Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

September 24, 1894

Tested by the Law

By Mrs. E. G. White

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Lucifer disputed the justice of this requirement in heaven, and thought its existence altogether unnecessary. He said in his heart: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.” He had been made beautiful, he had been highly exalted in heaven, and his heart was lifted up because of his beauty; he had corrupted his wisdom by reason of his brightness. Of him it had been said:

“Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold.... Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so; thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.” “Thus saith the Lord God: Because thine heart was lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God.... I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.... I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee; thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.”

Under the symbol of the king of Tyrus, the Scriptures give us a description of the character and destiny of the first great rebel against the law of God. He who knows the end from the beginning, had his laws and commandments before the world was created, and Satan chose to question his claims before the angels of heaven, because the law set forth the Omnipotent as the only true and living God, and forbade the worship of any other being. The authority of God was backed up by the requirements of his law, which was to hold jurisdiction over all created intelligences. The will of God was to be recognized in his requirements and acknowledged as supreme in the heavenly universe.

It is the prerogative of God alone to prescribe the duty of men and angels. The will of God is a perfect will, and must be obeyed as it is set forth in his holy law, because every requirement is just, and is set forth by infinite wisdom. The law of God should be obeyed even though there were no authority to enforce it, and no rewards for its obedience. The highest interests of men and angels are conserved in obeying the law of God. God's will expressed in his law is the supreme will, and no invention, no device of men can take its place. Obedience to the commandments of men instead of to the commandments of God will be as abomination in the sight of God; for what God requires is essential to the highest good of his subjects, and is therefore essential for the glory of God.

Through the obedience of his commandments it is the purpose of God to remove from the heart every species of selfishness. He would barricade the soul from all indulgence in perverted appetites, and expel from the heart all rebellion and ingratitude. Can it be possible that any of us should wish that God would abolish his commandments, when it is for our happiness and life to obey them? What blessing or advantage would man gain by doing away with the commandments of God? Were he to abolish the first commandment, the authority of God would not stand as supreme, as the authority of the only true and living God. What advantage would accrue to man should he gain reputation, learning, wealth, and honor, and yet be one who, while receiving benefits from God every hour, ignored God, and did not conform his practical life to the precepts of Jehovah? Knowledge, power, education, reputation, or wealth is not to be permitted to come in between the soul and God. The Lord must hold the first place in our affections; for “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God gave his Son to the world in order that men might be redeemed from transgression and sin.

Through faith in Christ as our personal Saviour, we receive moral power by which we may surrender every faculty to the service of God. With a full sense of our obligation to God, we may devote every intrusted ability to the service of Christ, and bring every power under the control of the will of God. In doing the will of God we are assured of developing characters after the divine similitude.

Religion is a practical matter, and calls for a daily devoting of all we have and are to God. All worldly business is to be done as a part of religion, and is to redound to the honor and glory of God. Every amusement is to be considered in this light, and it is to be regarded as injurious or useful only as it respects the glory of God. If those who would indulge in amusements can find commands whereby they may be justified in them as doing the will of God, they will be justified in believing that they are promoting the glory of God and the good of society. We are required to render perfect obedience to the rule laid down by the apostle, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” He who ever keeps this rule in view, and lives according to its requirement, will form a character after the divine likeness; for in this way men will become holy, blameless, and without rebuke.

We are living under the scrutiny of the whole heavenly host, and the angels are watching to see whether we improve the opportunity to do good unto all men, and especially unto those that are of the household of faith. To love God supremely and to love our neighbor as ourselves, will require from us to be continually in the spirit of humble prayer, relying alone upon God for our sufficiency. The only character that is of value in the sight of God is that character which is free from every taint of selfishness. “The world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” Selfish living, indulgence in self gratification, will bring no true happiness in this life, and give no hope of a future, immortal life. But to him who by patient continuance in welldoing, seeks for glory, honor, and immortality, God will render eternal life.

Faith does not make void the law, and though there are persons who insist that through faith in Christ they are freed from obligation to keep the law, yet the teaching of prophets and apostles contradicts their position. “Faith without works [obedience] is dead.” Men's characters are estimated according to their works. James says, “Show me thy faith without thy works [if it were possible], and I will show thee my faith by my works.” Faith in the great plan of redemption without corresponding works is not reckoned as faith. Christ our Redeemer did not suffer the penalty of the law for our sins in order to deliver us from obligation to keep God's commandments. Christ suffered the penalty of the law, which was death, in order to give to man another trial, to provide for him another probation, and allot to him another opportunity of proving loyal to the authority of God. Every soul is to be tested, for he is held responsible for obedience to the divine law, and, although Christ has died for man's transgression, those who continue in disobedience will suffer the penalty of their sin. The condition upon which men will be offered the benefits of salvation is through repentance toward God, because of transgression of his holy law, faith in Christ, by which he receives power from on high to become an obedient subject of the government of God. Those who would be saved must take Christ as their personal Saviour, and become not only hearers, but doers of his words. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

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