Morning Sermon: Exodus 20:12-17, The Uses Of The Moral Law (Part 1),

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 20:12-17

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:12–17, ESV)

New Testament Reading: 1 Timothy 6:11–16

“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:11–16, ESV)


Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.


Over the past four weeks, we have considered the first four of the Ten Commandments. The first four of the Ten Commandments are sometimes referred to as the first table of the law. This terminology is helpful because it draws our attention to the fact that the first four commandments go together. What unites them? They all have to do with man’s relationship to God. How are we are to relate to God? What are our duties before him? That is the question that the first four commandments answer. One, we are to worship him alone knowing that he alone is God – besides him, there is no other. Two, we are to worship him in the way that he says, not with images, knowing that he is a most pure spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in all of his perfections. Three, we are to have reverence for God. We must not take up his name in vain, for God is holy and will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. And four, a proportion of time is to be set apart for the worship of God. One day in seven is to be observed as holy unto the Lord. It is to be a day for rest from normal work. It is a day for worship. And we know that “from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ [the Sabbath day was] the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ [the Sabbath day] was changed into the first day of the week, which is called the Lord’s Day: and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished.” So you can see clearly that the first table of the law is about man’s duty in relation to God. The first table is summarized by the command of Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5, ESV). 

Now as we turn our attention to the second table of the law I want you to see that it has to do with man’s relationship with man. How are commandments five through ten related? All of them have to do with the question, how are we to relate to one another as human beings in this world that God has made? We will consider each of these commandments carefully in the weeks to come. As has been our custom, we will ask what each of them requires and forbids. In brief, the second table of God’s law teaches us that children are to honor their parents. This establishes that honor is to be shown to all men and women in their various positions. Two, murder is forbidden. This forbids the unjust taking of human life and requires us to use lawful means to endeavor to preserve our own life and the life of others. Three, adultery is forbidden. This requires the preservation of our own and our neighbor’s chastity, in heart, speech, and behavior. Four, stealing is forbidden. This requires the lawful procuring and furthering of the wealth and outward estate of ourselves and others while forbidding the unjust procurement of wealth. Five, bearing false witness is forbidden. This requires us to maintain and promote truth between man and man, and of our own and our neighbor’s good name, especially in witness-bearing. And six, covetousness in the heart is forbidden. This requires us to pursue contentment in our condition and to maintain a right and charitable frame of spirit towards our neighbor, and all that is his. It should be recognized that violations of the other commandments contained within the second table do often flow from a heart that is covetous or discontent. 

As I have said, we will look at each of these commandments of the second table of God’s law in the weeks to come, but today I wish to speak with you about the usefulness of God’s moral law. We have been considering God’s law. We have been learning about what it requires and forbids. But here in this sermon, I wish to ask the question, what is God’s law good for? What are its uses? Brothers and sisters, I hope you can see why this is a very important question to ask. It is one thing to know what God’s law is, but it is another thing to know how it is to be used

Parents, if you give your child a knife as a gift, it is important that they know what it is. They need to know its components and how it is designed. Yes, I understand that these things are obvious to most, but the child needs to know the difference between the blade and the handle. They need to know which side of the blade is sharp. And, if it is a folding knife, they need to how the locking mechanism is designed. In other words, they need to know what the thing they are handling is. But more than this, they need to know how to use it. I wonder how many fathers have said to their children, it’s not a hammer, son (or daughter), it’s a knife. Or, it’s not a chisel, it’s a knife. Or, be sure to cut away from your hand, and not towards it. Or, use it to cut this, but never cut that. My point is this: just as it is one thing to know what a knife is, and another thing to know how to use it, so too it is one thing to know what God’s law is – what it requires and forbids and to understand its parts – but it is another thing to understand what its uses are. I’m afraid that many have done great harm to themselves and to others through the misuse of God’s law. They may understand what God’s law is (what it says, and what it requires and forbids), but by using God’s law in the wrong way, many have done great harm. 

In previous sermons, I have told you about what God’s law is. We’ve considered what each commandment forbids and requires as we have attempted to get to the heart of the matter. I’ve even mentioned that in the law that God delivered to Old Covenant Israel through Moses we find moral, civil (or judicial), and ceremonial laws. The ceremonial laws given to Israel governed Old Covenant worship. The judicial laws were used to govern Old Covenant Israel as a nation. And the moral law, which is for all people living in all times and places, was delivered to Israel too. It was contained in the Ten Words that God spoke to Israel from Sinai and later wrote on tablets of stone. I have also distinguished between moral law and positive. So I have, in a very basic and introductory way, told you about the various parts or components found within the law of Moses. I have described what God’s law is. But in this sermon, I wish to speak directly to the issue of the usefulness of God’s moral law. 

How does God use his law in the world now that man has fallen into sin? That is the question. And there are three answers to that question. One, God uses his moral law to restrain evil in the world. Two, God uses his moral law to show the world its sin and to drive his elect to Christ through the preaching of the gospel. And three, God uses his moral law to sanctify his people, to show them how they are to walk in this world for their good and the glory of his name.  

I had intended to cover all three functions of the law in this sermon but ran out of space. So today we will consider the first use, and next Sunday we will consider the other two, Lord willing. 


To Restrain Evil

What are the uses of God’s moral law? The first thing I will say is this: Since the fall of man into sin, God uses his moral law to restrain evil in the world. This is an often forgotten or ignored use of God’s moral law. Again I say, since the fall of man into sin, God uses his moral law to restrain evil in the world. 

God is King over all creation. He is the Sovereign Lord of his people. And he is also the Sovereign Lord of those who do not honor him as such. He is God Almighty. Nothing is outside his control. He created the heavens and the earth in the beginning, and he does now govern all that he has made. 

And what is God doing in this world now? 

Well, stated very briefly, God, by his grace, is establishing his eternal kingdom. This he is doing through Jesus the Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the means of the proclamation of the gospel. 

I will remind you that the establishment of God’s eternal kingdom was the goal when God created the heavens and earth. When God created he made realms and he filled those realms with rulers. Adam and Eve were the pinnacle of creation. And when God made man he placed him in a garden and offered the eternal kingdom through the Covenant of Works. Adam was to obey God the King and enter into eternal life. He was to obey God the King and enter into eternal rest. He was to obey God the King and enter into glory. Or, to use kingdom language, Adam was to obey God the King, and in so doing usher in the consummation of the eternal kingdom of God. I am stating this rapidly and succinctly to you because you have heard this from me before. The Kingdom of God was offered to Adam, but forfeited. The establishment the eternal Kingdom of God, which is is so beautifully portrayed for us at the end of the book of Revelation, was always the goal. The first Adam failed to obtain it. The second Adam, Christ the Lord, succeeded.

When Adam fell from the state of perfection and into sin by listening, not to the voice of his King, but to the voice of that rebel and traitor, Satan, three things happened. 

One, another kingdom was born. Before this moment, there was one kingdom on earth – God’s kingdom. But after the rebellion of Adam, another kingdom emerged – the kingdom, not of God, but of Satan – the kingdom, not of light, but of darkness – the kingdom, not of heaven, but of this world. This rebel kingdom came into existence when Adam, who was made to be a king on earth loyal to the King of kings, and Lord of lords, YHWH, transferred his allegiance to another. Adam bowed his knee, not to YHWH, but to Satan, when he listened to his voice instead of God’s and ate of the tree of which God said, you shall not eat of it lest you die. So then, the first thing that happened when Adam rebelled is that a rebel kingdom was introduced into the world. 

And the second thing that happened was this: God Almighty showed mercy to Adam and to Eve by delaying the final judgment. And he showed grace to them and to his descendants by promising to defeat the kingdom of Satan and to establish the eternal kingdom of God (which was offered to them but lost) in another way, namely, through the Messiah who would one day be born into the world through the process of human procreation and by the power of God Almighty. He would come to atone for sin, to set his people free, and to usher in the eternal kingdom of God, which he would obtain through his obedience to the eternal covenant. When Adam rebelled, God, in his mercy, delayed the final judgment. And God, by his grace, promised to redeem. 

Now, the third thing that happened when Adam fell from perfection and into sin was that God, in his mercy and grace, began to uphold and preserve this fallen world while his plans for the redemption of his elect were accomplished. Of course, God upheld and sustained the created world even before Adam fell into sin. But here I am saying that something new happened after Adam sinned. If God was to bring the Messiah into the world through the seed of the woman as he promised, then it would be required of him to preserve the fallen and rebellious human race until all of his redemptive purposes were accomplished. And this he has done. This he will do until all of his sheep are brought into the fold. Indeed, from Adam and Eve, Abraham was born, and he was set apart from the nations. From Abraham, David was born. And from David, Christ was born into the world. Here I am wanting you to see that all of this redemptive history – which is, of course, the history that the scriptures focus upon – could not have happened if God Almighty did not preserve the fallen world.

So, how does God preserve the fallen world? 

Well, in more ways than we can comprehend. Indeed, we confess that there is a great mystery in this. But in general, we say, first of all,  that God upholds the natural order of the created world. The sun rises and sets, the rains fall, the seasons come and go, there is springtime and harvest. This will remain until heaven and earth pass away at Christ’s coming. This upholding and maintenance of the natural world is owed to the providential care of God Almighty. God upholds the natural world through the Word. This is what the writer to the Hebrews says: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…” (Hebrews 1:1–3, ESV). So, God the Father upholds the natural world through the Son. He preserves the natural order of things so that human life may go on. This is in fulfillment to the covenant promises he made with all creation in the days of Noah, when he said, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22, ESV).

And not only does God uphold and preserve the natural order of things so that life may go on until all his purposes are accomplished, we confess that he does also restrain evil in the world so that humanity does not consume itself. Again, I say, God’s ways are mysterious. It is impossible for us to comprehend all of the ways that  God restrains evil in the world. We know that he sometimes works to frustrate the plans and purposes of wicked nations and men. Sometimes he acts in a very direct way in the outpouring of his wrath. But even more basic than this is the way that he preserves humanity through his natural and moral law. Men and women have the moral law written on their hearts, remember. Stated differently, men and women, having been made in God’s image, have consciences. Some have badly suppressed and distorted this law that is revealed in nature and that is within them. Some men and cultures have grown exceeding perverse. Some we would even call psychopaths and sociopaths. But most are not! And I am saying that this is God’s mercy. God, in his mercy, does restain evil in individuals and in nations so that we are not as bad as we could be. God, in his mercy, does bless us with systems of governance that are at least somewhat just. The point is this: God, in his merciful providence, restrains evil in the world. He does this so that we do not consume ourselves. He does this so that his purposes of redemption will be accomplished. He does this in many ways, one of them being through his upholding and preservation of his moral law in the world he has made. 

Believe me, brothers and sisters, I am keenly aware of the wickedness that exists within the hearts of men. And I’m mindful of the injustices that exist in all of the nations of the earth, including our own. This world is filled with wickedness. I’m aware of it. But have you ever wondered why it is not worse? I have noticed that Christians are often troubled by the question, why is this world so bad? I think a better question to ask is, why is this world not worse than it is? Have you ever asked that question? Have you ever wondered why the wickedness of man has been so restrained throughout the history of the world? If we consider the scriptures to be true we must confess that it is God who preserves humanity through the restraint of evil. One of the ways he does this is through the preservation of the moral law which was written on man’s heart in the beginning and on stone in the days of Moses, a record of it having been preserved for us in the Holy Scriptures.

Just a moment ago I reminded you that God covenanted with all creation in the days of Noah to preserve the order of the natural world so that life might go on as he accomplishes his redemptive purposes. “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22, ESV), God promised. Well, we should also remember that he promised to restrain evil in societies, saying, “And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. ‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image’” (Genesis 9:5–6, ESV). There is much to be said about this text. Indeed, a lot has been said about it in the teaching ministry if this church. For now I want to simply remind you of God’s promise to uphold a degree of justice within societies while seedtime and harvest remain. And if there is to be justice, there must be a moral law, and I am saying that God, in his mercy, has preserved it, and he will preserve it until Christ returns to make all things new. 

The question I have asked is, how does God use his law in the world now that man has fallen into sin?  And the first answer I have given is that God uses his moral law to restrain evil in the world. Notice, I did not say that evil is extinguished by the moral law. Now, the moral law cannot extinguish sin, but God does use it to restrain evil in the world. Justice is upheld in nations… somewhat. And justice can be upheld somewhat only because God’s moral standard is written on man’s heart and embedded within the created order. Men know, to one degree or another, that children are to honor parents, that murder, adultery, theft, lying, and covetousness are to be avoided. When this moral law flourishes, societies flourish. When this moral law manifests itself in the just laws of a nation, that nation will prosper. Where this moral law is disregarded and suppressed in men, and where injustice prevails, societies and nations will crumble. Please hear me: this is also one of the ways that God preserves the human race. Societies that are given over to wickedness and injustice will simply not survive. I supposed it is a good example of the survival of the fittest principle, but one that is often forgotten. Men assume that the wealthy and powerful will prevail, but they will not. Evil men and unjust societies might prosper for a time, but they will eventually crumble and fall. Why? Because they fight against God and his natural law. If God does not judge them directly, they will consume themselves as they bite and devour one another. As unpleasant as this is to witness, God’s people know that God will preserve the world he has made while his purposes of redemption are accomplished, for he has promised. Again, he has said, “And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. ‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image’” (Genesis 9:5–6, ESV).

So here is one way that God uses his moral law in the world today. He uses it to restrain evil in the world until Christ returns. By it, even the unregenerate are able to see the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. By it, even the unregenerate are able to discern the way of wisdom. By it – by the moral law – societies are able to establish and enforce laws of justice so that men are deterred from doing violence to the person or property of others. God uses his moral law to curb wickedness in the lives of men and in nations. Where there is a disregard for God’s moral law – where there is much perversity – the lives of individuals and of societies will crumble, for the way of the wicked does lead to death. But even in this – even when men and nations are judged by God as he gives them over to their perverse passions –  we can see God’s merciful providence in the preservation of the world he has made.     



If this is indeed one use of God’s moral law, then what is our obligation as Christian sojourners as it pertains to this? I have four suggestions for application:

One, as Christian sojourners we ourselves must strive to live holy lives in obedience to God’s moral law individually, in our homes, in our churches, and in our communities. As we do, with hearts filled with faith, hope, love, contentment, peace, and joy, it may be that the Lord would draw some to salvation through faith in Christ by the proclamation of the gospel – this is our leading desire and our highest aim. But it also may also be that the Lord uses us as a preservative within the culture as those who look in upon us see the wisdom and goodness of God’s moral law in us. 

Two, as Christian sojourners it is right for us to remind the unregenerate of the moral law that is within their hearts by nature. We can appeal to the conscience of those not in Christ. The moral law written on our hearts is the same as the one written on theirs. And the moral law summarized in the Ten Commandments is also the same. Those in Christ see it very clearly because they have God’s Word and have been regenerated by God’s Spirit. The law has been written on our hearts anew and afresh by the Spirit so that we do not only know God’s law but desire to keep it. Those in the world might only perceive God’s moral law dimly. Perhaps it is very dim for some due to weathering effects of sin. But it is there nonetheless. Christian sojourners are right to proclaim the moral law to the world. We must proclaim the gospel too, of course. Again, our highest aim is that men and women, boys and girls, would hear the gospel and come to faith in Christ for the salvation of their souls. But the Lord may also use us to restrain evil in the world in this way as we appeal to the consciences of our fellow human beings and help them to see the wisdom and goodness of God’s moral law.  

Three, Christian sojourners must also seek to establish and maintain just laws in the societies in which they live as they have the opportunity to do so. Please allow me to make five clarifying remarks about this point before bringing this sermon to a conclusion.  

Firstly, laws of justice cannot be established and maintained in society without God’s moral law. Justice depends upon moral absolutes. How can a society establish a legal code wherein crimes and their corresponding punishments are stated without a moral foundation to stand upon. Indeed, this is a major problem within our society. God’s natural law is being badly distorted and suppressed. It is no wonder, then, that injustice is prevailing. Christian sojourners are right to speak up in an attempt to bring moral clarity to the conversation.   

Secondly, as Christian sojourners seek to bring moral clarity to the world they had better be sure that they are not hypocrites. All Christians struggle with sin, that is true. We fail to keep the very law that we have come to love. This is due to the corruption that remains within us. We should be honest about that, and magnify our Redemer, even as we speak to issues of morality within the culture. That is not hypocrisy. But when professing Christians live in unrepentant sin while speaking harshly and critically of the sins of others, this is hypocrisy. It is most detestable to the world, and understandingly so. Christians must not live in unrepentant sin. And neither should Christians speak to the sins of others in a harsh, arrogant, judgemental, condescending and “holier than thou” manner. It is possible to confront evil in society with love and humility in the heart. We must. 

Thirdly, as Christian sojourners seek to bring moral clarity to the societies in which they live, and as they seek to promote justice within those societies, they must remember that this is not their highest calling. Christian sojourners must not merely be concerned with the betterment of society. No, we must always maintain an eternal perspective. We must be more concerned with the salvation of souls. We must always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us. We must be eager and on the lookout for opportunities to testify concerning the mercy and grace of God shown to us in Christ Jesus and to proclaim the gospel of peace. Some Christians might be called to devote themselves to public service. Some might be called to engage in politics. Please hear me. Not all are! But some are. But even these must maintain the perspective that life in this world, and the governments of this world, along with their judicial systems, are temporary. They are not eternal. They will pass away when Christ comes again. This does not mean that they are unimportant. But it does mean that they are not ultimate. As Christian sojourners, we must be ultimately concerned with the furtherance of God’s eternal kingdom, and we know that his kingdom is not of this world. 

Fourthly, we must remember that social transformation and the pursuit of justice in society are not the mission of the church. Now, some of you might think that I have just contradicted myself. In fact, I’ve been careful with my words. I have said that Christian sojourners may be used by the Lord to bring moral clarity to a society. And I have said that Christian sojourners may engage in political service so as to enact and uphold just laws, etc. But here I am talking about the mission of the church. What is the mission that Christ gave to the church, with first his Apostles, and later his elders, in the lead? What is the mission of the church as an institution? Christ was clear about this when he spoke to his disciples saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20, ESV). This is the mission of the church. The church must maintain a laser-like focus on this work. And please hear me: if the church would do her job – if the church would in fact be faithful to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, to baptize those who believe, to administer the Lord’s Supper, to disciple according to the scriptures, and to teach, then Christian sojourns would be well equipped to engage the culture and to serve in the civil realm as politicians, lawyers, judges, and the like, should Christ call them to this work. Ironically, when the church as an institution, with its elders in the lead, is distracted from her God-given mission – when she focuses instead on the transformation of the culture and on matters of social justice – she fails in two ways. The church, as an institution, will fail in her misguided attempt to transform culture, for she is not called or equipped for that work. And she will also fail to do what God has called her to do because she is distracted. The end result of this distraction is that both the church and the culture in which she lives will be worse off. Professing Christians will be immature and even carnal because they have not been taught to observe all that Christ has commanded us, and the culture will be without their witness. Worse yet, the culture will come to see the church for what it is – carnal, immature, and hypocritical – and they will disregard it and even come to despise it. May we as a church be faithful to do what Christ has commanded, and may we as Christian sojourners be faithful to our individual callings in both the sacred and secular realms. 

My fifth and final clarifying remark regarding the Christian sojourner seeking to establish and maintain just laws in the societies in which they live is this: If God has called and equipped you to serve in the civil realm in this way – if he has called and equipped you to be a Christian lawmaker, lawyer, judge, law enforcement officer, etc.  – then it is especially important for you to understand God’s moral law. You must know what God’s moral law is, what it requires, and forbids. But you must also understand its uses. As a civil servant, you should give special consideration to the use of the law that we have considered this morning. God’s moral law is used to restrain evil in the world. God’s moral law is the foundaion for the just laws of societies. You must know that the laws of nations may differ in the specifics depending upon the circumstances, but all must have God’s natural and moral law at their core if they are to be just. 

As we continue in our study of the book of the law of Moses we will eventually encounter the judicial or civil laws which God gave to Old Covenant Israel. And when we do encounter them, we will see that there were some things unique about their law code. 

For one, some of the civil laws of Israel and their corresponding punishments were unusually strict. For example, in Old Covenant Israel, persistently rebellious children were to be put to death. You may go to Deuteronomy 21:18 to read about that. When we encounter Old Covenant civil laws like these we must ask ourselves, are these civil laws and their corresponding punishments intended for all nations, or were they in some ways unique to the Old Covenant Israel? Answer: They were unique to Old Covenant Israel. Some laws were unusually strict. Why? Israel has been set apart as a holy nation. God entered into a holy covenant with them. He gave them a holy land when his holy name was to be worshiped. There in that land, the kingdom of God was prefigured.  Did the civil laws of Israel serve to restrain evil in that nation just as the civil laws of every nation do? Well, yes. But in an extreme way given Israel’s unique place, having been set apart by God as holy, so that through them the Messiah would be brought into the world. 

And here is another thing unique about the civil laws of Old Covenant Israel. The civil laws of Israel prescribed penalties, not only for crimes against persons but also for violations of the first table of God’s moral law. Sabbath-breakers were to be put to death, for example. You may go to Numbers 15:32 to read about that. Idolaters were also to be put to death. You may go to Deuteronomy 17:1 to read about that. Again, we must ask the question, were these civil laws intended for all nations, or for Israel only. We say, they were unique to Old Covenant Israel. Why? For the same reasons stated above – they were a holy nation set apart for a particular time and for redemptive purposes. When, in the fulness of time, the Christ was brought into the world through Israel to atone for sins, to accomplish salvation, and to inaugurate the New Covenant,  the judicial law code of Israel “expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any now by virtue of that institution; their general equity only being of moral use” (2LCF 19.4).

Why am I saying this now? Well, to make it clear that if you love God’s law and wish to see it used to restrain evil in society, then you had better understand what it says, and also how it is to be used. Common governments, and their common law codes, are to be very limited in their scope. They are to concern themselves with upholding justice amongst men. When violence is done to a person or to their property, then restitution is to be made. Civil governments and their civil law codes are to be concerned with that, and not more. In other words, whereas the law code of Old Covenant Israel was concerned with punishing violations of both tables of the moral law, common nations are to concern themselves with violations related to the second table of the law only, while leaving men and women, boys and girls, to worship God according to the conscience. Who is responsible now to promote and maintain the proper worship of God according to the first table of the law? The church is. And the church is to be left free to do it is work.

I have one final suggestion for application, brothers and sisters, and it is very brief. Take comfort in the covenant promises that God made to all creation in the days of Noah. He promised to preserve the natural order of things and to restrain evil in the world so that the human race will endure until all of his redemptive purposes are accomplished and Christ comes again to bring the new heavens and earth, in which righteousness dwells. Our God is sovereign, brothers and sisters. He is the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Though the corruption and evil in the world seem so very great, our heavenly Father is sovereign still.  

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