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We continue in our study tonight of that mystery of mysteries. And what is that? The incarnation of Christ–God manifest in the flesh. The mystery of mysteries. And we are seeking to understand its significance to us and what difference it can make in our own Christian experience. {Audio starts from this point:} Our understanding on the nature of Christ is absolutely central and vital to a correct understanding on the whole plan of salvation. A correct understanding on the nature of Christ is.

As we have noted together, heresy is never blatant error. It wouldn’t get a following if it were blatant error. Heresy is truth taken to an extreme. Where first of all it neglects and it downplays, then it eventually denies a balancing truth. And at that point it is full-fledged heresy, isn’t it? We noted some heresies in the Christian Church’s history on the nature of Christ. Precious truths–his divinity–but it became heresy when that’s all He was, when His humanity was denied. And then this other heresy, proclaiming His humanity. Precious truth. But it became heresy when they denied His divinity.

We have a struggle amongst us as a people right now with two precious truths. And what are they? That Christ in His humanity be recognized as our sinless Substitute and that Christ in His humanity be recognized as our valid Example and sympathetic Elder Brother. Precious truths, both of them, aren’t they? And they have to be kept in tension, in perfect balance, in emphasis. And it is especially important that we don’t emphasize either truth in a way that negates the other. Right? That would become heresy, wouldn’t it? And we are struggling, brothers and sisters, to consider this issue together.

I appreciate so much the many hours that you have given me because corporately you have given me scores of hours of your attention. I appreciate that so much. I thank you for the privilege of studying with you. And we will continue, by God’s grace, to press on in our study. I hope that you recognize that there may be vital concerns that you have regarding the nature of Christ that I have, too, but I simply haven’t gotten to the discussion of them yet. Will you allow me that consideration?

We are studying the nature of Christ from the perspective of the title–Our Sinless Yet Sympathetic Elder Brother. And we are focusing in on His sinlessness first. And many of you perhaps who have very real concerns that He be recognized as our sympathetic Elder Brother and our valid Example, you’re afraid that I’m never going to get there. Well, bless your hearts, be patient. I assure you that I am just as concerned about Him being perceived of as a valid Example and a sympathetic Elder Brother as anyone here is–anyone. And if you have heard any of my material on Christian character development, you know my position on overcoming. You know I teach Christian character perfection and I believe it with all of my heart. So I have a very real concern that Christ be recognized as a valid Example as well as you.

But, brothers and sisters, I have an equally strong concern that we don’t seek to make Him a valid Example in a way that would destroy His substitutionary capacity. Then we’re in trouble, aren’t we? Then we’re in trouble. And that’s what we’re struggling to do in this study is come to a balanced understanding that honors both of the precious truths regarding the human nature of Christ. And if we are to succeed in our quest for truth, we must have, absolutely must have again, the spirit of truth working in our behalf. Would you pause with me again on your knees? Pray for yourself. Pray for your brothers and sisters. And pray for me, please.

My Father in heaven, boldly I come before you in Jesus’ name because I know that He is worthy of your attention, and I have been invited to come in and through Him to you. That is why I offer this prayer to you in His name. Please hear me. I come in my own behalf and in behalf of my brothers and sisters again with the request, Oh, Lord, we need your Spirit. Father God, you know that in and of ourselves we have not the capacity to understand the truth as it is in Jesus to the point of freedom. Oh, yes, we may be able to give intellectual assent to abstract theories and concepts. But, Father, we don’t want only an intellectual knowledge. We want an experiential knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. We want to experience its liberating power in our lives. Lord, God, please, this most precious truth–this central truth, this truth of the Word made flesh, God manifest in the flesh, Jesus the Incarnate One–help us, I pray, by the Spirit of truth to understand this in a way that would transform us into His likeness. Oh, Lord, you know the desire of my heart. I want more than anything else to please You, my Father, and I want to be a blessing to others. Please, for Jesus’ sake, enable me to do both tonight. I pray, Lord, that nothing should escape my lips that would in any way mislead a single soul here. Oh, Lord, protect me from myself, I pray. You know my proneness to error. You know the weakness of my thoughts and my words. I give you all that I am and I pray, Lord, that by the miracle of your enabling grace, you would take this earthen vessel and proclaim through it the truth and nothing but the truth, and in a way that can be understood and perceived of as beautiful. This is my prayer, Lord, in Jesus’ name and for His sake I ask it. Amen.

Come, let us reason together, said the Lord. And now that we have asked for His Spirit, we can be assured that He will energize our mental and spiritual faculties so that we can reason together with Him. There is a growing school of thought in the camp of those whose primary concern is that Christ be perceived in His humanity as a valid example, One who has been tempted in all things like as we are, that would truth to make Christ like us and yet preserve His personal sinlessness by proposing that He was just like us except that He was born again at birth with, in other words, a converted experience. Born again the first time He was born. With the law of God in His heart, His will submitted to the will of God and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. It is said that he was thereby able to keep from ever sinning, willfully transgressing God’s law. He was thereby enabled to refuse to yield to those inherited tendencies to evil that they insist He received as an inheritance from His human parents. And you see, of course, that they feel that He had to received such an inheritance in order to be our sympathetic Elder Brother and our valid Example.

Again, I cannot find fault with the motive. I, too, believe that Christ was tempted in all things like as we are. I, too, believe most strongly that He is our sympathetic Elder Brother. But I cannot agree with the method that has been used in this school of thought to make Him a sympathetic Elder Brother. I believe that it is unnecessary and that it does violence to the balancing truth that He was our sinless Substitute. This view is presented, however, in a way that is appealing to human reason. It has, may I humbly suggest, one fatal flaw, and that is it fails to recognize that even the born-again Christian, who is in Christ, is still in himself a sinner. The only reason He is not under condemnation as such is because He is in Christ.

I read from Testimonies, volume 5, page 48: “Are you in Christ? Not if you do not acknowledge yourselves erring, helpless, condemned sinners.” Are you in Christ? Who alone is in Christ? The born-again, regenerate Christian. Are you in Christ? Not if you do not acknowledge yourselves erring, helpless, condemned sinners. Did Christ have to make such a confession? Yet the born-again Christian does. The basic problem with this theory is that it fails to give due consideration to the spiritual nature of the law and the sinful nature of man. And the first failure is the cause of the second. For by the law is the knowledge of sin. The more superficial the understanding of the spiritual nature of the law, the more superficial an understanding will we have as to the sinfulness of our natures, even as born-again Christians. And brothers and sisters, we run the risk of terrible self-deception if we have such a superficial understanding of the law.

Testimonies, volume 9, page 267: “Those who have permitted their minds to become clouded in regard to what constitutes sin are fearfully deceived.” Fearfully deceived. And what is it that reveals to us what constitutes sin? By the law is the knowledge of sin.

The title of this study is, “What the Law Could Not Do.” I recognize that we are going to again be dealing with the negative side of the human condition. But brothers and sisters, I insist that it is vitally important for us to do this because only to the degree that we recognize how hopeless and helpless and sinful we are in ourselves will we fully appreciate the hope and the help and the righteousness that is for us in Christ. And I am deeply convicted that the reason there are so many superficial conversions is that there are so many superficial understandings of the human condition. And, if we don’t understand the depths of our need, we will not go to Christ for the provisions for that need, and our experience will be correspondingly superficial.

The title, “What the Law Could Not Do,” is taken from Romans 8:3: “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh,” and what, “for sin he condemned sin in the flesh.” Now for those of you who are concerned, we have a whole study entitled, “In the Likeness of Sinful Flesh.” We will be dealing with that phrase. That’s not the subject of this particular study, however. For “What the Law Could Not Do” is the subject.

What could the law not do? It could not justify us unto life eternal. God gave the law to preserve and to promote life abundant and eternal. Why could the law not fulfill its God-ordained purpose? Was the impotence in the law? No. What does Paul say? “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through,” the what? “the flesh.” The problem does not lie in the impotence of the law, it lies in the impotence of the flesh. Because of Adam’s sin, man’s nature has been rendered incapable of meeting the standard of righteousness, which is necessary for life eternal.

Signs of the Times, July 23, 1902: “As a result of Adam’s disobedience, every human being is a transgressor of the law and is sold unto sin.” As the result of our own disobedience? No. As a result of Adam’s disobedience, every human being is a transgressor of the law and is sold unto sin. Our own disobedience only confirms and ratifies that fact, doesn’t it?

Our High Calling, page 17: “The sinful nature of mankind is the result of the transgression of God’s law by Adam and Eve.” Not by our own personal transgression but the sinful nature of mankind is the result of the transgression of God’s law by Adam and Eve. This sinful nature, this state of being transgressors of the law, sold under sin, what has it done to our capacity to obey the law of God and to form a righteous character thereby? I read from Steps to Christ, page 62: “It was possible,”–what tense is that? Past tense. “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.” Now note the qualifier. We cannot what? Perfectly obey the holy law. “We have no righteousness of our own with which to meet the claims of the law of God.” What is this cause of this incapacity? We have been made sinners. We are fallen by nature on account of Adam’s sin. Though man through sin rendered himself incapable of rendering perfect obedience to the law, did God–was God able to lower the standard to meet him in his fallen state?

Review and Herald, September 3, 1901: “But that which God required of Adam in paradise before the fall he requires in this age of the world from those who would follow him, perfect obedience to his law.” What kind of obedience is still required even after the fall–the same that was required of Adam before the fall? Perfect obedience. But what did we just note man rendered himself incapable of? Perfect obedience.

Steps to Christ, 62: “The condition of eternal life is now what it always has been, just what it was in paradise before the fall of our parents, perfect obedience to the law of God, perfect righteousness.” Has the standard been modified? Has it been adapted to accommodate man’s fallen, faulty obedience? No, it still requires perfect obedience. Let’s make sure we understand together what the law indeed requires of us.

Jesus in the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5 discusses at length the spiritual nature of the law, saying such things as, You say if you kill you’re guilty; I say that if you’re angry, you’re guilty. By the way, one is guilty even before that anger expresses itself in a single word. That’s stage two of guilt, “raca.” We are guilty when we have feelings of anger and nothing else. He also says in His discussion of the spiritual nature of the law, You say you’re guilty if you commit adultery. I say you’re guilty if you look upon a woman to lust for her in your heart. In summing up the requirement of the law, what does He say in verse 48? “Therefore you shall be” what? “perfect just as your father in heaven is perfect.”

Brothers and sisters, think on that a moment with me. What does the law require? Perfection. Just as your father in heaven is perfect. It requires two things, and consider them with me: Absolute sinlessness for the Father in heaven is absolutely sinless. And infinite righteousness for the Father in heaven is infinitely righteous. Not only does the law require that we be absolutely free of disobedience, in other words, but that we have perfect obedience as well. Not only the absence of the negative but the presence of the positive. A perfection corresponding to God’s. “Be ye therefore perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.” Anything less is sin.

Bible Commentary, volume 7, page 951: “Sin is transgression of the law.” That is our classic definition taken from I John. “Sin is transgression of the law.” This is the only definition of sin. Without the law there can be no transgression. By the law is the knowledge of sin. But listen the standard of righteousness is exceeding broad, prohibiting every evil thing. The standard of righteousness is what? Exceeding broad. Where is that expression taken from? Psalm 119:96: “I have seen the consummation of all perfection but your commandment is” what? “exceeding broad.” In other words, it far surpasses and transcends all that David knows of perfection.

Review and Herald, February 4, 1890: “We have only a glimmering light in regard to the exceeding breadth of the law of God.” We have only a what? A glimmering light. And by the law is the knowledge of what? The law is the knowledge of what? Sin. Proportional–directly proportional to our knowledge of the law is our knowledge of sin, and we only have a glimmering light in regard to the exceeding breadth of the law of God. Can we not then conclude that we only have a glimmering light regarding the sinfulness of sin? Why, of course, directly proportional to our knowledge of the infinite standard is our knowledge of the sinfulness of sin.

In Fundamentals of Education, page 238: “There are far reaching depths in the law of God that are uncomprehended. There is immeasurable breadth, glory, dignity in the law of God.” So brothers and sisters, when we say sin is transgression of the law, please recognize that that includes a good deal more than we are ordinarily aware of, doesn’t it? How do we stand before the law and its infinite standard–its exceeding broad standard that surpasses all perfection that we know? How do we stand? How do we measure up? Romans 6. And may I remind you that we are talking particularly this evening about how the born-again Christian measures up. That is the focus. Not the rebellious, willful transgressor of God’s law, no. The born-again Christian.

Turn with me to Romans 6:23. What does it say? “For all,” I’m sorry, Romans 3:23. I often get those two inverted, do you? “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” As for the absolute sinlessness required of the law, where do we stand? All have sinned. As for the infinite righteousness required, where do we stand? All come short of the glory of God. And by the way may I point out to you something that is not recognized in our English translation? In the Greek that verb “come short” is in the present tense–the present tense. And more accurately it would be translated, “For all have sinned and are coming short,” and are continually coming short, in other words, “of the glory of God.”

First I’d like to consider with you the law’s requirements as far as absolute sinlessness is concerned. Remember there are two aspects of the law’s requirements, absolute sinlessness and infinite righteousness. Consider with me how we stand, how we measure up, even as born-again Christians as far as the requirement of absolute sinlessness is concerned. Not only have all sinned but, praise God, we have forgiveness for that, but what else does God’s word tell us? But all as well have sin. All have sinned but all have sin. I John 1:8: “But we say we have no sin we” what? “we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Therefore what is the truth regarding all of us? What is it? We all have sinned, we all have sin. Is that not the only conclusion that we can come to from that text? If you ever say that you have no sin, and that is not the truth, then what the truth must always be is that you do have sin even as a born-again Christian.

Brothers and sisters, Review and Herald, November 29, 1887: “From the cross to the crown, there is earnest work to be done. There is wrestling with inbred sin.” Whose experience is that exclusively? The converted, born-again Christian. That’s all she’s talking about. From the cross to the crown. And yet what is the case, from the cross to the crown? There is wrestling with what? Inbred sin. When do we receive the crown? In a moment, in a twinkling of an eye at the last trump. That’s the crown of immortality and incorruption. Now lest any of you are concerned, please recognize with me that we can and indeed we must before the close of probation come to the place where we would rather die than knowingly transgress God’s law, but that doesn’t mean we’re sinless, does it? We still have a sinful nature, inbred sin. We still have inbred sin from the cross to the crown. There’s no such thing as holy flesh. And if it’s not holy, it’s what? It’s unholy. I ask you, did Christ have such? I cannot come to that conclusion.

Now, till glorification we are unable to say that we are without sin. And if we do so, we are lying and the truth is not in us. In the meantime, that sin, that inbred sin, and all of its sinful desires are under condemnation of the law. For sin is transgression of the law, even inbred sin. Now please note, I said sin and those sinful desires are under condemnation. I didn’t say that we are under condemnation for them. There is a gracious provision, praise God, whereby if we do not yield to those desires and let sin reign, there is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. But that does not mean that that inbred sin and that its sinful desires are not condemnable–they are. Why aren’t we condemned for them? Because they have been condemned for us in Christ who was made an offering for sin in the flesh. That’s why there’s no condemnation left over. And as long, brothers and sisters, as we are overcomers, praise God there is no condemnation. But again, we must recognize that we are in ourselves sinners. Are you in Christ? Not if you do not acknowledge yourself condemned sinners.

The extent of our sin problem and our recognition of it is determined directly by the degree to which we perceive the far-reaching and spiritual nature of the law. You show me someone who has a superficial understanding of the law and I will show you someone who has a superficial understanding of sin. And vice versa. And the tragedy is, if we don’t understand the full extent of our sin problem, we will never rightly appreciate the gracious solution to that problem in Christ, nor will we earnestly seek it.

Testimonies, volume 3, page 361: “Many do not have a sense of the sinfulness of their own nature nor of the grace of forgiveness. They are in nature’s darkness subject to great deception.” We must have one in order to have the other, brothers and sisters. We must have a sense of the sinfulness of our nature in order to have a sense of the grace of forgiveness. May the Lord help us by spiritually discerning the requirement of the law recognize our sinfulness that we might appreciate the gracious provision for forgiveness and accept it. He who is forgiven much also–what? Loves much. The legalist, the one who is self-righteous, cannot possibly love. Why? Because he has not been forgiven much; therefore, he cannot love much.

Desire of Ages, page 495: “Only he who sees his own sinfulness can discern the preciousness of the Savior.” And may I also suggest that only he who sees his own sinfulness can discern the absolute necessity of a sinless Savior, One who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners? You know, I cannot help but conclude that those who would say that Christ had just the same nature we have cannot possibly be fully cognizant of the depth of the sinfulness of our nature and its standing under the law of God. For to say that Christ had the same nature we had and then to claim at the same time He could be sinless is to take a very, very superficial position on what constitutes sin. And that is one of my primary concerns with this method of trying to make Christ sympathetic for it forces one to a very superficial understanding of what constitutes sin, doesn’t it? If you say that Christ was in nature all that we are and still claim He’s sinless, you have got to write off all of that inbred bent towards evil as unsinful. Right?

Steps to Christ, page 65: “No deep-seated love for Christ can dwell in the heart that does not realize its own sinfulness.” Oh, brothers and sisters, may we recognize our own sinfulness? Would you consider with me that standard which alone can help us recognize our own sinfulness? Remember, by the law is the knowledge of sin. And again, as we read in Review and Herald, April 23, 1901: “The standard of righteousness is exceeding broad, prohibiting every evil thing. What does it prohibit? Every evil thing. Does that include Review and Herald, May 4, 1886: “The inborn evil of the natural heart? Does it? Why, of course, it does. If it prohibits every evil thing, it prohibits even the inborn evil of the natural heart. That’s why, my brother, my sister, we can’t give Christ exactly the same nature we have. For if He has exactly the same nature that we have, He had inborn evil in His natural heart. And He had something that the law of God prohibited, something that the law of God condemned. Do you see that? {41’03”} Great Controversy, page 505: “When man transgressed the divine law, his nature became evil and he was in harmony and not at variance with Satan. There exists naturally no enmity between sinful man and the originator of sin.” That is why we have inborn evil in the natural heart, because the very first man, the determiner of the genetic inheritance of the entire race, made himself evil in nature, and thereby destined the whole race to be such.

Note with me that the Christian still has this inborn evil to contend with. I read from Ministry of Healing, pages 175, 176. Note carefully for the synonyms in this brief paragraph. They’re very interesting to note. I appreciate a statement like this because it helps us clearly understand what terms are synonymous. “Those who put their trust in Christ are not to be enslaved by any hereditary or cultivated habit or tendency. Instead of being held in bondage to the lower nature, they are to rule every appetite and passion. God has not left us to battle with evil in our own strength. Whatever may be our inherited or cultivated tendencies to wrong, we can overcome through the power that He is ready to impart.” Praise God for that good news. Did you catch, though, the synonyms? Hereditary or cultivated habit or tendencies is the same as lower nature, which is used the same as appetite and passion, which is synonymous to evil, which is synonymous to inherited or cultivated tendencies to wrong. They are all used in parallel to each other in that paragraph. Do you want me to read it once more? Listen for those parallels.

“Those who have put their trust in Christ are not to be enslaved by any hereditary or cultivated habit or tendency. Instead of being held in bondage”–that’s synonymous to enslaved, isn’t it? “Instead of being held in bondage to the lower nature”–therefore that’s synonymous to what? Hereditary or cultivated habit or tendency. “Instead of being held in bondage to the lower nature, they are to rule every appetite and passion.” That then is synonymous with what? Lower nature. ” God has not left us to battle with evil.” What’s that synonymous with? Lower nature. Hereditary or cultivated habit or tendency, and appetite and passion. “God has not left us to battle with evil in our own finite strength. Whatever may be our inherited or cultivated tendencies to wrong, we can overcome through the power that He is ready to impart.” Do you have those parallels? What then is evil? The lower nature, those hereditary tendencies to evil, those appetites and passions that are perverted by sin.

Again, Acts of the Apostles, page 477: “Each day He”–and this is the Christian–“He must renew his consecration, each day do battle with evil. Old habits and hereditary tendencies to wrong will strive for the mastery, and against these he is to be ever on guard, striving in Christ’s strength for the victory.” What then are hereditary and cultivated tendencies again clearly in this statement? They are what? Evil. They are evil. And what does God’s law prohibit? Every evil thing. In light of that, can we safely say that Christ had inherited and cultivated tendencies to evil? We cannot, my brother, my sister. If He had inherited tendencies to evil, He had evil itself. And if He had evil itself, He had something that was under condemnation of the law. And if He had something that was under condemnation of the law, He Himself was what? Under condemnation of the law. Do you see that? Does that make sense?

Review and Herald, September 17, 1895: “Human nature is depraved and is justly condemned by a holy God.” Is that clear? Human nature is what? Depraved. And is what? Justly condemned by a holy God. When did human nature become depraved? In the Garden of Eden. What is the essence of depravity? Selfishness. When Satan caused Adam to sin, he planted the seeds of selfishness in human nature and at that moment it became depraved, or morally deranged, which is another definition for depravity in inspiration. It became out of kilter. All of its perfect harmony and direction towards God and obedience to His law was disrupted. He became morally deranged, depraved, and human nature is depraved and is justly condemned by a holy God. And, brothers and sisters, if we give Christ such a nature, He is what? Condemned by a holy God. Isn’t that clear?

Bible Echoes, December, 1887: “We are sinful by nature and so are commanded to be zealous and repent.” We are commanded to do what? Be zealous and repent for the wrong things we’ve said and done? Oh, yes, of course, but is that all? No, for what we are by nature. Did Christ ever repent for what He was by nature? No. Why? Because He was not sinful by nature. Now I know that perhaps there are some of you here that are saying, well, wait a minute. What about the statements that say, He took upon His sinless nature our sinful nature? Yes, we must take those into consideration and we must give them due weight and we will. Be patient. Okay? What we have to establish now is that Christ was not sinful in nature in a way that would necessitate His condemnation and need for repentance. Is that clear?

Not only is our sinful, depraved nature under condemnation, but all of the selfish, covetous desires that spring from it are under condemnation as well. In the book, Mind, Character and Personality, page 32, we read these words: “The law of Jehovah is exceeding broad. Jesus plainly declares to His disciples that this holy law of God may be violated in even the thoughts and feelings and desires, as well as in word and deed.” How can we violate the law? Thoughts, feelings and desires. Desires.

Manuscript 72, 1901: “Jesus made application of the law directly to the soul and laid under its jurisdiction the will and desires.” The will and desires. “And works of man, wrong doing and all thoughts and feelings condemned by the law of God are to be overcome.” He laid under direct jurisdiction of the law what? The will and the desires.

Listen for those two words in this statement. Ministry of Healing, page 452. The will and the desires. Listen. This is in reference not only to a born-again Christian but to a very mature and victorious one. “The life of the apostle Paul was a constant conflict with self. He said, I die daily.” Why? Listen. “His will and his desires every day conflicted with duty and the will of God. Instead of following inclination, he did God’s will, however crucifying to his flesh.” Will and desires in the apostle Paul were in conflict daily with what? The will of God. Is that condemnable? Of course it is. The law reaches to the will and the desires and there was within Paul a will and a desire on a daily basis that was contrary to the will of God. And therefore under condemnation. But I ask you, was he condemned for having such? No. Why? Because he didn’t yield to it, that’s why. And there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus who walk not according to the flesh but what? According to the spirit. He still had a flesh that was under condemnation, and it still had wrong desires that were condemnable. But he didn’t allow that flesh to have him. He refused to yield to it. And thereby he was not condemned for having it, even though it in itself was under condemnation. Do you see that?

Even the born-again Christian who is consistently overcoming still is free from condemnation only on the basis of what he is in Christ by grace. Right? Not on the basis of what he is in himself. Are you in Christ? Not if you do not acknowledge yourself a condemned sinner in yourself. Do you see why we cannot accept this theory that Christ was just like us, except he started as a born-again Christian? Do you see it? Turn with me to Romans 7:7. Note Paul’s experience regarding the spiritual nature of the law and what it did for him. Romans 7:7: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not. On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, you shall not covet.” Tell me. As a Pharisee, a Pharisee of Pharisees, did Paul know what constituted sin of deed? Oh, yes, he was a professional on that; that was his business. He could keep us occupied for hours telling us precisely what constituted a violation of the Sabbath commandment, and every other as well.

What then was the sin that was brought to Paul’s understanding by this law? Was it sin of deed? No. He knew what constituted sin of deed. What was brought to his understanding by means of this law? Sin of nature. The essence, the heart and core of the sin problem, that naturally rebellious and selfish nature. It is precisely for this reason that Paul says it was the tenth commandment that brought it home to his understanding. Did he pick that just out of a hat? No. Why was it the tenth commandment? Because it is the only one of all ten for which there is nothing you can do at the level of behavior to meet its requirement. Nothing. Every one of the other nine. Check it out sometime. There is something you can do at the level of behavior to convince yourself you are keeping its requirements but, “Thou shalt not covet.” What do you do at the level of behavior not to covet? Where does coveting take place exclusively? In the mind. And it is the activity of that inborn evil, that depraved nature, that old man called sin. And by means of that tenth commandment, the self-righteous Saul of Tarsus discovered that he was a sinner by nature. And after that discovery never did there escape from his lips by the deeds of the law blameless. But what was his confession thereafter? Chief of sinners. Why? Because the law had done its homework in Paul’s heart. That’s why. And brothers and sisters, we will never, never confess ourselves chief of sinners until it does its homework in our hearts as well. And it is only he or she who confesses themselves to be chief of sinners that are ready to go to the foot of Calvary’s cross for a Savior.

Oh, may the Lord help us see the spiritual nature of the law. Letter 48, 1894: “Many things are registered as sins in the book of heaven which men did not call sin. Selfishness and covetousness are at the foundation of all sins. And yet many are not convicted of the sin of selfishness.” Why? Listen. “Because it is a part of their nature and they do not listen to the reprovings of the Holy Spirit.” Oh, my brother, my sister, listen, please. I think if we would do more listenings and recognize more fully the sinfulness and selfishness of our own nature, we would never, never dare to claim that Christ was just like we are.

I read from Manuscript 2, 1900. What is our problem? Listen. “The sinner measures himself by himself and by those who like himself are sinners. He does not look at the purity and holiness of Christ, but when the law of God brings conviction to his heart, he says with Paul, ‘I was alive without the law once but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment which was ordained to life I found to be unto death. What shall we say then, Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin but by the law, for I had not known lust except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. Wherefore the law is holy and the commandment holy and just and good.'”

Oh, brothers and sisters, Paul spent a lot of time dwelling on the far-reaching and spiritual claims of the law. He showed us that it extended to the deep secrets of man’s moral nature. “The law,” I read from Acts of the Apostles, page 424, “What the hand may do or the tongue may utter, what the outer life reveals but imperfectly shows man’s moral character. The law reaches his thoughts, motives and purposes, the dark passions that lie hidden from the sight of man, the jealousy, hatred, lust and ambition, the evil deeds meditated upon in the dark recesses of the soul, yet never executed for want of opportunity. All these the law condemns.” It condemns the lusts, brothers and sisters.

It condemns the lusts, but does it condemn us for having fleshly lusts, if we refuse to indulge them? No. And that is the precious truth of the gospel. Even though there is within us that which is condemnable, if we by Christ’s enabling grace overcome, we are not held under condemnation for it. Testimonies, volume 5, page 177: “An impure thought tolerated, an unholy desire cherished and the soul is contaminated, its integrity is compromised. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth death. If we would not commit sin, we must shun its very beginnings. Every emotion and desire must be held in subjection to reason and conscience. Every unholy thought must be instantly repelled.” Can God give us the grace to do that? Yes, he can. And brothers and sisters, if we instantly repel it, even though it was an unholy thought, and all that is unholy is condemned by a law that is holy, but if we instantly repel it, are we under condemnation for having had it? No, praise God, we are not.

But if we yield to it, are we under condemnation? Yes, we are. Review and Herald, May 3, 1881: “If we serve sin, we cannot serve Christ. The Christian will feel the promptings of sin.” Who will feel the promptings of sin? The Christian. Why? Because Satan tempts him? Where does temptation come from? James 1:13-15. Read it sometime. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own lusts. Oh, Satan’s involved, yes. But how does he get to us? By stirring up the carnal appetites, the perverted passions of the lower, corrupt nature, that evil, that inbred sin. If we serve sin, we cannot serve Christ. The Christian will feel the promptings of sin for the flesh lusteth against the Spirit. But the Spirit striveth against the flesh, keeping up a constant warfare.

Brothers and sisters, please hear me on this matter. There is to be a clear distinction, then, between those sinful desires which are immediately repulsed by an act of the will and those which are dwelt upon and consented to in the realm of our thought life. The latter is sin for which we are held responsible, guilty, under condemnation, for it is avoidable. The former is evil for which we are not condemned for it is an unavoidable consequence of the fall of Adam and our inherited fallen natures that are naturally depraved and selfish. We are not condemned for it, though; if we overcome it, we are not condemned for it, not because it isn’t condemnable, for indeed it is. It is a violation of the law that reaches even to the level of our desires, but we are not condemned for it because God removed from all who by faith come to Christ and are found in Him, God removed the condemnation of this unavoidable deficiency inherited from fallen Adam and condemned it in the person of His Son, making Him an offering for sin in the flesh, that He might pardon us for our sinful desires when and if we manifest by refusing to yield to them that we do not cherish sin in the flesh. And when we ask for forgiveness for sin in the flesh.

The apostles, those who would rather die than knowingly transgress God’s law. Acts of the Apostles, 561, what did they confess? They confessed the sinfulness of their nature. And because they did not yield to those sinful desires of that sinful nature, and because they confessed that sinfulness of nature, there was what? No condemnation. Even though that which was within them was condemnable. I want to make that so clear I run the risk of saying it too many times I know, but it’s an important point, brothers and sisters. Now, with the provision of the atonement, the believer who has confessed sin in the flesh and accepted Christ as the offering for sin in the flesh, he has had his responsibility for the broad and deep problem of sin in his life sharply focused and clearly delineated.

Remember we have but an inkling of the infinite standard, and the breadth and the depth of the law. But does God hold us responsible for all of that? Does He? No, He holds us responsible for what we know and because there is provision in the atonement for all that we don’t know about, we need not worry ourselves about it, praise God. But brothers and sisters, as God reveals to us more and more fully the sinfulness of our nature, we must more and more fully gain the victory. We cannot drop behind our knowledge of God’s will and cherish known sin for then we forfeit the gracious provision of the atonement.

Now, let’s consider the laws demand for infinite righteousness and how we even as born-again Christians measure up. Now I assure you that this particular study is not as long as the first, so don’t be concerned. We studied first the law’s demands as far as absolute sinlessness is concerned. Now we need to consider the laws demands as far as infinite righteousness is concerned. How do we measure up even as born-again Christians?

Romans 3:23 again: “For all have sinned” and what? “Come short of the glory of God.” Now again, that is the present tense, “are falling short, are coming short,” of the what? The glory of God. What is the glory of God? His character. Precisely. Moses on Mt. Sinai, in Exodus 33:18, 19, he said, “I pray thee show me thy glory,” and God revealed to him His goodness. Specifically, His character traits, in chapter 34:6 and 7, He revealed to him. I read from Southern Watchman, October 25, 1904: “It is His righteous character that constitutes the glory of God.” What is God’s glory? It is His righteous character. What is the transcript of that character? It is the law, precisely. When Moses said, I pray thee show me thy glory in Exodus 33, Exodus 34:1, God says, Bring two tables of stone. I’ll give you a written version of it. God’s law is the transcript of His character.

I read from Review and Herald, February 9, 1890: “The law spoken from Sinai is a transcript of God’s character.” What does the law require of us? Christ’s Object Lessons, page 315. Listen. “God requires perfection of His children. His law is a transcript of His character and is the standard of all character. This infinite standard is presented to all that there may be no mistake in regard to the kind of people whom God will have to comprise His kingdom.” God’s law is an infinite standard. It’s the transcript of His character. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect.” It requires us to glorify God.

Bible Commentary, volume 7, page 979: “To give glory to God is to reveal His character in our own and thus make Him known, and in whatever way we make known the Father or the Son, we glorify God.” Mount of Blessings, page 55: “Jesus proceeded to show his hearers what it means to keep the commandments of God, that it is a reproduction in themselves of the character of Christ.” What does it mean to keep the commandments of God? It means to reproduce in ourselves the character of Christ. This the true Christian seeks to do with his whole heart. But what is his experience? What does he discover?

Sanctified Life, page 81: “But he who is truly seeking for holiness of heart and life delights in the law of God and mourns only that he falls so far short of meeting its requirements. I want to read it again. Please listen. “But he who is truly seeking for holiness of heart and life delights in the law of God.” Who are we talking about there? The converted, born-again Christian, of course. No one else delights in the law of God. No one else is seeking holiness of heart and life. “But he who is truly seeking for holiness of heart and life delights in the law of God.” And what does he do? “And mourns only that he falls so far short of meeting its requirements.” Sanctified Life, page 7: “Those who are really seeking to perfect Christian character will never indulge the thought that they are sinless. Their lives may be irreproachable, they may be living representatives of the truth which they have accepted, but the more they discipline their minds to dwell upon the character of Christ and the nearer they approach to His divine image, the more clearly will they discern its spotless perfection and the more deeply will they feel their own defects.” No wonder they mourn that they fall so far short of meeting the requirements of the law in which they delight.

As we look to Christ, what do we discover in Him, brothers and sisters? Testimonies, volume 6, page 60: “The life of Christ reveals an infinitely perfect character.” The life of Christ reveals an infinitely perfect character. Why did it have to do such? Because He came to fulfil the requirement of the law for us. And what is the requirement of the law? “Be ye therefore perfect even as your father in heaven is perfect.” It’s an infinite standard. The life of Christ reveals an infinitely perfect character.

Testimonies, volume 5, page 739: “In His nobility of character, in His mercy and tender pity, in His love and goodness, He stands before us as the embodiment of divine perfection, the image of the invisible God.” Therefore He could say, If you have seen me, you’ve seen the Father. And brothers and sisters, as we look to Him who is infinitely perfect in character, as we look to Him who is the embodiment of divine perfection, and then take one look at ourselves, what conclusion do we come to? We fall miserably short. But do we despair? No. Why? Because it is not our righteousness that justifies us. It’s whose? It’s His. And as long as we by His grace are being all we can be for Him, as long as we want more than anything else to glorify Him, as long as we despise that sin within us that constantly hinders and limits and pulls us downward, and overcome it in His strength, we can rest assured that there is therefore no condemnation for our miserable shortfall. Praise God. No condemnation for that miserable shortfall. Why? Because Christ makes up for our unavoidable deficiencies.

Oh, that’s a precious expression that the pen of inspiration uses. I don’t have that quote here but that’s a vitally important one to bear in mind. Christ makes up for our unavoidable deficiencies. Our unavoidable deficiencies. Just that little phrase will do more than just about anything else to keep you out of those two ditches, brothers and sisters, the ditch of Antinomianism and the ditch of legalism. How does it keep you out of the ditch of legalism? Because you have to recognize that no matter how mature you are in your Christian experience, you still have what? Deficiencies. And therefore you just be utterly and completely and totally dependent upon the righteousness of Christ, because yours falls miserably short. And it does not meet the infinite standard. And that’s what the legalist has to hear. And when you’re talking to a legalist, you emphasize deficiencies. But when you’re talking to an Antinomian, what do you emphasize? Unavoidable. He makes up for deficiencies, yes, but does he make up for those deficiencies that we could do something about if we were more fully submitted to His lordship? No. No.

You see, brothers and sisters, the beautiful provision of the atonement? How it is carefully and precisely delineated for us, that spectrum of the sin problem that we are responsible for. Praise God that what He holds us responsible for is what we know to be His will for us and our abilities to obey it. Those two things. And can you see then how the standard varies significantly from one to another? What he holds me responsible for may be a good deal different for what he holds you responsible for. Perhaps He’s given you a good deal more light and you’re responsible for all the light that you have. And one person may have not the same faculties and abilities to understand. Does God hold each responsible for the same standard? No. The parable of the talents makes that clear, doesn’t it? Did the one who only had two talents, was he required to meet the standard that the one who had five talents was required to meet? No. They were each held responsible for what they had. So it is with God.

And so, brothers and sisters, praise God for the provision of the atonement. Praise God that we are dealing with something that is very, very understandable and precise, and by His enabling grace, if we overcome, we can leave all the unavoidable deficiencies in His hands, and He will make up for them. How can we go wrong with such a provision? But what is the conclusion of the whole matter? Heavenly Places, page 156: “Man weighed against God’s holy law is found wanting. We are enlightened by the precepts of the law but no man can by them be justified. Weighed and found wanting is our inscription by nature.” Did you hear it? “Weighed and found wanting is our inscription by” what? By nature. Did Christ have just the same nature we have? If he did, what was his inscription by nature? Weighed and found wanting? Oh, my brother, my sister, God forbid that our Savior was weighed in the balances and found wanting, for we have no hope if that’s the case. I beg of you, in your efforts to make Him a sympathetic Elder Brother and a valid Example, don’t make Him one who is weighed in the balance and found wanting. If you give Him just the same nature we have, that’s what you do to Him. And you take away our Sinless Substitute and you have no hope, and the only way you can get to heaven is by meeting the infinite standard on your own. And that is impossible.

There’s good news that follows. Listen to it. Weighed and found wanting is our inscription by nature but Christ is our Mediator and accepting Him as our Savior, we may claim the promise, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s the gospel. But you’ll never appreciate it and embrace it until you recognize with me that we all are weighed in the balance and found wanting by nature.

May the Lord help us see this that we might appreciate One who by nature was weighed in the balance and was not found wanting. And who was weighed in the balance for us. Brothers and sisters, we have a Sinless Substitute. Praise God.

Quotes from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy as used in this lesson for your reference. 😉

 

5T 48 “Are you in Christ?  Not if you do not acknowledge yourselves erring, helpless, condemned sinners.”

Rom 3:20 “For by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

9T 267 “Those who have permitted their minds to become clouded in regard to what constitutes sin are fearfully deceived.”

Rom 8:3 “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and on account of sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.”

ST July 23, 1902 “As a result of Adam’s disobedience, every human being is a transgressor of the law and is sold unto sin.”

SC 62 “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.”

RH Sep 3, 1901 “But that which God required of Adam in paradise before the fall, He requires in this age of the world from those who would follow Him–perfect obedience to His law.  But righteousness without a blemish can be obtained only through the imputed righteousness of Christ.”

SC 62 “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.”

Matt 5:21,22 (paraphrased) “You’ve heard that if you kill you’re guilty; but I say that if you’re angry, you’re guilty.”

Matt 5:27,28 (paraphrased) “You’ve heard that if you commit adultery you’re guilty.  But I say you’re guilty if you look upon a woman to lust for her in your heart.”

Matt 5:48 “Therefore you shall be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

7BC 951 “Sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4).  This is the only definition of sin.  ‘Without the law there can be no transgression. (Rom 4:15).  By the law is the knowledge of sin. (Rom 3:20).  The standard of righteousness is exceeding broad, prohibiting every evil thing.”

Psalm 119:96 “I have seen the consummation of all perfection but your commandment is exceeding broad.”

RH Feb 4, 1890 “We have only glimmering light in regard to the exceeding breadth of the law of God.”

FE 238 “There are far reaching depths in the law of God that are uncomprehended.  There is immeasurable breadth, dignity and glory in the law of God.

Rom 3:23 “For all have sinned and come (literally: are continually coming) short of the glory of God.”

RH Nov 29, 1887 “From the cross to the crown, there is earnest work to be done.  There is wrestling with inbred sin.”

1 Cor 15:52 “In a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.”

3T 361 “Many do not have a sense of the sinfulness of their own nature nor of the grace of forgiveness.  They are in nature’s darkness, subject to……great deception.”

DA 495 “Only he who sees his own sinfulness can discern the preciousness of the Savior.”

SC 65 “No deep-seated love for Christ can dwell in the heart that does not realize its own sinfulness.”

Rom 3:20 “by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

RH Apr 23, 1901 “The standard of righteousness is exceeding broad, prohibiting every evil thing.”

RH May 4, 1886 “the inborn evil of the natural heart.”

GC 505 “When man transgressed the divine law, his nature became evil and he was in harmony and not at variance with Satan.  There exists naturally no enmity between sinful man and the originator of sin.”

MH 175,6 “Those who put their trust in Christ are not to be enslaved by any hereditary or cultivated habit or tendency.  Instead of being held in bondage to the lower nature, they are to rule every appetite and passion.  God has not left us to battle with evil in our own finite strength.  Whatever may be our inherited or cultivated tendencies to wrong, we can overcome through the power that He is ready to impart.”

AA 477 “Each day he must renew his consecration, each day do battle with evil.  Old habits and hereditary tendencies to wrong will strive for the mastery, and against these he is to be ever on guard, striving in Christ’s strength for the victory.”

RH Sep 17, 1895 “Human nature is depraved and is justly condemned by a holy God.”

CS 24 “Selfishness is the essence of depravity.”

HP 196 “Moral derangement, which we call depravity.”

ST Aug. 21, 1884 “We are sinful by nature and so are commanded to be zealous and repent.”

MM 181 “He took upon His sinless nature, our sinful nature.”

MCP 32 “The law of Jehovah is exceedingly broad.  Jesus….plainly declares to His disciples that this holy law of God may be violated in even the thoughts and feelings and desires, as well as in the word and deed.”

Manuscript 72, 1901 “Jesus made application of the law directly to the soul and laid under its jurisdiction the will and desires.  And works of man, wrong doing and all thoughts and feelings condemned by the law of God are to be overcome.”

MH 452 “The life of the apostle Paul was a constant conflict with self.  He said, I die daily (1 Cor 15:31).  His will and his desires every day conflicted with duty and the will of God.  Instead of following inclination he did God’s will, however crucifying to his nature.”

Rom 7:7 “What shall we say then?  Is the law sin?  Certainly not.  On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law.  For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, you shall not covet.

Acts 26:5 “according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived a Pharisee.”

Letter 48, 1894 “Many things are registered as sins in the book of heaven which men did not call sin.  Selfishness and covetousness are at the foundation of all sins.  And yet many are not convicted of the sin of selfishness.  Because it is a part of their nature and they do not listen to the reprovings of the Holy Spirit.”

Manuscript 2, 1900 “The sinner measures himself by himself and by those who like himself are sinners.  He does not look at the purity and holiness of Christ, but when the law of God brings conviction to his heart, he says with Paul, ‘I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.  And the commandment which was to bring life, I found to bring death.” (Rom 7:9,10)   “What shall we say then?  Is the law sin?  Certainly not!  On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law.  For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘you shall not covet.’” (Rom 7:7).  “Therefore, the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.”” (Rom 7:12).

AA 424 “What the hand may do or the tongue may utter,–what the outer life reveals–but imperfectly shows man’s moral character.  The law reaches his thoughts, motives and purposes.  The dark passions that lie hidden from the sight of man, the jealousy, hatred, lust and ambition, the evil deeds meditated upon in the dark recesses of the soul, yet never executed for want of opportunity.–all these, God’s law condemns.”

5T 177 “An impure thought tolerated, an unholy desire cherished and the soul is contaminated, its integrity compromised.  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (James 1:15)  If we would not commit sin, we must shun its very beginnings.  Every emotion and desire must be held in subjection to reason and conscience.  Every unholy thought must be instantly repelled.”

RH May 3, 1881 “If we serve sin, we cannot serve Christ.  The Christian will feel the promptings of sin, for the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, but the Spirit striveth against the flesh, keeping up a constant warfare.”

James 1:13-15 “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

AA 561 “Men who have lived the nearest to God, men who would sacrifice life itself rather than knowingly commit a wrong act…confessed the sinfulness of their nature.”

Rom 3:23 “For all have sinned and come (are coming, or are falling) short of the glory of God.”

Ex 33:18,19 “I pray Thee show me Thy glory.” (and God revealed to him His) “goodness”.

Ex 34:6,7 (then God revealed to him His character traits) “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth”, etc.

SW Oct 25, 1904 “It is His righteous character that constitutes the glory of God.”

Ex 33:18,19 “I pray Thee show me Thy glory”

Ex 34:1 “Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke.”

RH Feb 4, 1890 “The law spoken from Sinai is a transcript of God’s character.”

COL 315 “God requires perfection of His children.  His law is a transcript of His character and it is the standard of all character.  This infinite standard is presented to all that there may be no mistake in regard to the kind of people whom God will have to compose His kingdom.”

Matt 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

7BC 979 “To give glory to God is to reveal His character in our own, and thus make Him known, and in whatever way we make known the Father or the Son, we glorify God.”

MB 55 “Jesus proceeded to show His hearers what it means to keep the commandments of God, that it is a reproduction in themselves of the character of Christ.”

SL 81 “But he who is truly seeking for holiness of heart and life delights in the law of God and mourns only that he falls so far short of meeting its requirements.”

SL 7 “Those who are really seeking to perfect Christian character will never indulge the thought that they are sinless.  Their lives may be irreproachable, they may be living representatives of the truth which they have accepted, but the more they discipline their minds to dwell upon the character of Christ, and the nearer they approach to His divine image, the more clearly will they discern its spotless perfection and the more deeply will they feel their own defects.”

SL 81 “mourns only that he falls so far short of meeting its requirements.”

6T 60 “The life of Christ reveals an infinitely perfect character.”

Matt 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

6T 60 “The life of Christ reveals an infinitely perfect character.”

5T 739 “In His nobility of character, in His mercy and tender pity, in His love and goodness, He stands before us as the embodiment of divine perfection, the Image of the invisible God.”

John 14:9 “If you have seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.”

HP 156 “Man weighed against God’s holy law is found wanting.  We are enlightened by the precepts of the law but no man can by them be justified.  Weighed and found wanting is our inscription by nature.  But Christ is our Mediator and accepting Him as our Savior, we may claim the promise, ‘being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’”  (Rom 5:1).

😉

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