Joseph Prince is cursed by John Calvin for preaching Antinomianism and against the Ten Commandments – By Rev George Ong (Dated 5 July 2023)


Don’t miss the Concluding Paragraphs,


which are the Most Important Parts of this Article.


Surprisingly, Joseph Prince appeared in person to preach again


3 days ago on 2 July 2023, as he had done the previous Sunday


at the worship services of New Creation Church,


even though he had announced only very recently


that he is on sabbatical.


Perhaps, Prince really thinks he is indispensable.


Is he sending the message to his congregation


that he could not leave the running of the church,


including the preaching responsibilities to his staff?


Again, there is doctrinal ‘rubbish’


which Joseph Prince spoke about last Sunday,


which I intend to contend.


But this really depends on my time availability.


Even if I were to write articles


against what Prince preached last Sunday,


they will have to wait until 2 more articles are featured


which I promised last week.


Last week, I featured an article, titled,


“Joseph Prince’s Antinomian heresy about Ten Commandments is against the teachings of Martin Luther.”


If you have missed reading it,


please click on the link below to read:


Alternatively, you could also view the video


which gives a summary of the article


by clicking on the link below:


(This article was also sent to Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) office, and for the attention of the Executive Committee Members.)


In this article, my focus is on John Calvin,


and the next, on John Wesley.


To add credibility to what I am writing,


I have gone to study and research the primary sources


about what Martin Luther and John Calvin said and wrote


regarding the Antinomian teachings of Joseph Prince. 


In other words, you are getting from the horse’s (Luther & Calvin) mouth.


Please click here to view the 4-minute video,


which gives a summary to the article.


One of Joseph Prince’s key teachings


is his Antinomian doctrine


– that the Ten Commandments have been abrogated


and are not binding on New Covenant believers.


The Antinomian teachings of Joseph Prince


are not only against what Martin Luther teaches,


but they also went against that of John Calvin.


Please note that the following were written by John Calvin


during the Reformation days.


And so, from our present-day perspective,


the English expression could be a little quaint.


But with some effort and careful reading,


they should still be understandable to many.


In ‘Selected Works of John Calvin Vol. 3 Tracts Part 3, by John Calvin,’ he wrote:


“XVIII. Whosoever shall say


that the commandments of God


are impossible of observance


even to a justified man,


and to one constituted under grace,


let him be anathema (cursed).


XIX. Whosoever shall say


that nothing is commanded in the gospel except faith;


that other things are indifferent,


being neither commanded nor prohibited, but free;


or that the ten commandments do not apply to Christians,


let him be anathema (cursed).


XX. Whosoever shall say


that a justified man, however perfect,


is not bound to the observance


of the commandments of God and the Church,


but only to believe as if the gospel


were a naked and absolute promise of eternal life,


without the condition of observing the commandments,


let him be anathema (cursed).


XXI. Whosoever shall say


that Jesus Christ was given by God to man


as a Redeemer in whom they may trust,


but not as a lawgiver whom they are to obey,


let him be anathema (cursed).”


George Ong’s comments:


Do you know the seriousness


in all the points that John Calvin had made?


Every single point that Calvin had written


about God’s laws in the Ten Commandments


is what Joseph Prince has contravened


in his writings and sermons,


and a curse was pronounced by Calvin


on the person (including Joseph Prince),


who is guilty of each of those doctrinal aberrations.


Just in case you think that John Calvin


is too severe in his pronouncements,


you are mistaken.


John Calvin was only following the example of the Apostle Paul,


who pronounced a curse on anyone


who distorts the gospel of the grace of God into a heresy (Gal 1:8-9).


The Greek word, ‘Anathema’ is the English word for ‘curse’.


It is the same Greek word


that both John Calvin


and the Apostle Paul used in Galatians 1:8-9.      


In ‘Selected Works of John Calvin Vol. 3 Tracts Part 3, by John Calvin,’ he wrote:






XII. No man, however justified,


should think himself free from the observance of the Commandments;


no man should use that presumptuous expression


prohibited under anathema by the Fathers,


that to a justified man


the precepts of God are impossible of observance;


for God does not order what is impossible,


but by ordering admonishes you


both to do what you can,


and ask what you cannot,


and assists, that you may be able to do.


His commandments are not grievous;


his yoke is easy, and his burden is light.


For those who are of God love Christ,


and those who love him, as he himself testifies,


keep his commandments,


as indeed they can do, with the Divine assistance.


George Ong’s comments:


When one tries to do it by his own strength,


obeying God’s laws


is an extremely heavy and burdensome chore


and an impossibility.


But as John Calvin declared


that under divine help and enablement,


it becomes relatively easy and a joy.


More so, when obeying God’s commands


springs from our love for Christ.


In ‘The Law of God by John Calvin,’ he wrote:




The third and principal use,


which pertains more closely to the proper purpose of the law,


finds its place among believers


in whose hearts the Spirit of God already lives and reigns.


For even though they have the law written


and engraved upon their hearts


by the finger of God [Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 10:16],


that is, have been so moved and quickened


through the directing of the Spirit


that they long to obey God…”


George Ong’s comments:


John Calvin clearly taught


that the law is still positively relevant


to New Covenant believers,


as opposed to Joseph Prince’s teaching


that the law, which is under the Old Covenant is obsolete


and no longer binding on New Covenant believers.


For the Christian, obeying the law


isn’t a burdensome task but a holy longing


that is quickened by the Spirit,


as the law is now written in the hearts of believers.  


In ‘The Law of God by John Calvin,’ he wrote:






Certain ignorant persons,


not understanding this distinction,


rashly cast out the whole of Moses,


and bid farewell to the two Tables of the Law.


For they think it obviously alien to Christians


to hold to a doctrine


that contains the “dispensation of death”


[cf. 2 Corinthians 3:7].


Banish this wicked thought from our minds!


For Moses has admirably taught that the law,


which among sinners


can engender nothing but death,


ought among the saints


to have a better and more excellent use.”


George Ong’s comments:


On many occasions,


I have heard Joseph Prince used 2 Corinthians 3


teach in his sermons


that the moral law in the Ten Commandments


bring death and condemnation to us,


and hence, New Covenant believers


have nothing to do with them.


This is sharply denounced by John Calvin.


This is because the Ten Commandments


can no longer bring death and condemn us


as all New Covenant people are people of the Spirit,


who, not only lives in us,


but He can empower us to obey the laws of God.   


In ‘The Law of God by John Calvin,’ he wrote:


“For this reason, we are not to refer solely to one age


David’s statement that the life of a righteous man


is a continual meditation upon the law [Psalm 1:2],


But his delight is in the law of the Lord,

And in His law he meditates day and night,


for it is just as applicable to every age,


even to the end of the world.


We ought not to be frightened away from the law


or to shun its instruction


merely because it requires a much stricter moral purity


than we shall reach


while we bear about with us the prison house of our body.


For the law is not now acting toward us


as a rigorous enforcement officer


who is not satisfied unless the requirements are met.


But in this perfection to which it exhorts us,


the law points out the goal


toward which throughout life we are to strive.”




Now, the law has power to exhort believers.


This is not a power to bind their consciences with a curse,


but one to shake off their sluggishness,


by repeatedly urging them,


and to pinch them awake to their imperfection.


Therefore, many persons,


wishing to express such liberation from that curse,


say that for believers the law


– has been abrogated.


Not that the law no longer enjoins believers to do what is right,


but only that it is not for them what it formerly was:


it may no longer condemn and destroy their consciences


by frightening and confounding them.


Paul teaches clearly enough such an abrogation of the law [cf. Romans 7:6].


That the Lord also preached it appears from this:


he would not have refuted the notion


that he would abolish the law [ Matthew 5:17]


if this opinion had not been prevalent among the Jews.


But since without some pretext


the idea could not have arisen by chance,


it may be supposed to have arisen


from a false interpretation of his teaching,


just as almost all errors


have commonly taken their occasion from truth.


But to avoid stumbling on the same stone,


let us accurately distinguish


what in the law has been abrogated


from what still remains in force.


When the Lord testifies that he


“came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it” and that “until heaven and earth pass away… not a jot will pass away from the law until all is accomplished” [ Matthew 5:17-18],


he sufficiently confirms that by his coming


nothing is going to be taken away


from the observance of the law.


And justly – inasmuch as he came rather


to remedy transgressions of it.


Therefore, through Christ


the teaching of the law remains inviolable;


by teaching, admonishing, reproving, and correcting,


it forms us and prepares us


for every good work.” [cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17]


The law is abrogated


to the extent that it no longer condemns us.”


George Ong’s comments:


John Calvin taught that the law has been abrogated


from its power to curse, condemn and put fear into us.


But the law is not abrogated because


Christ Himself has not come to abolish the law,


and that nothing about obedience to the law


is taken from it.


In fact, John Calvin said that the law


“is just as applicable to every age,


even to the end of the world.”


Through Christ, and those who are in Christ,


the law now plays the positive role


of teaching, admonishing and reproving us


for every good work.


In ‘Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Commentary of Romans by John Calvin,’ he wrote:


(Commenting on Romans 7:1-6, John Calvin wrote)


“But further, the word law is not mentioned here


in every part in the same sense:


for in one place, it means the bond of marriage;


in another, the authority of a husband over his wife;


and in another, the law of Moses:


but we must remember,


that Paul refers here


only to that office of the law


which was peculiar to the dispensation of Moses;


for as far as God has in the ten commandments


taught what is just and right,


and given directions for guiding our life,


no abrogation of the law is to be dreamt of;


for the will of God must stand the same forever.


We ought carefully to remember


that this is not a release from the righteousness


which is taught in the law,


but from its rigid requirements,


and from the curse which thence follows.


The law, then, as a rule of life, is not abrogated…”


George Ong’s comments:


On several occasions in his sermons,


I have heard Joseph Prince teach


that the moral law in the Ten Commandments


have been abrogated


based on Romans 7:1-6.


This is refuted by John Calvin.


They are abrogated from the viewpoint of justification.


But from the perspective of sanctification,


they aren’t. 


Though obeying the law cannot earn righteousness


(If it did, then we will be guilty of legalism,


which is the opposite of,


and as heretical and damning as Antinomianism,


preached by Joseph Prince),


we still need to obey the law as a rule of life,


Christian discipleship,


and as part of the sanctifying process


after we become Christians.


But Joseph Prince does not believe in sanctification.


This is because from the testimonies


of many Ex New Creation Church members


in their many years (some 20 years, 19 years, etc) in the church,


they have never heard of Joseph Prince


preach a single sermon on sanctification.


In summary, what John Calvin taught,


could be summarised


by this wholesome and balanced statement of His:


“To be Christians under the law of grace


does not mean to wander unbridled outside the law,


but to be engrafted in Christ,


by whose grace we are free from the curse of the law,


and by whose Spirit we have the law engraved upon our hearts.”


In conclusion, let me repeat what John Calvin wrote in


‘Selected Works of John Calvin Vol. 3 Tracts Part 3, by John Calvin’:


“XVIII. Whosoever shall say that the commandments of God are impossible of observance even to a justified man,

and to one constituted under grace,


let him be anathema (cursed).


XIX. Whosoever shall say that nothing is commanded in the gospel except faith; that other things are indifferent, being neither commanded nor prohibited, but free; or that the ten commandments do not apply to Christians,


let him be anathema (cursed).


XX. Whosoever shall say that a justified man, however perfect, is not bound to the observance of the commandments of God and the Church, but only to believe as if the gospel were a naked and absolute promise of eternal life, without the condition of observing the commandments,


let him be anathema (cursed).


XXI. Whosoever shall say that Jesus Christ was given by God to man as a Redeemer in whom they may trust, but not as a lawgiver whom they are to obey,


let him be anathema (cursed).”


John Calvin had cursed anyone


who is guilty of each of the 4 doctrinal aberrations.


This includes Joseph Prince,


as Prince is guilty of every of the 4 doctrinal deviations.


Why should John Calvin curse Joseph Prince?


You don’t curse a fellow believer in Christ, do you?


You only do that to an unrepentant heretic,


who is responsible for promoting a heresy


that can destroy the Church.


as the Apostle Paul did in Galatians 1:8-9.


In my last article, I highlighted that


Martin Luther had stated


that those who preach the Antinomian doctrine


in the removal of the Ten Commandments from the Church,


in his day,


(which is Joseph Prince’s core teaching)


originated from Satan.


This simply means that


Joseph Prince’s grace doctrine is satanic.


If John Calvin had placed curses on Joseph Prince


and Martin Luther had concluded


that Joseph Prince’s Antinomian teaching is satanic,


how can Prince not be a heretic?


If 2 of the foremost leaders and theologians


in the Protestant Reformation, namely,


Martin Luther and John Calvin


had passed such damning judgement on Joseph Prince, 


how can a Singapore Methodist Bishop


and a Singapore Presbyterian Pastor


say that Joseph Prince is not a heretic?


If John Calvin, being the foremost of all Presbyterian leaders,


had cursed Joseph Prince at least 4 times,


for his Antinomian teachings


against the Ten Commandments,


why is this Singapore Presbyterian Pastor,


who supposedly, is a follower of John Calvin,


protecting Joseph Prince by declaring that he isn’t a heretic?


May every Pastor in the Singapore Church,


not remain silent and not give in to cowardice anymore


at the intrusion of Joseph Prince’s Antinomian heresy.


I have written before:


“The equivalent of inaction to the evil and intrusion of heresy is not indifference but cowardice.”


I am not the first one who wrote


that we shouldn’t be cowards


at the intrusion of heresy.


John Calvin also wrote:


“A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.”


In ‘Selected Works of John Calvin Vol. 4, Letters 1528-1545 by John Calvin,’ he said:


“A dog barks and stands at bay


if he sees anyone assault his master.


I should be indeed remiss (negligent or slipshod),


if, seeing the truth of God thus attacked,


I should remain dumb,


without giving one note of warning…”


Last but not least,


I have also unveiled the lie of Joseph Prince,


when he said that he is preaching the Reformation doctrine.


By his Antinomian doctrine


that the Ten Commandments are obsolete,


and no more binding on New Covenant believers,


Joseph Prince is preaching against


what Martin Luther and John Calvin hold dear to


– that though the law or the Ten Commandments


have no place for believers in justification,


they have every place in our sanctification.


And the need to obey the Ten Commandments,


that have been handed down by God Himself, 


has never been abrogated.


Hence, Joseph Prince isn’t preaching the Reformation doctrine


that he constantly argues for;


he is preaching against the Reformation doctrine


of both Martin Luther and John Calvin.


And one who preaches against the Reformation doctrine


is guaranteed to be a heretic!


Rev George Ong




You may wish to read the views of 2 Bible scholars,


who wrote about John Calvin


and his doctrine about the law and the Ten Commandments:


In ‘John Calvin, Reformer for the 21st Century’ by William Stacy Johnson,’ William wrote:


(William Stacy Johnson is an American minister, educator and writer. He works as a Princeton Theological Seminary’s Arthur M. Adams Professor of Systematic Theology. An ordained Presbyterian minister and a lawyer, he earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University.)


“For Calvin the freedom that conscience provides


is not a freedom to do just anything.


Our consciences are meant to be captive to the Word of God.


This freedom that is ours in Christ has three features.


First, we have the freedom that is ours in salvation by grace alone.


As such, being in Christ frees us from the rigors of legalism.


Because we are justified not by obedience to the law


but by grace through faith,


we are not bound by a restrictive understanding of the law.


As we shall see in chapter 8,


this does not mean that we can ignore the law.


But we must understand that the law


is a form of the gospel.


The law does not merely levy prohibitions


but gives positive direction to life.”


Chapter 8

What Does God Require of Us?

Law and Gospel


“To be a Christian, for Calvin, had a strongly ethical edge:


it was to live out the purposes of God.


It stands to reason that if we seek to serve God,


then we should be eager to conform to the will of God.


But how do we know the will of God?


One answer is through the law.


The law is not just an arbitrary set of rules


but an expression of God’s very own character.


So then we need to be immersed in the divine law,


while always recognizing


that the law is a form of the gospel.


The law was central to Calvin’s vision of the Christian life.


In fact, Calvin opened his first edition of the Institutes


with a chapter on law.


But how do we square


Calvin’s emphasis on the importance of the law


with his corresponding belief


in justification by grace through faith?


If we are saved by grace, then what is the role of the law?


Calvin’s answer was precise.


Works of the law are not the cause of salvation,


but they are the fruit or hallmarks of salvation.


For Calvin the law is a vehicle through which


we can experience God’s goodness toward us.


Calvin rejected every form of antinomianism,


the false belief that in Christ,


God has completely done away with the law.


(George Ong’s interjection:


This is exactly what Joseph Prince teaches,


and this is what John Calvin is strongly against.)


Instead, Calvin asserted that


there were three functions, or uses, of the law.


First, there is the theological use.


The theological use of the law, said Calvin,


is to help us realize our status as sinners


and our resulting need for salvation.”


“Third, there is the didactic use of the law.


This is the use that is most important for believers.


The law not only convicts people of sin (first use)


and restrains people from unrighteousness (second use),


but, by grace, it gives believers positive guidance


concerning the will of God for their lives.


Calvin calls this third use the principal use of the law.


Here a contrast between Luther and Calvin is worth noting.


For Luther the theological use was most prominent


– the law convicts us of sin.


This is why in traditional Lutheran services


the Ten Commandments were sometimes read


prior to the confession of sin.


We hear the law,


and our proper response is to confess our sin.


In Reformed worship, however, the Ten Commandments


were read after the confession of sin


and the assurance of pardon.


Having received assurance of forgiveness,


the believer is strengthened by God’s grace


to follow God’s commandments.


The Ten Commandments


have always enjoyed a place of honor


in Reformed theology.


Calvin and later Reformed theologians


divided the commandments into “two tables,”


a reference to the two tablets


Moses carried down the mountain (Exod. 24:12).


The first table (commandments one through four)


have to do with one’s duty to God,


while the second table (commandments five through ten)


focus on one’s duty to neighbors.


In this way the two tables were thought


to reflect the commandment of Jesus


to love God and neighbor (Matt. 22:35–40).


Calvin offered three rules


for interpreting the Ten Commandments.


First, the focus of the commandments


is not just conformity to an external set of rules


but inward, heartfelt obedience to God,


the giver of the commandments.


This meant, second, that the commandments


are more than mere words on a page.


In interpreting them,


we must look not simply to the words of each commandment


but also at the reason that lies behind the words.


Behind each negative prohibition in the law


there is a positive principle or a reason.


For example, we are not to murder.


The prohibition is clear.


But the reason that we are forbidden to murder


is because life is a precious gift from God.


Beyond our obligation not to murder our fellow human beings,


we have the obligation to promote human welfare and flourishing


– to enhance the life of others.


Third, Calvin reminded his audience


that there are two different types of commandments,


those pertaining to love of God


and those concerned with love of neighbor,


and the two are entwined.


We cannot love God while hating our neighbor,


and vice versa (1 John 4:20).


Even though love of God should not be reduced


to love of neighbor,


our lives best conform to God’s will


when they bear fruit for our neighbor.”


“A Reformed approach to law


will never be content with the world as it is,


but will always be working toward the world as it ought to be.


Given the insights derived from the Ten Commandments,


this will be a world in which justice is pursued for all,


and in which there is equality for all citizens (commandment eight).


It will be a world in which the well-being of everyone


is given protection and support (commandment six).


It will be a world in which the integrity of relationships


is respected (commandments five and seven),


in which denigration of others is rejected (commandment nine).


In short, it will be a world in which persons


are given priority over material things (commandment ten).


Calvin considered the promotion of human welfare to be a divine priority.


When God’s people are hurting,


it is ultimately God who most feels the pain.


Consequently, when we act to alleviate human suffering,


we give glory to the God who is with us in our suffering.


Obedience to the Ten Commandments


is not about obeying rules;


it is supremely about furthering


God’s gracious and redemptive purposes for the world.”


“Christian Education and Confirmation


Given Calvin’s emphasis on knowing and understanding the Word of God,


it is not surprising that he promoted


what we today call Christian education.


One of the first things Calvin did


during his first tenure in Geneva


was to write a catechism (1537).


When he was called back to Geneva in 1541


he wrote an improved catechism


that appeared in French (1542) and in Latin (1545).


The goal of Calvin’s catechism


was to make sure the young Christian knew the basics


of the Apostles’ Creed,

the Ten Commandments,

and the Lord’s Prayer.”


“They should adhere to the basics:

obeying the Ten Commandments,

believing the Apostles’ Creed,

and saying the Lord’s Prayer.”


In ‘The Cambridge Companion to John Calvin, Edited by Donald K. McKim,’ Donald wrote:


(Donald K. McKim has served as Academic Dean and Professor of Theology at Memphis Theological Seminary and Professor of Theology at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, in addition to being a pastor in Presbyterian Church (USA) churches. He is the author and editor of over twenty-five books and currently works as Academic and Reference editor for Westminster John Knox Press.)


“He (Calvin) rejoices in the law of God,


which now for Christians no longer threatens and curses


but which in faith is the means


by which they express their gratitude.


For the redeemed,


the law, no less than the gospel,


is a gift;


the God who delivered his people Israel


from the bondage of Egypt


also gave them a law as a means


by which they might know his will


and live out their calling.


It was not intended as a new form of bondage


but rather as the means to true freedom


– the freedom that is possible


when one is subject to his rightful Lord.


The law is the law of the covenant


and the covenant is a covenant of grace.


It is therefore not a burden,


but a joy; not a restriction but an aid;


not a means for attaining righteousness,


but rather a guide for people already redeemed.


This is the so-called third use of the law


which for Calvin was the “principal” and “proper” use.”


“Calvin gives the concept of law a major role in his ethics.


This is evident in the prominence he gives to the Decalogue


and its exposition in a number of his writings.


His catechism for the church in Geneva (1545)


contains a major section of questions and answers


in which the requirements and prohibitions


enjoined in the commandments are explained.


He devotes two chapters in the Institutes to the law,


one of which contains a lengthy exposition

of the Ten Commandments.


His sermons on Deuteronomy


contain sixteen sermons on the Decalogue,


as well as on the introductory and concluding texts.


His commentary on the last four books of Moses


organizes most of the material


from Exodus to Deuteronomy,


except for the historical accounts,


according to the topics


covered in the Ten Commandments.


The law has this importance


because it is the “perfect rule of righteousness”


that God has given to his people.


Because the law reveals the eternal will of God,


it is, for Calvin, the ultimate moral norm.


God alone has the authority to establish the rules and laws


which govern people’s lives.


They cannot depart from the law


without abandoning God himself.


It presents his character


and reveals his perfect righteousness to them.


If they would be holy as God is holy,


then they must submit to the law


as the perfect rule for a godly life.


The origin and foundation of the law


is the will of God.


His will is neither arbitrary nor capricious.”


“The law is the authority


because God wills it to be so,


but he wills it to be so


because it expresses his righteous and holy character.


The law is as firm and constant as God’s own character.


It “has been established to be permanent,


to endure from age to age.”


It contains the truth of God that never perishes,


and is his permanent moral guide for humanity.


For this reason,


the law must be preached and taught


until the end of the world.


God clearly reveals his will for human life


in the Scriptures,


and summarizes it in the Ten Commandments.


As noted above, even after the Fall


God continues to reveal his moral law


to all through the law written on their hearts,


to which their consciences bear witness (Rom. 2:14–15).


This is the same law that God reveals in the Bible.


Because sin has so clouded human understanding of the law in their hearts,


people have little understanding of the first table of the law,


and a defective understanding,


subject to vanity and error, of the second table.


This is why all people, even believers,


need the written law in Scripture


as a clear witness of the will of God.


Those committed to lives of obedience to God


must submit to biblical law.


They must not forge any new laws for themselves,


nor have different laws for different times.


In fact, God forbids adding to his law


or taking anything away from it.


He has spoken once for all in the law,


and his will is that all embrace his law


as setting forth


“one everlasting and unchangeable rule to live by,”


as a “perfect pattern of righteousness.”


“For Calvin the law is misunderstood


if one attempts to comprehend it


apart from the covenant of grace,


and from Christ, the heart of this covenant.


The law was revealed through Moses,


not to lead the chosen people away from Christ,


but to prepare them for Christ’s coming.


The fact that the Mosaic law


was given after the covenant promise to Abraham


means that the former must be understood


in the context of the latter.


The law is a gift of the covenant


because it prepares people to seek after Christ.


It does this, first,


in the ceremonies and sacrificial system of the Old Testament.


The priesthood, the physical rituals of cleanness and uncleanness,


the sacrifices, and all the other ceremonies


were shadows and types


that found their fulfillment in Christ.


Second, the moral law,


summarized in the Decalogue, also points to Christ.


Appealing to Romans 10:4,


Calvin describes Christ as the fulfillment or end of the law,


for he is the one who fulfills the righteous demands of the law.


When the law is separated from the promises fulfilled in Christ,


it becomes “bare law” or “law as letter,”


whereby people attempt to merit righteousness


through works of obedience.


Such a misuse of the law must be condemned as “vanity.”


The law requires perfect righteousness before God,


although this is impossible for sinful humans to accomplish.


When they realize their failure to achieve this,


it should cause them


to abandon their own attempts at righteousness,


and to embrace the grace and righteousness of God in Christ.”


“Although Calvin understands the law of God as a unity,


he distinguishes between three types of law in the Mosaic legislation:


moral law, ceremonial law, and judicial law.


The moral law, as summarized in the Decalogue,


is foundational, and provides the basis for the other two.


It is the “true and eternal rule of righteousness”


which God has prescribed


for all people of all nations and times


who are committed to obeying his will.


The ceremonial law refers to the various rituals of purity, worship,


and sacrifice in the Old Testament era.


It prescribed for the Jews the manner


in which they fulfilled their obligations to God


according to the first table of the Decalogue.


These various laws are all shadows and types


that find fulfillment in the Redeemer.


When the fulfillment has come,


the shadows and types are abrogated.”


“Calvin describes the third use of the law as the “principal use,”


because this is the proper purpose


for which the law was originally intended.


It has application only to Christians.


Here, the law functions as a positive instrument


to enable believers to understand and embody


the will of God in their lives.


Only in this use does the law cease to be “bare law” or “letter.”


Rather, it functions as covenant law,


“law graced with the covenant of free adoption.”


Calvin claims that the law


guides believers in holy living in two ways.


First, the law is the best instrument to provide thorough instruction


for believers in the nature of the Lord’s will,


and to confirm their understanding of it.


If people embody what it enjoins,


they will express the image of God in their lives.


Second, because believers still struggle with sin,


the law has the power to exhort them to holiness,


especially when they become weary, complacent, or apathetic.


“The law is to the flesh like a whip


to an idle and balky ass,


 to arouse it to work.”


It remains “a constant sting”


that arouses believers to obedience,


strengthens them to press on, and draws them back from sin.


Calvin embraces three principles of interpretation


that shape his exposition of the Ten Commandments.


He presents these in his introductory comments


to the Decalogue in the Institutes.


The first principle is that the law is concerned,


not merely with outward behaviour,


but with “inward and spiritual righteousness.”


God desires obedience in the whole person


– with the affections of the heart as well


as with compliance in the body.


Appealing to Romans 7:14


Calvin contends that the perfection of the law


“requires a heavenly and angelic righteousness,


in which no spot appears.”


This is supported by the teaching of Christ,


who is the “best interpreter” of the law.


In the Sermon on the Mount


Christ reveals that the law is fulfilled,


not simply by outward works,


but by spiritual purity.


This adds nothing to the Mosaic law,


but merely restores it to its original integrity.”