a christian perspective on the world today

The Compass That Guides Us Home

Years ago, my friends and I got lost hiking. As we trudged through the bush, every tree appeared eerily similar to the last, causing our disorientation to grow. During a break, a friend joked that without service, our phones were useless and we should’ve brought a compass. After wandering in circles and retracing our steps multiple times, we finally managed to safely find our way home. This experience reminds me of life’s perplexing journeys where we often feel lost and need direction. Just as a compass leads hikers back to safety, the law of God is our guide. But what does that mean?

God’s law—the list of precepts and commandments found in the Bible—is not just a list of “dos” and “don’ts”, but a framework for living a life in harmony with our Creator and fellow human beings. Understanding God’s law is essential for anyone seeking a deeper connection with God and a more meaningful life. If that’s you, good news! The principles embodied in God’s law provide a foundation for love, justice and integrity.

The word for “law” in Hebrew is Torah, which translates as “instruction” or “showing the way”. Often we think of it in legal terms, whereas ancient Jews would have thought of it as I previously described—a set of precepts for living well with God and other humans.

The verse, “Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens” (Psalm 119:89) highlights a foundational truth: God’s law is unchanging. This law is deeply embedded in the very essence of God Himself, serving as a reflection of who He is. Many see it as a burden or something that restricts freedom, but it’s actually a declaration of His immense love. As author Ellen White once wrote, “The glory of Christ is revealed in the law, which is a transcript of His character” (Selected Messages 1).

It’s crucial to make a clear distinction between two types of laws presented in the Bible: the moral law and the ceremonial law. The moral law, found in the Ten Commandments, is a timeless, universal guide for virtuous living. On the flip side, the ceremonial laws were highly specific to the ancient Israelite community and had the distinct purpose of pointing toward the long-hoped-for Messiah. These ceremonial laws with their rituals ceased their purpose when Jesus gave up His life on a Roman cross in AD 33. The apostle Paul captures this in his letter to the Colossians: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13,14). So, though the moral law remains vital for Christians, ceremonial laws were fulfilled by Christ’s rescue on the cross.

There exists a common argument that the law of God became obsolete following Jesus Christ’s sacrificial act on the cross, asserting that grace (aka, the free gift of eternal life offered through Jesus) has now superseded the law. But this misses the bond. White offers a clear explanation in her book Reflecting Christ: “Instead of releasing man from obedience, it is faith, and faith only, that makes us partakers of the grace of Christ, which enables us to render obedience.” Grace doesn’t cancel out God’s law but changes us from the inside-out.

Similarly, Paul, in his letter to the Romans, strongly affirms the enduring relevance of God’s law, even in the light of Jesus. He asks, “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law” (Romans 3:31). Paul confirms that far from abolishing the law, faith serves to uphold it as a critical component of the Christian walk.

The law of God is like a mirror showing our flaws and guiding us toward right living, as articulated again by Paul: “Through the law we become conscious of our sin” (Romans 3:20). Without the law, we wouldn’t see our need for Jesus.

White emphasises the indispensable role of the law in the spiritual life of believers when she declares, “It is only as the law of God is restored to its rightful position that there can be a revival of primitive faith and godliness among His professed people” (The Great Controversy). The law is important for deep faith and practice.

As we approach even more tumultuous times, the law of God can take on an even more profound significance. It’s not just a guideline but a standard for judgement. White issues a sobering warning on this subject, stating, “We have been given great light in regard to God’s law. This law is the standard of character. To it man is now required to conform, and by it he will be judged in the last great day” (The Gospel Herald, January 1901). Though this sounds scary, it shouldn’t be. If we have begun to be transformed by God, our hearts will naturally want to live according to His way.

If you’re troubled by the state of the world and want to find a centre in the midst of the chaos, grasping the eternal principles of God’s law and integrating them into daily life is an essential discipline. It’s not about following rules—it’s about aligning with Jesus’ will to be more like Him. Far from being a burdensome obligation, living according to God’s instruction can, in fact, be a joyful and liberating response to the incredible grace that He has extended to us.

As Jesus said to the religious leaders on one occasion, the entire summation of the requirements of Scripture rest on “loving God with all your heart” and “loving your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:34–40). We don’t simply live God’s law because “He said so”—it’s a blueprint for the best life you could ever live. Living by God’s law gives us peace and joy. Such positive emotions aren’t arbitrary; they are the natural result of aligning our lives with the will of our Creator. This can become a powerful story to others of God’s transforming love.

Life can be complicated but God’s law serves as a compass to guide you back to your true path. The next time you feel yourself feeling adrift, turn to His law for direction. It’s not merely a list of rules; it’s a blueprint for living a fulfilling life. “For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life” (Proverbs 6:23). There it is—a guidebook for ethical living, provided to us by God. Always remember, when uncertainty arises, the law of God is your compass and it will guide you home.

Sisi Toro is a Hawaiian-based health educator and speaker who promotes a plant-based life. She enjoys creating recipes, hiking mountains and going to the beach.

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