1. THE KNOWLEDGE OF SIN
a. Who is the law of God made for, and for what purpose? How many have come under its condemnation? 1 Timothy 1:8–10; Romans 3:19, 23.
b. Why are our own efforts in keeping God’s law not enough to justify us before God? How only can we keep the law? Romans 3:20; 7:7; Philippians 4:13.
“He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. Man cannot be saved without obedience, but his works should not be of himself; Christ should work in him to will and to do of His good pleasure. If a man could save himself by his own works, he might have something in himself in which to rejoice. The effort that man makes in his own strength to obtain salvation is represented by the offering of Cain. All that man can do without Christ is polluted with selfishness and sin; but that which is wrought through faith is acceptable to God. When we seek to gain heaven through the merits of Christ, the soul makes progress. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, we may go on from strength to strength, from victory to victory; for through Christ the grace of God has worked out our complete salvation.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 364.
2. THE LAW AS OUR SCHOOLMASTER
a. What is the schoolmaster referred to in Galatians? Galatians 3:21–25.
“What law is the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ? I answer: Both the ceremonial and the moral code of ten commandments.”— Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 233.
b. What work does the law as a schoolmaster do, and for what purpose? Romans 10:4. Compare the way the word “end” (Greek, telos, purpose, or goal, or end in view) is used in James 5:11 and 1 Peter 1:9.
“As the sinner looks into the great moral looking glass, he sees his defects of character. He sees himself just as he is, spotted, defiled, and condemned. But he knows that the law cannot in any way remove the guilt or pardon the transgressor. He must go farther than this. The law is but the schoolmaster to bring him to Christ. He must look to his sin-bearing Saviour.”—Ibid., p.213.
c. What relationship exists between the “schoolmaster” and faith in Jesus? Romans 5:1; 3:31; 8:3, 4.
“The law reveals sin to us and causes us to feel our need of Christ and to flee unto Him for pardon and peace by exercising repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”—Ibid., p.234.
“Only by faith in Christ can the sinner be cleansed from guilt and be enabled to render obedience to the law of his Maker.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 425.
“The law and the gospel are in perfect harmony. Each upholds the other. In all its majesty the law confronts the conscience, causing the sinner to feel his need of Christ as the propitiation for sin. The gospel recognizes the power and immutability of the law. ‘I had not known sin, but by the law,’ Paul declares (Romans 7:7). The sense of sin, urged home by the law, drives the sinner to the Saviour. In his need man may present the mighty arguments furnished by the cross of Calvary. He may claim the righteousness of Christ; for it is imparted to every repentant sinner.”—The Review and Herald, April 22, 1902.
3. THE OLD AND THE NEW COVENANT
a. What was God’s purpose in giving His law to Israel at Sinai, and what is the condition for life under this law? Exodus 20:20; Leviticus 18:5; Romans 10:5.
“When the law was proclaimed from Sinai, God made known to men the holiness of His character, that by contrast they might see the sinfulness of their own. The law was given to convict them of sin and reveal their need of a Saviour. It would do this as its principles were applied to the heart by the Holy Spirit. This work it is still to do. In the life of Christ the principles of the law are made plain; and as the Holy Spirit of God touches the heart, as the light of Christ reveals to men their need of His cleansing blood and His justifying righteousness, the law is still an agent in bringing us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.”—The Signs of the Times, March 29, 1910.
b. Why did Israel fail to keep God’s law even though they professed great zeal for it? Romans 10:3.
“Israel had not perceived the spiritual nature of the law, and too often their professed obedience was but an observance of forms and ceremonies, rather than a surrender of the heart to the sovereignty of love.”—Reflecting Christ, p. 67.
c. What are the “better promises” upon which the New Covenant was established? Hebrews 8:6; Jeremiah 31:33, 34.
“The ‘new covenant’ was established upon ‘better promises’—the promise of forgiveness of sins and of the grace of God to renew the heart and bring it into harmony with the principles of God’s law. . . .
“The same law that was engraved upon the tables of stone is written by the Holy Spirit upon the tables of the heart. Instead of going about to establish our own righteousness we accept the righteousness of Christ. His blood atones for our sins. His obedience is accepted for us. Then the heart renewed by the Holy Spirit will bring forth ‘the fruits of the Spirit.’ Through the grace of Christ we shall live in obedience to the law of God written upon our hearts. Having the Spirit of Christ, we shall walk even as He walked.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 372.
4. THE LAW—THE MEASUREMENT OF CHARACTER
a. What is the only genuine measurement of character? James 2:8–12.
“The law of God is the only genuine standard for the measurement of character. Christ displayed to the world by His life and teaching, by His divine character, what obedience to the law means. He was man’s example; but man cannot set up a standard for himself. Man is ignorant of the infinite purity of God, and without divine enlightenment he cannot appreciate the holy exactions of the law of God. While he is ignorant of the uncompromising character of God’s law, he is unconcerned about his defective, sinful character. He fears nothing, he has no disquietude, because he measures himself by a false standard.”—The Review and Herald, November 18, 1890.
b. What will determine whether God’s character is revealed in our thoughts and actions? Matthew 22:36–40; Romans 13:10.
“Only he whose heart is filled with compassion for fallen man, who loves to a purpose, revealing that love by the performance of Christlike deeds, will be able to endure the seeing of Him who is invisible. He who loves not those for whom the Father has done so much knows not God. Theology is valueless unless it is saturated with the love of Christ. True Christianity diffuses love through the whole being. It touches every vital part—the brain, the heart, the helping hands, the feet—enabling men to stand firmly where God requires them to stand, lest the lame be turned out of the way. The burning, consuming love of Christ for perishing souls is the life of the whole system of Christianity.”—The Signs of the Times, May 10, 1910.
c. What will be seen in the life of those who have genuine faith in Christ? James 1:22–27.
“Faith works by love and purifies the soul. Faith buds and blossoms and bears a harvest of precious fruit. Where faith is, good works appear. The sick are visited, the poor are cared for, the fatherless and the widows are not neglected, the naked are clothed, the destitute are fed.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 398.
5. JESUS CHRIST, THE LAW IN REAL LIFE
a. What attitude did Christ manifest towards the law of God? Matthew 5:17–20.
“Jesus was a living illustration of the fulfillment of the law, but His fulfilling it did not mean its abolition and annihilation. In fulfilling the law, He carried out every specification of its claims.”—The Signs of the Times, March 14, 1895.
“In His teachings, Christ showed how far-reaching are the principles of the law spoken from Sinai. He made a living application of that law whose principles remain forever the great standard of righteousness—the standard by which all shall be judged in that great day when the judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened.”—God’s Amazing Grace, p. 141.
b. What shows that Christ was a living demonstration to humanity of the law of God? 1 Peter 2:21, 22; John 15:10; 1 John 2:6.
“The glory of Christ is His character, and His character is an expression of the law of God. He fulfilled the law in its every specification, and gave to the world in His life a perfect pattern of what it is possible for humanity to attain unto by cooperation with divinity. In His humanity Christ was dependent upon the Father, even as humanity is now dependent upon God for divine power in attaining unto perfection of character.”—The Signs of the Times, December 12, 1895.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. On whose promises was the Old Covenant founded?
2. On whose promises was the New Covenant founded?
3. Who is it that makes us obedient to God?
4. Are we operating under the Old Covenant today if we depend on our own promises rather than on God’s promises?
5. What led the heroes of the Bible to see their need of Jesus?