The Review and Herald


September 27, 1881

The Exalted Position of the Law of God


“Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” RH September 27, 1881, par. 1

What a contrast between the words of the Divine Teacher, and the language of those who claim that Christ came to abrogate the Father's law, and to do away with the Old Testament! Our Saviour, who knew all things, understood the wiles of Satan, the snares by which he would seek to entrap the children of men, and hence made this positive statement to meet the questioning doubts and the blind unbelief of all coming time. RH September 27, 1881, par. 2

The ceremonial law, given by God through Moses, with its sacrifices and ordinances, was to be binding upon the Hebrews until type met antitype in the death of Christ as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. Then all the sacrificial offerings and services were to be abolished. Paul and the other apostles labored to show this, and resolutely withstood those Judaizing teachers who declared that Christians should observe the ceremonial law. RH September 27, 1881, par. 3

The law of ten precepts, spoken from Mount Sinai, Christ himself declares that he came not to destroy. This testimony should forever settle the question. The law of God is as immutable as the throne of Jehovah. It will maintain its claims upon all mankind in all ages, unchanged by time or place or circumstances. The ritual system was of an altogether different character, added to guard the ten precepts of the Eternal. RH September 27, 1881, par. 4

Christ declares, that he came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill,—“to magnify the law and make it honorable,” as Isaiah, hundreds of years before, had prophesied would be the Messiah's work. RH September 27, 1881, par. 5

“To fulfill the law.” By his own life he gives the children of men an example of perfect obedience to that law. In the sermon on the mount he made clear and distinct its every precept, in order to sweep away the rubbish of erroneous tradition, with which the Jews had encumbered its sacred statutes, to illustrate and enforce its principles, and to show in all its particulars the length and breadth and height and depth of the righteousness required by the law of God. RH September 27, 1881, par. 6

The Pharisees were dissatisfied with the teachings of Christ. The practical godliness which he enjoined condemned them. They desired him to dwell upon the external observances of the ceremonial law, and the customs and traditions of the fathers. But Jesus teaches the spiritual nature of the law and its far-reaching claims. Love to God and to men must dwell in the heart and control the life,—the spring of every thought and every action. RH September 27, 1881, par. 7

Christ declares, “Verily I say unto you,”—making the assertion as emphatic as possible,—“Till Heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.” Here Christ teaches, not merely what had been and were then the claims of God's law upon mankind, but what shall be its claims so long as the heavens and the earth remain. RH September 27, 1881, par. 8

There is perfect harmony between the law of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. “I and my Father are one,” says the Great Teacher. The gospel of Christ is the good news of grace, or favor, by which man may be released from the condemnation of sin, and enabled to render obedience to the law of God. The gospel points to the moral code as a rule of life. That law, by its demands for undeviating obedience, is continually pointing the sinner to the gospel for pardon and peace. RH September 27, 1881, par. 9

Says the great apostle, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid. Yea, we establish the law.” And again he declares that “the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” Enjoining supreme love to God, and equal love to our fellow-men, it is indispensable alike to the glory of God and to human happiness. RH September 27, 1881, par. 10

After the fall, it had been impossible for man with his sinful nature to render obedience to the law of God, had not Christ, by the offer of his own life, purchased the right to lift up the race where they could once more work in harmony with its requirements. RH September 27, 1881, par. 11

There are persons professing to be ministers of Christ, who declare with the utmost assurance that no man ever did or ever can keep the law of God. But, according to the Scriptures, Christ “took upon himself our nature,” he “was made in fashion as a man.” He was man's example, man's representative, and he declares of himself, “I have kept my Father's commandments.” The beloved disciple urges that every follower of Christ “ought himself also so to walk even as He walked.” All who are Christ's will follow the example of Christ. All who justify the sinner in his transgression of God's law, belong to that class of whom our Saviour said, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called the least in the kingdom of Heaven.” They can have no part with Him who came to magnify the law and make it honorable. They are deceiving the people with their sophistry,—saying to the sinner, “It shall be well with thee,” when God has declared that “the soul that sinneth [“transgresseth the law”] it shall die.” RH September 27, 1881, par. 12

Christ's words are both explicit and comprehensive. “Whosoever”—minister or layman, wise or ignorant—“shall break one of these least commandments”—willfully or presumptuously, as did Adam and Eve—is included in the condemnation. Breaking one of the commandments makes man a commandment-breaker. RH September 27, 1881, par. 13

“Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” No excuse can avail for him who strictly obeys nine of the precepts of God's law, but ventures to break one because it is for his profit or convenience to do so. God demands implicit obedience to all his requirements. RH September 27, 1881, par. 14

“And shall teach men so.” This is a point worthy of careful consideration. Christ foresaw that men would not only break the commandments of God themselves, but would in a special sense teach others to break them. Every Sabbath-breaker is by his example teaching others to transgress. But some are not content with this. They defend the sin of breaking the fourth commandment, and pervert the word of God to justify the transgressor. Such persons shall be of no esteem in the reign of Heaven,—shall have no part there. But the greatest guilt rests upon the professed watchmen, and they will receive the severest punishment. They are in the highest sense enemies of Christ, as they put on, over corrupt hearts, the livery of Heaven to serve the devil in. They do not hesitate to speak evil of the law, and even make those who do not study the Bible for themselves, believe that the curse of God is upon them if they keep it. All we have to do, say they, is to believe in Christ,—come to Christ. The most fatal delusion of the Christian world in this generation is, that in pouring contempt on the law of God they think they are exalting Christ. What a position! In so doing, they array Christ against Christ. It was Christ who spoke the law from Sinai. It was Christ who gave the law to Moses, engraven on tables of stone. It was his Father's law; and Christ says, “I and my Father are one.” The Pharisees held the reverse of the modern-position, but were in just as great an error. They rejected Christ, but exalted the law. And it makes little difference which position we take, so long as we ignore the true one,—that faith in Christ must be accompanied by obedience to the law of God. RH September 27, 1881, par. 15

Now, while we point the sinner to Jesus Christ as the one who can take away sin, we must explain to him what sin is, and show him the necessity of being saved from his sins, not in them. He must be made to feel that he must cease to transgress the law of God, which is to cease to sin. Paul makes the inquiry many years after the death of Christ, “Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law; for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” Thus saying, Paul exalts the moral law. When this law is practically carried out in every-day life, it is found indeed to be the wisdom of God. It serves to detect sin. It discovers the defects in the moral character, and in the light of the law sin becomes exceeding sinful, revealing its true character in all its hideousness. RH September 27, 1881, par. 16

The law of God given from Sinai is a copy of the mind and will of the Infinite God. It is sacredly revered by the holy angels. Obedience to its requirements will perfect Christian character, and restore man, through Christ, to his condition before the fall. RH September 27, 1881, par. 17

The sins forbidden in the law could never find place in Heaven. It was the love of God to man that prompted him to express his will in the ten precepts of the decalogue. And when, through sin, man's understanding became darkened, God came down upon Mount Sinai and spoke his law with an audible voice, and wrote it on tables of stone. Afterward he showed his love for man by sending prophets and teachers to declare his law. RH September 27, 1881, par. 18

God has given man a complete rule of life in his law. Obeyed, he shall live by it, through the merits of Christ. Transgressed, it has power to condemn. The law sends men to Christ, and Christ points them back to the law. RH September 27, 1881, par. 19