Sabbath, December 28, 2019

Lesson 26 – The Law Is Spiritual

“Through faith in Christ obedience to every principle of the law is made possible. Thus Paul learned that ‘the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.’ For our benefit, he questions, ‘Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.’ Romans 7:13, 14.” –Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, p. 98.

The golden rule

1. What great principle that impacts human behavior characterizes the law and the writings of the prophets?
Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

“The Saviour taught this principle [the golden rule] to make mankind happy, not unhappy; for in no other way can happiness come. God desires men and women to live the higher life. He gives them the boon of life, not to enable them merely to gain wealth, but to improve their higher powers by doing the work He has entrusted to mankind–the work of searching out and relieving the necessities of their fellow men. Man should not work for his own selfish interest, but for the interest of every one about him, blessing others by his influence and kindly deeds. This purpose of God is exemplified in Christ’s life.” –My Life Today, p. 165.

2. In His teaching, did Jesus diminish the value of the letter of His commandments? What did the depth and spiritual explanation that He gave for the sixth commandment reveal?
Matthew 5:21-24 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

“The righteousness which Christ taught is conformity of heart and life to the revealed will of God. Sinful men can become righteous only as they have faith in God and maintain a vital connection with Him. Then true godliness will elevate the thoughts and ennoble the life. Then the external forms of religion accord with the Christian’s internal purity….

“Jesus takes up the commandments separately, and explains the depth and breadth of their requirement. Instead of removing one jot of their force, He shows how far-reaching their principles are, and exposes the fatal mistake of the Jews in their outward show of obedience. He declares that by the evil thought or the lustful look the law of God is transgressed. One who becomes a party to the least injustice is breaking the law and degrading his own moral nature. Murder first exists in the mind. He who gives hatred a place in his heart is setting his feet in the path of the murderer, and his offerings are abhorrent to God.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 310.

The law touches desires and feelings

3. According to His explanation, what does the law forbid in addition to outward actions?
Matthew 5:27, 28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

“The law of Jehovah is exceedingly broad. Jesus … plainly declared to His disciples that this holy law of God may be violated in even the thoughts and feelings and desires, as well as in the word and deed. The heart that loves God supremely will not in any way be inclined to narrow down His precepts to the very smallest possible claims, but the obedient, loyal soul will cheerfully render full spiritual obedience when the law is seen in its spiritual power. Then will the commandments come home to the soul in their real force. Sin will appear exceedingly sinful….

“Many are deceiving their own souls today. They restrict the injunctions of God to condemn outward acts alone, and do not consider it sin to dishonor God in thoughts and affections. They flatter themselves that they are keeping the law of Jehovah while their life and character as daguerreotyped [photographed] in the books of heaven reveal them as venturing to see how far they can go in the direction of wrongdoing without being branded as transgressors of God’s law….” –Our High Calling, p. 140.

4. Going beyond the direct actions condemned by common laws, what deep spiritual meaning does the Tenth Commandment reveal?
Exodus 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

“The last commandment condemns covetousness. Every selfish desire, every degree of discontent, every act of overreaching, every selfish gratification works to the strengthening and developing of a character which will destroy the Christlikeness of the human agent, and close the gates of the city of God against him….

“The tenth commandment strikes at the very root of all sins, prohibiting the selfish desire, from which springs the sinful act. He who in obedience to God’s law refrains from indulging even a sinful desire for that which belongs to another, will not be guilty of an act of wrong toward his fellow creatures.” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 65.

5. Because of its depth and spirituality, what does God’s law help man to discover and discern?
Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

“The soul must first be convicted of sin before the sinner will feel a desire to come to Christ. ‘Sin is the transgression of the law.’ 1 John 3:4. ‘I had not known sin, but by the law.’ Romans 7:7. When the commandment came home to Saul’s conscience, sin revived, and he died. He saw himself condemned by the law of God. The sinner cannot be convinced of his guilt unless he understands what constitutes sin. It is impossible for an individual to experience Bible sanctification while he holds that if he believes in Christ it is immaterial whether he obeys God’s law or disobeys it.” –Faith and Works, p. 31.

“No one who believes in Jesus Christ is under bondage to the law of God; for His law is a law of life, not of death, to those who obey its precepts. All who comprehend the spirituality of the law, all who realize its power as a detector of sin, are in just as helpless a condition as is Satan himself, unless they accept the atonement provided for them in the remedial sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who is our atonement–at-one-ment with God.” –Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, p. 98.

The law is spiritual

6. Thus, what is unique about the law? What does this mean for us?
Romans 7:13, 14 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. 14For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

“Through faith in Christ obedience to every principle of the law is made possible. Thus Paul learned that ‘the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.’ For our benefit, he questions, ‘Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.’ Romans 7:13, 14.” –Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, p. 98.

7. Since the law is spiritual, what enormous value comes from conforming to it? What does love for one’s neighbor depend on?
Romans 13:8-10 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Matthew 22:36-40 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

“The law of God, from its very nature, is unchangeable. It is a revelation of the will and the character of its Author. God is love, and His law is love. Its two great principles are love to God and love to man. ‘Love is the fulfilling of the law.’ Romans 13:10. The character of God is righteousness and truth; such is the nature of His law. Says the psalmist: ‘Thy law is the truth’; ‘all thy commandments are righteousness.’ Psalm 119:142, 172. And the apostle Paul declares: ‘The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.’ Romans 7:12. Such a law, being an expression of the mind and will of God, must be as enduring as its Author.” –The Great Controversy, p. 467.

For additional study
“The requirement of God to us is, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.’ Luke 10:27. On these two principles hang all the law and the prophets; and it is for our present and eternal interest to have a proper understanding of the far-reaching principles of the law of God. ‘By the law is the knowledge of sin,’ and ‘sin is the transgression of the law.’ Romans 3:20; 1 John 3:4. Sinners must know what is sin before they can have a desire to be rid of sin. It is a matter of eternal interest that we do not misconceive this vital question. When appeals are made in the pulpits of our land, and sinners are invited to repent and to be converted, it is the privilege of the sinner to inquire, What is sin? This we must know, for it is at the peril of our souls that we continue in sin. The apostle gives us light on this subject, and says, ‘Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law.’

“Christ was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him was no sin. But were the law abolished, as some claim, we would have no need of a Saviour to take away sin, for ‘where there is no law, there is no transgression.’” –Signs of the Times, October 1, 1894.



Missionary Report from the General Conference
Health Department and Help Ministry

To be read on Sabbath, December 28, 2019
The Special Sabbath School Offering will be gathered on Sabbath, January 4, 2020

Dear brothers, sisters, and friends of God’s people around the world, greetings from the General Conference Health Department and Help Ministry.

“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27.

The importance of the work of the Health Department at all levels of the church organization in the preaching of the gospel and the salvation of souls cannot be over-emphasized, for “True religion and the laws of health go hand in hand. It is impossible to work for the salvation of men and women without presenting to them the need of breaking away from sinful gratifications, which destroy the health, debase the soul, and prevent divine truth from impressing the mind.” –Counsels on Health, p. 505; A Call to Medical Evangelism and Health Education, p. 31

The servant of the Lord declares: “The principles of health reform are found in the Word of God. The gospel of health is to be firmly linked with the ministry of the Word. It is the Lord’s design that the restoring influence of health reform shall be a part of the last great efforts to proclaim the gospel message.” –Medical Ministry, p. 259; A Call to Medical Evangelism and Health Education, p. 8.
“As a means of overcoming prejudice and gaining access to minds, medical missionary work must be done, not in one or two places only, but in many places where the truth has not yet been proclaimed. We are to work as gospel medical missionaries, to heal the sin-sick souls by giving them the message of salvation. This work will break down prejudice as nothing else can.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 211; A Call to Medical Evangelism and Health Education, p. 8.

“Christ was the Saviour of the world. During His life on earth, the sick and afflicted were objects of His special compassion. When He sent out His disciples, He commissioned them to heal the sick as well as to preach the gospel. When He sent forth the seventy, He commanded them to heal the sick, and next to preach that the kingdom of God had come nigh unto them. Their physical health was to be first cared for, in order that the way might be prepared for the truth to reach their minds.

“The Saviour devoted more time and labor to healing the afflicted of their maladies than to preaching.” –Counsels on Health, pp. 33, 34.
The vision of the General Conference Health Department is to have a worldwide membership that is well informed, knowledgeable, healthy, and well established in the principles and practices of health reform, as outlined in the holy Scriptures and the Spirit of prophecy. The mission of the Health Department is to work together with all levels and departments of the worldwide church to restore the character of God in His people and to help advance and finish His work on earth in the final days of human probation–through medical missionary work.

In carrying out its mandate, the General Conference Health Department faces several significant challenges. These include: the lack of adequate financial resources; shortage of qualified medical/health professionals in the church who are available to work for the General Conference Health Department on a voluntary basis; the need to prepare and publish new, attractive health publications, including small health books and magazines for the canvassing and evangelism work around the world; and the need to establish many standardized, properly-resourced and -operated health clinics operated by church members who are well trained, experienced, knowledgeable, and competent health practitioners who practice in harmony with the teachings of the Bible and the Spirit of prophecy–focusing on proven natural remedies and healing therapies.

Many of our members (including missionary workers) lack adequate knowledge of infectious diseases, nutrition and proper combination and preparation of foods, food safety, hygiene, basic human physiology, and the pathophysiology and prevention of common chronic diseases (e.g., heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer (breast, cervical, prostate, colorectal, etc.). The members also need to be educated about the dangers of disease vectors, such as flies, mosquitos, rodents, and farm and domesticated animals, as well as water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid. The Health Department also needs to educate people about the importance of preventing falls and injuries associated with the physiological and cognitive changes that accompany the aging process.

The August 8 to September 2, 2018, International Health Conference held in the African countries of Ghana, Uganda, and Zimbabwe was attended by representatives from the neighboring countries of Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, DR Congo, South Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho, and South Africa. A total of about 600 people attended the Sabbath services, and the health lectures and workshops were well received by those who attended the conference.

Unfortunately, the healthcare systems in many of these countries are woefully inadequate, unreliable, expensive, and dependent on ineffective pharmaceuticals/drugs. There is a great and urgent need for proper health clinics to be established especially in South Sudan, DR Congo, Benin, Ivory Coast, Togo, Uganda, Nigeria, and Ghana. In fact, ALL of these countries need urgent help and support to advance the medical missionary work in their respective fields. Some of these countries have no IMS-operated clinics at all. Not even one! In many of the French-speaking West African countries, teaching the health message and providing natural healing to the people is the most effective method of winning souls and establishing and advancing the church of God.

While visiting Ghana and Zimbabwe, our medical missionary team was privileged to visit some private health clinics operated by a few of our church members and to see the impressive work being done despite the lack of necessary resources and basic diagnostic equipment. The need for health clinics in Africa is grave, and the potential for helping the sick, spreading the present truth, and winning souls for Jesus is tremendous. But, in addition to prayer, financial support is urgently needed.

As the worldwide people of God, we cannot allow the medical missionary work to continue to languish. I appeal to each member and friend of God’s people to come to the Lord’s help and unselfishly support the work of the General Conference Health Department and Help Ministry!

The following are the primary objectives of the General Conference Health Department
• Educate the church members and gospel workers in basic human physiology and pathophysiology and encourage them to identify and use natural remedies/therapies to help prevent and treat diseases.
• Utilize the knowledge and expertise of health professionals who are members to educate members and the public in the laws of health, prevention of disease, and natural remedies.
• Research and publish Position Papers (PPs) on chocolate, dairy products, veganism, pharmaceuticals, vaccination, cannabis, contraceptives, and other topics of interest.
• Work toward the establishment of a certified online course for educating and training medical missionary workers and health professionals–in harmony with the principles outlined in the Scriptures and the Spirit of prophecy–with focus on the prevention and healing of diseases utilizing natural remedies, agents, and therapies.
• Create and publish an indexed Encyclopedia of Natural Remedies for most of the common diseases/illnesses and health challenges that affect people around the world.
• Create standards/guidelines for the establishment and satisfactory operation of affiliated health clinics worldwide in harmony with the teachings of the Bible and the Spirit of prophecy.
• Work with the union and field leaders and the Health Department and Good Samaritan Department leaders in the various fields to help the church members who live in poor countries to plan and start self-supporting mini-projects, including local health clinics, to generate meaningful employment and income for church members.

“Many who profess the name of Christ, are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; they put forth no personal effort to save others, neither do they deny self that they may give of the means which God has entrusted to them, that they may be a blessing to their fellowmen, that those who are willing may go forth to advance the interests of Christ’s kingdom in the world.” –The Medical Missionary, September 1, 1892.

Dear brothers and sisters around the world, the most effective and successful method of advancing the work of God in Africa and throughout the world is to combine medical missionary work with the preaching of the everlasting gospel. Next Sabbath, please give sacrificially to the General Conference Health Department and Help Ministry with willing, happy hearts! Your sacrifice will bear fruit to the glory of God and the salvation of souls!

Morris M. Lowe
General Conference Health Department Leader and Help Ministry Director




Note 1
“Law cannot save a sinner, nor can law put an end to sin or its dominion. Law reveals sin (Romans 3:20), and because of the sinfulness of the man, law, as it were, causes transgression to increase. Romans 5:20. Law cannot forgive sin, nor can law provide any power to overcome it. The sinner who seeks to be saved under law will find only condemnation and deeper enslavement to sin. Wherever the principle is held that man can save himself by his own works, there is no effective barrier against sin (The Desire of Ages, pp. 35, 36).” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 541 (comments on Romans 6:14.)

The true Christian believer “acknowledges that he is a transgressor of the divine law, that in his own strength he is wholly incapable of fulfilling its requirements, that he justly deserves to be under its condemnation, and surrenders himself through faith in Christ to the grace and mercy of God. Then, by the grace of God, his sinful past is forgiven and he receives divine power to walk in newness of life. When a man is ‘under law,’ despite his best efforts sin continues to have dominion over him, because the law cannot set him free from the power of sin. Under grace, however, the struggle against sin is no longer a forlorn hope, but a certain triumph.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 541 (comments on Romans 6:14).

Note 2
“To Paul, being under the dominion of law is equivalent to being under the dominion of sin. The reason for this is that law merely reveals the standard of right. It cannot remove the guilt or the dominion of sin. It requires complete obedience to its precepts, but offers the sinner no enabling power for obedience. Grace, on the other hand, does the things that law is powerless to perform. It both cancels the guilt of sin and imparts power to overcome it. Thus Paul regards being under law as being under sin, and dying to law as the equivalent of dying to sin.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 546 (comments on Romans 7:1).

Note 3
“Paul now applies the illustration from marriage law to the experience of the Christian. His major point is that death dissolves legal obligation. Therefore, as death frees the wife from the claims of the marriage law, so that she may properly marry another, so the Christian’s crucifixion with Christ releases him from the dominion of sin and law, so that he may enter into a new spiritual union with the risen Saviour….

“In the illustration it was the death of the husband that freed the wife from the law. In the application it is the death of the old sinful self that releases the believer from the condemnation and dominion of the law and frees him to be joined to Christ.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 547 (comments on Romans 7:4).