Wherefore the law is holy - As if he had said, to soothe his countrymen, to whom he had been showing the absolute insufficiency of the law either to justify or save from sin: I do not intimate that there is any thing improper or imperfect in the law as a rule of life: it prescribes what is holy, just, and good; for it comes from a holy, just, and good God. The Law, which is to regulate the whole of the outward conduct, is holy; and the Commandment, Thou shalt not covet, which is to regulate the heart, is not less so. All is excellent and pure; but it neither pardons sin nor purifies the heart; and it is because it is holy, just, and good, that it condemns transgressors to death.
Wherefore - So that. The conclusion to which we come is, that the Law is not to be blamed, though these are its effects under existing circumstances. The source of all this is not the Law, but the corrupt nature of man. The Law is good; and yet the position of the apostle is true, that it is not adapted to purify the heart of fallen man. Its tendency is to excite increased guilt, conflict, alarm, and despair. This verse contains an answer to the question in Romans 7:7, “Is the law sin?”
Is holy - Is not sin; compare Romans 7:7. It is pure in its nature.
And the commandment - The word “commandment” is here synonymous with the Law. It properly means what is enjoined.
Holy - Pure.
Just - Righteous in its claims and penalties. It is not unequal in its exactions.
Good - In itself good; and in its own nature tending to produce happiness. The sin and condemnation of the guilty is not the fault of the Law. If obeyed, it would produce happiness everywhere. See a most beautiful description of the law of God in Psalm 19:7-11.
Every one of us will be sorely tempted; our faith will be tried to the uttermost. We must have a living connection with God; we must be partakers of the divine nature; then we shall not be deceived by the devices of the enemy, and shall escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2SM 50.1
We need to be anchored in Christ, rooted and grounded in the faith. Satan works through agents. He selects those who have not been drinking of the living waters, whose souls are athirst for something new and strange, and who are ever ready to drink at any fountain that may present itself. Voices will be heard, saying, “Lo, here is Christ,” or “Lo, there”; but we must believe them not. We have unmistakable evidence of the voice of the True Shepherd, and He is calling upon us to follow Him. He says, “I have kept my Father's commandments.” He leads His sheep in the path of humble obedience to the law of God, but He never encourages them in the transgression of that law. 2SM 50.2Read in context »
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. GC 467.1
It is the work of conversion and sanctification to reconcile men to God by bringing them into accord with the principles of His law. In the beginning, man was created in the image of God. He was in perfect harmony with the nature and the law of God; the principles of righteousness were written upon his heart. But sin alienated him from his Maker. He no longer reflected the divine image. His heart was at war with the principles of God's law. “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Romans 8:7. But “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son,” that man might be reconciled to God. Through the merits of Christ he can be restored to harmony with his Maker. His heart must be renewed by divine grace; he must have a new life from above. This change is the new birth, without which, says Jesus, “he cannot see the kingdom of God.” GC 467.2
The first step in reconciliation to God is the conviction of sin. “Sin is the transgression of the law.” “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” 1 John 3:4; Romans 3:20. In order to see his guilt, the sinner must test his character by God's great standard of righteousness. It is a mirror which shows the perfection of a righteous character and enables him to discern the defects in his own. GC 467.3
The law reveals to man his sins, but it provides no remedy. While it promises life to the obedient, it declares that death is the portion of the transgressor. The gospel of Christ alone can free him from the condemnation or the defilement of sin. He must exercise repentance toward God, whose law has been transgressed; and faith in Christ, his atoning sacrifice. Thus he obtains “remission of sins that are past” and becomes a partaker of the divine nature. He is a child of God, having received the spirit of adoption, whereby he cries: “Abba, Father!” GC 467.4Read in context »
Moses himself was unconscious of the beaming glory reflected upon his face, and knew not why the children of Israel fled from him when he approached them. He called them to him, but they dared not look upon that glorified face. When Moses learned that the people could not look upon his face, because of its glory, he covered it with a veil. 1SM 232.1
The glory upon the face of Moses was exceedingly painful to the children of Israel because of their transgression of God's holy law. This is an illustration of the feelings of those who violate the law of God. They desire to remove from its penetrating light which is a terror to the transgressor, while it seems holy, just, and good to the loyal. Those only who have a just regard for the law of God can rightly estimate the atonement of Christ which was made necessary by the violation of the Father's law. 1SM 232.2
Those who cherish the view that there was no Saviour in the old dispensation, have as dark a veil over their understanding as did the Jews who rejected Christ. The Jews acknowledged their faith in a Messiah to come in the offering of sacrifices which typified Christ. Yet when Jesus appeared, fulfilling all the prophecies regarding the promised Messiah, and doing works that marked Him as the divine Son of God, they rejected Him, and refused to accept the plainest evidence of His true character. The Christian church, on the other hand, who profess the utmost faith in Christ, in despising the Jewish system virtually deny Christ, who was the originator of the entire Jewish economy. 1SM 232.3Read in context »
In presenting the binding claims of the law, many have failed to portray the infinite love of Christ. Those who have so great truths, so weighty reforms to present to the people, have not had a realization of the value of the atoning Sacrifice as an expression of God's great love to man. Love for Jesus, and Jesus’ love for sinners, have been dropped out of the religious experience of those who have been commissioned to preach the gospel, and self has been exalted instead of the Redeemer of mankind. The law is to be presented to its transgressors, not as something apart from God, but rather as an exponent of His mind and character. As the sunlight cannot be separated from the sun, so God's law cannot be rightly presented to man apart from the divine Author. The messenger should be able to say, “In the law is God's will; come, see for yourselves that the law is what Paul declared it to be—‘holy, and just, and good.’” It reproves sin, it condemns the sinner, but it shows him his need of Christ, with whom is plenteous mercy and goodness and truth. Though the law cannot remit the penalty for sin, but charges the sinner with all his debt, Christ has promised abundant pardon to all who repent, and believe in His mercy. The love of God is extended in abundance to the repenting, believing soul. The brand of sin upon the soul can be effaced only through the blood of the atoning Sacrifice. No less an offering was required than the sacrifice of Him who was equal with the Father. The work of Christ—His life, humiliation, death, and intercession for lost man—magnifies the law, and makes it honorable. 1SM 371.1
Many sermons preached upon the claims of the law have been without Christ, and this lack has made the truth inefficient in converting souls. Without the grace of Christ it is impossible to take one step in obedience to the law of God. Then how necessary that the sinner hear of the love and power of his Redeemer and Friend! While the ambassador for Christ should plainly declare the claims of the law, he should make it understood that none can be justified without the atoning sacrifice of Christ. Without Christ there can be only condemnation and a fearful looking for a fiery indignation, and final separation from the presence of God. But he whose eyes have been opened to see the love of Christ, will behold the character of God as full of love and compassion. God will not appear as a tyrannical, relentless being, but as a father longing to embrace his repenting son. The sinner will cry with the psalmist, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him” (Psalm 103:13). All despair is swept from the soul when Christ is seen in His true character. 1SM 371.2Read in context »