Lesson 22 | Sabbath, 30 November 2019
“When the mind is drawn to the cross of Calvary, Christ by imperfect sight is discerned on the shameful cross. Why did He die? In consequence of sin. What is sin? The transgression of the law. Then the eyes are open to see the character of sin. The law is broken but cannot pardon the transgressor. It is our schoolmaster, condemning to punishment. Where is the remedy? The law drives us to Christ, who was hanged upon the cross that He might be able to impart His righteousness to fallen, sinful man and thus present men to His Father in His righteous character.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 341.
1. What does the psalmist say about a person to whom the Lord teaches the principles of His law? On the other hand, can a person expect to be justified by obeying the law?
Psalm 94:12 Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law.
Galatians 2:16; 3:11 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 3:11But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
“Nothing but the righteousness of Christ can entitle us to one of the blessings of the covenant of grace. There are many who have long desired and tried to obtain these blessings, but have not received them, because they have cherished the idea that they could do something to make themselves worthy of them. They have not looked away from self, believing that Jesus is an all-sufficient Saviour. We must not think that our own merits will save us; Christ is our only hope of salvation. ‘For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.’ Acts 4:12.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 431.
The law versus the promise made to Abraham
2. Did the laws given at Sinai annul or somehow contradict the previous promise and covenant of blessing given to Abraham?
Romans 3:1, 2; 9:4 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? 2Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God…. 9:4Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises.
Galatians 3:17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
“The Jews were God’s chosen people, through whom He had purposed to bless the entire race. From among them God had raised up many prophets. These had foretold the advent of a Redeemer who was to be rejected and slain by those who should have been the first to recognize Him as the Promised One.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 374.
“For the disheartened there is a sure remedy–faith, prayer, work. Faith and activity will impart assurance and satisfaction that will increase day by day. Are you tempted to give way to feelings of anxious foreboding or utter despondency? In the darkest days, when appearances seem most forbidding, fear not. Have faith in God. He knows your need. He has all power. His infinite love and compassion never weary. Fear not that He will fail of fulfilling His promise. He is eternal truth. Never will He change the covenant He has made with those who love Him. And He will bestow upon His faithful servants the measure of efficiency that their need demands.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 164, 165.
3. Was the Lord’s promise of the inheritance to Abraham based on the law or human merit, or was it founded on His promise of grace?
Genesis 22:16-18 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
Galatians 3:18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
“We must learn in the school of Christ. Nothing but His righteousness can entitle us to one of the blessings of the covenant of grace. We have long desired and tried to obtain these blessings but have not received them because we have cherished the idea that we could do something to make ourselves worthy of them. We have not looked away from ourselves, believing that Jesus is a living Saviour. We must not think that our own grace and merits will save us; the grace of Christ is our only hope of salvation…. We must believe the naked promise, and not accept feeling for faith. When we trust God fully, when we rely upon the merits of Jesus as a sin-pardoning Saviour, we shall receive all the help that we can desire.” –Gospel Workers (1892), p. 412.
4. If Israel was already heir of the promise made to Abraham, why were the Ten Commandments given at Sinai? What could be better understood when given in a concrete form?
Galatians 3:19, first part Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made….
Romans 5:20; 7:13, second part Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:… 7:13… But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
“In order to see his guilt, the sinner must test his character by God’s great standard of righteousness. It is a mirror which shows the perfection of a righteous character and enables him to discern the defects in his own.” –The Great Controversy, p. 467.
“The law reveals to man his sin…. It declares that death is the portion of the transgressor. The gospel of Christ alone can free him from the condemnation or the defilement of sin. He must exercise repentance toward God, whose law has been transgressed; and faith in Christ, his atoning sacrifice….” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 20.
The promise received by faith
5. If all are under sin, does anyone possess personal merits that he can present to God for justification? How can anyone receive the promised blessings of justification and redemption?
Galatians 3:20-22 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? 21God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
“The Word of God declares, ‘All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.’ Romans 3:23. ‘There is none that doeth good, no, not one.’ Romans 3:12. Many are deceived concerning the condition of their hearts. They do not realize that the natural heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. They wrap themselves about with their own righteousness, and are satisfied in reaching their own human standard of character; but how fatally they fail when they do not reach the divine standard, and of themselves they cannot meet the requirements of God.” –Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 320, 321.
“We are justified by faith. The soul who understands the meaning of these words will never be self-sufficient. We are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything of ourselves…. When we think ourselves capable of molding our own experience, we make a great mistake. We can never of ourselves obtain the victory over temptation. But those who have genuine faith in Christ will be worked by the Holy Spirit.” –(Manuscript 8, 1900) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1109.
6. How did the apostle describe the condition of the believers who were waiting for the coming of the Messiah? What function did the law have after His coming?
Galatians 3:23, 24 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
“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….
“‘The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.’ Galatians 3:24. In this scripture, the Holy Spirit through the apostle is speaking especially of the moral law. 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….
“I am asked concerning the law in Galatians. What law is the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ? I answer: Both the ceremonial and the moral code of ten commandments.” –Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 213, 234, 233.
Cessation of the sacrificial system
7. Ever since Jesus came, what do all who accept His sacrifice by faith become? Since justification occurred through the blood of Jesus, what happened to the sacrifices that pointed to Christ as the Messiah?
Galatians 3:25-29 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
“When type met antitype in the death of Christ, the sacrificial offering ceased. The ceremonial law was done away.” –Evangelism, p. 598.
“Christ was the foundation of the whole Jewish economy. The death of Abel was in consequence of Cain’s refusing to accept God’s plan in the school of obedience to be saved by the blood of Jesus Christ typified by the sacrificial offerings pointing to Christ. Cain refused the shedding of blood which symbolized the blood of Christ to be shed for the world…. This is the beginning of its work as the schoolmaster to bring sinful human agents to a consideration of Christ the Foundation of the whole Jewish economy.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 233.
8. What functions have the Ten Commandments continued to serve? What does God’s holy word say about this?
Romans 3:20, last part; 13:9, 10 … By the law is the knowledge of sin…. 13:9For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
“But by the crucifixion the law of Ten Commandments was established. The gospel has not abrogated the law, nor detracted one tittle from its claims. It still demands holiness in every part. It is the echo of God’s own voice, giving to every soul the invitation, Come up higher. Be holy, holier still.” –Evangelism, p. 598.
“We are to raise the banner on which is inscribed, ‘The commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ Obedience to God’s law is the great issue. Let it not be put out of sight. We must strive to arouse church members, and those who make no profession, to see and obey the claims of the law of Heaven. We are to magnify this law and make it honorable.” –Selected Messages, book 2, p. 403.
For additional study
“The law has no power to pardon the transgressor, but it points him to Christ Jesus, who says to him, I will take your sin and bear it Myself, if you will accept Me as your substitute and surety.” –(Review and Herald, May 7, 1901) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1109.
“There is no safety nor repose nor justification in transgression of the law. Man cannot hope to stand innocent before God, and at peace with Him through the merits of Christ, while he continues in sin. He must cease to transgress, and become loyal and true. 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. And as Christ is revealed to him upon the cross of Calvary, dying beneath the weight of the sins of the whole world, the Holy Spirit shows him the attitude of God to all who repent of their transgressions. ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ John 3:16.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 213.