Ellen G. White Writings

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Homeward Bound, Page 176

Obedience, a Condition for Happiness, June 3

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.—Exodus 19:5.

Our first parents, though created innocent and holy, were not placed beyond the possibility of wrongdoing. God made them free moral agents, capable of appreciating the wisdom and benevolence of His character and the justice of His requirements, and with full liberty to yield or to withhold obedience. . . . At the very beginning of mankind’s existence a check was placed upon the desire for self-indulgence, the fatal passion that lay at the foundation of Satan’s fall. The tree of knowledge, which stood near the tree of life in the midst of the garden, was to be a test of the obedience, faith, and love of our parents. While permitted to eat freely of every other tree, they were forbidden to taste of this, on pain of death. They were also to be exposed to the temptations of Satan; but if they endured the trial, they would finally be placed beyond his power, to enjoy perpetual favor with God.

God placed human beings under law, as an indispensable condition of their very existence. They were subjects of the divine government, and there can be no government without law. God might have created them without the power to transgress His law; He might have withheld the hand of Adam from touching the forbidden fruit; but in that case human beings would have been, not free moral agents, but mere automatons. Without freedom of choice, their obedience would not have been voluntary, but forced. There could have been no development of character. Such a course would have been contrary to God’s plan in dealing with the inhabitants of other worlds. It would have been unworthy of humanity as intelligent beings, and would have sustained Satan’s charge of God’s arbitrary rule.

God made Adam and Eve upright; He gave them noble traits of character, with no bias toward evil. He endowed them with high intellectual powers, and presented before them the strongest possible inducements to be true to his allegiance. Obedience, perfect and perpetual, was the condition of eternal happiness. On this condition they were to have access to the tree of life.—Patriarchs and Prophets, 48, 49.

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