THE MARK OF THE BEAST
Chapter Five - Entering the Final Crisis
- - By Threat or Violence
Satanís power to deceive can be very greatówhen men choose to remain ignorant. In every age there has been a decided struggle of truth against error. But the greatest one is just ahead. One of the most massive crises of the ages is just before mankind. Of Babylon at this time, it is declared in Scripture, "Her sins have reached unto Heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities."
Revelation 13 predicts that a time is just before us when those who honor fundamental Bible truths will be denounced as enemies of law and order. We must individually know the Word of God for ourselves, that we may stand on the right side in that day ó
From the very beginning of the great controversy in Heaven it has been Satanís purpose to overthrow the law of God. It was to accomplish this that he entered upon his rebellion against the Creator; and though he was cast out of Heaven, he has continued the same warfare upon the earth. To deceive men, and thus lead them to transgress Godís law, is the object which he has steadfastly pursued. Whether this be accomplished by casting aside the law altogether or by rejecting one of its precepts, the result will be ultimately the same. He that offends "in one point" manifests contempt for the whole law; his influence and example are on the side of transgression; he becomes "guilty of all" (James 2:10).
In seeking to cast contempt upon the divine statutes, Satan has perverted the doctrines of the Bible, and errors have thus become incorporated into the faith of thousands who profess to believe the Scriptures. The last great conflict between truth and error is but the final struggle of the long-standing controversy concerning the law of God. Upon this battle we are now entering,óa battle between the laws of men and the precepts of God, between the religion of the Bible and the religion of fable and tradition.
No Error More Bold
No error accepted by the Christian world strikes more boldly against the authority of Heaven, none is more directly opposed to the dictates of reason, none is more pernicious in its results, than the modern doctrine so rapidly gaining ground that Godís law is no longer binding upon men. Every nation has its laws, which command respect and obedience; no government could exist without them; and can it be conceived that the Creator of the heavens and the earth has no law to govern the beings He has made? Suppose that prominent ministers were publicly to teach that the statutes which govern their land and protect the rights of its citizens were not obligatory,óthat they restricted the liberties of the people, and therefore ought not to be obeyed; how long would such men be tolerated in the pulpit? But is it a graver offense to disregard the laws of States and nations than to trample upon those divine precepts which are the foundation of all government?
It would be far more consistent for nations to abolish their statutes, and permit the people to do as they please, than for the Ruler of the universe to annul His law and leave the world without a standard to condemn the guilty or justify the obedient. Would we know the result of making void the law of God? The experiment has been tried. Terrible were the scenes enacted in France when atheism became the controlling power. It was then demonstrated to the world that to throw off the restraints which God has imposed is to accept the rule of the cruelest of tyrants. When the standard of righteousness is set aside, the way is open for the prince of evil to establish his power in the earth.
What Lawlessness Will Bring
Wherever the divine precepts are rejected, sin ceases to appear sinful, or righteousness desirable. Those who refuse to submit to the government of God are wholly unfitted to govern themselves. Through their pernicious teachings, the spirit of insubordination is implanted in the hearts of children and youth, who are naturally impatient of control; and a lawless, licentious state of society results. While scoffing at the credulity of those who obey the requirements of God, the multitudes eagerly accept the delusions of Satan. They give the rein to lust, and practice the sins which have called down judgments upon the heathen.
Those who teach the people to lightly regard the commandments of God sow disobedience, to reap disobedience. Let the restraint imposed by the divine law be wholly cast aside, and human laws would soon be disregarded. Because God forbids dishonest practicesócoveting, lying, and defraudingómen are ready to trample upon His statutes as a hindrance to their worldly prosperity; but the results of banishing these precepts would be such as they do not anticipate. If the law were not binding, why should any fear to transgress? Property would no longer be safe. Men would obtain their neighborís possessions by violence; and the strongest would become richest. Life itself would not be respected. The marriage vow would no longer stand as a sacred bulwark to protect the family. He who had the power would, if he desired, take his neighborís wife by violence. The fifth commandment would be set aside with the fourth. Children would not shrink from taking the life of their parents, if by so doing they could obtain the desire of their corrupt hearts. The civilized world would become a horde of robbers and assassins; and peace, rest, and happiness would be banished from the earth.
And it is Already Happening
Already the doctrine that men are released from obedience to Godís requirements has weakened the force of moral obligation and opened the floodgates of iniquity upon the world. Lawlessness, dissipation, and corruption are sweeping in upon us like an overwhelming tide. In the family Satan is at work. His banner waves, even in professedly Christian households. There is envy, evil surmising, hypocrisy, estrangement, emulation, strife, betrayal of sacred trusts, indulgence of lust. The whole system of religious principles and doctrines which should form the foundation and framework of social life seems to be a tottering mass, ready to fall to ruin.
The Last Great Delusion
"To the law and to the testimony: If they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them." Isaiah 8:20. The people of God are directed to the Scriptures as their safe-guard against the influence of false teachers and the delusive power of spirits of darkness. Satan employs every possible device to prevent men from obtaining a knowledge of the Bible; for its plain utterances reveal his deceptions. At every revival of Godís work, the prince of evil is aroused to more intense activity; he is now putting forth his utmost efforts for a final struggle against Christ and His followers. The last great delusion is soon to open before us. Antichrist is to perform his marvelous works in our sight. So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true, that it will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures. By their testimony every statement and every miracle must be tested.
Those who endeavor to obey all the commandments of God will be opposed and derided. They can stand only in God. In order to endure the trial before them, they must understand the will of God as revealed in His Word; they can honor Him only as they have a right conception of His character, government, and purposes, and act in accordance with them. None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict. To every soul will come the searching test, Shall I obey God rather than men? The decisive hour is even now at hand. Are our feet planted on the rock of Godís immutable Word? Are we prepared to stand firm in defense of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus?
Counterfeit before the Genuine
Before the final visitation of Godís judgments upon the earth, there will be, among the people of the Lord, such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children. At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and His Word. Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time, to prepare a people for the Lordís second coming. The enemy of souls desires to hinder this work; and before the time for such a movement shall come, he will endeavor to prevent it by introducing a counterfeit. In those churches which he can bring under his deceptive power, he will make it appear that Godís special blessing is poured out; there will be manifest what is thought to be great religious interest. Multitudes will exult that God is working marvelously for them, when the work is that of another spirit. Under a religious guise, Satan will seek to extend his influence over the Christian world.
In many of the revivals which have occurred during the last half century, the same influences have been at work, to a greater or less degree, that will be manifest in the more extensive movements of the future. There is an emotional excitement, a mingling of the true with the false, that is well adapted to mislead. Yet none need be deceived. In the light of Godís Word it is not difficult to determine the nature of these movements. Wherever men neglect the testimony of the Bible, turning away from those plain, soul-testing truths which require self-denial and renunciation of the world, there we may be sure that Godís blessing is not bestowed. And by the rule which Christ Himself has given, "Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Matt. 7:16), it is evidence that these movements are not the work of the Spirit of God.
False Revivals and the True
In the truths of His Word, God has given to men a revelation of Himself; and to all who accept them they are a shield against the deceptions of Satan. It is a neglect of these truths that has opened the door to the evils which are now becoming so widespread in the religious world. The nature and the importance of the law of God have been, to a great extent, lost sight of. A wrong conception of the character, the perpetuity, and obligation of the divine law has led to errors in relation to conversion and sanctification, and has resulted in lowering the standard of piety in the church. Here is to be found the secret of the lack of the Spirit and power of God in the revivals of our time.
And then the great deceiver will persuade men that those who serve God are causing these evils. The class that have provoked the displeasure of Heaven will charge all their troubles upon those whose obedience to Godís commandments is a perpetual reproof to transgressors. It will be declared that men are offending God by the violation of the Sunday-sabbath, that this sin has brought calamities which will not cease until Sunday observance shall be strictly enforced, and that those who present the claims of the fourth commandmentóthus destroying reverence for Sundayóare troublers of the people, preventing their restoration to divine favor and temporal prosperity.
Satanís policy in this final conflict with Godís people is the same that he employed in the opening of the great controversy in Heaven. He professed to be seeking to promote the stability of the divine government while secretly bending every effort to secure its overthrow. And the very work which he was thus endeavoring to accomplish he charged upon the loyal angels. The same policy of deception has marked the history of the Roman Church. It has professed to act as the vicegerent of Heaven while seeking to exalt itself above God and to change His law. While Satan seeks to destroy those who honor Godís law, he will cause them to be accused as law-breakers, as men who are dishonoring God and bringing judgments upon the world.
Religious Law, the Key
God never forces the will or the conscience; but Satanís constant resortóto gain control of those whom he cannot otherwise seduceóis compulsion by cruelty. Through fear or force he endeavors to rule the conscience and to secure homage to himself. To accomplish this, he works through both religious and secular authorities, moving them to the enforcement of human laws in defiance of the law of God.
Those who honor the Bible Sabbath will be denounced as enemies of law and order, as breaking down the moral restraints of society, causing anarchy and corruption, and calling down the judgments of God upon the earth. Their conscientious scruples will be pronounced obstinacy, stubbornness, and contempt of authority. They will be accused of disaffection toward the government. Ministers who deny the obligation of the divine law will present from the pulpit the duty of yielding obedience to the civil authorities as ordained of God. In legislative halls and courts of justice, commandment keepers will be misrepresented and condemned. A false coloring will be given to their words; the worst construction will be put upon their motives.
Enacting a Law
As the Protestant churches reject the clear, scriptural arguments in defense of Godís law, they will long to silence those whose faith they cannot overthrow by the Bible. Though they blind their own eyes to the fact, they are now adopting a course which will lead to the persecution of those who conscientiously refuse to do what the rest of the Christian world are doing, and acknowledge the claims of the papal sabbath. The dignitaries of church and state will unite to bribe, persuade, or compel all classes to honor the Sunday. The lack of divine authority will be supplied by oppressive enactments. Political corruption is destroying love of justice and regard for truth; and even in free America, rulers and legislators, in order to secure public favor, will yield to the popular demand for a law enforcing Sunday observance. Liberty of conscience, which has cost so great a sacrifice, will no longer be respected. In the soon-coming conflict we shall see exemplified the prophetís words: "The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 12:17).
Marvelous in her shrewdness and cunning is the Roman Church. She can read what is to be. She bides her time, seeing that the Protestant churches are paying her homage in their acceptance of the false Sabbath, and that they are preparing to enforce it by the very means which she herself employed in bygone days. Those who reject the light of truth will yet seek the aid of this self-styled infallible power to exalt an institution that originated with her. How readily she will come to the help of Protestants in this work it is not difficult to conjecture. Who understands better than the papal leaders how to deal with those who are disobedient to the church?
Preparing for the End
The Roman Church, with all its ramifications throughout the world, forms one vast organization under the control, and designed to serve the interests, of the papal see. Its millions of communicants, in every country on the globe, are instructed to hold themselves as bound in allegiance to the pope. Whatever their nationality or their government, they are to regard the authority of the church as above all other. Though they may take the oath pledging their loyalty to the state, yet back of this lies the vow of obedience to Rome, absolving them from every pledge inimical to her interests.
The Warning Has Been Given
Godís Word has given warning of the impending danger; let this be unheeded, and the Protestant world will learn what the purposes of Rome really are, only when it is too late to escape the snare. She is silently growing into power. Her doctrines are exerting their influence in legislative halls, in the churches, and in the hearts of men. She is piling up her lofty and massive structures, in the secret recesses of which her former persecutions will be repeated. Stealthily and unsuspectedly she is strengthening her forces to further her own ends when the time shall come for her to strike. All that she desires is vantage ground, and this is already being given her. We shall soon see and shall feel what the purpose of the Roman element is. Whoever shall believe and obey the Word of God will thereby incur reproach and persecution.
To Destroy Faith in the Bible
The iniquity and spiritual darkness that prevailed under the supremacy of Rome were the inevitable result of her suppression of the Scriptures; but where is to be found the cause of the widespread infidelity, the rejection of the law of God, and the consequent corruption, under the full blaze of gospel light in an age of religious freedom? Now that Satan can no longer keep the world under his control by withholding the Scriptures, he resorts to other means to accomplish the same object. To destroy faith in the Bible serves his purpose as well as to destroy the Bible itself. By introducing the belief that Godís law is not binding, he as effectually leads men to transgress as if they were wholly ignorant of its precepts. And now, as in former ages, he has worked through the church to further his designs.
The religious organizations of the day have refused to listen to unpopular truths plainly brought to view in the Scriptures; and, in combating them, they have adopted interpretations and taken positions which have sown broadcast the seeds of skepticism. Clinging to the papal error of natural immortality and manís consciousness in death, they have rejected the only defense against the delusions of spiritualism. The doctrine of eternal torment has led many to disbelieve the Bible. And as the claims of the fourth commandment are urged upon the people, it is found that the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath is enjoined; and as the only way to free themselves from a duty which they are unwilling to perform, popular teachers declare that the law of God is no longer binding. Thus they cast away the law and the Sabbath together. As the work of Sabbath reform extends, this rejection of the divine law to avoid the claims of the fourth commandment will become almost universal. The teachings of religious leaders have opened the door to infidelity, to spiritualism, and to contempt for Godís holy law; and upon these leaders rests a fearful responsibility for the iniquity that exists in the Christian world.
Two Great Errors
Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions. While the former lays the foundation of spiritualism, the latter creates a bond of sympathy with Rome. The Protestants of the United States will be foremost in stretching their hands across the gulf to grasp the hand of spiritualism; they will reach over the abyss to clasp hands with the Roman power; and under the influence of this threefold union, this country will follow in the steps of Rome in trampling on the rights of conscience.
The Basis of Genuine Revival
Many religious teachers assert that Christ by His death abolished the law, and men are henceforth free from its requirements. There are some who represent it as a grievous yoke; and, in contrast to the bondage of the law, they present the liberty to be enjoyed under the gospel.
But not so did prophets and apostles regard the holy law of God. Said David, "I will walk at liberty; for I seek Thy precepts" (Ps. 119:45). The apostle James, who wrote after the death of Christ, refers to the decalogue as the "royal law," and the "perfect law of liberty" (James 2:8; 1:25). And the Revelator, half a century after the crucifixion, pronounces a blessing upon those "that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city" (Rev. 22:14).
The claim that Christ, by His death, abolished His Fatherís law is without foundation. Had it been possible for the law to be changed or set aside, then Christ need not have died to save man from the penalty of sin. The death of Christ, so far from abolishing the law, proves that it is immutable. The Son of God came to "magnify the law and make it honorable" (Isa. 42:21). He said, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law"; "till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law" (Matt. 5:17-18). And concerning Himself He declares, "I delight to do Thy will, O My God; yea, Thy law is within My heart" (Ps. 40:8).
The First Step in Reconciliation
The first step in reconciliation to God is the conviction of sin. "Sin is the transgression of the law." "By the law is the knowledge of sin." 1 John 3:4; Romans 3:20. In order to see his guilt, the sinner must test his character by Godís 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 law reveals to man his sins, but it provides no remedy. While it promises life to the obedient, 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. Thus he obtains "remission of sins that are past," and becomes a partaker of the divine nature. He is a child of God, having received the spirit of adoption, whereby he cries, "Abba, Father!"
Free to Obey
Is he now free to transgress Godís law? Says Paul: "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law." "How shall we, that are dead to sin live any longer therein?" And John declares, "This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous" (Rom. 3:31; 6:2; 1 John 5:3). In the new birth the heart is brought into harmony with God, as it is brought into accord with His law.
As spiritualism more closely imitates the nominal Christianity of the day, it has greater power to deceive and ensnare. Satan himself is converted after the modern order of things. He will appear in the character of an angel of light. Through the agency of spiritualism, miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and many undeniable wonders will be performed. And as the spirits will profess faith in the Bible and manifest respect for the institutions of the church, their work will be accepted as a manifestation of divine power.
How Satan Will Appear
Through spiritualism, Satan appears as a benefactor of the race, healing the diseases of the people, and professing to present a new and more exalted system of religious faith; but at the same time he works as a destroyer. His temptations are leading multitudes to ruin. Intemperance dethrones reason; sensual indulgence, strife, and bloodshed follow.
The prophecy of Revelation 13 declares that the power represented by the beast with lamb-like horns shall cause "the earth and them which dwell therein" to worship the papacyóthere symbolized by the beast "like unto a leopard." The beast with two horns is also to say "to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast"; and furthermore, it is to command all, "both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond," to receive "the mark of the beast" (Rev. 13:12, 2, 14, 16-17).
A Restoration of Her Power
And prophecy foretells a restoration of her power. "I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed; and all the world wondered after the beast." Revelation 13:3. The infliction of the deadly wound points to the abolition of the papacy in 1798. After this, says the prophet, "His deadly wound was healed; and all the world wondered after the beast." Paul states plainly that the man of sin will continue until the second advent (2 Thess. 2:8). To the very close of time he will carry forward his work of deception. And the Revelator declares, also referring to the papacy, "All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life" (Rev. 13:8). In both the Old and the New World, the papacy will receive homage in the honor paid to the Sunday institution, that rests solely upon the authority of the Roman Church.
Rapidly Being Fulfilled
In the events now taking place is seen a rapid advance toward the fulfillment of the prediction. With Protestant teachers there is the same claim of divine authority for Sundaykeeping, and the same lack of scriptural evidence, as with the papist leaders who fabricated miracles to supply the place of a command from God. The assertion that Godís judgments are visited upon men for their violation of the Sunday-sabbath will be repeated; already it is beginning to be urged. And a movement to enforce Sunday observance is fast gaining ground.
Come Out of Her, My People
"I saw another angel come down from Heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird." "And I heard another voice from Heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." Revelation 18:1, 2, 4.
This Scripture points forward to a time when the announcement of the fall of Babylon, as made by the second angel of Revelation 14:8, is to be repeated, with the additional mention of the corruptions which have been entering the various organizations that constitute Babylon, since that message was first given, in the summer of 1844. A terrible condition of the religious world is here described. With every rejection of truth, the minds of the people will become darker, their hearts more stubborn, until they are entrenched in an infidel hardihood. In defiance of the warnings which God has given, they will continue to trample upon one of the precepts of the decalogue, until they are led to persecute those who hold it sacred.
Christ is set at naught in the contempt placed upon His Word and His people. As the teachings of spiritualism are accepted by the churches, the restraint imposed upon the carnal heart is removed and the profession of religion will become a cloak to conceal the basest iniquity. A belief in spiritual manifestations opens the door to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, and thus the influence of evil angels will be felt in the churches.
The Final Warning
Of Babylon, at the time brought to view in this prophecy, it is declared, "Her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities" (Rev. 18:5). She has filled up the measure of her guilt, and destruction is about to fall upon her. But God still has a people in Babylon; and before the visitation of His judgments, these faithful ones must be called out, that they "partake not of her sins, and receive not of her plagues." Hence the movement symbolized by the angel coming down from Heaven, lightening the earth with his glory, and crying mightily with a strong voice, announcing the sins of Babylon. In connection with his message the call is heard, "Come out of her, My people." These announcements, uniting with the third angelís message, constitute the final warning to be given to the inhabitants of the earth.
A Clear-cut Issue
Fearful is the issue to which the world is to be brought. The powers of earth, uniting to war against the commandments of God, will decree that all, "both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond" (Rev. 13:16), shall conform to the customs of the church by the observance of the false sabbath. All who refuse compliance will be visited with civil penalties, and it will finally be declared that they are deserving of death. On the other hand, the law of God enjoining the Creatorís rest day demands obedience, and threatens wrath against all who transgress its precepts.
With the issue thus clearly brought before him, whoever shall trample upon Godís law to obey a human enactment, receives the mark of the beast; he accepts the sign of allegiance to the power which he chooses to obey instead of God. The warning from Heaven is, "If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation" (Rev. 14:9-10).
A Clear-cut Test
The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty; for it is the point of truth especially controverted. When the final test shall be brought to bear upon men, then the line of distinction will be drawn between those who serve God and those who serve Him not. While the observance of the false sabbath in compliance with the law of the State, contrary to the fourth commandment, will be an avowal of allegiance to a power that is in opposition to God; the keeping of the true Sabbath, in obedience to Godís law, is an evidence of loyalty to the Creator. While one class, by accepting the sign of submission to earthly powers receive the mark of the beast, the other, choosing the token of allegiance to divine authority, receive the seal of God.
Overcoming Through Christ
The Ten Commandments are the Moral Standard given by God to allmankind. Each of its ten precepts are timeless principles that are to govern human conduct in relation to God and to man. The first four commandments explain our relation to the true God-the Creator God. The last six reveal how we are to act in relation to our fellow men. All ten of the commandments are moral and must be obeyed. Not to do so is immoral. The standard of our morality is to be this Law,−not our particular culture or thinking or personal viewpoint.
The Ten Commandments are immutable and unchangeable. They werewritten on stone with the finger of God Himself. He did this in order to show us how important they are. The other statutes, also called laws in the Bible, He told to Moses who then wrote them down on parchment. But the Ten Commandments were spoken by God Himself directly to the people (Exodus 20:1), and then written down with His own finger (Exodus 31:18)−and upon rock which is the most permanent writing material to be found.
The sacrifical laws (governing the slaying of lambs and goats, etc.) passedaway at the death of Christ−God's Lamb. But the Moral Law of the Ten Commandments will continue forever (Matthew 5:18-19). If any man tells you that you need not obey the Ten Commandments, tell him that they are the Moral Standard of mankind and that he is immoral to suggest that you should consider disobeying them. All true religion teaches obedience to the Ten Commandments by faith in Christ's enabling power. For it is only through the grace of Christ that we may put away our sins and keep the Law of God.
Here is a brief Bible study on the Moral Law-the Ten Commandments:
The Ten Commandments tell us what God is like (Ex 20:3-17) so that wemay be like Him. They are ten statements of what we will not do if we live like God. They cannot be changed since God does not change (Mal 3:6). And because He does not change, He does not change His Law, for it is the standard of morality. There is no lying, theft and murder in heaven, and He does not want any down here. This Law, "holy, just and good" (Rom 7:12), lies at the basis of His covenant of salvation which He has made with His people (Ex 24:3,12; Jeremiah 31:32-34; Heb 10:14-20). This solemn basis of agreement He will not change nor alter (Ps 89:34). This Law which is His covenant with us (Deut 4:13; 5:2-3,6-21), though often disobeyed by us throughout human history, remains the basis of the New Covenant with His people today. (Heb 8:6-10;10:16). When in the strength of Jesus, Christians obey these commandments, they are keeping His covenant. "If ye keep My commandments, ye abide in My love"(John 15:10).
Jesus came into this world to take away our sins (Matt 1:21, John 1:29), andsin is the transgression-breaking-of the Law (1 John 3:4) Christ did not die to destroy morality or the Law of morality; He died to enable us to obey it. (If He died to destroy the Ten Commandments, then Calvary legalized sin and we can do anything we want and still go to heaven,−adultery, banditry, and murder. We can curse God and reject Christ and serve other gods and bow down before them,−and we will go to heaven in these sins and do them up there.−All this IF Christ died to do away with the Ten Commandments).
There are only three ways to solve the sin problem: Either abolish the law,destroy all who are breaking it, or find a way to enable them to keep it. God did the third of these at Calvary.
Because of the sin problem, we need help. There has to be a law, or code ofmorality, and only God can provide a statement of its basic principles. This He did in the Ten Commandments. And in our world there is sin, or the breaking of that law (1 John 3:4). All of us need help, for all have sinned (Rom 3:23), and only God who gave us the Law can forgive our sins and enable us to keep it. And He does this through Jesus Christ, for this is why Jesus died on Calvary.
Here is what the Law does for the sinner: It gives him a knowledge of sin(Rom 3:20; 7:7), and brings guilt and condemnation to the sinner (Rom 3:19), so that he will flee to Christ for help. For the law acts as a spiritual mirror (James 2:9-12), showing each of us our sinful natures and thus leading us to Christ (Gal 3:24).
But there are some things that the Law cannot do for us: It cannot forgive orjustify us (Gal 3:21). Our minds, apart from Christ, are carnal and at enmity against the law and do not want to obey it (Rom 8:7). So by ourselves, we cannot get rid of our sins or even want the Law of God around.
But thank God, there is an answer! And it is Jesus: Only He can forgive oursins. Acts 13:38-39; Matthew 1:21). (The law can point out sin but cannot forgive it.) And He gives us enabling grace to keep His moral Law. Grace is the power of God unto salvation. It is not merely forgiveness, that Heaven asks of us. Jesus gives us the salvation that the law of God shows that we lack.
Here is what the Law of God does for us as we accept the grace of Christinto our lives: The law bears witness to the righteousness of Christ that is now within us (Rom 3:21). The spiritual mirror of the law (James 2:9-12) now says, "Look, this man is living like God." But it is by God's power that man is living that way. And THAT is what Calvary is all about−to enable us to live that way! For now the moral law is written within our heart, because Jesus is in our heart, and thus is kept perfectly (Heb 8:10; Ps 119:9-11). In Christ the law has become the way that we now naturally live-as we cling to Christ day by day, studying the His inspired Word and praying for help and strength. We are no longer lawbreakers, but now obedient. For Jesus is now in our hearts and we live like Him. Grace brings salvation as a free gift through faith (Eph 2:8-10). But do not misunderstand grace, for it does not permit continued transgression of the law (Rom 6:1-2, 15-16).
And how does obedience relate to all this? First, obedience and faith: Faithbrings to us the power we need to overcome sin (1 John 5:4), but genuine faith does not make void the law of God, but instead only establishes it the more solidly (Rom 3:31). And second, obedience and love: Love is the fulfilling of the Law (Rom-13: 10), but true love keeps the commandments (1 John 5:3).
According to the Bible, there are three ways in which people try to gainsalvation: the "foolish man" seeks for salvation by his own efforts to keep the law (Gal 3:1-3), for he thinks that he can get rid of sin without Jesus Christ. The "vain man" thinks he needs no good works, but only faith. (James 2:20), for he thinks that he can get rid of sin without obeying the Law of God. And then there is what the Bible calls the "blessed man." He has his sins forgiven (Ps 32:1), and he meditates upon the law of God (Ps 1:1-16), and he obeys it through the grace of Christ (James 1:25). The "blessed man" eliminates sin through the grace of Christ, which enables Him to keep God's standard of morality, the Ten Commandments.
Remember that sin is the problem, not the law. If a man has killed someone,we do something about the sin, --we don't abolish the law against murder. The law had done the job it was made to do--it pointed out wrong-doing. The fault is with man, not with the law.
Some people believe that the law and the gospel are enemies and that thetwo cannot work together. But the gospel is God's power which enables us to be saved (Rom 1:16), and by it the grace of Jesus Christ is revealed (Eph 2:5,8). The power of Christ working in man enables him to stop sinning. And this is salvation, or deliverance, from sin (and sin is the breaking of the law). But we cannot obey the law apart from Christ. This is why Paul said that those who try to do this are fallen from grace. They are trying to be righteous by their own efforts (Gal 5:4). The Ten Commandments lead us to Christ (Ga. 3:24), but having accepted Him by faith as our Saviour, we are then enabled to keep the law. This is because the law is no longer something outside of us. Now it is within us, written on our hearts (Heb 8:10). For it is placed or established there by our faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 3:31).
When you drive down the highway you have no fear of the law, for you areobeying it. But if you go through a red light, you begin looking in your rearview mirror, for now you are under the law. You are under its condemnation as a transgressor. You know that if you have been seen by a law-enforcement officer, you will be punished. It is the same with the Moral Law of God's government.
Those who obey it are not "under the law"−for only law-breakers fall under its condemnation. Only they need fear what that condemnation will bring in the Day of Judgment.
What then was abolished at the cross? It was not the Moral Law of TenCommandments. This law, given by God (Ex 20:1-17) will never change (Ps 119:152; Matthew 5:1719; Ps 111:7-8; 89:34; Eccl 3:14), because it is based on the character of God and that will never change (Mal 3:6; James 1:17).
But there was another law. This was the Ceremonial Law given to governthe ritual of sacrifices and washings that prefigured (symbolized and looked forward to) the death of Christ. This law had to do with meat and drink offerings (Heb 9:9-10), sacrifices and offerings (Heb 10:1; 8:4-5), yearly holy days (2 Chron 8:12-13). These were shadow laws or sacrificial laws (Heb 10:1-3). They foreshadowed the death of Christ, God's Lamb (John 1:29, 35). These laws were temporary and lasted only until Christ's death (Heb 9:9-10). They were abolished at the cross (Eph 2:15).
The other law is the Moral Law. It is eternal (Luke 16:17; Ps 111:7-8) andcannot end until after heaven and earth are blotted out (Matthew 5:17-19). This is the Royal Law (James 2:8-12) that was written by God on stone (Ex 24: 12; 31:18) and placed within the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place of the earthly Sanctuary (Deut 10:5). This law is spiritual (Rom 7:14), points out sin (Rom 7:7) and judges men (Jas 2:10-12).
The Ceremonial law was different: This was "Moses' Law" (Heb 10:28: John7:23). It was written by Moses in a book (Deut 31:24) and was placed in the side of the Ark, not within it (Deut 31:26). This carnal law (Heb 7:26), was added because of sin (Gal 3:19), and judges no man (Col 2:16).
It is because the Moral Law had been broken by Adam and all hisdescendants that Jesus had to die (Rom 5: 12-14; 3:18). If the law could have been changed, He would not have had to do this, for "sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). Christ bore sin, not the law, on the tree.
And it was because Jesus had to die that the Ceremonial Law was given. Itforeshadowed or foretold that death through the slayings of lambs and goats. Then when He died, it "was nailed to the cross" for it was no longer needed.
It is important that we keep all ten of the commandments, for they are allequally important. The Bible says that if we break one commandment, we are guilty of breaking them all (Jas 2:10-12). Jesus died so that you and I might be able to keep the law (Rom 8:304), and we know that only those who keep it in the strength of Jesus will enter heaven (Rev 22:14). We must keep them because God knows that it is best for us (Deut 6: 24). Doing right and living right is always best for us. One Bible writer summarizes the whole thing in this way: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His Commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into Judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil."- Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. Godís Law is binding and eternal (Ps 119:152). It reflects God's character and thus is described in similar words. Jesus tells us that we should obey it−or be called least in God's kingdom (Matthew 5:19).
Those that enter heaven will have obeyed God's holy law by faith in Christ−read Revelation 22:14, one of the last verses in the Bible. There are two predictions that describe the people of God in the last days just before the Second Advent: The first tells us that they will be keeping the Commandments of God and will have the testimony of Jesus (Rev 12:17). The second, just tells us that God's faithful ones who do not receive the Mark of the Beast will be obedient to God's Commandments (Rev 14:6-12). Two verses later the Second Coming of Christ is described. We live in perilous times, just before the end. The Judgment is near and day by day we must cling to Jesus through study and prayer. God bless and keep you - till we meet in heaven. - Vance Ferrell
GOD'S MORAL STANDARD FOR MANKIND
The Ten Commandments