The Review and Herald

553/1902

November 18, 1890

A Peculiar People

EGW

The law of God is the only genuine standard for the measurement of character. Christ displayed to the world by his life and teaching, by his divine character, what obedience to the law means. He was man's example; but man cannot set up a standard for himself. Man is ignorant of the infinite purity of God, and without divine enlightenment he cannot appreciate the holy exactions of the law of God. While he is ignorant of the uncompromising character of God's law, he is unconcerned about his defective, sinful character. He fears nothing, he has no disquietude, because he measures himself by a false standard. RH November 18, 1890, par. 1

How many cry, “Believe, only believe. Peace, peace,” and fail to arouse conviction, or to convert men from the error of their way, because of their superficial knowledge of the claims of God's law. Men in this condition make a claim of perfection, but such perfection is simply ignorance of imperfection, lack of perception as to what is required by the law of Jehovah. The peace that may come from such self-satisfaction is a false peace. When the truth comes in contact with such persons, their peace is disturbed, and they make it manifest that they have not the peace of Christ. RH November 18, 1890, par. 2

The enemy of Christ, who rebelled against God's law in heaven, has, as a skilled, trained general, worked with all his power, bringing out one device after another, full of deception, to make of none effect the law of God, the only true detector of sin, the standard of righteousness. The great mass of mankind are thoughtless, careless, irreverent, and they do not concern themselves with serious thoughts as to the things of eternal importance. One reason for the state of carelessness in society is that the Christian world itself has made void the law of God. Large numbers claim sanctification who will not hear to the binding obligation of the divine precepts. They are willfully ignorant of the attributes of God, ignorant of the law, ignorant of what constitutes genuine religion, and ignorant of their own sinful, defective characters. If the truth as it is in Jesus should flash upon their hearts, they would be constrained to cry out, “Unclean, unclean.” They would, if candid, have to repent of their transgression of God's law; for “by the law is the knowledge of sin;” they would have to exercise faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, whose blood alone can cleanse from all sin. Then they would have the peace of Christ. Righteousness and peace would meet together in their experience, and they would be able to become symmetrical Christians. They would have the peace that passeth understanding. RH November 18, 1890, par. 3

There are many who seem to imagine that outside observances are sufficient for salvation; but formalism, rigorous attendance on religious exercises, will fail to bring the peace of God which passeth understanding. It is Jesus alone who can give us peace. He says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” The peace of Christ cannot be disturbed by the presentation of truth, for it is in harmony with the spirit of truth. RH November 18, 1890, par. 4

Those who are self-righteous, who claim that they are saved, are not always patterns of piety. We have found that those who say most concerning their sanctification, are most opposed to the principles of God's law. Satan often deludes the mind, and men are led to erect false standards of their own, whereby they measure character. They exalt their own ideas, boast of their attainments, of their assurance, and place all their confidence in their feelings. They do not find a foundation for their faith in the word of God. Many have a fanciful religion. They talk of God's love, claiming that he is not severe and exacting, but long-suffering and lenient; at the same time, they echo the suggestion of Satan, “Hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? ... Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” It was though he had declared that God's threatening was all a pretense, and man need not be alarmed, for God would not be so severe and exacting. The very same reasoning is employed today in the Christian world. When the claims of the law are presented, men begin to frame excuses for continuing in disobedience, stating that God will not punish them for the breaking of his precepts. But let us think of it soberly. Will God change his holy law to suit my convenience? Will he sanction sin, and countenance disobedience? If God had a character of this kind, we could not reverence him. His authority could not be respected. Every transgression of God's law will be visited with its penalty upon the transgressor. The wages of sin is death. God is jealous for the honor of his law; it is the foundation of his government in heaven and earth, and it will stand throughout eternal ages. The prophet declares, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Sin is the transgression of the law. But, again, it is written for the comfort and salvation of the penitent: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” RH November 18, 1890, par. 5

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” God cannot change his law in order to save men; he cannot alter it to save the world; but he has not refused to give his own Son, that men might have another probation, and become heirs of heaven. Jesus took humanity upon him, and in so doing what honor he placed upon the race! He suffered as a man, he was tempted as men are tempted, yet without sin. He was made sin for us, though he knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. He “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” RH November 18, 1890, par. 6

Let us call to mind what is due to our Lord from his professed followers, and not be deceived by our own hearts. The truth exerts a purifying, refining influence upon our characters, that we may be sanctified through it; and we must permit it to work reformation in our life, if we would bear the title, the “peculiar people” of God. RH November 18, 1890, par. 7

The age in which we live is one of temptation, and if the people of God stand clear from the corrupting influences around them, they will be termed, “peculiar,” “old-fashioned,” and “odd.” But God has declared that he is purifying to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. If the truth is brought into the character, it will have a sanctifying power upon the life. But those who claim to believe the truth, and yet imitate the world in its practices, and go contrary to the word of God, manifesting selfishness in their business relations, are bodies of darkness. They encourage sin, and are full of hypocrisy. Everything God's people do should be as transparent as sunlight. Escaping detection does not justify crime, and make it honesty and righteousness. Temptations are surrounding us on every side, and our only safety is in becoming in reality the peculiar people whom God is cleansing from all iniquity, redeeming unto himself, to be to him an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of his glory. RH November 18, 1890, par. 8