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The Law As Teacher

OCTOBER 17, 2020


"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength" Deuteronomy 6:5, NKJV.

God's law of love undergirds every commandment in the decalogue, every type, and every ceremony that foreshadowed His first advent. The everlasting covenant encompasses the entire plan of salvation from its inception to its accomplishment. 

We are living in an age in which the word "love" has many meanings, including acceptance of every perversion known to man. 

The distinction between the biblical concept of agape love (others-centered love) and self-love is almost unknown in the world. Today, society teaches that the issues of fairness and justice are better understood now than in the past. Is this true? What is the fruit of this movement? In place of God's law of self-sacrificing love, man has instated the law of selfishness and self-preservation. This false law was foretold in the Scripture as "the mystery of lawlessness," which would be characterized by the working of miracles, signs and lying wonders, as well as self exaltation and opposition to God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-9). We are living in fearful and amazing times.

Sunday's lesson calls attention to an intriguing text in Deuteronomy 31:9-13, which states that at the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, all of Israel was to gather together to hear the law read.

Similarly, in fulfillment of this type, God will once more magnify His law before all people in earth's final hour. This last message is delivered by three angels in Revelation 14 and again by one final appeal of a fourth angel in Revelation 18. These last day messages will fully unmask the deceiver, Satan, in his war against God's government and His throne. In contrast, God's law of agape love will be revealed in its brilliance through the testimony and lives of those who have settled into the truth. 

Our lesson points out that Joshua, Hezekiah, and others made a careful study of the Scripture to make sure their lives and the people whom they served were in harmony with every principle of God's law as set forth in Scripture. In our day God has shed an abundance of light on His last day church so that none need be ignorant of His love as it is to be expressed in our daily lives.

The lesson for Sabbath afternoon calls our attention to Galatians 3:21, which states that "If there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law." Satan has developed a counterfeit system of salvation in which love of self is the actuating principle. In contrast, God's law is based on His others-centered love for us which was revealed in His humiliation by becoming a man and being humbled even to the death of the cross. There is no "self" in the love of Christ or in His law. The world will take notice when God has a people on earth who are emptied of self and governed by His others-centered love principle. The Faith of Jesus is what works by this love to purify the soul.

Since Satan is the antithesis of love, his false gospel does not instill love for others in the soul. Rather, it keeps love of self supreme. His mantra is, "It's all about me," and he bids all his followers take up that refrain. 

In contrast, Paul experienced the effect of Christ's subduing love in His heart. He was constrained to live no longer for himself, but for Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15). That is the others-centered, agape love which our world needs to see in 2020, as an expression and the natural outgrowth of Christ living in His people, and their living by His faith.

Commenting on these themes, A. T. Jones wrote that "the everlasting covenant is not met in its fulness, in believers, until the second coming of Christ; that is, till the seed really comes to whom the promise of the inheritance was made.

"One provision of that everlasting covenant is, 'I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.' And that provision will not be accomplished in its fullness until, by the Third Angel's Message, men are brought to the actual keeping of the 'commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus:' so that the Lord, looking down from heaven upon them, can say, in perfect truth: 'Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus' " (Studies in Galatians, p. 96).

~Patti Guthrie