Every Christian must take a part in the warfare against sin. The enemies of God would crush His Law. They hate it because it reproves their sins. A profligate man once said that he wished all evidences of the truth to be destroyed; for they were so convincing that they could not be controverted. So today many cry, "Away with the Law of God!" for the same reason that the Jews, in condemning Jesus, cried, "Away with this man!" The Word of God rebukes iniquity, and His Law condemns the lawbreaker. "Sin is the transgression of the law," John declares. 1 John 3:4. The Law is the sin-detector, and therefore the very mention of the Commandments of God stirs up the evil attributes of him who is wilfully sinning against God.
A single mention of God's Law is a sting to the conscience of such men. A single sentence of Holy Writ, which expresses the binding claims and the immutability of the Law of God, drives them beside themselves with rage. The words, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul" (Psalm 19:7); "Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments" (chapter 119:6); "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law" (verse 18), cause them to be stirred to madness. They make no such prayer, but close the eyes of their understanding, lest they shall see, and be convinced and converted.
During our recent camp meeting at Adelaide, two men took their stand on the street just outside the entrance to the camp ground, and preached against the truth. They were men who had before fought like tigers against the truth, and had exulted in their supposed victory; and now the evidence for the truth was so strong that they wished to storm it down. They interrupted the meetings, and made a tirade against the truth. The people were indignant at these interruptions; they wished to hear what was said in the tent; and finally the police took the matter in hand, and there were no more outbreaks. But though these disorderly elements were at work, we knew that the Lord had a work to be done, and we went right on, making no reference to the persistent opposition. Our work was to preach the truth.
From hour to hour those who work to promulgate the truth must depend on the blessing which comes from God, and from God only. And just in proportion as we have faith and trust in God, we shall receive blessings in rich abundance. The blessing of the Holy Spirit will be on the truth, which is proclaimed in the sight of the heavenly universe, and heaven's light will shine forth to elevate and ennoble.
Many things were said against Mrs. White during the Adelaide meeting. Soon after my work there commenced, an article appeared in one of the papers, representing me as among the greatest fanatics. But these things disturbed me not. God is our Refuge and Strength. He teaches us where we may hide from the strife of tongues; if we will let Him, He will lead us into His pavilion. Our lives, hid with Christ in God, will be refreshed and strengthened.
Those who hate the Law of Jehovah reveal that they have carnal minds, which are not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be. This is not for want of proof, but because of the stubborn resistance of their unbelieving hearts--not because of ignorance, but because they have set their feet in the path of transgression. It is not evidence that they need; for they have had evidence piled upon evidence, and it has only rendered them more desperate, abusive, and cruel in their denunciations. They are determined not to turn their feet out of the path of sin into the path of holiness; they will not run in the way of God's Commandments. They have cast the Lord's instruction behind their backs, and they manifest the attributes of the destroyer. This is the root and groundwork of all the terrible hatred against the Law of Jehovah. We have this hatred to meet, but if we arm ourselves against our assailants with, "It is written," we are in no peril. It was thus that Christ met the foe, and He says, "Without me ye can do nothing." John 15:5. We must have the mind which was in Jesus. Read what composes the Christian's armour. See Ephesians 6:11-18. Take this armour and put it on, trusting in God to give you the victory.
When the Lord Jesus visited our earth, He brought with Him renovating energy. He put enmity between the seed of the woman and the serpent. But there is no enmity between fallen angels and fallen men. Both, through apostasy, are evil; and wherever there is evil, with no disposition to repent, it will always league with Satan against God. Fallen men and fallen angels unite in a desperate struggle to destroy God's Great Standard of Righteousness. There was a bond of sympathy among the angels that Satan succeeded in drawing into rebellion, and he made them his allies in the effort to dethrone God and to abolish His Law. Satan's work in our world today is to destroy the moral image of God in man, by making void the Divine Law; and our enemies are inspired by his spirit. By casting aside God's Great Standard of Character, he can deprave human nature, and win men and women to his standard; for, "Where no law is, there is no transgression." Romans 4:15. With what triumph, then, he watches the professedly Christian world, as they earnestly do the very work he is doing.
As God's servants strive to fight against the enemy of God, Christ must be to each one of them a personal Saviour. Each one must experience His pardoning grace. The tree of life is a representation of the preserving care of Christ for His children. As Adam and Eve ate of this tree, they acknowledged their dependence upon God. The tree of life possessed the power to perpetuate life, and as long as they ate of it, they could not die. The lives of the antediluvians were protracted because of the life-giving power of this tree, which was transmitted to them from Adam and Eve.
Christ is the Source of our life, the Source of our immortality. He is the Tree of Life, and to all who come to Him He gives spiritual life. "Verily, verily, I say unto you," He declared, "Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. . . . I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. . . . Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. . . . I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. . . . It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." John 6:32-33, 35, 47, 51-56, 63.
Christ also speaks of the relation existing between Himself and His followers under the symbol of the vine and its branches. "I am the true vine," He says, "and my Father is the husbandman. . . . Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." Chapter 15:1, 4.
My brother, my sister, Jesus is inviting you to become a branch of the Living Vine. He is calling upon you to connect with Him, that in His strength you may do His Commandments. You have tried to sever yourself from Him, but you have not succeeded. God loves you, and would have you sit at His feet and learn of Him. His forgiveness, compassion, and long-suffering are represented to the world in Christ. If Christ had not paid the ransom for our souls, we would not have had a probation in which to develop characters of obedience to God's Commandments. Then do not disappoint Christ by perversity and unbelief. Appreciate God's Gift to man. Show that you understand what your probation means. It means life or death to each one of us. By our daily conduct we are deciding our eternal destiny.
It is not toil that degrades men, or that ranks them among the outcasts of society; it is sin. Adam, pure and innocent and fresh from the hand of God, was given his work. This work did not degrade him. While he was engaged in his appointed work, he never thought of hiding from God, but responded as soon he heard His footsteps in the garden, and hastened to shorten the distance between him and his Maker. What precious communings he had with God! But after he sinned, he feared that every sound was the footstep of God. He did not want to see God, and when he heard Him coming, he did not hasten to meet Him, but hid himself. "And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?" Genesis 3:9-11. This, then, was the reason. He had broken the command of God; and the light of righteousness that had encompassed him as a garment had disappeared, leaving him naked, and he was afraid to meet God. Sin is the only nakedness, the only degradation, the only dishonour, that we can know; it is the only thing that will make us afraid to meet God. After transgressing God's commands, man was excluded from the tree of life; for by eating of it, he would only prolong a life of sin. But Christ has promised, "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Revelation 2:7. "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Chapter 22:14.
God sent Christ into the world to redeem men from sin. Shall we not, then, accept the society of the only begotten Son of God? The sinner is privileged to recognise Christ as his divine and adorable Brother, but this relationship cannot be claimed while he continues to cherish sin. If you will cast your burden upon Christ, the Sin-bearer, He will remove your sins, and irradiate your mind with the bright beams of His righteousness. Then you will no longer look upon the requirements of God as briers and thorns which pierce the flesh. When you consider thoughtfully the Commandments of God, when you behold God in Jesus Christ, you will turn from the deceptions of Satan. You will acknowledge the truth which sanctifies the receiver, and a marvellous change will be wrought in you. The prejudices and jealousies which have proved your stumbling block and spoiled your life will vanish.
Religion does not consist in observing mere forms. A religion that has been handed down to us by our teachers, and which we have received only as a part of our education, will not stand against the devices of Satan. Religion must be conviction, deep and penetrating, crucifying the flesh. As the blood circulates through the body in a vitalising current, so Christ must be received into the heart. What will avail any soul unless Christ is received into the heart by faith? Of all who thus receive Him the Word declares, "To them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." John 1:12.
The Commandments of God are not the dry theories and maxims growing on the trunk of Phariseeism. Every jot and tittle of the Law of God is a pledge of perfect rest and assurance in obedience. If you will obey these Commandments, you will find, in every specification, a most precious promise. Take Jesus as your Partner. Ask of Him help to keep God's Law. He will be to you a Safeguard and Counsellor, a Guide that will never mislead.
There is no safe armour for the Christian but truth. This will be our safeguard in our associations with our fellow men. Our convictions must be true; our feelings must be true. We need to make sure that we are on the Lord's side in the warfare that is going forward on this earth. Truth must become our personal property, a part of our individual selves, if we would fight manfully the good fight of faith. If God's truth is cherished as an abiding principle, it will keep watch over our souls, and will send an alarm if danger threatens, summoning us to action against every enemy. But no power but truth--steadfast, pure truth--can keep us loyal to God. The simple truth of God, as it is in Jesus, brought into the practical life, will elevate and refine; but if it is not rooted in the heart, we cannot stand against evil. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ alone can make us steadfast to true principles and keep us so.
Review and Herald, January 26, 1897.