The Law in Adventist Theology and Christian Experience
The Law* in Adventist Theology and Christian Experience
* The word law (Heb. torah) includes all of God's revealed will, not merely the Ten Commandments. The expression "the law and the prophets" (Matt. 7:12) indicates a twofold division of the Old Testament Scriptures. A more common division among the Jews was threefold: the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms (Luke 24:44).
In this issue we print the first of a series of articles discussing certain doctrinal differences between those of Seventh-day Adventists and those presented in the recent book "The Truth About Seventh-day Adventism," by Walter R. Martin. Other articles will appear in subsequent issues. —EDITORS
NO BIBLICAL truth is more important than that which deals with the relationship of the law and the gospel, and it is imperative that we know the full revelation of God on this subject. Walter R. Martin, in his disagreement with the Adventist position, is unequivocal. These two positions are diametrically opposed to each other. Only one of these can be true.
In his book The Truth About Seventh-day Adventism we read: "We admire the desire of our Adventist brethren to obey the commandments of God; but we ask, what commandments? If they answer 'The Decalogue,' we reject their effort to bring us under bondage, for we 'are not under the law, but under grace.' "—Page 201.
And again on page 203: "The concept of Law in Seventh-day Adventism, then, leads them to the un-Biblical and at times legalistic position that although they are 'under grace,' by failing to 'keep the commandments' they are in danger of coming 'under law' again."
This emphatic opposition to the idea that the Ten Commandments have any further claims upon the believer demands a clear answer. He believes that if the Christian is under obligation to keep these commandments, he is therefore "under law." And since "under law" is the mark of one who has not yet appropriated and experienced the grace of Christ, then such professing Christians are living contrary to the Word of God, and "under bondage," guilty of Pharisaism or legalism. He assumes that such scriptures as Romans 6:14; 7:1, 4; Galatians 3: 23-25 support his prior position on the law.
A careful understanding of the words, terms, and arguments used in these passages is essential to any proper interpretation. In the Greek the word for "under" is hupo (???). It carries with it the meaning of "in subjection to, subject to the dominion of, under the power or control of, under the law's jurisdiction." "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse" (Gal. 3:10). The meaning here is that one is subject to the curse, with no escape from it. Paul says in Romans 7:14: "But I am carnal, sold under sin," that is, in slavery to, under the dominion and power of.
Biblical Meanings of the Phrase "Under Law"
"Under law," as used in the New Testament, does not always have the same meaning. There are two principal uses of the term.
The first is in Galatians 3:23-25: "But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. . . . But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." "Under law" in Galatians can be understood only in light of the context. Several points should be kept in mind:
1. There is a time element involved, where one is said to be "no longer under law." This point of time is the coming of Christ in history: "Till the seed should come" (Gal. 3:19); "before faith [the gospel in Christ] came" (verse 23); the verb is in the aorist tense, indicating single action at a point in time; "after that faith is come" (verse 25); "under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. . . . But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law" (chap. 4:2-4).
From these scriptures a change in relation to law with the coming of Christ is definitely indicated. One cannot dismiss the time factor by saying that this applies merely to one's personal experience. The use of the word faith in these verses is preceded by the definite article in the Greek, meaning "the faith." It cannot, therefore, refer to the quality of faith in human experience, but "the faith" or the gospel as fully revealed with the coming of Christ.
2. The scope of the term "under law" in this passage has particular reference to the jurisdiction of law in the Jewish economy. When the Scripture says Christ was "made under the law" (Gal. 4:4), it means that He was born under the Jewish system. In 1 Corinthians 9:20, 21
Paul says that in order to become all things to all men, both Jews and Gentiles, he is willing to work under the system or jurisdiction of either one: "And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law." Paul will obey every reasonable regulation of the Jewish system in order to win them. He did this when he returned to Jerusalem for the last time. In endeavoring to satisfy the demands of some of the Jewish brethren he sponsored believers who had taken a Nazirite vow and went into the Temple with them, which was a factor in his arrest and imprisonment. In doing this he placed himself "under law [i.e., under jurisdiction]." Paul could not possibly mean "under legalism," or under bondage spiritually, for this would be a denial of his very gospel.
In working for the Gentiles he says: "To them that are without law, as without law." Paul does not mean that he will now live as they live, in terms of lawlessness; but he is willing to live under their system and jurisdiction in order to win them. Missionaries do this when they must live in new countries and under another type of culture and way of life.
3. Just what does "under law" as used in this passage actually mean? In Galatians 3:24 Paul writes: "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ." "To bring us" is not in the Greek, but the preposition "eis" (dg), meaning "with a view to." The passage should read then: "The law was our schoolmaster with a view to the coming of Christ." The entire law, including both moral and ceremonial aspects, revealed by God, existed with a view to the coming of Christ at that supreme moment in history. The law was intended by God to keep before the minds of Israel and men everywhere that the real meaning and purpose of the law lay in the full and final revelation when Christ would come to this world.
Up until then the law acted as a schoolmaster or tutor. With the coming of Christ they no longer needed the law for this historical function. Thus, before the cross they were "shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed" (Gal. 3:23).
Prior to the entrance of sin Adam had direct access to God, face to face communion. With the entrance of sin this personal access was changed. Sin separated him from direct contact with God. From that day until the cross, God no longer confronted man as before. Instead of the actual visible presence, God revealed His will in terms of law. Man now stands under a jurisdiction of law, a revelation of God's will in commandments, statutes, objective requirements, set over against him. Law was not the ultimate revelation of God to sinful man, but it pointed to that ultimate revelation in Christ. Without this coming of Christ the law would have no meaning and no saving message from God. This period until the coming of Christ is thus spoken of as being "under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father" (Gal. 4:2). This was a period of restricted knowledge of God, of truth, of the work of the Holy Spirit, and of God's answer to the sin problem.
"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17: 30, 31).
The restricted or limited knowledge of God's redemptive work and solution to the sin problem is contrasted with the new covenant in Christ: "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those davs, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest" (Heb. 8:10, 11).
"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3).
The distinction between Old and New Testament is not one of disagreement or opposition, but one of progressive revelation towards the fullness of time witnessed by all the law and the prophets, when the Son of God would become incarnate in the flesh, and the Redeemer of mankind.
4. What was God's purpose of "under law" in this jurisdictional sense? Principally twofold: First, to give sin the character of transgression (Gal. 3:19). The Greek word parabasis, as distinct from hamartia, makes sin to be transgression against the revealed and known will of God, against a codified law; therefore, all sin is against God, against His personal will, and not against some human standard. This the psalmist understood when he said, "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned" (Ps. 51:4).
Second, the law not only gave sin the character of rebellion against a personal God but showed that forgiveness comes alone from God, and taught men the need for a Saviour, to look for a Redeemer in point of time. Until the cross the race of men was legally under condemnation; from a judicial point of view all were lost until the debt of sin was paid at Calvary. The sacrificial system pointed forward to that moment. The sacrifices were not the answer to the sin problem. They expiated no sin. They "can never take away sins" (Heb. 10:11). It is apparent at once that in any court of justice the death of an animal could never pay for the killing of man, or expiate that sin. God never intended that the blood of animals could either pay the price of sin or redeem man.
Hence, when God gave the law with a view to foreshadowing Christ, He had in mind this historical moment when the debt of sin would be paid (Col. 2:14, 15) and the redemption of lost man actually accomplished. The moral law made escape impossible apart from the initiative and act of God at the cross; the moral law made sin appear for what it was, placing the whole race "under sin" (Gal. 3:22). The ceremonial features of the torah, or the law, were in reality the gospel in the Old Testament, and complemented the moral law, in that without it the case of man would have appeared completely hopeless.
Thus the law made the coming of Christ as the deliverer absolutely essential. It is this coming that is Paul's concern in Galatians 3. The cross is the redemption of all men; sinners are no longer "under the curse." They are a redeemed race legally (Gal. 3:13; aorist). Thus the law acted as a tutor with the coming of Christ in view. It is this function that ceases at the cross. Law no longer acts as a tutor with Christ in view in terms of time. Christ has come. Christ has borne our sins. Christ has redeemed us. This is no longer a possibility, a hope to be realized. It is an actuality. We do not need the law to point forward to some future time when sins will be expiated, when the redemption price will be paid. No, it has been done.
This historical achievement of Christ is the center of the hopes of all men. To this the Jewish system with its revelation of law pointed. In their thinking the Jews separated Christ from the law. They put a "veil" over their minds so that they could not see Christ (2 Cor. 3:14-18). Consequently, they made the law an end in itself. Their history is one long record of legalism. The Jews were given a codified law, but this did not make them legalists. They lived under the jurisdiction of law, but this did not in itself make them pharisaical. Their failure to keep Christ in view led to the perversion of law. The law as God gave it was no perversion, nor was it legalistic. The law was the paternal revelation of God's will to be magnified to the full with the coming of Christ.
Walter Martin fails completely to distinguish between the proper and improper function of the law. This has led him into devious paths and a wholly false interpretation.
The second use of "under law" lays particular stress upon the experimental aspect of it. In Romans 6 and 7 Paul shows that the Christian does not live either under the dominion of sin or under the dominion of law.
In Romans 6 the Christian is freed from the dominion of sin: "Let not sin therefore reign. . . . For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace (verses 12-14). The law reveals how real is the dominion of sin. "The strength of sin is the law" (1 Cor. 15:56). The only way of escape is by death. "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Rom. 6:2). "He that is dead is freed from sin" (verse 7). A life "under grace" frees the believer from sin's dominion.
In Romans 7 we find that the believer must also obtain freedom from the dominion of law. "The law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth" (verse 1). The dominion of law is the same as "under law."
In reading this chapter through, the condemning power of the law over the "flesh," that is, the carnal nature, is apparent. Paul sees no possibility apart from Christ of escape from this controlling, condemning power of the law. Paul recognizes the divine function of law in making sin "exceeding sinful" (verse 13), and confesses that the "law is spiritual" (verse 14). Paul cries out for deliverance from this dominion. Deliverance comes as he exclaims: "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (chaps. 7:25; 8:1). How did Paul escape from the dominion of law, that is, from "under law"? He had to die to the sinful nature. "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead" (chap. 7:4). The part that dies to law, however, or to the dominion of law, is not the inner or new man, but "the flesh," described in Romans 7:1-3 as the first husband or the "old man" of sin. Death of the first "husband" is the only way to escape from the dominion of sin and the dominion of law. This carnal nature will not and cannot conform to the law of God. "The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (chap. 8:7). The law condemns that nature which refuses to be subject to it. It has no other choice.
But there is another part of Paul, the new man in Christ, which does not feel this way at all about the law of God. On the contrary, Paul says: "I delight in the law of God after the inward man" (Rom. 7:22). This is the new man in Christ, the Christian. This new man is in harmony with the law of God because he is born of God.
Thus it is clear that the carnal nature of man has no other choice but to come under the dominion of both sin and the law; that as long as this carnal nature is permitted expression in the life, this will be its experience in relation to the law of God. The Christian must learn to "mortify the deeds of the body" (Rom. 8:13). He must choose one of two things: The dominion of law or the dominion of Christ. As a Christian, Paul recognizes the seriousness of this choice when he sums up the nature of the conflict and the possibility of living "under law" or "under grace." "So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin" (chap. 7:25). That Paul has in mind the Law including the Ten Commandments is obvious, since he quotes from the tenth commandment in verse 7; that commandment which exposes the seat of sin within him.
There is not the slightest hint of any change in the law, in its operation, and its claim upon the individual. But that there is a change somewhere no one can doubt; that change is in the believer. The believer dies with Christ and rises to live with Christ. Certainly there is a change in the believer's relation to the law. What is this change? Does he now disregard the law? Does he now dispense with it? Does he make the law void? Does Paul support Martin's contention that the law of God is no longer binding upon the believer? No! Where hitherto he had found himself with "enmity against the law of God," under its power and condemnation, he now finds himself in harmony with it. And in this new life in Christ he exclaims: "I delight in the law of God after the inward man."
Paul is very emphatic in maintaining the integrity of the law of God. Every time there is the slightest possibility that his hearers might conclude there is any change in the law he cries out, "God forbid." "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law" (Rom. 3:31; 7:7; Gal. 3:21).
Paul's concern regarding the law of God makes him cry out not against the law, but against that part of himself that is not subject to the law of God—the old sinful nature (Rom. 7:24). Unfortunately, we find Martin crying out against the law of God. The difference is decisive. To fail to understand the simple difference between "law" as the revelation of God's will and "under law" as man's life situation in the flesh when brought under its dominion, is tragic. It seems incredible that a man who claims to be a serious student of the Bible should be guilty of such gross misinterpretation. But the worst tragedy is that many who will read his book will probably believe it.
The Believer's Relation to the Law of God
Paul makes very clear in 1 Corinthians 9:20, 21 just what the believer's relation to the law is. He says: "Being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ." The phrase "under the law" in this passage is an unfortunate translation. In the Greek, Paul uses not hupo but ennomos, which means "in law" to Christ.
It is at this point that Christians should distinguish between law in the Christian life and the "under law" experience. Rashly to conclude that to escape from "under law" is to be free from "law" is to fail to comprehend the very basis of the apostle's argument. Adventists firmly assert that the Christian must be free from "under law," for he is no longer under its dominion, its power of condemnation and judgment. He stands with Paul—"in law" to Christ.
What Paul is saying here is that as far as the Christian's relationship to God's law is concerned, it is entirely dependent upon his relationship to Christ. If his relationship to Christ is not right, then his relationship to the law is also wrong. Without Christ, without becoming united or married to Christ, he must come "under" the dominion of the law. But when united with Christ, the relationship is no longer one of the dominion of law, but "in law." This places the law in its rightful place.
Christ came to "magnify the law, and make it honourable" (Isa. 42:21). He magnifies it; He is not a substitution for it. To construe that one having been saved from "under law" no longer needs the law of God, is to take a position entirely contrary to the Word of God. For Paul declares: "He is not without law, but in law to Christ." To be "in law" to Christ means to have a heart and mind and will that are no longer at variance with the divine will as revealed in all the Scriptures, including the Decalogue. It is just this enmity against the Decalogue that is changed. This "in law" to Christ is identical with Paul's affirmation in Romans 7:22, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man." Paul says that we are "married" to Christ, the second "husband" (verse 4), not to be free from the law, but free from its dominion. Paul knows only one way of coming into harmony with the law of God—that is by coming into union with Christ. Then "the righteousness of the law" is "fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (chap. 8:4).
What the "in law" relationship to Christ does is to give the Christian a passion for righteousness, a passion for obedience to God's revealed will both in the Old and the New Testament, not out of the pressure of law, but out of this new relationship to Christ (Rom. 7:6).
The Relationship of Love and Law
The most tragic and pitiful effort of Martin to do away with the Decalogue, however, is his separation of love and law.
On page 203 of his book, he writes: "The great foundational moral law of the universe is therefore declared to be unchanging love. This is vastly different from the national or Mosaic law given only to Israel. That law was designed to be fulfilled, even though it was based upon the eternal principles of the moral character of God. And when its fulfillment did take place and the character of God was imputed to the believer and imparted to his life by the power of the indwelling Spirit, the entire Mosaic system passed away; but the eternal principle, its foundation, remained, and is operative today as the law of love, the supreme 'commandment' and the only 'law' under which the Christian is to live."
He goes to great lengths to stress the position of some who draw a sharp line of distinction between the moral law and the law of Moses. But his confusion of law and love is a far more serious deviation from the Scriptures.
On page 200 he quotes Luke 10:25-28, with Christ's answer to the lawyer's inquiry regarding the way to eternal life as the law of love. Note the statement: "Clearly, the Lord Jesus did not subscribe to the Seventh-day Adventist view that 'commandment-keeping means keeping all of the Ten Commandments,' none of which He mentions in this passage. Christ did not say, 'Keep the Ten Commandments, especially the fourth one, and thou shalt live.' He said, in effect, 'Obey the law of love upon which all the law and the prophets rest, and thou shalt live.' "
But why does this writer not include Christ's answer to an identical question in Mark 10:17-22 by the rich young ruler? Here Christ quotes from the Ten Commandments, and says exactly what Walter Martin claims He did not say. Why did not Jesus give the same answer here that He gave to the lawyer? Did Jesus have two sets of commandments or just one? The very obvious and simple truth is that Jesus knew of no separation between law and love. Any reference to the revealed law of God, whether in the framework of the Ten Commandments or of the two great principles of love, proceeds from the complete unity that Christ insists upon in Matthew 22:36-40: "Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." The term "law" here refers to the Pentateuch, which includes the Decalogue. Jesus says that "the law" and the two great principles belong together. To take any other position is to be at complete variance with that of our Lord.
Furthermore, on page 193 we find the author declaring that in the fulfillment by Christ of the law, the Lord Jesus Christ "instituted the universal principle of divine love as the fulfillment of every aspect and function of the law."
But how could anyone make "the law" as embodied in the Pentateuch or the Old Testament belong to the period before Christ, and the universal principle of divine love to the New Testament period? In Luke 10:25-28 the same lawyer is indicated as the one giving the answer to his own question. It was the lawyer himself who repeated the two great principles of love in reply to Christ's searching question. How did he know them so well? Because they were part of the one law given to Moses and to the Jews from the very beginning. Listen to Moses as he quotes the law in Deuteronomy 6:4, 5, the Shema or creed to be repeated every Sabbath day: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." No clearer instruction on the "supreme commandment" is found anywhere in the whole Bible. This "supreme commandment" of love was the governing principle, the foundational principle, of the Mosaic law as it is of the entire Bible.
In the previous chapter, Deuteronomy 5, Moses had just repeated to the people again the ten commandments of the Decalogue. He follows this up with the great commandment on love. Moses knew nothing of any fictitious separation between love and law that Martin sets forth. For any man to be in disagreement with Christ, with Moses, and with Paul is tragic indeed.
Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount knew of no separation between love and law. His spiritual interpretation of the Ten Commandments is the eternal position of God. Christ sets forth the true spiritual meaning as contrasted with the externalism of the Jews. What Christ is seeking to change are the people to whom He originally gave the commandments. Christ is saying that only in the framework and under the experience of love to God and man do the Ten Commandments have any power or vitality.
A careful reading of the Bible reveals that there are numerous written expressions of the will of God. The Sermon on the Mount is one of them. The New Testament is just as specific on this point as the Old Testament. It seems that Martin wants just one law, "the law of love." He wants nothing in the form of a written code such as given to Moses. Then why stop with the Ten Commandments? From the point of view of obedience, the two great commandments are no easier to keep than are the ten. To change the law, to insist on the elimination of a codified law given to Moses, does not help whatsoever. Is it just the Decalogue that creates a problem for the experience of the believer? The Decalogue, including the law of Moses, cannot be cut out of the Bible and set aside by itself while the commandments of love remain in force. Either all must go or all must remain.
Love is first a gift, the gift of God, not a law. In Jesus Christ we learn that in the gift of His Son we are loved supremely by God. It is this love that creates oneness, the unity of all law. It is love that sets forth God's will whether expressed in the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, or any of the other revelations of God's will. Each is a revelation of God's great heart of love. What we all need to see is that the laws of God are not arbitrary. God requires of us obedience to all His commandments, not because He wants to exercise authority as the Supreme Being in the universe but because God Himself is like that: every commandment of God is the expression of love for His creatures. God does not change. It is in the experience of oneness with God that all of God's requirements have meaning and power for His creatures.
We do not eliminate or abrogate the law in order to become free men, to escape bondage. It is the center of our devotion that counts, the lordship of Christ, not the dominion of law. "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).
To live by love means that a man is saved, not by the right creed in either the Old Testament or the New, not by the right law, but saved when his heart is right, when he has come into the love relationship with God. This is the test of all true religion.
What Christ, Moses, and Paul are saying is that obedience to the law of God cannot be commanded upon the old sinful nature and get an obedient response. No conscious choice of any law from God, even the two great commandments, can be imposed from without. This comes alone from being a new man in Christ, the beloved of the Lord, the bride of Christ.
The Law of God or the Standards of Men
The conflict today is between the law of God and the laws of men. There are systems of morality in the world today, also in other religions and other cultures, which grow out of their own cultures and are a form of self-discovery. The same is true with the religious standards set up by men. They are not the laws of God, because they come not by revelation in His infallible Word but wholly from the creations of man's own thinking and the perversities of man's mind and heart. These systems may appear to have much that is desirable. They may come so close to the genuine revelation from God that it is hard to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures. They aim at the development of man. They propose to make man religious. Plato and Aristotle had their systems; so did Immanuel Kant and almost all the philosophers. But they simply produced a humanistic morality and religion with claims to a way of salvation apart from that of the Bible.
The law of God is a revealed law; it is not produced by man. It is not the product of human findings and human struggles toward the light. The Decalogue is not a product of its day, nor is the Sermon on the Mount a product of the local culture of Christ's time. The law of God wherever and whenever it is found in the Bible is never a set of mores belonging to the moral order which that particular society developed or changed, either by time or by circumstances. God's law is the law of His kingdom.
The law of God as well as the gospel tests all human laws, and all human manipulations of His laws, and all human systems of salvation. God's will is the judgment of all other laws. There is nothing relative about God's law. This is true of the entire revelation of God in His Word.
The moment a man seeks to submit his life to the truth of the Bible, to do the will of God, he finds that obedience to God cannot possibly be done within the framework of human pressure, human systems, human interpretations, and abstract law. It can be done only in a love relationship to Christ, with a deep sense that all sin is against God. This loving obedience is the opposite of all pressure of society, human laws, and governments. In the joyful restoration to acceptance and fellowship with God the believer comes into the glad liberty of God's children and grateful obedience to God's revealed will in His Word.
Such a standard of righteousness cannot possibly be changed. It cannot be thought of as varying with the times. The standard of God's law demands it be seen, understood, and accepted in the framework of God's love revealed in Christ. The law of God can be obeyed only within the framework of a radical Christ-centered way of life. The great tragedy of the Christian church and of our time lies in two extremes. The first is the result of the self-centeredness of man. Man is born loving him self alone. He makes the moral law of God an end in itself rather than an expression of a new relationship to God. In doing this he becomes guilty of legalism. This has been the besetting-sin and failure of the Jews throughout their history. This is the rational treatment of God's law as applied to the natural man. The other extreme is that which swings the pendulum and believes that the Decalogue no longer has any claim upon the Christian. The word of our Lord is right to the point:
"Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.. .. Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: but ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered" (Mark 7:7, 9-13).
In pointing to the Decalogue nothing could be clearer than Christ's condemnation of the man who interprets even one of the commandments so as to make His law of none effect.
Seventh-day Adventists stand firm at this point. We reject both extremes. We refuse emphatically to reduce the law of God either to some vague feeling in the heart, or to something outside of one's personal relationship to God. Seventh-day Adventists believe that man has no inherent worth by any system of morality. Our salvation is solely within the realm of God's sovereign grace. As believers in salvation by grace alone, what life expression are we to give to the concept of being alive unto God? Is it not the expression of saying with Paul: "I delight in the law of God after the inward man," and with Christ: "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart"
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