In giving his only begotten Son to die for sinners, God has manifested to fallen man love that is without a parallel. We have full faith in the scripture that says, “God is love;” and yet many have shamefully perverted this word, and have fallen into dangerous error because of a false interpretation of its meaning. God’s holy law is the only standard by which we can estimate divine affection. If we do not accept the law of God as our standard, we set up a standard of our own. God has given us precious promises of his love, but we are not to ascribe to Jehovah a tenderness that will lead him to pass over guilt and wink at iniquity.
The Creator loves his creatures, but he who loves sin more than righteousness, error more than truth, perpetuates the transgression that brought woe into our world, and cannot be regarded with favor by the God of truth. The way of truth and righteousness involves a cross. Many misinterpret the requirements of God, and make them mean anything that will not disturb their consciences or inconvenience them in their business relations; but truth is the only sanctifying medium. The love of God as manifested in Jesus, will lead us to the true conception of the character of God. As we behold Christ, pierced for our sins, we shall see that we cannot break the law of God and remain in his favor; we shall feel that as sinners we must lay hold of the merits of Christ and cease to sin. Then we are drawing nigh to God. As soon as we have a correct view of the love of God, we shall have no disposition to abuse it.
The cross of Christ testifies to the immutability of the law of God–testifies that God so loved us that he gave his Son to die for our sins; but Christ came not to destroy but to fulfill the law. Not one jot or tittle of God’s moral standard could be changed to meet man in his fallen condition. Jesus died that he might ascribe unto the repenting sinner his own righteousness, and make it possible for man to keep the law. The love of God is infinite, and yet the sinner could not be forgiven save through the plan of redemption that involved the shame, reproach, ignominy, and death of the Son of God;. This fact should banish from reasoning minds the idea advanced by many who claim sanctification, that his death put an end to obedience to the law of God. We are to learn daily of the great plan of redemption, in the school of Christ. When we cease to learn, we cease to be pupils in Christ’s school. But if we are scholars under the divine Master, our understanding will be opened, and we shall learn wondrous things out of God’s law.
Let us walk carefully before the Lord; let us think how often we have broken our vows and marred our best resolutions, how often in the face of great light we have turned from God and sought our idols. It is highly proper for us to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. It is natural for us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think; but although it is painful for us to know ourselves as we really are, yet we should pray that God will reveal us to ourselves, even as he sees us. But we should not cease to pray when we have simply asked for a revelation of ourselves; we should pray that Jesus may be revealed to us as a sin-pardoning Saviour. When we see Jesus as he is, earnest desires should awaken in our hearts to be rid of self, that we may be filled with all the fullness of Christ. When this is our experience, we shall do good to one another, and use all the means within our reach to attain unto godliness. We must cleanse our souls from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and perfect holiness in the fear of God.
The love of a holy God is an amazing principle, which can stir the universe in our behalf during the hours of our probation and trial. But after the season of our probation, if we are found transgressors of God’s law, the God of love will be found a minister of vengeance. God makes no compromise with sin. The disobedient will be punished. The wrath of God fell upon his beloved Son Christ hung upon the cross of Calvary in the transgressor’s place. The love of God now reaches out to embrace the lowest, vilest sinner that will come to Christ with contrition. It reaches out to transform the sinner into an obedient, faithful child of God; but not a soul can be saved if he continues in sin. Sin is the transgression of the law, and the Arm that is now mighty to save will be strong to punish when the transgressor passes the bounds that limit divine forbearance. He who refuses to seek for life, who will not search the Scriptures to see what is truth, lest he should be condemned in his practices, will be left to blindness of mind and to the deceptions of Satan. To the same degree that the penitent and obedient are shielded by God’s love, the impenitent and disobedient will be left to the result of their own ignorance and hardness of heart, because they receive not the love of the truth that they may be saved.
There are many who profess Christ, but who never become mature Christians. They admit that man is fallen, that his faculties are weakened, that he is unfitted for moral achievement, but they say that Christ has borne all the burden, all the suffering, all the self-denial, and they are willing to let him bear it. They say that there is nothing for them to do but to believe; but Christ said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Jesus kept the commandments of God. The Pharisees declared that he broke the fourth commandment because he made a man every whit whole on the Sabbath day; but Jesus turned to the accusing Pharisees, and asked, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it? And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so; and his hand was restored whole as the other. And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do with Jesus.”
This miracle, instead of convincing the Pharisees that Jesus was the Son of God, filled them with rage, because many who witnessed the miracle glorified God. Jesus declared that his work of mercy was lawful on the Sabbath day. The Pharisees declared that it was not lawful. Which shall we believe? Christ said, “I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” Then it is certainly safe for us to follow the way of Christ, and keep the commandments. God has given us faculties which should be constantly exercised in co-operating with Jesus, in working out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in us to will and to do of his good pleasure.
We are never to rest in a satisfied condition, and cease to make advancement, saying, “I am saved.” When this idea is entertained, the motives for watchfulness, for prayer, for earnest endeavor to press onward to higher attainments, cease to exist. No sanctified tongue will be found uttering these words till Christ shall come, and we enter in through the gates into the city of God. Then, with the utmost propriety, we may give glory to God and to the Lamb for eternal deliverance. As long as man is full of weakness,–for of himself he cannot save his soul,–he should never dare to say, “I am saved.” It is not he that putteth on the armor that can boast of the victory; for he has the battle to fight and the victory to win. It is he that endureth unto the end that shall be saved. The Lord says, “If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” If we do not go forward from victory to victory, the soul will draw back to perdition. We should raise no human standard whereby to measure character. We have seen enough of what men call perfection here below. God’s holy law is the only thing by which we can determine whether we are keeping his way or not. If we are disobedient, our characters are out of harmony with God’s moral rule of government, and it is stating a falsehood to say, “I am saved.” No one is saved who is a transgressor of the law of God, which is the foundation of his government in heaven and in earth.
Those who ignorantly join the ranks of the enemy, and echo the words of their religious teachers, in the desk, that the law of God is no longer binding upon the human family, will have light to discover their errors, if they will accept the evidence of God’s word. Jesus was the angel enshrouded in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, and he gave special direction that the Hebrews should teach the law of God, given when the foundation of the earth was laid, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy. The same law was proclaimed in grandeur by his own voice from Sinai. He said: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.” How impatient the transgressors of God’s law become when the law is mentioned; they are irritated to have it spoken of.
The word of God is made of none effect by falsehoods and traditions. Satan has presented his version of God’s law to the world, and it has been accepted before a plain “Thus saith the Lord.” The controversy begun in heaven over the law of God, has been kept up upon the earth ever since Satan’s expulsion from heaven.
We must ever be learning our great need, in order to appreciate our Saviour, and to make him known to others. We can learn the depths of our transgression only by the length of the chain let down to draw us up. We should put our mental powers to the task to understand the fearful ruin to which sin has brought us, and we should seek to understand the divine plan by which we may be restored to the favor of God. That God’s dear Son should have come to our world to fight our battles for us that we might have strength to conquer in his name, should ever humble our proud hearts. If we look to the cross of Calvary, every boast will die upon our lips, and we shall cry, “Unclean, unworthy of so great suffering, of so rich a price paid for my redemption.”
Ignorance and self-sufficiency go hand in hand. The law of God has been given for the regulation of our conduct, and it is far-reaching in its principles. There is no sin, no work of unrighteousness, that escapes the condemnation of the law. The great statute-book is truth, and truth only; for it delineates with unerring accuracy the history of Satan’s deception, and the ruin of his followers. Satan claimed to be able to present laws which were better than God’s statutes and judgments, and he was expelled from heaven. He has made a similar attempt upon earth. Ever since his fall he has put forth efforts to deceive the world, to lead men to ruin, that he might be revenged upon God because he was overcome and thrust down from heaven. His efforts to put himself and his devices where God should be, are most persevering and persistent. He has taken the world captive in his snare, and many even of the people of God are ignorant of his devices, and they give him all the opportunity he asks to work the ruin of souls. They do not manifest a burning zeal to lift up Jesus, and proclaim to the perishing multitudes, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!”
Those who are unacquainted with the laws of God’s government as expounded upon the mount, are unacquainted with the truth as it is in Jesus. Christ revealed the far-reaching principles of the law; he expounded every precept, and exhibited every demand in his example. He that knows the truth as it is in the law, knows the truth as it is in Jesus; and if through faith in Christ he renders obedience to the commandments of God, his life is hid with Christ in God. The knowledge of the claims of the law would crush out the last ray of hope from the soul if there were no Saviour provided for man; but the truth as it is in Jesus, is a savor of life unto life. God’s dear Son died that he might impute unto man his own righteousness, and not that he might be at liberty to break God’s holy law, as Satan tries to make men believe. Through faith in Christ, man may be in possession of moral power to resist evil.
The work of sanctification is the work of a lifetime; it must go on continually; but this work cannot go on in the heart while the light on any part of the truth is rejected or neglected. The sanctified soul will not be content to remain in ignorance, but will desire to walk in the light and to seek for greater light. As a miner digs for gold and silver, so the follower of Christ will seek for truth as for hidden treasures, and will press from light to a greater light, ever increasing in knowledge. He will continually grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. Self must be overcome. Every defect of character must be discerned in God’s great mirror. We may discover whether or not we are condemned by God’s standard of character. If you are condemned, there is but one course for you to pursue: you must repent toward God because of the transgression of his law, and have faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ as the one who only can cleanse from sin. If we would obtain heaven, we must be obedient to God’s holy requirements. Those who strive lawfully will not strive in vain. Only believe the truth as it is in Jesus, and you will be strengthened for the battle with the powers of darkness. The wrestlers of old strove to obtain a perishable crown, and should we not strive to win the crown that fadeth not away? Every art and device of Satan will be used to accomplish our ruin. If you sit down with the ease-loving ones, with the words on your lips, “I am saved,” and disregard the commandments of God, you will be eternally lost. There is truth in Jesus that is terrible to the ease-loving, do-nothing ones. There is truth in Jesus that is full of soothing joy to the obedient. It is the joy of the Holy Ghost. Be persuaded, then, to open the mind and heart, that you may see every ray of light shining from the throne of God. This is no time to be indifferent and careless and pleasure-loving. Christ is coming with power and great glory. Are you ready? Are you putting away your sins? Are you becoming sanctified through the truth in answer to the prayer of Christ? He prayed concerning his disciples, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”
Parents should bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, educating them to love to do the will of God. It is impossible for us to overestimate the advantages of youthful piety. The impressions received in youth are to many as enduring as eternity. It is in youth that the statutes and commandments of God are most easily inscribed on the tablets of the soul. The instruction of children has been greatly neglected; the righteousness of Christ has not been presented to them as it should have been. The time of probation is given us that we may perfect a character fit for eternity. How solemn is the thought, parents, that your children are in your hands to educate and train that they may develop characters which God will approve, or characters which Satan and his angels can play upon as they choose! Jesus spoke from the pillar of cloud and of fire, and bade his people instruct their children diligently concerning the commandments of God. Who are obeying this instruction? Who are seeking to make their children such as God will approve? Who keep the thought in mind that all the talents and gifts of their children belong to God, and should be wholly consecrated to his service? Hannah dedicated Samuel to the Lord, and God revealed himself to him in his childhood and youth. We must labor far more for our children and for the youth; for God will accept them to do great things in his name in teaching the truth to those in foreign lands, to those who are in the darkness of error and superstition. If you indulge your children, gratifying their selfish wishes; if you encourage in them the love of dress, and develop vanity and pride, you will do a work that will disappoint Jesus, who has paid an infinite price for their redemption. He desires that the children shall serve him with undivided affection.
Parents, there is a great work for you to do for Jesus, who has done everything for you. Take him as your guide and helper. God has not withheld from you the very best gift he had to give–his only begotten Son. Children and youth should not be hindered in coming to Jesus. Satan seeks to bind the children to himself as with bands of steel, and you can attain success in bringing them to Jesus only through determined personal effort. Children and youth should receive more earnest labor, for they are the hope of the church. Joseph, Daniel and his fellows, Samuel, David, John, and Timothy are shining examples that testify to the fact that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
We must make more earnest, decided efforts, if we would have the Lord Jesus abide with us as a counselor and helper. The light that shines from the Son of God on Calvary can lead every wanderer home. There is power in him to purify the heart and transform the character. Let every true Christian work for the children and youth, presenting before them the matchless loveliness of Jesus. Then the attractions and the illusions of the world will be eclipsed, and they will see no advantage to be gained in the path of disobedience.
— E.G. White, Review and Herald, June 17, 1890