By Gordon Anderson
MEMORY VERSE: “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.” 1 John 3:7.
STUDY HELP: Education, 14–15.
INTRODUCTION: “There are many who in their hearts murmur against God. They say, ‘We inherit the fallen nature of Adam, and are not responsible for our natural imperfections.’ They find fault with God’s requirements, and complain that He demands what they have no power to give. Satan made the same complaint in heaven, but such thoughts dishonor God. And the Lord knoweth our thoughts afar off. He speaks to His people, saying, ‘O my people, what have I done unto thee? And wherein have I wearied thee? Testify against Me.’ ” Signs of the Times, August 29, 1892.
“IN THE IMAGE OF GOD”
How was man originally created? Genesis 1:27.
NOTE: “When Adam came from the Creator’s hand, he bore, in his physical, mental, and spiritual nature, a likeness to his Maker. ‘God created man in His own image’ (Genesis 1:27), and it was His purpose that the longer man lived the more fully he should reveal this image, the more fully reflect the glory of the Creator. All his faculties were capable of development; their capacity and vigor were continually to increase. Vast was the scope offered for their exercise, glorious the field opened to their research. The mysteries of the visible universe, the ‘wondrous works of Him which is perfect in knowledge’ (Job 37:16) invited man’s study. Face-to-face, heart-to-heart communion with his Maker was his high privilege. Had he remained loyal to God, all this would have been his forever. Throughout eternal ages, he would have continued to gain new treasures of knowledge, to discover fresh springs of happiness, and to obtain clearer and yet clearer conceptions of the wisdom, the power, and the love of God. More and more fully would he have fulfilled the object of his creation, more and more fully have reflected the Creator’s glory.” Education, 15.
How was that image marred? Romans 8:7.
NOTE: “Through sin the divine likeness was marred, and well-nigh obliterated. Man’s physical powers were weakened, his mental capacity was lessened, his spiritual vision dimmed. He had become subject to death.” Education, 15.
Does sinful man still retain the image of God? 1 Corinthians 11:7; Genesis 9:5, 6.
NOTE: “Whatever may be the nation, kindred or tongue, whether a man is white or black, he still bears the image of God, and ‘the proper study of mankind is man,’ viewed from the fact that he is the purchase of the blood of Christ. To show contempt for, to manifest hatred toward any nation, is to reveal the characteristic of Satan. God has placed His estimate upon man in giving Jesus to a life of humiliation, poverty, and self-sacrifice, to contempt, rejection, and death, in order that man, His lost sheep, might be saved.” Signs of the Times, November 20, 1893.
Does God impute guilt to a person for the sins committed by his ancestors? Ezekiel 18:19, 20.
NOTE: Though, because of the presence of sin in the human race, our physical powers are weakened, our mental capacities lessened and our spiritual vision dimmed by sin, yet the Lord does not hold any man but Adam to be guilty of Adam’s sin. We do not inherit sin or its guilt.
“It is inevitable that children should suffer from the consequences of parental wrongdoing, but they are not punished for the parents’ guilt, except as they participate in their sins. It is usually the case, however, that children walk in the steps of their parents. By inheritance and example, the sons become partakers of the father’s sin. Wrong tendencies, perverted appetites, and debased morals, as well as physical disease and degeneracy, are transmitted as a legacy from father to son, to the third and fourth generation. This fearful truth should have a solemn power to restrain men from following a course of sin.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 306.
How did Paul express the truth that each man suffers death for his own personal sins? Romans 5:12.
NOTE: “God declared, ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die.’ And, apart from the plan of redemption, human beings are doomed to death. ‘All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.’” Review and Herald, March 15, 1906.
“Our first parents by their disobedience opened the floodgates of woe to the race, and notwithstanding we have before us their sad experience in transgression, and the terrible result, we do not cease to sin; but while we deplore the sin of Adam, which was attended with such fearful consequences, we follow in the same course and realize the penalty of our own sins; for which suffering we alone are accountable.” Forest Park Reporter, March 30, 1879.
“CARNAL, SOLD UNDER SIN”
How does Paul describe the struggle he experienced to keep the Law of God before he became a Christian? Romans 7:1, 24.
NOTE: “By sin we have been severed from the life of God. Our souls are palsied. Of ourselves, we are no more capable of living a holy life than was the impotent man capable of walking. There are many who realize their helplessness, and who long for that spiritual life which will bring them into harmony with God; they are vainly striving to obtain it. In despair they cry, ‘O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?’ Romans 7:24, margin. Let these desponding, struggling ones look up. The Saviour is bending over the purchase of His blood, saying with inexpressible tenderness and pity, ‘Wilt thou be made whole?’ He bids you arise in health and peace. Do not wait to feel that you are made whole. Believe His word, and it will be fulfilled. Put your will on the side of Christ. Will to serve Him, and in acting upon His word you will receive strength. Whatever may be the evil practice, the master passion which through long indulgence binds both soul and body, Christ is able and longs to deliver. He will impart life to the soul that is ‘dead in trespasses.’ Ephesians 2:1. He will set free the captive that is held by weakness and misfortune and the chains of sin.” Desire of Ages, 203.
What was the principle reason why Paul could find no victory in his struggle to keep the Law of God? Romans 7: 25, last part.
NOTE: The words “I myself” are the key to Paul’s dilemma as a Pharisee before he encountered the Lord Jesus. The two Greek words are “ego autos.” The first word simply means “I” but the two words together mean, emphatically, “I alone.” In the context of Romans 7, it effectively means “I on my own” that is, without Christ. Paul is saying, “I alone, without Christ, with the mind serve the Law of God but with the flesh the law of sin and death.” In contrast, notice Galatians 2:20, Philippians 4: 13, Ephesians 4: 23, Romans 8: 10. What “I alone” could never do can be done “through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (For a more detailed consideration of this point, read The Word Was Made Flesh by Ralph Larson, 351 – 364.) See also Christ’s Object Lessons, 201.
“VICTORY THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST”
Who alone could bring Paul victory in his struggle to obey God’s Law? Romans 7:25, first part.
NOTE: “Paul realized his weakness, and well he might distrust his own strength. Referring to the law, he says, ‘The commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.’ He had trusted in the deeds of the law. He says, concerning his own outward life, that as ‘touching the law’ he was ‘blameless;’ and he put his trust in his own righteousness. But when the mirror of the law was held up before him, and he saw himself as God saw him, full of mistakes, stained with sin, he cried out, ‘O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ Paul beheld the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. He heard the voice of Christ saying, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.’ He determined to avail himself of the benefits of saving grace, to become dead to trespasses and sins, to have his guilt washed away in the blood of Christ, to be clothed with Christ’s righteousness, to become a branch of the Living Vine. He walked with Christ, and Jesus became to him, not a part of salvation, while his own good deeds were another part, but his all in all, the first and last and best in everything. He had the faith that draws life from Christ, that enabled him to conform his life to that of the divine example. This faith claims nothing for its possessor because of his righteousness, but claims everything because of the righteousness of Christ.”Signs of the Times, November 24, 1890.
Did Christ, when He came to earth, share the common inheritance of mankind? Hebrews 2:17.
NOTE: “Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life.”Desire of Ages, 49. See also Desire of Ages, 24.
What was a primary purpose of Christ coming to earth “in the likeness of sinful flesh”? Romans 8:3, 4.
NOTE: “Satan declared that it was impossible for the sons and daughters of Adam to keep the law of God, and thus charged upon God a lack of wisdom and love. If they could not keep the law, then there was fault with the Lawgiver. Men who are under the control of Satan repeat these accusations against God, in asserting that men can not keep the law of God. Jesus humbled Himself, clothing His divinity with humanity, in order that He might stand as the head and representative of the human family, and by both precept and example condemn sin in the flesh, and give the lie to Satan’s charges. He was subjected to the fiercest temptations that human nature can know, yet He sinned not; for sin is the transgression of the law. By faith He laid hold upon divinity, even as humanity may lay hold upon infinite power through Him.” Signs of the Times, January 16, 1896.
“IF I SAY I AM PERFECT”
Why did Paul not claim perfection? (See Philippians 3: 12.) Job 9: 20, 21 and compare Job 1:1, 8; 2:3.
NOTE: Though God Himself described Job as a perfect man, Job himself would not make that claim. Aware of the inadequacy and deceptiveness of human judgment, he knew that he did not possess unerring insight into the state of his soul.
“Let those who feel inclined to make a high profession of holiness, look into the mirror of God’s law, which discovers to us the defects of our character. Those who see the far-reaching claims of the law of God, those who realize that it is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, will not presume to make the boast of sinlessness, and venture to declare, ‘I am perfect, I am holy.’
‘If we,’ John says, not separating himself from his brethren, ‘say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.’” Signs of the Times, May 23, 1895.
Once we have been justified by God’s grace, can we continue to sin? Romans 6:1. (Read verses 1–6.)
NOTE: “God’s will is expressed in His holy law, and Jesus says, ‘Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.’ The law of God is the standard by which character is to be measured, and he whose life is in harmony with that law is worthy to be trusted, but of what value is the testimony of a man whose life and teaching contradict the law of Jehovah? He then measures himself by his
own finite standard, and may claim for himself as much as does the pope of Rome; but in the light of the detector of sin, his character may be wholly wanting. He may claim great spiritual riches, and think that he is in need of nothing, and may boast of the grace of Christ, but at the same time may have turned that precious grace into lasciviousness. This spurious character of religion is on the increase, and many whose hearts are carnal prate of the grace of Christ, while at the same time they openly blaspheme the name of the God of heaven by casting contempt upon the law of God, which rebukes their inconsistent course and detects their unchristlike character.” Review and Herald, August 28, 1894.
What does sin in the life of the professing Christian reveal? 1 John 3:6. (Read verses 3–10.)
NOTE: “It is folly to bid the sinner come to Christ before being convicted of his sin by being brought before the mirror of the law of God. What is the sinner to be converted from? The transgression of God’s law to obedience of it. But if he is told that he cannot keep the law of God, and that, if he should attempt it, he would be brought into bondage, to what is he then converted, from transgression of the law to a continuance in that transgression? This is absurd. Yet professed ministers of Christ tell the sinner that he is guiltless while disloyal to the law of God. Such conversions are not ratified in heaven.” Signs of the Times, July 18, 1878.