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Insights #11 June 14, 2014
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Second Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
The Apostles and the Law
For the week of June 14, 2014
 
The Sabbath School lesson this week draws our attention to the understandings of the apostles regarding the law of God.  The lesson rightly observes that, “if (the law) were to have been nullified or modified after Christ’s death, the apostles would have known something about it.”  Let’s spend our brief time looking at Paul’s understanding of the law as he is the most prolific writer in the New Testament.

Perhaps one of the most exemplary verses that are used from Paul to attempt to prove that the importance of the law has passed away by some in Christian circles is Romans 6:12-15.  And the emphasis is given to the phrase, “ye are not under law, but under grace”.  Primarily to escape the claims of the 4th commandment, many in Christian circles would understand this to mean that since “born-again” Christians are “under grace” we are no longer subject to the influence of God’s law in our lives.

The 1888 messengers brought out vital truth in our understanding of what Paul is communicating regarding being under law or under grace.  Far from grace intended to give us an “out” in relation to the law, the 1888 messengers saw that the whole point of being “under grace” is to empower us to experience the freedom and joy that comes only with conformity to God’s law of love.  Being “under law” isn’t the circumstance of the “obeyers” of God’s law, but being “under law” leads to disobedience.  Being “under grace” leads to the experience, not of disobedience to God’s law, but obedience.  Said simply, under grace = obedience and under law = disobedience.  After quoting Rom. 6:12-15, notice the powerful and beautiful way that E.J.Waggoner demonstrates the beauty of the gospel in this passage.

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.  And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.  For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.  What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!”  (NKJV)

“A Parallel. -In the nineteenth verse we are exhorted to yield ourselves as servants of righteousness just as we have yielded ourselves servants to sin. This being done, we are assured in the following verses that just as surely as the fruit was sin and death when we were yielded to sin, so surely will the fruit be holiness when we yield ourselves servants to righteousness. Yea, even more sure; for ‘where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.’ Righteousness is stronger than sin, even as God is stronger than Satan. God can pluck out of the hands of Satan the soul that cries out for deliverance; but none can pluck God's children out of His hand.

“Not Under the Law. -Many people are fond of quoting this expression, thinking that it forever absolves them from any observance of the law of God. Strange to say, this expression is used as a cover only for non-observance of the fourth commandment. Repeat the fourth commandment to a man who objects to keeping the Sabbath of the Lord, the seventh day, and he will say, "We are not under the law." Yet that same man will quote the third commandment to a man whom he hears swearing, or the first and second against the heathen, and will acknowledge the sixth, seventh, and eighth commandments. Thus it appears that men do not really believe that the statement that we are not under the law means that we are at liberty to break it. Let us study the whole verse, and its different parts.

“What Is Sin? -"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law." 1 John 3:4. "All unrighteousness is sin." 1 John 5:17. This is definite; let us hold it well in our minds.

“What Is Righteousness? -Righteousness is the opposite of sin, because "all unrighteousness is sin." But "sin is the transgression of the law." Therefore righteousness is the keeping of the law. So when we are exhorted to yield our members as instruments of righteousness unto God, it is the same as telling us to yield ourselves to obedience to the law.

“Dominion of Sin. -Sin has no dominion over those who yield themselves servants to righteousness, or to obedience to the law; because sin is the transgression of the law. Now read the whole of the fourteenth verse: "For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace." That is to say, transgression of the law has no place in them who are not under the law. Then those who are not under the law are those who obey the law. Those who break it, are under it. Nothing can be plainer.

“Under Grace. -"Ye are not under the law, but under grace." We have seen that those who are not under the law are the ones who are keeping the law. Those therefore who are under the law are the ones who are breaking it, and who are therefore under its condemnation. But "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." Grace delivers from sin. Distressed by the threatenings of the law which we have broken, we flee for refuge to Christ, who is "full of grace and truth." There we find freedom from sin. In Him we not only find grace to cover all our sin, but we find the righteousness of the law because He is full of truth, and the law is the truth. Ps. 119:142. Grace "reigns" through righteousness, or obedience to the law, unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” {November 8, 1894 EJW, PTUK 707}

"'Sin is the transgression of the law.' 1 John 3:4. Now the Apostle Paul writes, 'Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.' Rom. 6:14, 15. There is no necessity for any misapprehension as to what it is to be under the law, for the apostle says that those who are not under the law do not sin; that sin has no dominion over them. That is to say, they do not transgress the law. The man, therefore, who is not under the law is the man who keeps the law. Christians are under grace, and the grace of God saves from the transgression of the law.” {September 5, 1895 EJW, PTUK 563.2}

“Then comes the conclusion: 'For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace.' Verse 14. Notice a few facts and necessary conclusions. 1. Since 'sin is the transgression of the law,' the absence of sin must indicate obedience to the law. Therefore when the apostle says to any persons, 'Sin shall not have dominion over you,' it is an evidence that they are keeping the law. 2. Those over whom sin has no dominion are those who are not under the law. 'Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law.' The fact that sin has no dominion over them is an evidence that they are 'not under the law.' Therefore, to be 'not under the law' is equivalent to being free from the dominion of sin. 3. But we have already seen that to be free from the dominion of sin represents a state of obedience to the law; therefore, to say that one is 'not under the law' is equivalent to saying that he is keeping the law.

“These propositions will stand the test of any criticism, and they demonstrate that the apostle's argument is based on the fact that the law is in full force, binding upon all, and that there are but two classes of people; those who keep the law, and those who transgress it. Those who keep the law are not under it, and of course those who transgress it are under it. In other words, those over whom sin has dominion are under the law; and those over whom sin has not dominion, are not under the law.” {May 6, 1886 EJW, SITI 263.6}

The 1888 message is beautiful truth.  The 1888 messengers did give the trumpet a “certain sound”.  May we take this truth, and allow the goodness (grace) of God to have sway in our hearts and minds, so the world can see that to be “under grace” means to be one who obeys God’s law of love.
-Bob Hunsaker