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Ceremonial and Moral Laws

The scriptures tell us of two main sets of laws, the moral and the ceremonial or if you wish the Decalogue and the Levitical Law (the Law of Moses). One was preexistant, and eternal it is the standard of righteousness, the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, the other was given to Israel at Sinai which was a "shadow of things to come" and pointed forward to the Messiah.

Here is a summary of the detailed comparison which follows :

	
Characteristic Moral Law    Ceremonial law

spoken by

the Lord Moses

written by

the Lord Moses

written on/in

tables of stone a book

stored

in the Ark by the side of the Ark

given to

Moses Levites

given by

the Lord Moses

deals with

morality ceremonies

function

reveals sin prescribes offerings for sin

penalty - break

death no such penalty

keeping it gives

liberty bondage

Christ

establishes faith abolishes

it is

spiritual carnal

 

One Law Spoken by God

Exo 20:12 And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.  

Exo 20:22 And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. 

The Other Law Spoken by Moses

Exo 24:3 And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.  

One Law Written by God

Exo 31:18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.  
 
Exo 32:16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.  

The Other Law Written by Moses

Exo 24:4 And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.  

Deu 31:9 And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and unto all the elders of Israel.  
 
Deu 31:2426 And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.  

God's Law Written on Stone - Perpetual

Exo 31:18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

Moses' Law Written in a book - Temporary

Exo 24:4 And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.  
 
Exo 24:7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.  

One given by God to Moses

Exo 31:18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.  

The other given by Moses to the Levites

Deu 31:2526 That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.  

God's Law Stored IN the Ark

Deu 10:5 And I turned myself and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the LORD commanded me.

Moses' Law Stored BY the side of the Ark

Deu 31:26 Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.  

1 King 8:9 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.  

One is a Law of Liberty

James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

The Other is a Law of Bondage

Gal 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.  
 
Gal 5:3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.  

One Law Reveals Sin

Rom 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.  
 
1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.  
 

The Other Prescribes Offerings for Sin

Lev 7:37 This is the law of the burnt offering, of the meat offering, and of the sin offering, and of the trespass offering, and of the consecrations, and of the sacrifice of the peace offerings; 

One is a Moral Law

Exodus 20

The Other is a Ceremonial Law

Lev 7:37 This is the law of the burnt offering, of the meat offering, and of the sin offering, and of the trespass offering, and of the consecrations, and of the sacrifice of the peace offerings; 

Breaking One Incurrs the Penalty of Death

1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 

Rom 6:23 "For the penalty of sin is death"

No such Penalty for Breaking the Other

One is Spirtual

Rom 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 

The Other is Carnal

Heb 7:16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.  

One is Established Through Faith in Christ

Rom 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.  

Rom 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.  

Matt 5:1719 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  
 
Matt 19:1619 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  
 
James 2:1012 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.  
 
1 Cor 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.  
 
Heb 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:  

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.  
 
1 John 5:23 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.  
 
John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.  

Rev 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.  

Rev 22:1415 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. 

The Other is Abolished by Christ

Lev 7:37 This is the law of the burnt offering, of the meat offering, and of the sin offering, and of the trespass offering, and of the consecrations, and of the sacrifice of the peace offerings;  

Dan 9:2627 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.  

Daniel here predicts that the Messiah will die, the destruction of Jerusalem and then says that He will put an end to the ceremonial law ! (i.e. the sacrifices and offerings for sins.) This is proven by the fact that at His death the temple veil was torn symbolising the end of the Temple and its services, because Christ was the true sacrifice. 

Matt 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;  
 
Eph 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;  
 
Col 2:1417 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. 

Heb 7:18 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.  

Heb 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 
 
Heb 9:910 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.  

Historical Support

Here are some creeds of Christendom that recognise the difference between the ceremonial and the moral laws :
  • The second Helvetic Confession (1566) (Reformed church of Zurich)
  • Thirty nine articles of religion of the church of England (1571)
  • The American revision of 39 articles by the protestant Episcopal Church (1801)
  • The Irish articels of religion (1615)
  • The Wstminster Confession of faith (1647)
  • The Savoy declaration of the congregational Churches (1658)
  • Baptist confession of 1688
  • Methodist articles of Religion (1784)

 

The Moral Law Predates Sinai

Gen 2:23 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.


Now we know that :

1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

Rom 4:15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
 
Rom 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.


So that if sin exists it is because there is a law to point it out, right. basically NO LAW NO SIN.
 
2 Pet 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
 
Gen 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
 
Gen 26:5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

Gen 13:13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.

Gen 39:79 And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?


Israel kept the Sabbath even before the giving of the law at Sinai even before they made the convenant.

Exo 16:2230 And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.  And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day. 


God does will not change or abolish His Law

Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Ps 89:34 My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.
 
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Mal 3:67 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?

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