Sabbath, June 4, 2005
“God delights in mercy, and He manifests His compassion before He inflicts His judgments.”
–Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 423.
• To remember that God’s mercy is above His righteousness.
• To be aware that Jesus’ righteousness imputed to us is a sign of God’s mercy.
• To understand that we are totally devoid of righteousness.
• To realize that the new birth is a deep experience with Christ.
MERCY AND LOVE – TWO INFALLIBLE INSTRUMENTS
1. When we think of God as the Ruler of the Universe, what two elements must we consider?
Psalm 89:14 Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.
“In the temple in heaven, the dwelling place of God, His throne is established in righteousness and judgment. In the most holy place is His law, the great rule of right by which all mankind are tested. The ark that enshrines the tables of the law is covered with the mercy seat, before which Christ pleads His blood in the sinner’s behalf. Thus is represented the union of justice and mercy in the plan of human redemption.” –Amazing Grace, p. 69.
2. How did Jesus, as the One sent from heaven to teach the way of a righteous life, deal with sinners?
John 8:10, 11 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
John 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
3. When we as sinners approach our Lord, what do we appeal to?
“The proud heart strives to earn salvation; but both our title to heaven and our fitness for it are found in the righteousness of Christ. The Lord can do nothing toward the recovery of man until, convinced of his own weakness, and stripped of all self-sufficiency, he yields himself to the control of God. Then he can receive the gift that God is waiting to bestow. From the soul that feels his need, nothing is withheld. He has unrestricted access to Him in whom all fullness dwells.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 300.
4. What should be a golden rule among those who want to be Christ’s followers? Why?
Ephesians 4:32. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
5. What is the most effective medicine against a heart hardened by sin?
Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.
“God does not employ compulsory measures; love is the agent which He uses to expel sin from the heart. By it He changes pride into humility, and enmity and unbelief into love and faith.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 77.
DIVINE RIGHTEOUSNESS VERSUS HUMAN RIGHTEOUSNESS
6. What do the Scriptures say about our righteousness?
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Matthew 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
“The rabbis counted their righteousness a passport to heaven; but Jesus declared it to be insufficient and unworthy. External ceremonies and a theoretical knowledge of truth constituted Pharisaical righteousness…
“The greatest deception of the human mind in Christ’s day was that a mere assent to the truth constitutes righteousness. In all human experience a theoretical knowledge of the truth has been proved to be insufficient
for the saving of the soul.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 309.
“Self-righteousness is the danger of this age; it separates the soul from Christ. Those who trust to their own righteousness cannot understand how salvation comes through Christ. They call sin righteousness and righteousness sin. They have no appreciation of the evil of transgression, no understanding of the terror of the law; for they do not respect God’s moral standard. The reason there are so many spurious conversions in these days is that there is so low an appreciation of the law of God. Instead of God’s standard of righteousness, men have erected a standard of their own by which to measure character.” –Faith and Works, p. 96.
7. What is God’s standard of righteousness?
Romans 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
“Righteousness can be defined only by God’s great moral standard, the Ten Commandments. There is no other rule by which to measure character.–Signs of the Times, June 20, 1895.” –Reflecting Christ, p. 59.
NEW BIRTH AND NEW LIFE
8. Is it just by studying the Scriptures that we reach God’s standard of righteousness?
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Luke 15:18-22 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
“There must be a new birth, a new mind through the operation of the Spirit of God, which purifies the life and ennobles the character. This connection with God fits man for the glorious kingdom of heaven. No human invention can ever find a remedy for the sinning soul. “There must be a power working from within, a new life from above, before men can be changed from sin to holiness. That power is Christ.
His grace alone can quicken the lifeless faculties of the soul, and attract it to God, to holiness.” –The Faith I Live By, p. 96.
“The want in the religious experience is the acceptance of Jesus Christ as presented in the gospel. Many have not yet received Christ. They have accepted a theory of the truth, and have been in a large degree left to this kind of experience. And how hard it has been to impress the minds with the necessity of justification by faith!” –The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, 1987.
9. Does this experience that is so well described in Romans 6:14 exempt us from observing God’s law?
Romans 6:15, 18 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid… 18. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
“God’s law tolerates no sin, but demands perfect obedience. The echo of God’s voice comes to us, ever saying. Holier, holier still. And ever our answer is to be, Yes, Lord, holier still. Holiness is within the reach of all who
reach for it by faith, not because of their good works, but because of Christ’s merits. Divine power is provided for every soul struggling for the victory over sin and Satan.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 908.
FOR MEDITATION AND FURTHER STUDY
• Let us analyze our attitude in certain concrete circumstances and see if we react according to God’s righteousness, imbued with mercy, or according to our own standard of righteousness?
• Is the new birth an experience in my life?
• Let us read in Testimony Treasures, vol. 3, the chapter on Christ our Righteousness.