Mind, Character and Personality/The Vital Function of God’s Laws
(A) The Decalogue
The knowledge of Guilt—The knowledge which God did not want our first parents to have was a knowledge of guilt. And when they accepted the assertions of Satan, which were false, disobedience and transgression were introduced into our world. This disobedience to God’s express command, this belief of Satan’s lie, opened the floodgates of woe upon the world.—The Review and Herald, April 5, 1898.
Nature Weakened—The transgression of God’s law brought woe and death in its train. Through disobedience man’s powers were perverted and selfishness took the place of love. His nature became so weakened that it was impossible for him to resist the power of evil, and the tempter saw being fulfilled his purpose to thwart the divine plan of man’s creation and fill the earth with misery and desolation. Men had chosen a ruler who chained them to his car as captives.—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 33 (1913).
God’s Law Easily Understood—There is no mystery in the law of God. The feeblest intellect can grasp these rules to regulate the life and form the character after the Divine Model. If the children of men would, to the best of their ability, obey this law, they would gain strength of (p.563) intellect and power of discernment to comprehend still more of God’s purposes and plans. And this advancement may not only be continued during the present life, but it may go forward during the eternal ages.—The Review and Herald, September 14, 1886.
Wonderful in Simplicity—How wonderful in its simplicity, its comprehensiveness and perfection, is the law of Jehovah! In the purposes and dealings of God there are mysteries which the finite mind is unable to comprehend. And it is because we cannot fathom the secrets of infinite wisdom and power that we are filled with reverence for the Most High.—The Review and Herald, September 14, 1886. Perfect Harmony Between Law and Gospel—There is perfect harmony between the law of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. “I and My Father are one,” says the Great Teacher. The gospel of Christ is the Good News of grace, or favor, by which man may be released from the condemnation of sin and enabled to render obedience to the law of God. The gospel points to the moral code as a rule of life. That law, by its demands for undeviating obedience, is continually pointing the sinner to the gospel for pardon and peace.
Says the great apostle, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31). And again he declares that “the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12). Enjoining supreme love to God, and equal love to our fellowmen, it is indispensable alike to the glory of God and to human happiness.—The Review and Herald, September 27, 1881.
A Complete Rule of Life—God has given man a complete rule of life in His law. Obeyed, he shall live by it, through the merits of Christ. Transgressed, it has power to condemn. The law sends men to Christ, and Christ points them back to the law.—The Review and Herald, September 27, 1881. (HC 138.) (p.564)
Broad in Its Requirements—The law of God, as presented in the Scriptures, is broad in its requirements. Every principle is holy, just, and good. The law lays men under obligation to God; it reaches to the thoughts and feelings; and it will produce conviction of sin in everyone who is sensible of having transgressed its requirements. If the law extended to the outward conduct only, men would not be guilty in their wrong thoughts, desires, and designs. But the law requires that the soul itself be pure and the mind holy, that the thoughts and feelings may be in accordance with the standard of love and righteousness.—The Review and Herald, April 5, 1898. (Selected Messages 2:211.)
Man Alone Disobedient—Man alone is disobedient to the laws of Jehovah. When the Lord bids nature bear testimony to the things which He has made, instantly they witness to the glory of God.—MS 28, 1898. (The S.D.A. Bible Commentary 3:1144.)
Everyone Required to Conform to God’s Law—Christ came to give an example of the perfect conformity to the law of God required of all—from Adam, the first man, down to the last man who shall live on the earth. He declared that His mission was not to destroy the law but to fulfill it in perfect and entire obedience. In this way He magnified the law and made it honorable. In His life He revealed its spiritual nature. In the sight of heavenly beings, of worlds unfallen, and of a disobedient, unthankful, unholy world, He fulfilled the far-reaching principles of the law.
He came to demonstrate the fact that humanity, allied by living faith to divinity, can keep all the commandments of God. He came to make plain the immutable character of the law, to declare that disobedience and transgression can never be rewarded with eternal life. He came as a man to humanity, that humanity might touch humanity, while divinity laid hold upon the throne of God. (p.565)
But in no case did He come to lessen the obligation of men to be perfectly obedient. He did not destroy the validity of the Old Testament Scriptures. He fulfilled that which was predicted by God Himself. He came, not to set men free from that law, but to open a way whereby they might obey that law and teach others to do the same.—The Review and Herald, November 15, 1898.
God Does Not Annul His Law—The Lord does not save sinners by abrogating His law, the foundation of His government in heaven and earth. God is a judge, the guardian of justice. The transgression of His law in a single instance, in the smallest particular, is sin. God cannot dispense with His law, He cannot do away with its smallest item, in order to pardon sin. The justice, the moral excellence, of the law must be maintained and vindicated before the heavenly universe. And that holy law could not be maintained at any smaller price than the death of the Son of God.—The Review and Herald, November 15, 1898.
God’s Laws Not Annulled by Him—God does not annul His laws. He does not work contrary to them. The work of sin He does not undo. But He transforms. Through His grace the curse works out a blessing.—Education, 148 (1903).
(B) God’s Law in the Physical World
Laws That Flow From Love—The laws of God have their foundation in the most immutable rectitude and are so framed that they will promote the happiness of those who keep them.—The Review and Herald, September 18, 1888. (Sons and Daughters of God, 267.) The laws which every human agent is to obey flow from the heart of Infinite Love.—Lt 20a, 1893. (Selected Messages 2:217.) (p.566)
Law of Service—Christ’s followers have been redeemed for service. Our Lord teaches that the true object of life is ministry. Christ Himself was a worker, and to all His followers He gives the law of service—service to God and to their fellowmen. Here Christ has presented to the world a higher conception of life than they had ever known. By living to minister for others, man is brought into connection with Christ. The law of service becomes the connecting link which binds us to God and to our fellowmen.—Christ’s Object Lessons, 326 (1900).
Law That None Liveth Unto Himself—Under God, Adam was to stand at the head of the earthly family, to maintain the principles of the heavenly family. This would have brought peace and happiness. But the law that “none ... liveth to himself” (Romans 14:7) Satan was determined to oppose. He desired to live for self. He sought to make himself a center of influence. It was this that had incited rebellion in heaven, and it was man’s acceptance of this principle that brought sin on earth. When Adam sinned, man broke away from the Heaven-ordained center. A demon became the central power in the world. Where God’s throne should have been, Satan placed his throne. The world laid its homage, as a willing offering, at the feet of the enemy.—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 33 (1913).
Teach Children to Obey Laws of Nature and Revelation—You who have at heart the good of your children, and who would see them come up with unperverted tastes and appetites, must perseveringly urge your way against popular sentiments and practices. If you would have them prepared to be useful on earth and to obtain the eternal reward in the kingdom of glory, you must teach them to obey the laws of God, both in nature and revelation, instead of following the customs of the world.—The Review and Herald, November 6, 1883. (Temperance, 157.)
Remedy for Juvenile Delinquency—Had fathers and mothers followed the direction given by Christ, we (p.567) should not now read and hear of sins and crimes committed not only by adults but even by youth and children. The evil condition of society exists because parents have disregarded this instruction and neglected to train and educate their children to respect and honor the holy commandments of God.
Even religious teachers have failed to present the holy standard by which character is measured, because they have ceased to respect every one of the precepts that God has given, which are holy, and just, and good. Men have taken upon themselves the responsibility of erecting a standard in harmony with their own ideas, and the law of Jehovah has been dishonored. This is why there is so great and widespread iniquity. This is why our days are becoming like the days of Noah and Lot.—The Review and Herald, May 2, 1893.
Connection Between God’s Moral Law and Laws of the Physical World—There is a close relation between the moral law and the laws that God had established in the physical world. If men would be obedient to the law of God, carrying out in their lives the principles of its ten precepts, the principles of righteousness that it teaches would be a safeguard against wrong habits. But as through the indulgence of perverted appetite they have declined in virtue, so they have become weakened through their own immoral practices and their violation of physical laws.
The suffering and anguish that we see everywhere, the deformity, decrepitude, disease, and imbecility now flooding the world, make it a lazar house in comparison with what it might be even now, if God’s moral law and the law which He has implanted in our being were obeyed. By his own persistent violation of these laws, man has greatly aggravated the evils resulting from the transgression in Eden.—The Review and Herald, February 11, 1902.
Law of Divine Administration—The Christian is to be a benefit to others. Thus he himself is benefited. “He (p.568) that watereth shall be watered also himself” (Proverbs 11:25). This is a law of the divine administration, a law by which God designs that the streams of beneficence shall be kept, like the waters of the great deep, in constant circulation, perpetually returning to their source. In the fulfilling of this law is the power of Christian missions.—Testimonies for the Church 7:170 (1902).
Laws Governing Physical Being—In the providence of God, the laws that govern our physical being, with the penalties for their violation, have been made so clear that intelligent beings can understand them, and all are under the most solemn obligation to study this subject and to live in harmony with natural law. Health principles must be agitated and the public mind deeply stirred to investigation.—The Review and Herald, February 11, 1902.
Right physical habits promote mental superiority. Intellectual power, physical stamina, and length of life depend upon immutable laws. Nature’s God will not interfere to preserve men from the consequences of violating nature’s requirements. He who strives for the mastery must be temperate in all things. Daniel’s clearness of mind and firmness of purpose, his power in acquiring knowledge and in resisting temptation, were due in a great degree to the plainness of his diet in connection with his life of prayer.—The Youth’s Instructor, July 9, 1903 (Messages to Young People, 242).
Reaping and Sowing—In the laws of God in nature, effect follows cause with unerring certainty. The reaping will testify as to what the sowing has been. The slothful worker is condemned by his work. The harvest bears witness against him. So in spiritual things: The faithfulness of every worker is measured by the results of his work. The character of his work, whether diligent or slothful, is revealed by the harvest. It is thus that his destiny for eternity is decided.—Christ’s Object Lessons, 84 (1900).
Some Believe Only What They Understand—There are men who proudly boast that they believe only what they can understand. But the folly of their vaunted wisdom is apparent to every thoughtful mind. There are mysteries in human life and in the manifestations of God’s power in the works of nature—mysteries which the deepest philosophy, the most extensive research, is powerless to explain.—The Review and Herald, September 14, 1886. (p.569)
(C) Other Laws
The Law of Obedient Action—Action gives power. Entire harmony pervades the universe of God. All the heavenly beings are in constant activity, and the Lord Jesus in His lifework has given an example for everyone. He went about “doing good.” God has established the law of obedient action. Silent but ceaseless, the objects of His creation do their appointed work. The ocean is in constant motion. The springing grass, which today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven, does its errand, clothing the fields with beauty. The leaves are stirred to motion, and yet no hand is seen to touch them. The sun, moon, and stars are useful and glorious in fulfilling their mission.—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 87 (1915).
Universal Dominion of Law—To him who learns thus to interpret its teachings, all nature becomes illuminated; the world is a lesson book, life a school. The unity of man with nature and with God, the universal dominion of law, the results of transgression, cannot fail of impressing the mind and molding the character.—Education, 100 (1903).
To Transgress Nature’s Laws Is to Transgress God’s—A continual transgression of nature’s laws is a continual transgression of the law of God. Had men (p.570) always been obedient to the law of the Ten Commandments, carrying out in their lives the principles of those precepts, the curse of disease now flooding the world would not exist.—Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 8, 1890. (Counsels on Health, 20.)
Transgression Brings Mental and Physical Suffering—Against every transgression of the laws of life nature utters her protest. She bears abuse as long as she can; but finally retribution comes, and the mental as well as the physical powers suffer. Nor does the punishment fall on the transgressor alone; the effects of his indulgence are seen in his offspring, and thus the evil is passed on from generation to generation.
Many complain of providence when their friends suffer or are removed by death; but it is not in the order of God that men and women should lead lives of suffering and die prematurely, leaving their work unfinished. God would have us live out the full measure of our days, with every organ in health, doing its appointed work. It is unjust to charge Him with a result which in many cases is due to the individual’s own transgression of natural law.—The Review and Herald, February 11, 1902.
The Answer to Deism—Many teach that matter possesses vital power—that certain properties are imparted to matter, and it is then left to act through its own inherent energy; and that the operations of nature are conducted in harmony with fixed laws, with which God Himself cannot interfere. This is false science and is not sustained by the Word of God. Nature is the servant of her Creator. God does not annul His laws or work contrary to them, but He is continually using them as His instruments. Nature testifies of an intelligence, a presence, an active energy, that works in and through her laws. There is in nature the continual working of the Father and the Son. Christ says, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17).—Patriarchs and Prophets, 114 (1890). (p.571)
Obedience Brings Happiness—As they [students] learn thus to study the lessons in all created things and in all life’s experiences, show [them] that the same laws which govern the things of nature and the events of life are to control us, that they are given for our good, and that only in obedience to them can we find true happiness and success.—Education, 103 (1903).
Far-reaching Principles of Law—In His teachings, Christ showed how far-reaching are the principles of the law spoken from Sinai. He made a living application of that law whose principles remain forever the great standard of righteousness—the standard by which all shall be judged in that great day when the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened. He came to fulfill all righteousness, and as the head of humanity, to show man that he can do the same work, meeting every specification of the requirements of God. Through the measure of His grace furnished to the human agent, not one need miss heaven. Perfection of character is attainable by every one who strives for it. This is made the very foundation of the new covenant of the gospel. The law of Jehovah is the tree; the gospel is the fragrant blossoms and fruit which it bears.—The Review and Herald, April 5, 1898. (Selected Messages 1:211, 212.)
The Highest Sense of Freedom—In the work of redemption there is no compulsion. No external force is employed. Under the influence of the Spirit of God, man is left free to choose whom he will serve. In the change that takes place when the soul surrenders to Christ, there is the highest sense of freedom. The expulsion of sin is the act of the soul itself. True, we have no power to free ourselves from Satan’s control; but when we desire to be set free from sin, and in our great need cry out for a power out of and above ourselves, the powers of the soul are imbued with the divine energy of the Holy Spirit, and they obey the dictates of the will in fulfilling the will of God.—The Desire of Ages, 466 (1898).