Handbook of SDA Theology

IX. Ellen G. White Comments

A. Humanity Before Sin

“In what consisted the strength of the assault made upon Adam, which caused his fall? It was not indwelling sin; for God made Adam after His own character, pure and upright. There were no corrupt principles in the first Adam, no corrupt propensities or tendencies to evil. Adam was as faultless as the angels before God’s throne” (1BC 1083). HSDAT 267.4

“It certainly was not God’s purpose that man should be sinful. He made Adam pure and noble, with no tendency to evil. He placed him in Eden, where he had every inducement to remain loyal and obedient. The law was placed around him as a safeguard” (ibid. 1084). HSDAT 267.5

B. The Origin of Sin

We need the authentic history of the origin of the earth, of the fall of Lucifer, and of the introduction of sin into the world. Without the Bible, we should be bewildered by false theories. The mind would be subjected to the tyranny of superstition and falsehood. But, having in our possession an authentic history of the beginning of the world, we need not hamper ourselves with human conjectures and unreliable theories” (2MCP 742). HSDAT 267.6

“It is impossible to explain the origin of sin so as to give a reason for its existence … . Nothing is more plainly taught in Scripture than that God was in no wise responsible for the entrance of sin; that there was no arbitrary withdrawal of divine grace, no deficiency in the divine government, that gave occasion for the uprising of rebellion” (GC 492, 493). HSDAT 267.7

“Adam yielded to temptation and as we have the matter of sin and its consequence laid so distinctly before us, we can read from cause to effect and see the greatness of the act is not that which constitutes sin; but the disobedience of God’s expressed will, which is a virtual denial of God, refusing the laws of His government” (1BC 1083). HSDAT 267.8

C. The Nature and Essence of Sin

“When man sinned, all heaven was filled with sorrow; for through yielding to temptation, man became the enemy of God, a partaker of the Satanic nature” (ST Feb. 13, 1893). HSDAT 267.9

“It is not safe for us to enter into controversy with Satan, or to linger to contemplate the advantages to be reaped by yielding to his suggestions. Sin is blinding and deceiving in its nature. Disobedience to God’s commandments is too terrible to be contemplated for a moment. Sin means dishonour and disaster to every soul that indulges in transgression of God’s holy law, which is immutable” (RH Oct. 9, 1894). HSDAT 267.10

“The aggravating character of sin against such a God cannot be estimated any more than the heavens can be measured with a span. God is a moral governor as well as a Father. He is the Lawgiver. He makes and executes His laws. Law that has no penalty is of no force” (LDE 241). HSDAT 268.1

“All sin is selfishness. Satan’s first sin was a manifestation of selfishness. He sought to grasp power, to exalt self. A species of insanity led him to seek to supersede God. And the temptation that led Adam to sin was Satan’s declaration that it was possible for man to attain to something more than he already enjoyed—possible for him to be as God Himself. The sowing of seeds of selfishness in the human heart was the first result of the entrance of sin into the world” (7MR 232, 233). HSDAT 268.2

“Man was originally endowed with noble powers and a well-balanced mind. He was perfect in his being, and in harmony with God. His thoughts were pure, his aims holy. But through disobedience, his powers were perverted, and selfishness took the place of love. His nature became so weakened through transgression that it was impossible for him, in his own strength, to resist the power of evil. He was made captive by Satan, and would have remained so forever had not God specially interposed” (SC 17). HSDAT 268.3

D. Consequences of Sin

“Sin not only shuts away from God, but destroys in the human soul both the desire and the capacity for knowing Him. Through sin, the whole human organism is deranged, the mind is perverted, the imagination corrupted; the faculties of the soul degraded. There is an absence of pure religion, of heart holiness. The converting power of God has not wrought in transforming the character. The soul is weak, and for want of moral force to overcome is polluted and debased” (PK 233). HSDAT 268.4

“Every act of transgression, every neglect or rejection of the grace of Christ, is reacting upon yourself; it is hardening the heart, depraving the will, benumbing the understanding, and not only making you less inclined to yield, but less capable of yielding, to the tender pleading of God’s Holy Spirit” (SC 33). HSDAT 268.5

“[Sin] defaces the divine image, frustrates God’s purpose in man’s existence, degrades his God-given powers, narrows his capacity, leads to unholy imaginations, and gives loose rein to unsanctified passions. Sin! how hateful in the sight of God! Holy angels look upon it with abhorrence” (RH June 3, 1880). HSDAT 268.6

“Man through sin has been severed from the life of God. His soul is palsied through the machinations of Satan, the author of sin. Of himself he is incapable of sensing sin, incapable of appreciating and appropriating the divine nature. Were it brought within his reach there is nothing in it that his natural heart would desire it. The bewitching power of Satan is upon him. All the ingenious subterfuges the devil can suggest are presented to his mind to prevent every good impulse. Every faculty and power given him of God has been used as a weapon against the divine Benefactor. So, although He loves him, God cannot safely impart to him the gifts and blessings He desires to bestow” (6BC 1099). HSDAT 268.7

“The sin of man has brought the sure result—decay, deformity, and death. Today the whole world is tainted, corrupted, stricken with mortal disease. The earth groaneth under the continual transgression of the inhabitants thereof” (1BC 1085). HSDAT 268.8

“To the angels there seemed to be no way of escape for the transgressor. They ceased their songs of praise, and throughout the heavenly courts there was mourning for the ruin sin had wrought. Out of harmony with the nature of God, unyielding to the claims of His law, naught but destruction was before the human race. Since the divine law is as changeless as the character of God, there could be no hope for man unless some way could be devised whereby his transgression might be pardoned, his nature renewed, and his spirit restored to reflect the image of God. Divine love had conceived such a plan” (ST Feb. 13, 1893). HSDAT 268.9

E. The Extent and Elimination of Sin

“Justice demands that sin be not merely pardoned, but the death penalty must be executed. God, in the gift of His only-begotten Son, met both these requirements. By dying in man’s stead, Christ exhausted the penalty and provided a pardon” (AG 139). HSDAT 269.1

“The death of Christ upon the cross made sure the destruction of him who has the power of death, who was the originator of sin. When Satan is destroyed, there will be none to tempt to evil; the atonement will never need to be repeated; and there will be no danger of another rebellion in the universe of God. That which alone can effectually restrain from sin in this world of darkness will prevent sin in heaven. The significance of the death of Christ will be seen by saints and angels. Fallen men could not have a home in the paradise of God without the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (5BC 1132). HSDAT 269.2

“Behold the cross of Calvary. There is Jesus, who gave His life, not that men might continue in sin, not that they may have license to break the law of God, but that through this infinite sacrifice they may be saved from all sin” (TM 161, 162). HSDAT 269.3

We must realize that through belief in Him it is our privilege to be partakers of the divine nature, and so escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. Then we are cleansed from all sin, all defects of character. We need not retain one sinful propensity … . As we partake of the divine nature, hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong are cut away from the character, and we are made a living power for good” (7BC 943). HSDAT 269.4

F. Implications for Christian Life

“Notwithstanding our unworthiness, we are to remember that there is One who can take away sin, and who is willing and anxious to save the sinner. With His own blood He paid the penalty for all wrongdoers. Every sin acknowledged before God with a contrite heart, He will remove” (ibid. 970). HSDAT 269.5

“Do you believe that Christ, as your substitute, pays the debt of your transgression? Not, however, that you may continue in sin, but that you may be saved from your sins; that you, through the merits of His righteousness, may be reinstated to the favor of God. Do you know that a holy and just God will accept your efforts to keep His law, through the merits of His own beloved Son who died for your rebellion and sin?” (RH July 24, 1888). HSDAT 269.6

“To follow the word of the Lord, to embrace the truth, involves cross-bearing and self-denial; but it is not safe to do otherwise than to bear the cross. As you see the light, walk in the light. Let a solemn, unalterable purpose take possession of you, and resolve in the strength and grace of God, that henceforth you will live for Him, and that no earthly consideration shall persuade you to disown the divine law of ten commandments, and thus disown your Saviour and your God. Seek your counsel of God, and you will find that the path of obedience to His commandments is the path of the just, that ‘shineth more and more unto the perfect day.’ ” (RH Oct. 9, 1894). HSDAT 269.7

“The Christian life is a warfare … . In this conflict of righteousness against unrighteousness we can be successful only by divine aid. Our finite will must be brought into submission to the will of the Infinite; the human will must be blended with the divine. This will bring the Holy Spirit to our aid; and every conquest will tend to the recovery of God’s purchased possession, to the restoration of His image in the soul” (MYP 55). HSDAT 269.8

Berkhof, L. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1941. HSDAT 270.1

———. The History of Christian Doctrines. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975. HSDAT 270.2

Berkouwer, G. C. Sin. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971. HSDAT 270.3

Bromiley, Geoffrey W. and others, eds. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979. HSDAT 270.4

Brunner, Emil, Man in Revolt: A Christian Anthropology. Trans. Olive Wyon. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1947. HSDAT 270.5

Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Ed. Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990. HSDAT 270.6

Guthrie, Donald. New Testament Theology. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1981. HSDAT 270.7

Kittel, G., and G. Friedrich, eds. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. 9 vols. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964–1974. HSDAT 270.8

Ladd, George E. A Theology of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974. HSDAT 270.9

The New International Dictionary of the Bible. Ed. Merrill C. Tenney. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1963. HSDAT 270.10

Neufeld, Don F., ed. The Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1976. HSDAT 270.11

Niebuhr, Reinhold. The Nature and Destiny of Man. 2 vols. New York: Charles Scribner & Sons, 1964. HSDAT 270.12

Schaff, Phillip. The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series. 14 vols. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971. HSDAT 270.13

“Sin.” Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962. HSDAT 270.14

Strong, Augustus H. Systematic Theology. 3 vols. Valley Forge, Pa.: Judson, 1961. HSDAT 270.15

Whidden II, Woodrow W. The Soteriology of Ellen G. White. Ph.D. dissertation, Drew University, 1989. HSDAT 270.16

Wilson, William. New Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1987. HSDAT 270.17