the Restored Gospel, Deseret Book Co., 382. Brackets mine. ).

However, the Bible teaches something quite different. Rather than God being subject to the Law (i.e., the Law is above God), God created and gave human beings His Law for His sovereign purposes. In Galatians Paul provides both the reason and the goal of the Law:

“Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary” (Galatians 3:19).

“But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian [the Law], for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Galatians 3:25-26).

Tabletalk magazine explains:

“In describing the Law’s purpose in justification, Paul must also give us the Law’s purpose in the history of redemption, which he does in [Galatians 3] verses 19-29. Given the priority of the Abrahamic covenant, which bestows salvation on those who trust in God’s promise (vv. 15-18), it is clear that the Lord never intended His Law, which grants righteousness to those who keep its precepts flawlessly, to be used by sinners to effect their own salvation. Even the structure of the Mosaic law denies that fallen people can justify themselves by their works of obedience. Our Creator gave the Law after He redeemed the Israelites from slavery (Ex. 20:1-17), expecting them to obey it in gratitude for a redemption He accomplished, not to earn their own righteousness. The Law’s sacrifices for atonement presuppose that the people would continue to miss the mark.

“Knowing the fall made us stubborn enough to believe we can get right with Him by doing enough good works to ‘outweigh’ our bad ones, God gave the Mosaic law to Israel in order to refute this belief. The Law ‘was added because of transgressions’ (Gal. 3:19) to imprison ‘everything under sin’ (v. 22). It reveals wrongdoing as a transgression of the divine will (Rom. 7:7-25) to show Israel the depth of sin and her need for the righteousness of another. Augustine writes on 3:22 ‘Transgression of the law was needed to break the pride of those who…boasted of having a sort of natural righteousness’ (Ancient Christian Commentary, NT vol. 8, p. 47). Martin Luther echoes this in his Galatians commentary, explaining how the Law prepares a person for faith as ‘a mirror that shows…he is a sinner, guilty of death, and worthy of God’s indignation and wrath.’ Rightly used, the Law spurred Israel to look to God for salvation.” (Tabletalk, February 2009, vol. 33, no. 2, page 45)

So the Law was given because of transgressions — because of evil (Genesis 6:5) — to:

  • Restrain the ungodly and unholy (1 Timothy 1:8-10)
  • Reflect (as in a mirror) the depth of our sin (Romans 7:7)
  • Enslave us in order that we recognize our inability to save ourselves (Galatians 3:23)
  • Lead us to Christ “that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:25); and finally,
  • Reveal God’s perfect will, to define a holy life, that we may know how to honor and serve the God we love as we seek to please Him (Psalm 119:105)

Again from Tabletalk:

“Remember that our Savior pleased the Father by keeping His Law perfectly, by seeing the will of God as His ‘food’ (John 4:34). If the imitation of Jesus makes us grow spiritually (1 Cor. 11:1), and if Jesus followed the commandments of His Father to please Him, then it follows that we will please God if we keep His Law. We cannot keep it perfectly, and we cannot make Him love us or accept us through our obedience. However, we can bring Him pleasure in doing good. Freed from the curse of the Law through the cross, we can now keep these holy statutes by the power of His Spirit (Rom. 8:1-4).” (Tabletalk, February 2009, vol. 33, no. 2, page 53)

The Bible says the Law was given by God to lead us Christ; believers strive to obey God’s Law out of gratitude and as an expression of our love for Him.

Dr. Ludlow, after decades of research, Church callings, and teaching for the LDS Church, believes Mormonism says the Law is the “first cause” and “prime mover of the universe”; that God the Father–and every other human being–is required to obey it in order to prove themselves worthy and exalt themselves to Godhood.

See the difference?

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Comments within the parameters of 1 Peter 3:15 are invited.

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About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

This entry was posted in Christianity, Salvation, Worthiness and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

109 Responses to The Law

  1. subgenius responded to my earlier posts

    you have clearly said God can not lie….sounds like being ’subject’ to me, what do you think?

    Sub,

    This is actually a perceptive question and it gets to the heart of the matter.

    As indicated in our previous exchanges, there are two possibilities;

    Option 1 God does not lie because He is subject to a law that commands “do not lie”

    Option 2 God does not lie because of some other reason (to put it tritely).

    You seem to be advocating Option 1, and I am advocating Option 2.

    As I mentioned earlier Hebrews 6:13 explicitly states that no one and no thing is greater than God (which is why God swears by Himself). Therefore God is not subject to any “thing”, which discounts any possibility of Option 1.

    I know Mormonism teaches otherwise, but the Biblical perspective teaches that God is NOT subject to the law; never has been, and never will. Which leaves us with Option 2.

    So, if God does not lie, why does He not lie? if there is no law to command Him to be truthful, why is He truthful?

    The answer must be that God does not lie because it is in His nature to be truthful. Given that He does not comply with a “higher” law, the only thing that directs His actions is His own nature.

    You, I’m guessing, are rather young. As such you believe that people do the things they do because they have been told to do them. As you get older, you will observe that people actually do what they want, sometimes observing the laws and sometimes disregarding them, but always using them for their own interests. Their actions therefore reflect who they are, rather than the rules that have been given to them.

    Ultimately, its the same with God . His actions reflect who He is. It is from this nature that all laws proceed, whether they be the laws of Moses or the laws of gravity. God is the creator of these laws, and we are subject to them.

    …ctd…

  2. …ctd…

    I’ll defer your assertions about apostasy to another thread, though I will note 2 things;

    * Your understanding of the Biblical perspective of God will be mortally injured as long as you subscribe to the Mormon program; and

    * How could I possibly be apostate if I never subscribed to Mormonism in the first place?

  3. subgenius says:

    Martin of B
    again your premise in flawed

    Option 1 God does not lie because He is subject to a law that commands “do not lie”

    Option 2 God does not lie because of some other reason (to put it tritely).

    you then proceed with the notion that “do not lie” or the Law is a thing
    now, i am not trying to introduce Noumena or any such, but since context is king around here….what do you suppose is the source for “thing” in your above reference?
    On other words (no pun intended)
    a “thing” is an object, being, or entity….are you proposing that The Law is an object? a being? an entity? is this now an abstracta vs. concreta debate?

    Anyway, Hebrews 6:13 does not “explicitly” state anything except that no “one” is greater to swear by….it does not deny or support the Law’s position at all. So “Option 1” is still viable.

    You, I’m guessing, are rather young. As such you believe that people do the things they do because they have been told to do them. As you get older, you will observe that people actually do what they want

    again you make assumptions and follow them down a rabbit hole….my oldest son graduates high school this year.
    Thanks for the shout-out for free-agency though.

    the only thing that directs His actions is His own nature
    …which is derived from the Law

    With respect to God
    The Law does not tell God “do not lie” it is simply His nature – “if you lie you are not God”
    you said it yourself, He does not lie because it His nature to be truthful…He is bound to be truthful, for if He were to lie He would not be God.

  4. Well, there you have it.

    I believe in God that is not subject to or governed by anyone or anything that is greater than Him. There is no one greater than Him (Heb 6:13), which means that when He decides something, no person or power can over-ride Him (Romans 8:31). If God saves me, no one can pluck me from His hand (Deut 32:39, Isaiah 43:11-13). There is no higher “court of appeal” because He has the Name that is above every Name (Phil 2:9). He created all things (Gen 1:1, John 1:3, Col 1:16). As alpha and omega, all things proceed from Him and all things will be judged by Him (Rev 1:8, 22:13). He calls to us “Turn to me and be saved…for I am God and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22). He does so because He is governed by no one and nothing other than Himself.

    Sub believes all these statements are false, as summarized by his statement

    the only thing that directs His actions is His own nature…which is derived from the Law

    Sub says that God owes his being to the Law.

    I say that the law owes its being to God, along with everything else in creation. See Col 1:16 in particular

    For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

    What a puny, tiny, insignificant, powerless “god” these Mormons follow! He is governed and directed by some greater Law. Not just any law, but the Mormon law. He may be struggling to not drink tea or coffee, or trying to keep up his tithes. He’s just another dude trying to work his way up the ladder. Obviously he appreciates it when we shoulder some of the burden. After all, the secret to making your boss happy is to make him look good in front of his boss.

    What a reversal of the Biblical perspective. We save God.

    Can it be that Mormons don’t follow God, they follow the Law that governs God?

  5. setfree says:

    what a terrific conclusion, Martin. I’d say, definitely! to your last question. No wonder there is no such thing as God worship in Mormonism (oh, these out here will contest that, but the ex-mo’s know what I’m talking about)

  6. Mike R says:

    Martin,

    Perhaps the reason that Mormons have such a
    lower view of God,from what we find in the Holy
    Scripture, is that when knowledgeable Mormons
    look in the mirror every morning they see a
    Almighty God in the making.

  7. jackg says:

    Amen, Martin!

  8. iamse7en says:

    Deleted my comments, AGAIN?

    Wow. You have no toleration for comments that prove you wrong.

    [iamse7en, the comments that have been deleted did not contribute to the conversation here. Both deleted comments were simply complaints about Mormon Coffee moderation — and were addressed with you via private email, as is the proper place for such discussion. Please express your concerns about moderation via email to contactATmrmDOTorg and not as comments on Mormon Coffee. -Mod]

  9. Pingback: Do you follow God, or the law that governs God? | Mormon Coffee

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