The physical laws that govern our universe are constant, unchanging and essential for life—but the unseen spiritual laws are just as important. Do you know them?
I’d like to introduce you to Bob.
Bob is about to have a very bad day.
You see, Bob works on the second story of a corporate office building, and he’s gotten it into his head that gravity isn’t quite the big deal everyone makes it out to be. Which is why, in spite of his coworkers’ frantic warnings, Bob is confidently striding toward the open window of a corner office.
“Bob!” shouts a concerned friend, “Have you lost your mind?!”
With one foot already on the sill, Bob turns around with a confident grin. “Don’t worry,” he assures the panicked crowd. “I don’t believe in gravity anymore!”
Thankfully most people aren’t like Bob. Most of us know what the law of gravity does and unconsciously shape our actions around it.
The laws of the universe do not change
The thing I love most about gravity is that it’s dependable. When toast pops out of my toaster, it doesn’t keep going till it hits the ceiling. When I turn on my faucet, water droplets don’t start floating listlessly through my kitchen. When I trip, I don’t go sailing off into the stratosphere like a balloon.
As a fundamental law of nature, gravity does what it does all day, every day. No exceptions.
This is a good thing. It’s hard to say exactly what would happen if gravity took a day off, but the best guesses all agree: It would be unpleasant.
For starters, our atmosphere would be sucked into the expansive vacuum of space. Everything not anchored to the earth’s surface would begin to float away, including our oceans, which would start boiling in the absence of atmospheric pressure. As if to add insult to injury, the molten layers of the earth would likely force their way to the surface, destroying our planet in an apocalyptic swirl of lava and death.
According to James Overduin, a physicist at Towson University in Maryland, without gravity, the universe would be “completely flat and featureless.”
Also, you would be dead, so there’s that.
Opinion cannot overrule physical or spiritual laws
Remember Bob from a few paragraphs ago?
No one can stop Bob from ignoring gravity, but neither can Bob stop gravity from giving him an impressive collection of broken bones. Gravity isn’t a matter of opinion, and it doesn’t matter how you happen to feel about it—if you jump, you’re coming back down. There are no alternatives. Anyone insisting differently would have to be delusional.
So, why is it that every day, billions upon billions of people insist on believing something just as delusional—and even more dangerous?
There’s more to what makes the universe tick than the laws of physics alone. The same God who established physical laws also established a set of spiritual laws that are just as real and just as important.
For millennia, the human race has approached the law of God the same way our dear friend Bob approached gravity—and the impact has left us reeling. People have a lot of reasons for disregarding God’s law, but none of those reasons mitigate the damage that comes from ignoring it.
The spiritual world isn’t as tangible as the physical world—it can’t typically be touched, seen or heard—but the consequences that come from ignoring spiritual laws can be even more painful than the consequences of ignoring physical laws. Take that, multiply it by thousands of years of disobedience, and you’ll begin to see the reason why our world is unraveling.
Like gravity, the spiritual laws of God are constant and unchanging. They do what they do all day, every day. No exceptions. And just as scientists have developed equations to help us better understand the physical laws of our universe, the instructions God gives us in the Bible help us understand how the spiritual laws around us operate.
Changing or reinterpreting these instructions has no effect on the spiritual forces they describe—it just makes the instructions wrong.
4 spiritual laws
God gives us many spiritual laws to study and understand, but here are four big ones:
Spiritual law #1: You reap what you sow
You’ve probably heard some version of this spiritual law: “What goes around, comes around.” “You get out what you put in.” “Chickens come home to roost.” But no matter how you say it, the underlying message is still the same.
Here’s how God inspired the apostle Paul to put it:
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
One of Job’s friends remarked, “Those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same” (Job 4:8). Through Hosea, God told Israel, “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you. You have plowed wickedness; you have reaped iniquity. You have eaten the fruit of lies” (Hosea 10:12-13).
It’s easy to picture God with His hand hovering over a big red button labeled “SMITE”—just waiting for us to mess up so He can rain down punishment from the great beyond. But the fact is, it’s rarely God who punishes us. Most of the time, we punish ourselves. The laws established by God are not arbitrary; they serve to protect us from decisions and actions that would otherwise lead to painful consequences for ourselves and others.
Do you want to grow good things in your life? Then plant good things. And if you’re tired of rotten things in your life, take a close look and see if you’ve been planting the wrong seed without realizing it.Do you want to grow good things in your life? Then plant good things. And if you’re tired of rotten things in your life, take a close look and see if you’ve been planting the wrong seed without realizing it.
Jesus asked, “Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit” (Matthew 7:16-18). It is completely impossible to grow something good from a seed of wickedness.
(For more about discerning between good fruit and bad fruit, read “By Their Fruits.”)
Understanding this spiritual law is vital for understanding so many of God’s other laws. Our Father in heaven wants us to sow seeds that ultimately result in happiness, not pain and sorrow. And we’re more likely to do that when we realize …
Spiritual law #2: What we sow takes time to grow
Wise King Solomon once bemoaned that “because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11).
In others words, a lot of bad people do a lot of bad things, and instead of being incinerated by a divinely aimed bolt of lightning, these people seem to prosper.
It can be maddening. The previous spiritual law promises that we reap what we sow, but the world is full of examples where people suffer for sowing good or profit while sowing evil. Why can so many people get away with doing the wrong thing? Why don’t good things always come to those who do the right thing?
The first spiritual law is still true. This second spiritual law adds clarity: results take time. No one plants an apple seed expecting it to produce fruit the next day. That process takes years.
But it happens. Eventually, that seed produces fruit. And so do our seeds.
Solomon knew that. He looked at the bigger picture and continued, “Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him” (Ecclesiastes 8:12).
Sinners may have their days—or years, or decades, or lifetimes—of apparently getting away with evil, but the bigger picture is bigger than any single lifetime. The plan of God extends on into eternity, when those who reject God and insist on living a life of sin will be destroyed forever, while those who choose God’s way of life will live forever as His children.
(Learn more about this part of God’s plan in our article “What Are the Resurrections?”)
Acts of evil don’t always bring immediate punishment, and it’s rare that acts of good are instantly rewarded—but every act sows a seed, and the harvest is coming.
Spiritual law #3: Sin does not subtract; it destroys
On that note, it’s easy to think of good actions and bad actions as deposits and withdrawals in a spiritual bank account—every good action increases our balance, while every bad action reduces it. But that’s not the way this spiritual law works. Sin doesn’t simply “take away” from our bank account—it completely eliminates it.
God presented the prophet Ezekiel with two hypothetical situations: a wicked man who “turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right” (Ezekiel 18:21) and a righteous man who “turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does” (verse 24).
In both situations, the earlier spiritual state of the man is irrelevant. For the formerly wicked man, “none of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live” (verse 22).
For the formerly righteous man, “all the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die” (verse 24).
Paul explained that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). No amount of righteousness can undo or balance out a sin, and a single sin can earn us an eternal death penalty that can only be paid for with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
(You can find more about that process in our article “Repentance From Dead Works.”)
The good news is that we don’t have to dig our way out of a spiritual hole when we turn to God seeking forgiveness and change. Christ’s sacrifice wipes our slate clean whenever we repent.
The difficult news is that Christianity doesn’t allow for “coasting”—this spiritual law requires us to be constantly focused on moving forward instead of trying to cash in on past achievements.
Spiritual law #4: The righteousness of God transforms us
The prophet Malachi describes God as a refiner’s fire, purging His people like gold and silver, removing their impurities and bringing them toward perfection (Malachi 3:2-3). Nothing about that process sounds pleasant or comfortable, but the end result makes it worth it.
Concerning “those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name,” God promises, “They shall be Mine … on the day that I make them My jewels. … Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him” (Malachi 3:16-18).
Why is God so concerned with righteousness? Because He created the human race with the potential to one day become like Him—to live forever in His family. To be part of God’s family, we must learn to be like God, hating sin and loving righteousness.
(Want to learn more about God’s plan for His family? Read “Are We Children of God Now?”)
Sin is a way of life that causes pain, whereas righteousness comes from obeying God’s law—a way of life that produce unity, peace and joy. God does not want His family to be filled with pain, but with a desire to pursue righteousness.
Our own human flaws and shortcomings mean we often fail to meet that standard of righteousness—but part of Christ’s sacrifice means we’re able to share in His righteousness. Paul wrote of his desire to be a true Christian, “not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3:9). That same righteousness is available to all Christians as they seek to obey God.
The pursuit of righteousness brings us into a closer and closer alignment with the character and nature of God.
Isaiah, another prophet of God, described a future time when “justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever” (Isaiah 32:16-17).
Righteousness—obedience to God—produces a positive change both in us and in the world around us. And ultimately, the family of God will be defined by that righteousness as it transforms a chaotic, uncertain world into one filled with peace, quietness and assurance forever.
Will you use these four spiritual laws?
These four spiritual laws are powerful and life-altering … but you don’t have to believe them.
You don’t even have to believe God. Do you know why? Because your beliefs have absolutely no impact on reality. The universe works the way God designed it to work, both physically and spiritually, and no one can change that. Not you, not Bob, not anyone.
We can ignore those laws, or we can work hard to put them to use in our own lives. Either way, the laws themselves aren’t going anywhere.
We can choose whether we’ll plant seeds of righteousness or sin in our lives—and we can rest assured that, in time, those seeds will grow. Sin earns us death, while righteousness brings us into a closer relationship with the God who loves us and wants us in His family.
These are the spiritual laws we need in order to get the most out of this life—and the next.
If we’re smart, we won’t let that go to waste.
Read more about the spiritual laws recorded in the Bible in our section “Biblical Laws.”