This was an e-mail I wrote in response to a wonderful friend of mine.
She mentioned today that she is discovering that God's Word is both Law and Principle. I told her that I think that is one of the most profound understandings a believer can gain.
Here is my response:
"I believe that when God speaks, just like a king issuing a decree, that thing He spoke becomes a law (if you break it you are crossing the King Who made that law, which usually ends in death.) Since God’s words change the universe, they become a physical principle at the same time. Whatever God speaks happens continuously unless He speaks something different.
Follow me for a moment. Examples:
- When God said in Genesis “Let there be light,” He was making a law; in this case a natural law. The sun, being obedient, rises and sets continuously. Likewise with the separation of the waters. Just observe the tides and erosion. These are the effects of God speaking a law into being about the waters being separated from the land. (Is there a spiritual principle to God saying “Let there be light”? The “light of the world” perhaps?)
- Stars are born and die and reborn from themselves. How? Because God said that there should be lights in the sky at night, so they grow, grow old, die and are born again.
- God made man perfect, so our bodies are constantly trying to be perfected. In the spirit, our bodies are healed. In the natural, our bodies try to keep up with this as much as possible! We are able to self heal for the most part. His principle is being eternally manifested naturally because it is eternal spiritually.
(You can stop reading here if you are not much of a reader, but if you find it interesting, read on! But I warn you, it may fry your gourd.)
Now, check this out. When God spoke the Mosaic Law into being in the Old Testament, it was Law. We had to do all of those little laws to be pure enough to stand before God in heaven.
- Prior to the Mosaic Law, was man clean enough to stand before Him? NO, He was Holy before, and He will be Holy forever. We were not.
- Did obeying the Mosaic Law actually make you pure enough to stand before Him? No way!
- So, did the Mosaic LAW do anything other than teach a PRINCIPLE to us about God’s Holiness and our need for Him? Nope. That was its sole purpose. (If you study Romans, it actually says this.)
(If you are still reading, you are a champ, but this is really cool, so read on.)
Why are there both Laws and Principles, though?
Easy Answer) it is like saying the Natural Laws and the Spiritual Principles. The natural follows the spirit. What is happening eternally in the spirit is manifested in the natural. (Again. in the spirit, our bodies are healed. In the natural, our bodies try to keep up with this as much as possible! We are able to self heal for the most part.)
Lengthy Answer) The answer lies in the practice of law! There is a concept in interpreting the laws of our land called “the spirit of the law.” (I love this!!!) The spirit of a law is basically answering the question “what was the original intent of instilling this law”. Knowing it helps us interpret the law for specific situations.
For example, if I am jay walking and an officer gives me a ticket, was it an illegal act?
The officer says to me, “The law says you can’t do it, Grant! Here’s your ticket.”
I respond, “But I saw that guy mugging the old lady over there! I ran over to help!”
Would that change the situation? I think it would!! The cop would interpret the law differently.
“Wow, Grant, I guess I won’t give you that ticket. Instead, I will give you an award!”
Though I broke one of the laws of the land, I did not break the spirit of the law, and I obeyed a higher law! What do I mean? The spirit of the jay walking law would be to protect me from traffic. It allows drivers to know where pedestrians will be walking and where they won’t. That was the reason for this law; to protect me when I am being an irresponsible walker or from irresponsible drivers.
Now, when there is a higher law (the safety of an elderly citizen or robbing someone else) which law do you follow? I was disobeying one law of the land to obey the spirit of a greater law! If I get too dogmatic about jay walking, the old lady is going to get mugged! I could go to jail for NOT doing something! I would never say, “I see you getting beat down, Ma’am, but I am not allowed to cross the street here! Sorry!”
Remember the Good Samaritan? It is the same Principle rising over a Law.
This is the difference between God’s Laws and Principles. He has a reason for His temporal laws, and the reasons are to gain an understanding to obey the underlying eternal principles.