Did “the law” always exist? Will “the law” always exist into the future? Did “the law” exist before Jesus wrote it out on tablets of stone at Sinai?
Jesus said, “The devil . . . was a murderer from the beginning. . . . He is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44, NKJV). How could Satan have been a murderer and a liar if there had not been a law against murdering or stealing before earth’s history?
Paul described the law as “holy and just and good . . . [and] spiritual” (Rom. 7:12, 14, NKJV). Wait a minute, that’s what God is—holy, just, good, and spiritual (Isa. 6:3; 1 John 1:9; Ps. 34:8; 1 Cor. 10:4)! Thus the saying, “The law is a transcript of God’s character,” prescribing how humans created in God’s image and likeness were designed to live, morally and spiritually patterned after how God Himself lives. At creation Adam and Eve must have lived naturally and happily with a moral and spiritual nature like God’s nature, without needing the Ten Commandments/Ten Words spelled out for them in the form Jesus wrote them out at Sinai.
Ellen White writes: “When Satan rebelled against the law of Jehovah, the thought that there was a law came to the angels almost as an awakening to something unthought of” (Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 109). Evidently a moral law operated in heaven, but when love reigned supreme, heaven’s occupants were unaware of its existence because the law of God written in their hearts merely describes the way true love expresses itself naturally.
In this war zone between Eden lost and Eden restored, it became necessary for God’s law to be explicitly expressed in the form of commandments. The Sinai covenant laws numbered 613 commandments (including the national civil code and a manual of sorts for priests). The New Testament gives more than nine hundred direct and three hundred indirect commands. No Old Testament or New Testament author, nor Jesus Himself, “trusted ‘love’ as a safe single command, or trusted the Holy Spirit’s internal guidance as a safe replacement for all law and very specific divine commandments” (Skip MacCarty, In Granite or Ingrained [Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 2007], 153; cf. 152–155, 300–303). But another Day is coming!
Could it be that, in addition to the insights shared in inTerpret, Galatians 3:25 reflects Jesus’ longing for that glorious Day of return to original conditions, when He has fully written His law in the heart of everyone who has responded to His gospel appeal by faith and has relied on Him for an obedient heart (Heb. 8:10), that Day when all from the least to the greatest will know Him and evangelistic missions per se will be a thing of the past (8:11)? In that Day we will live as we were created to live in Eden, with the image of Jesus restored in us, living out of hearts made perfect in love. Perhaps in that Day, written commandments will once again not even be necessary.
Even now we can claim His promise that “if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, 668).