BIBLICAL LAW IN PRACTICE
What follows are a tiny sample of the hundreds of verses in the Bible that speak to Law, the nature of man, freedom and the role of legitimate government. There is an abundance of material to establish these truths. They are there for the asking if any man would know them and seek them out. They are based on the very nature of God and in the scriptures God has promised that those who seek Him will find Him.[i] Here are just a few:
The very premise of a tripartite government comes from the Bible. In speaking of God Isaiah says, “For the Lord is our judge, The Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king;”[ii] Here we have the model, in God’s innate being for the judiciary, the legislative, and the executive branches of our government.
In his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln spoke of a government of the people, by the people and for the people. What is not generally known is that these words were written by John Wycliffe, an early translator of the Bible who wrote in the General Prologue of his 1384 translation of the Bible that “The Bible is for the government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
The concept of the Bible as a basis for law and governance was not new to Lincoln, or to the Founders. Wycliffe’s thinking was that the Bible should be available to all men to read so as to enable them to arrange their own lives as they saw fit. The rationale for him was the same as it was for the Founding Fathers. Responsible men were capable of governing themselves if they lived according to the Bible’s moral order.
THE BIBLICAL LIMITS OF FREEDOM
The limits of freedom are also established scripturally in many places. The Bible tells us “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”[iii] We are also told, “Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil...”[iv]
The notion that God’s commands are not capricious but rather point men to a life structured around the nature of man as God created him is found throughout scripture. The Psalmist says in the Old Testament, “And I will walk at liberty, for I seek your precepts.”[v]
The end result of living according to Godly principles is found in these prophetic words in Isaiah. Note the enumeration of benefits to be derived as a result of the prophet’s (and later, Jesus’) obedience: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;”[vi]
We are told how to treat one another: “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.”[vii] What is the Law of Liberty? It is the requirement that men act according to moral principles as per the Ten Commandments but without the onerous regulations of daily life that were found in The Law of Moses. Jesus himself distilled the Ten Commandments down to two: Love God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.[viii]