Week of Prayer for Tuesday
The Law of God is a very unique law that deserves our fullest attention. It reads as follows: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day [is] the sabbath of the Lord thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates: For [in] six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them [is], and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that [is] thy neighbour’s.” Exodus 20:3–17.
And God Said
These commandments are the very words of God Himself. The Bible says, “And God spake all these words, saying . . .” Exodus 20:1. This law is so sacred, so holy, so elevated that God chose not to give it through inspiration but spoke it directly to the fallen race Himself.
In addition to speaking the words, He also wrote them with His own finger. (Exodus 32:15, 16; Deuteronomy 4:13.) They stand separate and above the rest of Scripture. They did not come to us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for men to put into defective human language. They came to us direct from our Father in heaven.
They were etched in stone, representing their enduring eternal quality. These two tables of stone were placed in the Ark of the Covenant that was kept in the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary.
The Most Holy Place of the sanctuary in heaven was opened in October of 1844, and there was seen the Ark of the Covenant that contains the great original principles of that law. (See Revelation 11:19; The Great Controversy, 433.)
Law of the Universe
The Ten Commandments will stand as the law of the universe throughout eternity.
“The precepts of the Decalogue are adapted to all mankind, and they were given for the instruction and government of all. Ten precepts, brief, comprehensive, and authoritative, cover the duty of man to God and to his fellow man . . . .” Patriarchs and Prophets, 305. This quotation continues by saying that these ten precepts are based upon the great fundamental principle of love.
Principle of Love
Paul defines this love, charity, in 1 Corinthians 13:4–8, which says, “Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.”
The Scriptures separate this love into two areas of man’s experience—his relationship to his Creator and his relationship to his fellowman.
“ ‘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 neighbour as thyself.’ Luke 10:27. See also Deuteronomy 6:4, 5; Leviticus 19:18. In the Ten Commandments these principles are carried out in detail, and made applicable to the condition and circumstances of man.” Ibid.
Transcript of God’s Character
“The law of God is as sacred as Himself. It is a revelation of His will, a transcript of His character, the expression of divine love and wisdom. Through the ages that law has been preserved as the highest standard of morality. Not all the inventions of science or the imaginations of fruitful minds have been able to discover one essential duty not covered by this code.” The Signs of the Times, February 1, 1910.
“The law of God is the standard of character; it is the expression of the character of God Himself.” The Bible Echo, July 29, 1895.
For men to do away with the law is to do away with the very character of the God of heaven. That would be utterly impossible. The law of God is as enduring as the Ancient of Days who sits on the great white throne of the universe.
“It [God’s Law] was given to Adam and Eve in Eden. God planted for them this beautiful garden, and supplied their every want. Was it too much to ask them to respond to all His love and care by obedience to His righteous law, which, if kept, would have secured to them happiness, peace, and joy forever?” Ibid.
Is it too much for God to ask His people today to respond to all His love and care by obedience to His commandments when it will secure for them eternal life in heaven?
“God’s law is the security of life and property, of peace and happiness. It was given to secure our present and eternal good. A thoughtful kindness runs through every enactment. Each commandment is an enactment of mercy, love, and saving power.” The Signs of the Times, February 1, 1910.
Opposition to the Law
God’s Law is for our present and eternal good. Why would anyone want to do away with a law that provides so much good to those who are under its authority? Why would anyone be in opposition to a law that is so wonderful a blessing to them?
To answer these questions, we will go back in time and see what brought in this antagonistic spirit against the Law of God. Here is the record of how sin, which is the transgression of the law, came into the universe.
“The angels joyfully acknowledged the supremacy of Christ, and prostrating themselves before Him, poured out their love and adoration. Lucifer bowed with them, but in his heart there was a strange, fierce conflict. Truth, justice, and loyalty were struggling against envy and jealousy. The influence of the holy angels seemed for a time to carry him with them. As songs of praise ascended in melodious strains, swelled by thousands of glad voices, the spirit of evil seemed vanquished; unutterable love thrilled his entire being; his soul went out, in harmony with the sinless worshippers, in love to the Father and the Son. But again he was filled with pride in his own glory. His desire for supremacy returned, and envy of Christ was once more indulged. The high honors conferred upon Lucifer were not appreciated as God’s special gift, and therefore, called forth no gratitude to his Creator. He glorified in his brightness and exaltation and aspired to be equal with God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 36, 37.
This statement reveals that Satan permitted three violations of the law of God to germinate in his mind: pride, envy, and jealousy. There was no reason or excuse for these characteristics to be cherished, except that Satan permitted them to grow and develop deeper and deeper roots until they controlled his thinking and actions.
Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 13:4, 5, that God’s Law of love does not envy; God’s love is not proud, and His Law of love is not self-seeking. Therefore, Satan was in violation of God’s holy and sacred law on three points by his own choice.
That God sees these same sins among His professed people today is very evident from Scripture. Notice what Jesus says: “Nevertheless I have [somewhat] against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” Revelation 2:4, 5.
These sins are fatal to those who indulge in them, for they will not enter the kingdom of glory. The lack of unity among God’s professed people is clear evidence that these sins exist among them today, but they seem unable to recognize them and put them away.
In the following statement, God explains how He identifies these sins among His people today: “Now God requires that you who have thus done the least injustice to another shall confess your fault, not only to the one you have injured, but to those who through your influence have been led to regard their brother in a false light, and to make of none effect the work God has given him to do. If pride and stubbornness close your lips, your sin will stand against you on the heavenly record. By repentance and confession you can have pardon registered against your name; or you can resist the conviction of the Spirit of God, and, during the rest of your life, work to make it appear that your wrong feelings and unjust conclusions could not be helped. But there stands the action, there stands the evil committed, there stands the ruin of those in whose hearts you planted the root of bitterness; there are the feelings and words of envy, of evil-surmising, that grew into jealousy and prejudice. All these testify against you.” Review and Herald, December 16, 1890. [Emphasis supplied.]
Scenes of Judgment
On the morning of October 23, 1879, Ellen White had a vision in which she was shown scenes of the judgment. Here is a portion of what she wrote concerning what she saw in that vision: “On the morning of October 23, 1879, about two o’clock, the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I beheld scenes in the coming judgment. Language fails me in which to give an adequate description of the things which passed before me and of the effect they had upon my mind.
“The great day of the execution of God’s judgment seemed to have come. Ten thousand times ten thousand were assembled before a large throne, upon which was seated a person of majestic appearance. Several books were before Him, and upon the covers of each was written in letters of gold, which seemed like a burning flame of fire: ‘Ledger of Heaven.’ One of these books, containing the names of those who claim to believe the truth, was then opened. Immediately I lost sight of the countless millions about the throne, and only those who were professedly children of the light and of the truth engaged my attention. As these persons were named, one by one, and their good deeds mentioned, their countenances would light up with a holy joy that was reflected in every direction. But this did not seem to rest upon my mind with the greatest force.
“Another book was opened, wherein were recorded the sins of those who profess the truth. Under the general heading of selfishness came every other sin. There were also headings over every column, and underneath these, opposite each name, were recorded, in their respective columns, the lesser sins.
“Under covetousness came falsehood, theft, robbery, fraud, and avarice; under ambition came pride and extravagance; jealousy stood at the head of malice, envy, and hatred; and intemperance headed a long list of fearful crimes, such as lasciviousness, adultery, indulgence of animal passions, etc.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 384, 385.
This vision gives a description of a portion of the “Ledger of Heaven” that is being used in the courts above during the Investigative Judgment. I have listed the sins that God sees in column form as Ellen White may have seen them in vision. She says that this is the record that appeared beside the names of many who made a profession of the truth.
The quotation continues: “As I beheld I was filled with inexpressible anguish and exclaimed: ‘Who can be saved? who will stand justified before God? whose robes are spotless? who are faultless in the sight of a pure and holy God?’
“As the Holy One upon the throne slowly turned the leaves of the ledger, and His eyes rested for a moment upon individuals, His glance seemed to burn into their very souls, and at the same moment every word and action of their lives passed before their minds as clearly as though traced before their vision in letters of fire. Trembling seized them, and their faces turned pale. Their first appearance when around the throne was that of careless indifference. But how changed their appearance now! The feeling of security is gone, and in its place is a nameless terror. A dread is upon every soul, lest he shall be found among those who are wanting. Every eye is riveted upon the face of the One upon the throne; and as His solemn, searching eye sweeps over that company, there is a quaking of heart; for they are self-condemned without one word being uttered. In anguish of soul each declares his own guilt and with terrible vividness sees that by sinning he has thrown away the precious boon of eternal life.” Ibid., 385.
|Robbery||Hatred||Indulgence of animal passions|
The Lord’s Appeal
Today, the Lord is appealing to His people in earnest, loving tones, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Revelation 3:22.
“I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. . . . Be zealous therefore, and repent. . . . Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Revelation 3:18–21.
“We must know more of Jesus and his love than of the fashions of the world. In the name of my Master, I call upon the youth to study the example of Christ. When you wish to make an article, you carefully study the pattern, that you may reproduce it as nearly as possible. Now set to work to copy the Divine Exemplar. Your eternal interest demands that you possess the Spirit of Christ. You cannot be like Jesus, and cherish pride in your heart. You cannot give any place to envy or jealousy. You must consider it beneath the character of a Christian to harbor resentful thoughts or indulge in recrimination. Let the law of kindness be sacredly observed. Never comment upon the character or the acts of others in a manner to injure them. In no case make their failures or defects the subject of ridicule or unkind criticism. You lessen your own influence by so doing, and lead others to doubt your sincerity as a Christian. Let peace and love dwell in your soul, and ever cherish a forgiving spirit.” Review and Herald, December 6, 1881.
“How many there are as weak as water who might have a never-failing source of strength. Heaven is ready to impart to us, that we may be mighty in God, and attain to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. What increase of spiritual power have you gained during the last year? Who among us have gained one precious attainment after another, until envy, pride, malice, jealousy, and selfishness have been swept away, and only the graces of the Spirit remain,—meekness, forbearance, gentleness, charity? God will help us if we take hold of the help he has provided.” Ibid., January 9, 1900.
“Contention among God’s people is offensive in his sight. In union and harmony alone is there strength. Pride, selfishness, envy, and jealousy originated with Satan, and lost for him his Eden home. He now urges his temptations upon the followers of Christ, and the most frivolous pretense excites a prejudice and jealousy which is as cruel as the grave.” The Signs of the Times, August 19, 1880.
Law of Liberty
“ ‘There is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance.’ [Luke 15:7.] If the sinner repents because of your kind and loving admonition, work has been done for eternity. There is great need of carrying out the instruction of Christ in a definite manner, acting up to the word of our Master. This is living the law of God. In thus dealing with our brethren, we may make an impression on others that will never fade from their minds. We may not remember some act of kindness which we do, it may fade from our memory; but eternity will bring out in all its brightness, every act done for the salvation of souls, every word spoken for the comfort of God’s children; and these deeds done for Christ’s sake will be a part of our joy through all eternity. When we pursue toward our brethren any course save that of kindness and courtesy, we pursue an unchristian course. We should manifest courtesy at home, in the church, and in our intercourse with all men. . . .Where Jesus reigns in the heart, there will be sweet love, and we shall be tender and true to one another. It takes special watchfulness to keep the affections alive, and our hearts in a condition where we shall be sensible of the good that exists in the hearts of others. If we do not watch on this point, Satan will put his jealousy into our souls; he will put his glasses before our eyes, that we may see the actions of our brethren in a distorted light. Instead of looking critically upon our brethren, we should turn our eyes within, and be ready to discover the objectionable traits of our own character. As we have a proper realization of our own mistakes and failures, the mistakes of others will sink into insignificance.” Review and Herald, February 24, 1891. [Emphasis supplied.]
“The whole universe will have become witnesses to the nature and results of sin. And its utter extermination, which in the beginning would have brought fear to angels and dishonor to God, will now vindicate His love and establish His honor before the universe of beings who delight to do His will, and in whose heart is His law. Never will evil again be manifest. Says the word of God: ‘Affliction shall not rise up the second time.’ Nahum 1:9. The law of God, which Satan has reproached as the yoke of bondage, will be honored as the law of liberty. A tested and proved creation will never again be turned from allegiance to Him whose character has been fully manifested before them as fathomless love and infinite wisdom.” The Great Controversy, 504.
Dear friends, let us keep the affections alive, that we may see the good in the hearts of others. Let us turn our eyes within to discover the objectionable traits of our own characters. Then, as we cooperate with Jesus to remove these objectionable traits, He will clothe us with the white robe of His righteousness and grant us entrance into that Holy City.
Maurice Hoppe lives in Wichita, Kansas, and donates many hours to Steps to Life.