The commandments of God are comprehensive and far reaching; in a few words they unfold the whole duty of man. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength…Thou shalt love they neighbour as thyself.” Mark 12:30, 31 In these words the length and breadth, and the depth and height, of the law of God is comprehended; for Paul declares, “love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:10 The only definition we find in the Bible for sin is that “sin is the transgression of the law.” I John 3:4 The Word of God declares, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 “There is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Romans 3:12 Many are deceived concerning the condition of their hearts. They do not realize that the natural heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. They wrap themselves about with their own righteousness, and are satisfied in reaching their own human standard of character; but how fatally they fail when they do not reach the divine standard, and of themselves they cannot meet the requirements of God.
We may measure ourselves by ourselves, we may compare ourselves among ourselves, we may say we do as well as this one or that one, but the question to which the judgment will call for an answer is, Do we meet the claims of high heaven? Do we reach the divine standard? Are our hearts in harmony with the God of heaven?
The human family have all transgressed the law of God, and as transgressors of the law, man is hopelessly ruined; for he is the enemy of God, without strength to do any good thing. “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Romans 8:7 Looking unto the moral mirror–God’s holy law–man sees himself a sinner, and is convicted of his state of evil, his hopeless doom under the just penalty of the law. But he has not been left in a state of hopeless distress in which sin has plunged him; for it was to save the transgressor from ruin that He who was equal with God offered up His life on Calvary. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Jesus was the majesty of heaven, the beloved commander of the angels, who delighted to do His pleasure. He was one with God, “in the bosom of the Father.” John 1:18, yet He thought it not a thing to be desired to be equal with God while man was lost in sin and misery. He stepped down from His throne, He left His crown and royal scepter, and clothed His divinity with humanity. He humbled Himself even to the death of the cross, that man might be exalted to a seat with Him upon His throne. In Him we have a complete offering, an infinite sacrifice, a mighty Saviour, who is able to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by Him. In love He comes to reveal the Father, to reconcile man to God, to make him a new creature renewed after the image of Him who created him.
Jesus is our atoning sacrifice. We can make no atonement for ourselves; but by faith we can accept the atonement that has been made. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” I Peter 3:18 “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” I Peter 1:18, 19 It was through infinite sacrifice and inexpressible suffering that our Redeemer placed redemption within our reach. He was in this world unhonored and unknown that, through His wonderful condescension and humiliation, He might exalt man to receive eternal honors and immortal joys in the heavenly courts. During His thirty years of life on earth His heart was wrung with inconceivable anguish. The path from the manger to Calvary was shadowed by grief and sorrow. He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, enduring such heartache as no human language can portray. He could have said in truth, “Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow.” Lamentations 1:12 Hating sin with a perfect hatred, He yet gathered to His soul the sins of the whole world. Guiltless, He bore the punishment of the guilty. Innocent, yet offering Himself as a substitute for the transgressor. The guilt of every sin pressed its weight upon the divine soul of the world’s Redeemer. The evil thoughts, the evil words, the evil deeds of every son and daughter of Adam called for retribution upon Himself; for He had become man’s substitute. Though the guilt of sin was not His, His spirit was torn and bruised by the transgressions of men, and He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
Voluntarily our divine Substitute bared His soul to the sword of justice, that we might not perish but have everlasting life. Said Christ, “I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” John 10:17, 18 No man of earth or angel of heaven could have paid the penalty for sin. Jesus was the only one who could save rebellious man. In Him divinity and humanity were combined, and this was what gave efficiency to the offering on Calvary’s cross. At the cross mercy and truth met together, righteousness and peace kissed each other.
As the sinner looks upon the Saviour dying on Calvary, and realizes that the suffer is divine, he asks why this great sacrifice was made, and the cross points to the holy law of God which has been transgressed. The death of Christ is an unanswerable argument as to the immutability and righteousness of the law. In prophesying of Christ, Isaiah says, “He will magnify the law, and make it honourable.” Isaiah 42:21 The law has no power to pardon the evildoer. Its office is to point out his defects, that he may realize his need of One who is mighty to save, his need of One who will become his substitute, his surety, his righteousness. Jesus meets the need of the sinner; for He has taken upon Him the sins of the transgressor. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 The Lord could have cut off the sinner, and utterly destroyed him; but the costlier plan was chosen. In His great love He provides hope for the hopeless, giving His only-begotten Son to bear the sins of the world. And since he has poured out all heaven in that one rich gift, He will withhold from man no needed aid that he may take the cup of salvation, and become an heir of God, joint heir with Christ.
Christ came to manifest the love of God to the world, to draw the hearts of all men to Himself. He said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32 The first step toward salvation is to respond to the drawing of the love of Christ. God sends message after message to men, entreating them to repentance, that He may forgive, and write pardon against their names. Shall there be no repentance? Shall His appeals be unheeded? Shall His overtures of mercy be ignored, and His love utterly rejected? Oh, then man will cut himself off from the medium through which he may gain life eternal; for God only pardons the penitent? By the manifestation of His love, by the entreating of His Spirit, He woos men to repentance; for repentance is the gift of God, and whom He pardons He first makes penitent. The sweetest joy comes to man through his sincere repentance toward God for the transgression of His law, and through faith in Christ as the sinner’s Redeemer and Advocate. It is that men may understand the joy of forgiveness, the peace of God, that Christ draws them through the manifestation of His love. If they respond to His drawing, yielding their hearts to His grace, He will lead them on step by step, to a full knowledge of Himself, and this is life eternal.
Christ came to reveal to the sinner the justice and love of God, that He might give repentance to Israel and remission of sins. When the sinner beholds Jesus lifted up upon the cross, suffering the guilt of the transgressor, bearing the penalty of sin; when he beholds God’s abhorrence of evil in the fearful manifestation of the death of the cross, and His love for fallen man, he is led to repentance toward God because of his transgression of the law which is holy, and just, and good. He exercises faith in Christ, because the divine Saviour has become his substitute, his surety, and advocate, the one in whom his very life is centered. To the repenting sinner God can show His mercy and truth, and bestow upon him His forgiveness and love.
But Satan will not permit a soul to escape from the captivity of sin if by any means he can prevent it. Though all heaven has been poured out in one rich gift–for when God gave His Son, He gave the choicest gift of heaven, and the treasures of heaven are at our command–yet to the repenting soul the enemy will seek to represent God as stern and inexorable, unwilling to pardon the transgressor. At different times letters have come to me from persons who were in despair over their sins. One and another have written: “I fear I am past all help. Is there any hope for me?” To these poor souls the message has been given: “Hope in God. The Father has bread enough and to spare. Arise, and go to your Father. He will meet you a great way off. He will give you His love and compassion.”
When the enemy comes in like a flood, and seeks to overwhelm you with the thought of your sin, tell him: “I know I am a sinner. If I were not, I could not go to the Saviour; for He says, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinner to repentance Mark 2:17 and because I am a sinner I am entitled to come to Christ. I am sinful and polluted, but He suffered humiliation and death, and exhausted the curse that belongs to me. I come. I believe. I claim His sure promise, “Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Will such a plea made in contrition of soul be turned away”–No never. By the suffering and death of Christ is proven His boundless love to man. He is willing and able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.
Then as a little child, come to God, presenting yourself as suppliant at His feet; for we need not ascent into the heavens to bring Jesus down; nor into the earth to bring Him up; for He is ever near us. He says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20 How willing is Christ to take possession of the soul temple if we will let Him! He is represented as waiting and knocking at the door of the heart. Then why does He not enter? It is because the love of sin has closed the door of the heart. As soon as we consent to give sin up, to acknowledge our guilt, the barrier is removed between the soul and the Saviour.
E. G. White, Selected Messages, vol. one, pp. 320-325