The Signs of the Times


August 5, 1886

The Law in the Christian Age


After the ascension of Christ, when his followers no longer enjoyed his personal presence and instruction, his disciples took up the work where he left it; and the words of truth, as they received them from Him who spake as never man spake, have come down to us clothed with divine power. Paul declared that he had taught the Ephesians “publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peter and the other apostles preached the same gospel. ST August 5, 1886, par. 1

Why should the apostles teach repentance toward God?—Because the sinner is in trouble with the Father. He has transgressed the law; he must see his sin, and repent. What is his next work?—To look to Jesus, whose blood alone can cleanse from all sin. Faith in Christ is necessary; for there is no saving quality in law. The law condemns, but it cannot pardon the transgressor. The sinner must depend on the merits of the blood of Christ. “Let him take hold of my strength,” says our merciful Redeemer, “that he may make peace with me, and he shall make peace with me.” Our Lord declared that he would love most to whom most was forgiven; and he only will feel that he needs forgiveness who sees himself as he is, defiled by sin, a transgressor of God's holy law. He who has the fullest conviction of the sacred claims of the law, will most clearly see the enormity of his offenses, and will feel that he is indeed forgiven much. ST August 5, 1886, par. 2

We are nearing the close of time; and a broader, clearer light than others have been favored with shines upon us. The mists are rolling away, and if we are humble students of the divine word, its truths will be clearly revealed to us. But Satan and his host are warring against the commandments of God as never before. Every attempt is made to blind men's eyes to the truth. If it were possible, even the elect would be deceived. This is no common deception. Satan's great success consists in keeping men in ignorance of his devices; for then, through his subtlety, he can confuse the minds of the unwary, and, as it were, lead them blindfolded. He is close on the track of all who make profession of Bible truth. He is constantly planning their overthrow, and his temptations are soliciting them on every hand. ST August 5, 1886, par. 3

If there is one in a position to have a controlling influence over others, Satan works in a masterly manner to confuse that man's mind, and make right appear wrong, and wrong right. His suggestions are always designed to lessen the importance of God's requirements, and to set the mind at rest while the daily walk is contrary to the divine law, until finally the victim of his delusions flatters himself that he is walking with God, while he is all the time going contrary to his law. ST August 5, 1886, par. 4

Such persons think they have faith; but it is presumption. The great adversary has woven a snare for their feet; and when once they become entangled, he has no lack of agencies to involve them still more deeply in his toils. Thus the deception grows stronger and stronger until souls are involved in irretrievable ruin. ST August 5, 1886, par. 5

As Satan, the god of this world, tempted Christ in the wilderness, so he will tempt every son and daughter of Adam. Our faith will be proved, our motives and principles will be tested; and if we have not a daily, living experience in the truth, and a union with Christ, we shall be swept away from our steadfastness into the error of the wicked. ST August 5, 1886, par. 6

If we could always remember that Satan comes to us in disguise, his motives concealed, and he himself clad in garments of light, we would be on our guard, and would not fall a prey to his devices. A defense has been furnished us. Says the apostle: “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” ST August 5, 1886, par. 7

This is a safe armor, but it is not safer than we need; for the apostle continues: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places,” We should study the nature, character, and extent of this spiritual wickedness in high places, lest we become the dupes of the powers of darkness. But how difficult it is to awaken minds to realize the continual activity and great earnestness of our wily foe, notwithstanding the warnings and cautions of the Bible, and the experience of many who have been overthrown by his subtlety. The testimony loses its force; the warning passes out of the mind. Men cease to watch and pray; they do not solicit the aid of holy angels, who would lift up for them a standard against the enemy. ST August 5, 1886, par. 8

When this earth's history shall close, there will be only two divisions,—the righteous and the wicked. Every man, woman, and child will be found in one of these two armies. Jesus will be the leader of the righteous, and Satan of the opposing hosts. The angels who kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, are rebels against the law of God, and enemies to all who love and obey his commandments; and all who are breaking, and teaching others to break, the law of God, the foundation of his government in Heaven and on earth, are co-operating with these fallen angels in their work, and are marshaled under the same chief, who directs their operations in opposition to the government of God. These will seek to strengthen their forces by gathering as many as possible into their ranks; and they will annoy and harass, falsify and misrepresent, all whom they cannot influence to join them in their work. ST August 5, 1886, par. 9

When Christ was upon the earth, there were some who bitterly opposed him. They did not like his teaching; his holy life was a rebuke to them. The apostles had the same spirit of opposition to meet. Spies were upon the track of these early preachers of righteousness, who caught up every word where there was the least chance to wrest the meaning. Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, was an especial object of wrath. His work and its results were falsely stated. His enemies sought to excite the malice of both Jews and Gentiles; and had it not been for the care of God, through the ministration of holy angels, his life would have been sacrificed long before it was, and his work cut short. ST August 5, 1886, par. 10

God has a people in the world now, whom he has set for the defense of his law; and we need not be surprised, or in any way discouraged, if we have to meet the same spirit of enmity. Christ said to the religious teachers in his day: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” Why was this woe pronounced upon them? Was it because they kept the law of God?—No; “For ye shut up the kingdom of Heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” There are just such teachers now. They will not obey the plainest requirements of the word of God; and after they have turned from the light themselves, they use all their influence to lead others to reject it also. They will not enter the path of obedience, and they are very earnest to hedge up the way that others may not enter. ST August 5, 1886, par. 11

They pervert the Scriptures, even teaching that it is a denial of Christ to keep the moral law. Error is cherished as precious light, while plain truth, so clear and pointed in the word of God, marking out the course they should pursue, is regarded as an idle tale. They may be professedly serving Christ; but they have changed masters, and are wholly on the enemy's side. The reason is given by the apostle, when he says: “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” These false teachers manifest the same spirit toward those who keep the commandments of God that the scribes and Pharisees manifested toward Christ. ST August 5, 1886, par. 12

Some who are unacquainted with the Bible think that what the ministers tell them must be true. They do not, like the noble Bereans, search the Scriptures for themselves; but they accept the statements of those who have studied the word of God, not to learn the truth, but to sustain false doctrines, to justify their own theories. Many times these false theories are a jumble of inconsistencies; and if men would use their reason, and take the Bible as it reads, they would see the absurdity of their positions. The plain “Thus saith the Lord,” would dispel their errors, as the mist is dispelled by the glories of the rising sun. ST August 5, 1886, par. 13

As Protestants, the Bible, and the Bible alone, is the foundation of our faith; but by many “the Fathers” are quoted as authority. They do not come as humble learners in the school of Christ, saying, “Lord, what I know not, teach me. ‘Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.’” ST August 5, 1886, par. 14

Says the wise man: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Men may close their eyes to the plainest truths in the word of God, they may trample his law under their feet; but the law, instituted in the beginning, proclaimed from Sinai, and engraven on tables of stone, will judge them in the last day. ST August 5, 1886, par. 15

Basel, Switzerland.