The Fundamentals of God’s Law

By John Thiel

There are three points we want to observe in this study – 1) God’s unbending justice. 2) The attitude that God’s people should hold in reference to that unbending justice. 3) How the church deals with transgression on the grounds of God’s justice. Bible religion is Godly fundamentalism in action but the religion of the bible has to do with black and white with no shades of grey. Right is to be jealously sustained and wrong is to be clearly condemned. While this is to be the religion of the bible there is a fundamentally right and wrong way of dealing with the wrong. While we need to deal correctly with the upholding of God’s true ways of the white in contrast to the black or right in contrast to the wrong, we have a fundamental way of dealing with the wrong in the right way. Godly fundamentalism includes hating the sin but loving the sinner. As the hymn says – ‘The thunders of his hand keep the wide world in awe his wrath and justice stand to guard his holy law and yet where his love resolves to bless his truth confirms and seals the grace.’  Very fitting words for our meditation today. God has wrath and justice – it stands to guard his holy law. Rectitude is the character of God. The word rectitude means right, righteousness, standing 100% on law and right doing.

Dueteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

This is so definite, so rock solid that God is a rock. This is God and we must not lose sight of this realty. Iniquity means no righteousness. Here He speaks to people who have become slack in regards to the knowledge of God

Malachi 3:5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts. 6 For I am the LORD, I change not;

God is very fundamental and he will be swift against the adulterers and gainst those who oppress the widow and the fatherless. This is God. All through the Old Testament this is demonstrated. The children of Israel in full demonstration of God’s glory in redeeming them from Egyptian captivity were drawn very seriously to an understanding as it is recorded;

Exodus 23:20 Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. 22 But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries.

If you read and study this angel it is none other than God’s son. This is talking about the son of God. He will not pardon your transgression. Isn’t this awesome? Doesn’t this fill your heart with trembling?

Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

The story of Adam and Eve is a very clear example of what we have been reading and also the history of the Hebrews. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Lord. When Nadab and Abihu offered sacrifices made with their own fire – what happened? It was only their own fire, ever such a small thing. But what happened? They were struck down dead. That is God. When a man went out on the Sabbath day to gather wood to light a fire and Moses didn’t know what to do with him – what did God say? Go out and stone him.  Do you play around with a God like that? Adam and Eve wanted to reason with God. A lot of people don’t know this. When they were told that they had to leave their garden home of Eden because they ate of the fruit of good and evil, notice what is written about them and how we are prone to do what they did;

They were informed that they would have to lose their Eden home. They had yielded to Satan’s deception and believed the word of Satan, that God would lie. By their transgression they had opened a way for Satan to gain access to them more readily, and it was not safe for them to remain in the Garden of Eden, lest in their state of sin they gain access to the tree of life and perpetuate a life of sin. They entreated to be permitted to remain, although they acknowledged that they had forfeited all right to blissful Eden. {SR 40.3}

They pleaded please can we stay?

They promised that they would in the future yield to God implicit obedience. {SR 40.3}

They pleaded please can you forgive us we will obey you now. 

They were informed that in their fall from innocence to guilt they gained no strength but great weakness. They had not preserved their integrity while they were in a state of holy, happy innocence, and they would have far less strength to remain true and loyal in a state of conscious guilt. They were filled with keenest anguish and remorse. They now realized that the penalty of sin was death. {SR 40.3}

It is a horrible thing to discover this when it applies to your own life. It is a stressful experience to the extreme to come face to face with what Adam and Eve and you and I came to see when we discovered our true condition as it really should be understood. The following verse underpins this. Adam and Eve thought they could say it’s ok, we will obey you now and it will be alright.

Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Every person has to meet the direct consequences of what they do. God is not mocked. God does not palliate wrong – never. He is like a rock. You can run up against him and you will only be knocked back. He is unchangeable. Here we are worshipping God and what we are dealing with is exactly what we should be dealing with as we are in his assembly.

Psalms 89:7 God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.

What sort of reverence is this to be talking about? Here is the source of true reverence, a deep awareness that God cannot be played with at all. What He says stands and when we transgress there is death full stop – No ifs, no buts. This is the reverence that we must come before God with in the assembly of the saints.

He that heareth you heareth Me; and he that despiseth you despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me despiseth Him that sent Me. {4T 197.1}

He is talking about the servants of God proclaiming his words, His disciples and those that despise them despise Jesus and them that sent him;

How awfully solemn are these words! How important that we should not be found rejecting the warnings and admonitions that God delivers through His humble instruments; for in slighting the light brought by His messengers, we slight the Saviour of the world, the King of glory. Many are running this terrible risk and are thus bringing upon themselves the condemnation of God. The Almighty will not be trifled with, nor allow His voice to be disregarded with impunity. {4T 197.2}

If it is done he will not allow it.

The Lord will not be trifled with. Those who neglect His mercies and blessings in this day of opportunities will bring impenetrable darkness upon themselves and will be candidates for the wrath of God. Sodom and Gomorrah were visited with the curse of the Almighty for their sins and iniquities. There are those in our day who have equally abused the mercies of God and slighted His warnings. It will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for those who bear the name of Christ, yet dishonor Him by their unconsecrated lives. This class are laying up for themselves a fearful retribution when God in His wrath shall visit them with His judgments. {4T 191.2}

Sinners who have not had the light and privileges that Seventh-day Adventists have enjoyed will, in their ignorance, be in a more favorable position before God than those who have been unfaithful while in close connection with His work and professing to love and serve Him. The tears of Christ upon the mount came from an anguished, breaking heart because of His unrequited love and the ingratitude of His chosen people. He had labored untiringly to save them from the fate that they seemed determined to bring upon themselves, but they refused His mercy and knew not the time of their visitation. Their day of privilege was ending, yet they were so blinded by sin that they knew it not. {4T 191.3}

Before you become totally discouraged, there is light in all this but here is the reality;

Those who have been unfaithful while in close connection with his work and profession to love and serve him are in a worse situation than those of Sodom and Gomorra. The tears of Christ upon the mount came from an anguished, breaking heart because of His unrequited love and the ingratitude of His chosen people. He had labored untiringly to save them from the fate that they seemed determined to bring upon themselves, but they refused His mercy and knew not the time of their visitation. Their day of privilege was ending, yet they were so blinded by sin that they knew it not. {4T 191.3}

Sin Blinds Us

The Jewish people still had an opportunity before the stoning of Stephen to repent but they were not conscious of what they were doing because sin had blinded them. They did not understand that God was definitely going to deal with them. All sin great and small produces wages – the wages are death and this is the reason why the world is destined to death, everyone of us. Because God’s justice is the way it is my being trembles. It trembles in case I would disregard any of his laws. It trembles in case sin has caused me to do something where I disregard or trifle with the realities of God’s unchanging justice. Today we are living in a Christian society that no longer trembles. Why? Zephaniah reveals how the religious churches of today accentuate God’s wonderful forgiving love by highlighting the precious love by which He will forgive you but they neglect to highlight the reality that the sin we commit is going to meet with death.

Zephaniah 1:12 And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.

This is referring to the people who say – we are alright God will bless us. This is the attitude pervading religious circles today and that exists within our ranks – the Laodecian mentality that God is going to leave us to enjoy ourselves. He will have us to do what we want and he won’t cut across our path or get in our way. If we are doing wrong as He is so forgiving that he won’t do anything bad because we are alright, God loves us and everything is fine. But when God reveals his solemn messages to us we say – come on, surely it can’t be that bad. This is what I see, hear, and observe. Sometimes we get away with things because God is so merciful but then we go back after a few messages and do the very same things that we shouldn’t be doing. Isaiah 56 reveals a very small remnant will be saved.

Isaiah 66:2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. 5 Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed. 6 A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that rendereth recompense to his enemies.

Those that tremble at his word and acknowledge his words are unchangeable because they know that disobedience brings death. These people uphold God and his awesomeness and the others on their lees say – you’re fanatical, going to extremes, God is not like that and they will persecute those who tremble at His word and shut them out. But God will come to the salvation of those that are shut out because they tremble at his word to the shame of the others. How can a person that trembles at God’s word still have hope? He knows that by the sins he has committed he has no hope, and yet he comes to worship God and still holds onto hope – why? God’s retribution must take its course. He will punish sin. He will destroy the sinners. He cannot deviate from this justice. All who have broken God’s law must die. He is fundamental on that. So what does he do with you and me who know that we have sinned but become aware that our sin is so great that we tremble at his word? What does He do with those sins that condemn me to death? Consider carefully Isaiah 53 which we know is the chapter in the Old Testament of Jesus’ sacrifice;

Isaiah 53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

These words you need to mediate on. The chastisement of our peace was upon him. I can’t have peace because I have sinned. My peace can only be found by understanding the transfer of my guilt and awful sinfulness upon him. He was chastised for my sin and that was peace for me.

Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Is that not right? We turn so easily to our own way. We have gone astray and that means death, and the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all. We tremble because God’s justice requires my death. But now, according to what I have been reading, He has the ability to transfer the shame and guilt experience of all that my sin has created. He has the ability of placing it upon His Son and He requires my life at the hand of His son. My death became Christ’s death, His own Son. Consider this as you look at your own reality in the light of what we have constructed at the beginning in God’s word – that there is no way out. Wrath and condemnation are upon me and now I see the very wrath and condemnation upon Jesus Christ.; Listen to Jesus speaking;

Lamentations 1:12 Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger. 13 From above hath he sent fire into my bones, and it prevaileth against them: he hath spread a net for my feet, he hath turned me back: he hath made me desolate and faint all the day. 14 The yoke of my transgressions is bound by his hand: they are wreathed, and come up upon my neck: he hath made my strength to fall, the Lord hath delivered me into their hands, from whom I am not able to rise up.

Can you reason here why Jesus is speaking like this is it nothing to you all those who pass by? Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow?

God’s Anger

What is he angry about and who copped it? Is it nothing to you Jesus said from above hath he sent fire into my bones and it hath prevailed against them. The sins are so heavily laid upon Him that He can’t rise up. When you have sinned in the world, when you sin and you go to court, can you deliver yourself? Jesus went to court and Jesus could not be delivered from the destructive force of God’s wrath and the consequence of our sin and God’s wrath.  What did Jesus do in verse 16? He wept bitterly.

Lamentations 1:16 For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me: my children are desolate, because the enemy prevailed.

What did Jesus die of? The Spirit of Prophecy says that he died of the condemnation that the people will die of who have rejected his mercy. When Jesus died the comforter was not there for Him – there was nothing to comfort Him. If you know what that is like there is nothing that can take you out of your sense of condemnation. I wonder how many have experienced this. I know I have. No hope no comforter and my children are desolate because the enemy prevailed. The enemy prevailed upon him. Is it nothing to you he says.

Under the mighty impulse of His love He took our place in the universe and invited the Ruler of all things to treat Him as a representative of the human family. {HP 65.3}

God the Father treated Jesus as the representative of all our corruption and sin and He invited the Father to do that.

He identified Himself with our interests, bared His breast for the stroke of death, took man’s guilt and its penalty, and offered in man’s behalf a complete sacrifice to God. By virtue of this atonement He has power to offer to man perfect righteousness and full salvation. Whosoever shall believe on Him as a personal Saviour shall not perish but have everlasting life. {HP 65.3}

God was satisfied and His justice was satisfied with His death. An utter destruction took place in the experience of Jesus because of your and my sin.

Justice demands that sin be not merely pardoned, but the death penalty must be executed. God, in the gift of His only-begotten Son, met both these requirements. By dying in man’s stead, Christ exhausted the penalty and provided a pardon. {AG 139.2}

What a statement! What a reality! Jesus exhausted the penalty so that whatever the sin has been, when any individual who has to suffer the penalty of sin small or great – annihilation from God – Jesus exhausted that in His experience. Can you comprehend his wonderful gift? We need to believe it to be saved. Do we comprehend the seriousness of sin? Not only what I showed you in the beginning but in the light of what Jesus suffered because sin must bring forth death and here Jesus takes it.

Beholding Jesus upon the cross of Calvary arouses the conscience to the heinous character of sin as nothing else can do. It was sin that caused the death of God’s dear Son, and sin is the transgression of the law. On him was laid the iniquities of us all. The sinner then consents unto the law that it is good; for he realizes that it condemns his evil deeds, while he magnifies the matchless love of God in providing for him salvation through the imputed righteousness of Him who knew no sin, in whose mouth there was found no guile. (RH, November 22, 1892 par. 9}

Beholding Jesus upon the cross of Calvary does what? It arouses the conscience to the heinous character of sin like nothing else can do. It was sin that caused the death of God’s dear son. Is there any room for complacency; trifling excuses for my sin; or impunity in my own mind to justify the bad that I have done? Do we try to justify our actions by saying – it is not that bad what I have done – others have done just as bad as me – we are all in the same boat together. When you behold this picture of my sinful shame being laid upon Jesus and God’s wrath upon that sin – we see Jesus suffering. This picture makes you not want to look to the left or to the right anymore because your sin becomes so heinous in your own eyes – it leaves you dumbfounded. This realisation shuts every mouth and every suggestion of saying well what about this and what about that? – Instead we say – please can I have help? I am responsible for the sin that has made Jesus suffer. This puts the reality of our sinful condition in its right experience.

We often sorrow because our evil deeds bring unpleasant consequences to ourselves; but this is not repentance. Real sorrow for sin is the result of the working of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit reveals the ingratitude of the heart that has slighted and grieved the Saviour, and brings us in contrition to the foot of the cross. By every sin Jesus is wounded afresh; and as we look upon Him whom we have pierced, we mourn for the sins that have brought anguish upon Him. Such mourning will lead to the renunciation of sin. {DA 300.3}

How careful will you be now? Not only does death happen as a consequence of my sin, but we wound Jesus afresh. How do you wound him?

Every sin, every discord, every defiling lust that transgression had brought, was torture to His spirit. {DA 111.4}

Where is Jesus now? He is our high priest in the heavenly sanctuary – he is our high priest interceding on our behalf crying My blood, My blood!  He is crying because His people are not sealed and every sin they do is still wounding Him as though He were still there at the cross. The anguish that he experienced at the cross is a living memory in his bosom now. Past present and future is all present to him – this is why the sin we commit now still continues to hurt Him. How serious is my sin? Consider him painfully weeping over my sin because He feels it within himself. Can I go on with trifling? Can I go on careless? Can I go on with my wrongs and my impurities? Not if you behold Jesus like that.

The most striking feature of this covenant of peace is the exceeding richness of the pardoning mercy expressed to the sinner if he repents and turns from his sin. The Holy Spirit describes the gospel as salvation through the tender mercies of our God. I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, the Lord declares of those who repent, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more (Heb. 8:12). Does God turn from justice in showing mercy to the sinner? No; God cannot dishonor His law by suffering it to be transgressed with impunity. Under the new covenant, perfect obedience is the condition of life. If the sinner repents and confesses his sins, he will find pardon. By Christ’s sacrifice in his behalf, forgiveness is secured for him. Christ has satisfied the demands of the law for every repentant, believing sinner. . . . {AG 138.4}

Now as God gives us this counsel, do we take it lightly? Does God turn from justice in showing mercy to the sinner? The answer is no, but God cannot dishonor his law by suffering impunity. Under the New Covenant perfect obedience is the condition of eternal life. This will make me so careful that I will not go on doing the wrong. This is the requirement under the New Covenant – that I will not keep doing the wrong and make Jesus suffer afresh over and over again. When you feel condemned in your sin it is very hard to believe sometimes that it has been transferred to Jesus, but it is a living transfer and a living experience and that understanding will keep you on your toes. It will create zeal when you consider that your death and your condemnation was literally exhausted in Jesus Christ and that He died in your stead. How careful will you be not to cause Him that pain again? Now you will be so conscious of God’s wrath and Christ’s suffering that you will become very fastidious and very fundamental on His own behalf.

It is God’s true church that represents this kind of scenario – absolute faithfulness to all the commandments of God! Sin is an enormous corruption. Sin is to be regarded as heinous because God’s wrath and His justice will deal with it and Jesus suffered under it. The church on earth cannot palliate the sin for the sinner’s sake. Everyone has to meet God’s dealing with it. When sin is upon the sinner’s soul the church will lead the sinner to visualise the course of Jesus so that he may become converted or reconverted.

Psalms 85:10 Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Can you see there are no shades of grey? May God grant His church, His little remnant this understanding so that everyone who sins is correctly related to and so that anyone who confesses his sin is dealt with according to the true aspects of Jesus Christ.


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Posted on 01/03/2010, in Divine Service Sermons, The Law of God and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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