Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

July 31, 1901

A Perfect Law

God, the great governor of the universe, has put everything under law. The tiny flower and the towering oak, the grain of sand and the mighty ocean, sunshine and shower, wind and rain, all obey nature’s laws. But man has been placed under a higher law. He has been given an intellect to see, and a conscience to feel, the powerful claims of God’s great moral law, the expression of what He desires His children to be.

God has made known His will so plainly that none need err. He desires all to have a correct understanding of His law, to feel the power of its principles; for their eternal interests are here involved. He who has an understanding of the far-reaching claims of God’s law can understand something of the heinousness of sin. And the more exalted his ideas of God’s requirements, the greater will be his gratitude for the pardon granted him.

God’s law reaches the feelings and motives, as well as the outward acts. It reveals the secrets of the heart, flashing light upon things before buried in darkness. God knows every thought, every purpose, every plan, every motive. The books of heaven record the sins that would have been committed had there been opportunity. God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing. By His law He measures the character of every man. As the artist transfers to the canvas the features of the face, so the features of each individual character are transferred to the books of heaven. God has a perfect photograph of every man’s character, and this photograph He compares with His law. He reveals to man the defects that mar his life, and calls upon him to repent and turn from sin.

There are those who say, “Give me Christ, but I want nothing of the law.” They talk of the grace of Christ, but they know not the meaning of grace; for God does not use His grace to make void the law. Satan has confused their minds, leading them to look upon the law as a yoke of bondage, a hindrance to spirituality. They talk of faith, but they know not the meaning of the word; for faith is never found apart from truth. The peace which they boast their faith gives them is but self-righteous confidence. Let no one claim that he has been accepted by Christ, and is living without sin, while at the same time he is, like Lucifer, waging war against God’s law, aiding the enemy in the very work which he commenced in heaven and is carrying forward on this earth.

Thousands today are transgressing God’s law, advocating the ideas which for ages Satan has been manufacturing. Like the proud Pharisees, they are ignorant both of the Scriptures and of the power of God. Wrapped in the darkness of unbelief, they refuse to search the Scriptures for themselves. They accept fables in the place of truth. They claim God’s promises while they break His precepts. In the last great day they will say to Christ, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name cast out devils, and in Thy name done many wonderful works?” But Christ will answer, “I never knew you; depart from Me.”

The natural heart rebels against the requirements of God’s law. It was the law against which Satan fought in heaven, and those who are controlled by him will hate its principles. But let them remember that when they cast reproach at the law, they cast reproach at Him with whom the law originated. He who while trampling on the law of God claims that Christ has forgiven his sins, knows not of what he is talking. John declares that sin is the transgression of the law. If there were no law, there would be no sin. Those who claim to love Christ, while at the same time they refuse to obey Him, are like fountains which send forth impure water. Professing to follow Christ, they do the work of the adversary. Their faith is dead; for it is unsupported by good works. They can no more be saved by their faith than can the fallen angels, who believe and tremble, by their faith.

For the highest good of His creatures, God has given a perfect law, a law that demands perfect obedience. God compels no one to obey this law. He leaves men free to decide whether they will obey and receive the reward of obedience, or disobey and receive the punishment of transgression.

Let us study God’s law in connection with the work of Christ. Man broke the law. Christ came to this earth to make an atonement for transgression. His atonement was complete in every part. As He hung on the cross, He could say, “It is finished.” The demands of justice were satisfied. The way to the throne of grace was opened for every sinner.

The law stands firm, and justice sternly points the sinner to its holy precepts. It is not the province of the law to save the sinner, but to condemn, not to pardon, but to convict. It can not be changed to meet man in his fallen condition. Then how is God’s justice to be satisfied and His favor obtained? Not by works; “for by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight.” In his own strength the sinner can not meet the demands of God. He must go for help to the One who paid the ransom for him. It is impossible for him of himself to keep the law. But Christ can give him strength to do this. The Saviour came to this world and in human flesh lived a life of perfect obedience, that the sinner might stand before God justified and accepted.

Christ is our hope. Those who trust in Him are cleansed. The grace of Christ and the government of God walk together in perfect harmony. When Jesus became man’s substitute, mercy and truth met together, and righteousness and peace kissed each other. The cross of Calvary bears witness to the high claims of God’s law. Christ did not die to encourage man in rebellion against God, but to provide a way whereby he might keep the whole law. His garment of spotless righteousness clothes the repenting, believing sinner. He is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

Mrs. E. G. White

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