EGW & The Moral Law of God

June 5, 1901 The Moral Law.

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily, I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” {ST, June 5, 1901 par. 1}

A government, of whatever character, requires a governor. This world has a governor,–the God of the universe. His guardian-care is universal, extending to man and beast, reaching even to the little sparrow; for Christ declares, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” {ST, June 5, 1901 par. 2}

In God’s moral government, which is a government based upon a distinction between right and wrong, law is essential to secure right action. God’s law is the expression of His character, and in His Word it is pronounced holy, just, and good. David says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” {ST, June 5, 1901 par. 3}

Lucifer took the position that as a result of the law of God, wrong existed in heaven and on this earth. This brought against God’s government the charge of being arbitrary. But this is a falsehood, framed by the author of all falsehoods. God’s government is a government of free-will, and there is no act of rebellion or obedience which is not an act of free-will. {ST, June 5, 1901 par. 4}

As Creator of all, God is governor over all, and He is bound to enforce His law throughout the universe. To require less from His creatures than obedience to His law would be to abandon them to ruin. To fail to punish transgression of His law would be to place the universe in confusion. The moral law is God’s barrier between the human agent and sin. Thus infinite wisdom has placed before men the distinction between right and wrong, between sin and holiness. {ST, June 5, 1901 par. 5}

God is supreme. It is not for finite man to question His right to govern the universe. God asserted His right to rule when He declared, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me;” “for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is.” He is the Creator and the Preserver of the worlds. He upholds the universe by the word of His power. Nature and science bear witness that He has a right to govern His own creation. Angels are subject to His rule; therefore let man bow in adoration before Him. {ST, June 5, 1901 par. 6}

The Scriptures make it plain that God is Ruler, and that man is under the highest obligation to acknowledge this, and to obey His law with heart and mind, trusting in His power for help and protection. This law which man is called upon to obey as the standard of right for the universe, is the wise and holy counsel of God. It is a moral law, and has its foundation in the difference between right and wrong. Moral law is universal; positive law is not necessarily universal, but may be restricted or extended according to the will of the law-giver. Moral law must be immutable, while positive law may be changed or abolished, as the law-giver may choose. {ST, June 5, 1901 par. 7}

The Decalog, or moral code of God, consists of ten precepts, engraven on stone by the finger of God. These precepts contain the whole duty of man. The first four define man’s duty to his God; the last six man’s duty to his fellow-man. These two great principles were recognized by the Saviour; for He declared that the whole law hung upon love to God and love to man. Other commands may be found in the Scriptures, but only as an amplification of those contained in the ten precepts of the Decalog. {ST, June 5, 1901 par. 8}

Christ’s work was to rid the commandments of the traditions and customs placed upon them by the Jewish teachers. The work of covering the law with useless exactions had been planned by the adversary of God, in order that Christ’s pure ministry should not harmonize with the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees. The Jewish leaders had yielded to the temptation to depart from the Lord, and while by their forms and ceremonies making the law a yoke of bondage which the people were not able to bear, they failed to follow its great principles. This led Christ to declare, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” {ST, June 5, 1901 par. 9}

At the opening of His ministry, Christ, in His Sermon on the Mount, gave an exposition of the law, which had long been buried under man-made customs and traditions. He brought to light its pure principles, freeing it from the burdensome exactions placed upon it by man. As He showed the far-reaching claims of the law, the Pharisees saw that their pet theories were being swept away by His plain statements. Jealousy took possession of their hearts; for they felt that their teaching and influence were being made of no effect. In their hearts they had so long mingled human tradition with divine commands that when Christ disregarded these traditions, they thought that He was making void the law. But Christ read their thoughts, and suddenly they were startled by the words, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” {ST, June 5, 1901 par. 10}

With all the exalted influence and glory he possessed before the fall, Satan could not change the smallest letter of the law; and as an apostate and traitor, he has still been unable to alter it. If he has succeeded in his purpose of gaining the professed Christian world to his side, and if the world and the church have formed a bond of fellowship to make void the law of God, this does not prove that it has been changed. To admit that God made a law so imperfect that it needed to be changed would be to stamp God as changeable and imperfect. God has spoken on this point. Let us heed what He says: “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of My lips.” {ST, June 5, 1901 par. 11}

Christ, in His teaching, fully developed the principles of the law, making it plain that it does not concern the outward actions merely, but has to do with the heart, reaching even to the unspoken thoughts. Christ exalted the law, holding it forth in its original purity as a perfect system of morality. His life was a living illustration of the law of God. He made this law honorable by His perfect conformity to its requirements. {ST, June 5, 1901 par. 12}
God’s law, enforced in the Old and New Testaments, is an exclusive rule of duty. The objection sometimes brought against the law, that nowhere in the New Testament are all the commandments of the Decalog specified, has no force; for the expressions so often repeated “the law,” “the commandments of God,” mean the whole, not a part. {ST, June 5, 1901 par. 13}

The Lord has given this rule of righteousness,–the foundation of true religion,–and it must be obeyed. We might better sacrifice all our temporal interests,–houses, lands, riches, liberty, even life itself, than disobey the least of God’s commandments. The Saviour declares, “He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.” {ST, June 5, 1901 par. 14}

We have many noble examples of loyalty to the law in the history of the prophets and apostles, who endured imprisonment, torture, death itself, rather than break one of God’s commands. Peter and John have left a record as heroic as any in the Gospel dispensation. When called before the high priest, and commanded not to speak at all, nor to preach in the name of Jesus, they answered: “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we can not but speak the things which we have seen and heard. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people; for all men glorified God for that which was done.” When they were called a second time before the council, the Jewish leaders asked them, saying, “Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” In this answer we have evidence that no human authority has a right to place us under obligation to claims which will cause us to disobey our rightful Sovereign, whose subjects we claim to be. {ST, June 5, 1901 par. 15}

God has special regard for righteousness of character. In His Word we are told that He takes pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy. He commands the inhabitants of the earth to stand in awe of Him, and yet He invites the most lowly to seek Him, “if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, tho He be not far from every one of us.” {ST, June 5, 1901 par. 16}

By willing obedience to God’s commands, we show our love for Him. Thus we gain a fitness to be among that number of whom it will be said, “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in thru the gates into the city.” Mrs. E. G. White. {ST, June 5, 1901 par. 17}

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