Works of the Law
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 4 Monday
Read second paragraph,
“The phrase “the works of the law” likely involves, therefore, all the requirements found in the commandments given by God through Moses, whether moral or ceremonial. Paul’s point is that no matter how hard one tries to follow and obey God’s law, our obedience never will be GOOD ENOUGH for God to justify us, to have us declared righteous before God. That’s because His law requires absolute faithfulness in thought and action — not just some of the time but all of the time, and not just for some of His commandments but for all of them.” (Emphasis mine)
Do you see how deeply imbedded the lie has become?
It is absolutely true that our works cannot justify us—however, it would be easier for people to comprehend if we simply said, no amount of work on our part can produce a remedy that heals our hearts and cleanses our minds from fear, selfishness, guilt and shame.
This question from the bottom green section;
In your experience, how well do you keep God’s law? Do you really sense that you keep it so well that you can be justified before God on the basis of your law-keeping? (See Rom. 3:10-20.) If not, why not — and how does your answer help you understand Paul’s point here?
What do you think Paul meant by these words? We should read on the rest of Galatians and let Paul to explain this himself. One thing surely is clear, that Paul sees a serious breach of trust in God’s universal family. He refers to the onlooking universe, he saw the larger view, he hadn’t read Revelation yet about the war up in heaven, it hadn’t been written yet, not for another 30 years.
On the basis of the old testament in the Book of Job, one can be aware of this great controversy over the character of God and whether or not He is trustworthy? Distrust in God’s family among His children is the cause of all the trouble. Hence God has sought to reveal himself to us. As worthy of our trust. Well Paul says “I think a lot of you want to respond to God, you want to show yourself loyal, you want to trust God. You want to be shown to be trustworthy. You want to be members of his family. You don’t want to miss out on any of the good things, now how do we approach this? What do you do in order to be accepted back in God’s favor? What do you have to do?
You know when the prodigal son came home, he thought up a whole lot of promises he would make, Father, if I do this, to win your favor, i’m willing just to be a servant.
Even the Jailer said after the earthquake, what must I do, to be saved?
Paul said as always, If you just trust God all will be well. There isn’t anything thing that He cannot repair and heal if only you can trust Him , and the prodigal son never even was able to get through with his speech, the father didn’t even hear them. The father said, i’m glad your back, lets get on with the feast and you need a shower and some clothes. I want you to go into that party showing that I respect you as my son and that I’ve given you back full authority and he gave him the ring that carried the weight and the authority of the family, doesn’t that sound like God, who sought restore the self respect of the woman caught in adultery? And sought to protect Simon’s dignity?
When Uncle Simon had led his neice into sin and then said “If Jesus knew what kind of woman this is, He wouldn’t let her touch Him” and Jesus was so concerned to preserve Simon’s dignity. Because you know when self respect is gone there is no motivation to behave like a decent dignified human being. The first thing in winning people back to living decent, respectable lives. Is always for God to try to help us realize our worth, Give us back our dignity. One really has to have a larger view in order to do that.
Christ treated dastardly sinners with respect. Because if in trying to correct a sinner and lead him to become a saint you destroy his dignity he has no motivation for being a saint, it’s all gone.
So Peter disgraces himself in the upper room, in the garden of Gethsemane. and in the courtyard. Jesus didn’t have to push him very far for maybe him to join Judas in suicide. But Jesus looked at him in such a way. It’s true it broke Peters heart he ran all the way out and knelt in the same place in Gethsemane and Ellen White said “he did wish he could die” but not completely… The news was too good to die and lose. And he became a new man out of that. When he realized with what dignity and grace Christ had treated him after acting so “Disgracefully” And so what’s the right thing to ask of God when we say “I want to be taken back into your family, what must I do?” Well through the years they had developed all kinds of things to be done, to win God’s favor. And Paul says all that doing even though its done with great dedication and self sacrifice it’s really a great insult to our Heavenly Father.
Because what you’re saying is, “The kind of God we worship, you really have to work Him over, to win His favor” He says the God we worship forgave us way back in eternity. He is forgiveness personified. The prodigal son is one of the clearest descriptions of the plan of salvation and it doesn’t use any of the technical terminology that we always wrestle with. When the Son of God explained, how to be saved. He told stories like the prodigal son. And the picture of God is not a God who has all kind of legal problems here, who has to be interceded with, but a God who is looking down the road every day for his son to come home.
Now He couldn’t force him to come, he just hoped that his Son whilst sitting with the pigs, having squandered his living with prostitutes and in drinking. That his son would remember enough about his father, that he might feel it would be safe to come home. and that his father wouldn’t insult him too much and humiliate him.
Even so, he didn’t know his father as well as he should. Because he was planning on the way home. I’m going to promise my father this, and I’m going to promise my father that. You know, I’m going to tell him all that. Before he has any chance of saying anything to me. and gives expression to his anger because i really deserve it. I really let him down. And I think it’s marvelous, when the Son of God told the story, he didn’t even let the son finish his speech. I don’t think he promised him anything did he? He just cut him right off in the middle. He just said, Son we don’t have any time for that, I’m so thrilled to have you home. And he threw that big party because he felt so good about it. That’s how God feels about us, and that’s all we have to do to be saved. Is to remember how trustworthy and how gracious our Heavenly Father is.
The prodigal son’s father had forgiven him years before it’s just the son didn’t know it and couldn’t believe it. And even on the way home he couldn’t believe it complete, he hoped it might be true, but when he got home he found it was true. And Jesus said “And so it is with My Heavenly Father” And incidentally when one of you comes back we throw some party up there, there is great rejoicing in heaven over every person that comes home.
Because they are all brothers and sisters of ours, (Sisters, well Jesus said it’s different in the hereafter) Do any one of us belong to a family where one member family has been out along time, and your a very loving family, and maybe the parents are still alive and maybe one of your brothers or sisters is out.
Supposing you got the word that brother or sister had come back, what would it do to you? And the prodigal son story tells us what it does to God. I remember a few years ago of a story, there was a letter in the mail “That a relative of his had been out of the church for 30 years, had changed his mind and wanted to come back and if this pastor would baptize him, terrific news”
You see if we really care for each other and sense our membership in the family. Would you be like the older brother? Or he’s the one that needed all the work but he’d never broken the sabbath, he’d always paid his tithe, but he was on the wrong side of Damascus road. He hadn’t seen the truth about God but he was a pillar in the church, known for his faithfulness, and the father said, It’s true I trust you, you work so hard. The laedecians they work so hard, instead of the people who find themselves outside of the city.
Lord, Lord open unto us we’ve worked so hard, and God says “Oh I know you’ve worked so hard. But you were no friends of mine. The way you work you put Me in such a bad light” So those who feel that they have to do something to win God’s favor when God forgave us long ago, are insulting God aren’t they? The terrible thing about legalism and righteousness by works is that it’s such a gross insult of our infinitely gracious Heavenly Father.
Explanations about the death of Christ are a gross insult to God and many explanations of Christ ministry in the heavenly sanctuary are devilish insult to our Father, to suggest the Son has to beg the Father to forgive us. Jesus said I don’t John 16:26 “There is no need for Me to intercede for you, for the Father Himself loves you” and He tells the story of the prodigal Son.
How dare we tell those things when the Lord says “I will not need to plead with the Father for you” Now how do we explain why Jesus had to die, how do we explain the problems God faced in forgiving His children. There are things to be studied and said about that, but surely we should never be heard rendering such explanations of the plan of salvation that would deny the prodigal son story, deny the Testimony of Jesus, if you had seen Me you have seen the Father. Or worse if in our own relationship with God if we ever feel that we had to do anything to earn His forgiveness or to earn His favor.What is so bad about that is, that it’s not only an insult to God, but it implies that we have accepted the devils misrepresentation of God. We’ve preferred the Devils lies. And worse than that it’s a law we become like the God we worship and admire. If we worship a God that is vengeful and has to be persuaded and be constantly reminded what Jesus did, lest He pour out His Wrath on us.
We’re worshipping a God that is very different from the true God and we will become like that kind of God, and maybe someday we could burn people at the stake to win their souls, was very popular not too long ago. Or we can do what Saul did and really force people to keep the seventh day sabbath, seems unthinkable but it was done before. And if we think that Seventh-Day Adventists at least could surely never reject the good news that Jesus brought. It was 1888 when the true picture was being presented, Mrs White “i’ve never heard it presented so well, I don’t agree in all details but this is the Loud Cry,
She said that if Christ himself had appeared before the delegates, he would have been rejected with the same stubborn opposition with which the early Jews who disbelieved him rejected him in the first century. It seems unbelievable, it’s just any human being can turn against the truth. It’s happened all along. So as we mentioned a while ago the investigation about who’s side we are on takes very much place within. As a man thinks within so he really is, now whose side are we really on.
In light of these considerations, we need to go back and read those difficult words in the last paragraph. What do they mean? Can you see why it would be necessary for Paul to say. Why then the law? It looked as if he didn’t have much room for the law. He says in Romans 3:31, “faith does not destroy the law, it’s establishes it by putting it in the proper perspective.”
What is the proper perspective? Read Galatians 3:19, “The law was added for a special reason to perform a special purpose” And it is not opposed to God’s offer of freedom to us, it’s no threat to our individuality, when properly perceived. You could see how Galatians could stir up a great discussion in 1888, but there was nothing new about that discussion whatsoever It’s the debate of eternity, its the debate about the truth about our God, and His way of governing the universe. It’s just that the same old issue arose in 1888. It arose in Battle Creek in another form and I think it’s kind of stirring around again these days as we hear on our pulpits and in our Quarterly.
If we behave ourselves the stirring may do us good. But if we square off and do battle against each other. It’s certainly not in harmony with the Good news. It would mean both sides are wrong.
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