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Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899) - Contents
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    Ms 27, 1899

    The Great Standard of Righteousness


    March 19, 1899

    Portions of this manuscript are published in 1BC 1088; 2BC 994; 3BC 1152; 7BC 951, 970, 980-981. See RH 04/23/1901, 05/07/1901. +NoteOne or more typed copies of this document contain additional Ellen White handwritten interlineations which may be viewed at the main office of the Ellen G. White Estate.

    The Lord has taken infinite pains to teach men by giving them His law. This law is to govern the world. It demands perfect obedience from rich and poor, high and low. Its divine requirement is that we love God supremely and our neighbor as ourselves. Its principles are binding upon the angels and upon all human intelligences. “Sin is the transgression of the law.” [1 John 3:4.] This is the only definition of sin. Without the law there can be no transgression. “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” [Romans 3:20.] The standard of righteousness is exceeding broad, prohibiting every evil thing.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 1

    Satan sees that to call the attention of human beings to the righteousness of the law barricades the soul against his specious devices. His only hope for securing the world is to lead men to ignore the law, to make them believe that the law is null and void, that belief in Christ is all that is necessary. If Satan can so deceive the world that sin will not appear exceeding sinful, he has gained all he tried to gain in heaven. He has succeeded in leading multitudes to believe this falsehood. Ministers preach against the law, especially the fourth commandment, which links together the precepts specifying man’s duty to his God and those specifying his duty to his fellow man.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 2

    We are nearing the close of this earth’s history. Satan is making desperate efforts to make himself God, to speak and act as God, to appear as one who has a right to control the consciences of men. He strives with all his power to place a human institution in the position of God’s holy rest day. Under the jurisdiction of the man of sin, men have exalted a false standard in complete opposition to God’s enactment. But God has put His seal upon His royal requirement. Each Sabbath institution bears the name of the Author, an ineffaceable mark that shows the authority of each. The first day of the week has not one particle of sanctity. It is the production of the man of sin, who strives in this way to counterwork God’s purposes.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 3

    God has designated the seventh day as His Sabbath, the memorial of the creation. He declares. “Verily, my Sabbaths ye shall keep; for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. ... It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh he rested, and was refreshed. ... Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.” [Exodus 31:13, 17, 16.]14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 4

    This is the distinction drawn between the loyal and the disloyal. Those who would have the seal of God in their foreheads must keep the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. This is what distinguishes them from the disloyal, who have accepted a man-made institution in the place of the true Sabbath. The observance of God’s rest day is the mark of distinction between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 5

    When men make the assertion that a change has been made in the law of the divine government, they cast a reflection upon God’s character. If the law was just when given to Adam, it is just today. Heaven and earth shall pass away, Christ declared, sooner than that one jot or tittle of the law shall fail.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 6

    The substitution of the false for the true is the last act in the drama. When this substitution becomes universal, God will reveal Himself. When the laws of men are exalted above the laws of God, when the first day of the week is exalted above the seventh, know that the time has come for God to work. He will arise in His majesty to shake terribly the earth. He will come out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, the transgression of His law. And the earth shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 7

    The belief that the law of God is not the standard of character is now almost universal in the Christian world. Professing Christians think that the more contempt they place upon the law, the more commendable are they in God’s sight. Each human being exerts an influence, either for good or ill, upon those with whom he associates. Those who are willing to be led by false theories and unsound doctrines, who build their hopes for eternity on sliding sand, will find when trial comes that storm and tempest will sweep away their refuge of lies. Their structure falls and they perish; they are lost, lost for eternity.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 8

    Adam listened to the words of the tempter and, yielding to his insinuations, fell into sin. Why was not the death penalty carried out at once in his case? Because a ransom was found. God’s beloved Son volunteered to take the sin of man upon Himself, and to make an atonement for him. There could be no pardon for sin without an atonement being made. Had Adam’s sin been pardoned without an atonement, sin would have been immortalized. It would have been perpetrated with a boldness and constancy that would have been without restraint. Consider how soon after the transgression of Adam the apostasy of his posterity became so marked that God declared that it repented Him that He had made man. They followed the imaginations of their evil hearts, and the striving of the Spirit was not heeded. They refused to be admonished. They had an abundance of blessings for their own enjoyment, and they soon forgot that their immortality had been forfeited.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 9

    God granted them one hundred and twenty years of probation in which to consider, and during that time preached to them through Seth, Enoch, and Noah [“Methuselah, Noah, and many others of His servants” The Review and Herald, April 23, 1901]. They were represented as men shut up in prison. Had they listened to the testimony of these faithful witnesses, had they repented and returned to their loyalty, God would not have destroyed them. But warnings made an impression on them only for a time. Christ was their atoning sacrifice, their mediator, but His intercessions were unavailing because they had no faith, and as the time of probation drew nearer to its close, the service due to God from them passed entirely from their thoughts; and the word went forth, “The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” [Genesis 6:13.]14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 10

    Again the earth was corrupted under its inhabitants, and the signal judgments of God fell upon Sodom and Gomorrah. But soon this punishment was forgotten, and once more men corrupted their way before God, turning from the worship of the Creator to idols. God called out the Hebrew people from slavery, and from Sinai gave them His living oracles. But Egypt was desolated with plagues before Pharaoh would consent to listen to the great I AM. He persisted in his stubbornness till Egypt was ruined, and the Egyptians, from the lowest serf to the king upon his throne, looked upon the dead bodies of their firstborn. Then Pharaoh consented to let the children of Israel go, but he followed them immediately with an imposing display of chariots and men of war. Another exhibition of God’s power was required. The Red Sea was opened to the Israelites, and the Egyptians who pursued them were drowned.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 11

    The terrible judgments of God which were visited upon the idolaters in the lands through which the children of Israel passed caused a fear and dread to fall upon all people living on the earth. But Israel, for whom so much had been done, apostatized in the very sight of Sinai. Aaron, who had been left in charge, was afraid to stand firm against the vast host who were clamoring for gods to lead them back to Egypt.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 12

    After entering Canaan the children of Israel gradually went into idolatry. By His prophets God sent them message after message. But they forgot the instructions of their Leader, and followed their own inclination and the imagination of their own hearts until the Lord could no longer protect them. He permitted their enemies to overcome them, and to scatter them as captives in strange lands. But still He was willing to pardon. He promised that if they would return to Him, He would heal all their backslidings, and reinstate them in His favor. He sent them warnings, reproofs, judgments, to save them from ruin. But notwithstanding these efforts, they wandered farther and farther from Him.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 13

    As represented in the parable given by Christ, God sent His messengers to them, but these were persecuted and put to death. Last of all He sent His only begotten Son, “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us ... full of grace and truth.” [John 1:14.] But the people He came to save refused to receive Him. They rewarded Him evil for good, and in Pilate’s judgment hall He was condemned to crucifixion. “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me.” [Isaiah 63:1-3.]14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 14

    Christ gave His life to redeem humanity, and He calls upon men and women to make every sacrifice in their power to glorify God by placing light in contrast with darkness. Christ gave His life as a sacrifice, not to destroy God’s law, not to create a lower standard; but that justice might be maintained, and that man might obtain a second probation. But no one can keep God’s commandments except in Christ’s power. He bore in His body the sins of all mankind, and He imputes His righteousness to every believing child.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 15

    Christ is our example in all things. He has magnified the law and made it honorable. By His unwavering obedience He testified to the truth that God’s law is the standard of righteousness for all men. God requires nothing of man that it is not possible for him to do. “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.” [John 3:16.] Possessing our nature, though untainted by sin, and tempted in all points like as we are, Christ kept the law, proving beyond controversy that man can keep it also.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 16

    The fiat has gone forth: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” [Romans 6:23.] The sinner must feel his guiltiness, else he will never repent. He has broken the law, and in so doing has placed himself under its condemnation. The law has no power to pardon the transgressor, but it points him to Christ Jesus, who says to him, I will take your sin and bear it Myself. If you will accept Me as your Substitute and Surety, you will return to your allegiance and I will impute to you My righteousness. Thus you will be led to obedience and will become loyal and true and complete in Christ.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 17

    Sin is the transgression of the law. “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.” [Matthew 7:16, 17.] Notwithstanding all the professions of lip and voice, if the character is not in harmony with the law of God, those making profession of godliness bear evil fruit.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 18

    “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven,”—the will made known in the Ten Commandments, given in Eden when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy, and spoken with an audible voice from Sinai—“Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” [Verses 21-23.] Many mighty works are done under the inspiration of Satan and these works will be more and more apparent in these last days.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 19

    “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the wind blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” [Verses 24-27.]14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 20

    The mischief done by the professed believers in God, who are not doers of the Word but transgressors of His commandments, cannot be estimated. Their lawless, unholy principles corrupt many, leading them away from the path of obedience to transgression.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 21

    A life of conformity to the Christ-life cannot be a life of disobedience to God’s commands. In answering his own question, the lawyer said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul; and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” “Thou hast answered right,” Christ said, “this do, and thou shalt live.” [Luke 10:25-28.] Sin cannot reign in the life of the one who loves God supremely. Love to God is the fruit borne by obedience. Christ is not at war with Christ, and love to our neighbor prevents us from working ill to him. “The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” [James 3:18.] The law of God lays its claims upon the whole man. There is no period of time when the law does not make this demand upon every son and daughter of Adam.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 22

    Complete obedience is the only condition that meets the requirement of the law. The question is asked, “Is God a man, that he should lie?” [See Numbers 23:19.] God has given the definition of sin. His law is the rule of government. God says, “Do this, and thou shalt live.” [Luke 10:28.] But to the disobedient He says, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in the things written in the book of the law to do them.” [Galatians 3:10.] “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” [Ezekiel 18:4.] God has given the promise that those who do this law will be rewarded, not only in the present life, but in the life to come. He declares just as decidedly that those who do not obey His requirements shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on them. By lips that never lie the obedient are blessed, and the disobedient are pronounced guilty.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 23

    There are only two classes in the world today, and only two classes are recognized in the judgment,—those who violate God’s law and those who keep that law. Two great opposing powers are revealed in the last great day of battle. On one side stands the Creator of heaven and earth. All on His side bear His signet. They are obedient to His every command. On the other side stands the Prince of darkness, with those who have chosen apostasy and rebellion.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 24

    When the judgment shall sit, and every one shall be judged by the things written in the books, the authority of God’s law will be looked upon in a light altogether different from that in which the Christian world now regards it. Satan has blinded their eyes and confused their understanding, as he blinded and confused Adam and Eve, and has led them into transgression. The law of Jehovah is great, even as its Author is great. In the judgment it will be recognized as holy, just, and good in all its requirements. Human laws are supposed to be framed according to the precepts of God’s law. The thief, the burglar, the murderer, are distinguished as such by the moral law. Those who transgress this law will find that they have a serious account to settle with God, for His claims are decisive.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 25

    Christ has borne our sin in His own body, and those who accept Him as a personal Saviour are free from the penalty of the law. Jesus has been made the propitiation for our sin, and not for ours only but for the sins of the whole world. “Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected. Hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” [1 John 2:3-6.]14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 26

    To the obedient child of God, the commandments are a delight. David declares, “Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage forever; for they are the rejoicing of my heart. I have inclined my heart to perform thy statutes always, even unto the end. I hate vain thoughts, but thy law do I love. Thou art my hiding place and my shield; I hope in thy word. Depart from me, ye evildoers; for I will keep the commandments of my God. ... I am thy servant; give me understanding that I may know thy testimonies.” [Psalm 119:111-115, 125.] [See also] Psalm 119:1-8, 44-48, 77, 97-100.14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 27

    Did the contempt shown to the law of God extinguish David’s loyalty? Hear his words. He calls upon God to interfere and vindicate his honor, to show that there is a God, that there are limits to His forbearance, that it is possible to so presume upon the mercy of God as to exhaust it. “It is time, O Lord, for thee to work,” he says; “for they have made void thy law.” [Verse 126.]14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 28

    David saw the divine precepts thrown aside, and obstinacy and rebellion increasing. Was he swept away by the prevalence of apostasy? Did the scorn and contempt cast upon the law lead him to cowardly refrain from making an effort to vindicate the law? On the contrary his reverence for the law of Jehovah increased as he saw the disregard and contempt shown for it by others. “They have made void thy law,” he exclaims; “therefore I love thy commandments above gold, yea, above fine gold; therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.” [Verses 126-128.] As man studies and contemplates the precious statutes of the Most High, as he meditates upon them, and realizes their value, he exclaims, “Thy testimonies are wonderful; therefore doth my soul keep them. The entrance of thy word giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. ... Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them.” [Verses 129, 130, 165.]14LtMs, Ms 27, 1899, par. 29

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