1. GOD’S ETERNAL LAW
a. What was the main object inside the ark of the covenant, and what did it signify? Exodus 25:16; 26:33, 34; 31:18; Psalm 85:10.
“The law of God, enshrined within the ark, was the great rule of righteousness and judgment. That law pronounced death upon the transgressor; but above the law was the mercy seat, upon which the presence of God was revealed, and from which, by virtue of the atonement, pardon was granted to the repentant sinner.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 349.
“Adam and Eve, at their creation, had a knowledge of the law of God; they were acquainted with its claims upon them; its precepts were written upon their hearts. When man fell by transgression the law was not changed, but a remedial system was established to bring him back to obedience. The promise of a Saviour was given, and sacrificial offerings pointing forward to the death of Christ as the great sin offering were established.”—Ibid., p. 363.
b. What did Christ say about the jurisdiction of God’s law? Matthew 5:17–19.
“While many are saying in their hearts that He has come to do away with the law, Jesus in unmistakable language reveals His attitude toward the divine statutes. ‘Think not,’ He said, ‘that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets.’ ”—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessings, pp. 47, 48.
2. TRUE HAPPINESS
a. How does obedience relate to happiness? Psalm 1:1, 2; Proverbs 6:23; 13:13.
“It is the Creator of men, the Giver of the law, who declares that it is not His purpose to set aside its precepts. Everything in nature, from the mote in the sunbeam to the worlds on high, is under law. And upon obedience to these laws the order and harmony of the natural world depend. So there are great principles of righteousness to control the life of all intelligent beings, and upon conformity to these principles the well-being of the universe depends. Before this earth was called into being, God’s law existed. Angels are governed by its principles, and in order for earth to be in harmony with heaven, man also must obey the divine statutes. To man in Eden Christ made known the precepts of the law ‘when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.’ Job 38:7. The mission of Christ on earth was not to destroy the law, but by His grace to bring man back to obedience to its precepts.”—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 48.
b. After we have sinned, can we obey God’s moral law of the Ten Commandments in our own power—and why or why not? Romans 8:3, 4.
“The apostle Paul clearly presents the relation between faith and the law under the new covenant. He says: ‘Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ ‘Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.’ ‘For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh’—it could not justify man, because in his sinful nature he could not keep the law—‘God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.’ Romans 5:1; 3:31; 8:3, 4.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 373.
“It was possible for Adam, before the fall, to form a righteous character by obedience to God’s law. But he failed to do this, and because of his sin our natures are fallen and we cannot make ourselves righteous. Since we are sinful, unholy, we cannot perfectly obey the holy law. We have no righteousness of our own with which to meet the claims of the law of God.”—Steps to Christ, p. 62.
“We are utterly powerless to rescue ourselves from the grasp of Satan; but God has appointed a way of escape. The Son of the Highest has strength to fight the battle for us, and ‘through Him that loved us’ we may come off ‘more than conquerors.’ ”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 740.
3. PERFECT OBEDIENCE UNDER THE NEW COVENANT
a. How can we present perfect obedience to God’s law? Romans 3:31; 1:16, 17.
“The condition of eternal life is now just what it always has been—just what it was in Paradise before the fall of our first parents—perfect obedience to the law of God, perfect righteousness. If eternal life were granted on any condition short of this, then the happiness of the whole universe would be imperiled. The way would be open for sin, with all its train of woe and misery, to be immortalized. . . .
“Christ has made a way of escape for us. He lived on earth amid trials and temptations such as we have to meet. He lived a sinless life. He died for us, and now He offers to take our sins and give us His righteousness. If you give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your Saviour, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous. Christ’s character stands in place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned.
“More than this, Christ changes the heart. He abides in your heart by faith. You are to maintain this connection with Christ by faith and the continual surrender of your will to Him; and so long as you do this, He will work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. So you may say, ‘The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.’ Galatians 2:20. So Jesus said to His disciples, ‘It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.’ Matthew 10:20. Then with Christ working in you, you will manifest the same spirit and do the same good works—works of righteousness, obedience.”—Steps to Christ, pp. 62, 63.
b. What is God’s assurance under the new covenant? Hebrews 8:10; Jeremiah 31:33, 34.
“The work Christianity is designed to achieve in the world is not to depreciate the law of God, not to detract from its sacred dignity in the slightest degree, but it is to write that law in the mind and heart. When the law of God is thus implanted in the soul of the believer, he is approaching eternal life through the merits of Jesus.”—Sons and Daughters of God, p. 50.
“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.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 372.
4. GOD’S LAW IN THE HEART
a. When is God’s law written in the heart of believers? Romans 5:1–5.
“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. Through the prophet He declared of Himself, ‘I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.’ Psalm 40:8. And when among men He said, ‘The Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.’ John 8:29.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 372.
b. What wonderful promises are provided to us under the new covenant? Hebrews 8:11, 12.
“The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian’s life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 172.
“The blessings of the new covenant are grounded purely on mercy in forgiving unrighteousness and sins. The Lord specifies, I will do thus and thus unto all who turn to Me, forsaking the evil and choosing the good. . . . [Hebrews 8:12 quoted.] All who humble their hearts, confessing their sins, will find mercy and grace and assurance.
“Has God, in showing mercy to the sinner, ceased to be just? Has He dishonored His holy law, and will He henceforth pass over the violation of it? God is true. He changes not. The conditions of salvation are ever the same. Life, eternal life, is for all who will obey God’s law. Perfect obedience, revealed in thought, word, and deed, is as essential now as when the lawyer asked Christ, ‘What shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘What is written in the law? how readest thou? . . . this do, and thou shalt live’ (Luke 10:25–28).”—That I May Know Him, p. 299.
5. GOD’S COMMANDMENT-KEEPING PEOPLE
a. What is written regarding God’s people under the third angel’s message? Revelation 12:17; 14:12.
“Under the new covenant the conditions by which eternal life may be gained are the same as under the old—perfect obedience. . . . In the new and better covenant Christ has fulfilled the law for the transgressors of law if they receive Him by faith as a personal Saviour. . . . Mercy and forgiveness are the reward of all who come to Christ trusting in His merits to take away their sins. In the better covenant we are cleansed from sin by the blood of Christ. . . . The sinner is helpless to atone for one sin. The power is in Christ’s free gift, a promise appreciated by those only who are sensible of their sins and who forsake their sins and cast their helpless souls upon Christ, the sin-pardoning Saviour. He will put into their hearts His perfect law, which is ‘holy, and just, and good’ (Romans 7:12).”—That I May Know Him, p. 299.
b. Based on the promises of the new covenant, who is really part of God’s people in these last days? Hebrews 8:10; Isaiah 51:7, 8.
“The great obstacle both to the acceptance and to the promulgation of truth is the fact that it involves inconvenience and reproach. This is the only argument against the truth which its advocates have never been able to refute. But this does not deter the true followers of Christ. These do not wait for truth to become popular. Being convinced of their duty, they deliberately accept the cross. . . .
“We should choose the right because it is right, and leave consequences with God. To men of principle, faith, and daring, the world is indebted for its great reforms. By such men the work of reform for this time must be carried forward.”—The Great Controversy, p. 460.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why were the Ten Commandments placed in the most holy place of the ark?
2. What habit will tremendously enhance my happiness in life?
3. How only can I cultivate and develop such a habit?
4. Describe the greatest miracle of God’s creative power in our behalf.
5. How is the new covenant experience to distinguish the final remnant of God’s people?