Love is why we Have to

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Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. Romans 13:10 NLT 

A young grade school boy and his daddy were walking down a country road, when they noticed a car pull over to the shoulder a few hundred meters up the road. The passenger door opened, and a little puppy fell out the door into the ditch near the shoulder of the road. The boy watched in amazement as the car then sped off. The boy ran to the aid of the little puppy. He found the puppy whining and confused as well as looking malnourished. When the father finally caught up to the boy, the boy firmly told his daddy, “I know you may not let me keep him, but we have to take him home and feed him right now!” 

What did the little boy mean by “we have to?” How did an abandoned puppy suddenly became his problem? Was there some law written in stone that the boy had to rescue this poor dog? As a matter fact there was a law, but it was not written in stone. The only reason why the boy said, “we have to” is because there was a law written on that little boy’s heart. 

In Luke 10:30-37 Jesus tells a familiar story we call today, “The Good Samaritan.” In the story both the Levi and the priest knew the law of God which was written in stone, but yet they passed by a suffering brother, because that law was not written on their hearts. Then a Samaritan walks by who has the law of love written on his heart. He at once recognized what he had to do, not because of the law written in stone but because it was a law of love tugging at his heart strings. Like puppet strings, his heart strings controlled his behavior. Love and compassion were written on his heart and controlled his behavior. 

Writing God’s law of love on our heart is not new to the New Testament. the goal was never to have the law of love written on stone. The ultimate goal was always to have the law written on our hearts. This goes back to the Old Testament. 

But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Jeremiah 31:33 NLT 

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5 NLT 

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18 NLT

True justice must be given to foreigners living among you and to orphans, and you must never accept a widow’s garment as security for her debt. Deuteronomy 24:17 NLT

In the Old Testament as well as today, God does not just want the letter of the law written on stone. He wants the spirit of the law written on our hearts. That means showing love and compassion for a little puppy that will never be able to help you. It means showing love and compassion for a neighbor or foreigner who would probably just spit on you and pass you by if the situation was reversed.  

This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:3 NLT 

A Samaritan had to rescue a foreigner left to die in a ditch, a young boy had to rescue a helpless puppy, not because of a law carved in stone. They had to because the law was etched upon their hearts. 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

12: Covenant Faith – Sabbath School Teaching Plan

Key Thought: Old Covenant, new covenant: Jesus paid the debt owed by the law, so that we can stand righteous in the sight of God.

Prepared by William Earnhardt, June 19, 2021

1. Have a volunteer read I Peter 1:18,19.

  1. Ask class members to share what is the main idea of this text?
  2. What are we ransomed from? Who are we ransomed to?
  3. Personal Application: What has the blood of Jesus ransomed you from?
  4. Case Study: Your coworker asks you how to know if you are saved or not. How do you respond? Do you have a Bible study presentation to lead someone to accept Jesus and salvation? Please see Salvation in Light of the Cross.

2. Have a volunteer read Genesis 15:6.

  1. Ask class members to share what is the main idea of this text?
  2. What did Abraham do to show that He believed the Lord and had faith? See also Genesis 26:5
  3. Personal Application: Abraham’s faith was tested in Genesis 22. How has your faith been tested?
  4. Case Study: One of your friends says there is no reason to obey God since we are saved by just believing. How do you respond to your friend? Hint: James 2:14-26.

3. Have a volunteer read Leviticus 7:1817:1-4.

  1. Ask class members what the main idea of these passages are?
  2. How is the idea of reckoning expressed in the context of these sacrifices?
  3. Personal Application: Knowing that Jesus accepts us with our faults how should that effect our attitude towards one another? See Colossians 3:13.
  4. Case Study: One of your relatives says they don’t feel forgiven even after they ask God to forgive them. How do you respond?

4. Have a volunteer read Galatians 3:11.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. Why is no man justified by the law in the sight of God? By the way it is important to point out no one was ever justified by the law in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. While we have the law in both Old and New Testaments the law itself never saved anyone in both Testaments. See Romans 3:28-31.
  3. Personal Application: How do you know if your faith is a live faith or a dead faith?
  4. Case Study: Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.

(Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.”Ministry of Healing, p. 148).

What was Really Wrong With Sinai?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— Galatians 4:24 NKJV

What did Paul mean by Mount Sinai? Many believe he was referring to the Ten Commandments. Was he? Paul speaks favorably of the Ten Commandments in Ephesians 6, and I doubt he would do so if he really thought they led to bondage. Paul also mentions Hagar. Instead of referring to the Ten Commandments, is Paul referring to a Hagar-like attitude at Sinai?

Hagar represents the man-made covenant or man-made promises. Hagar was not really at fault, and God promised to bless her, but Abraham used Hagar to try to help him get the promised child by the works of his own flesh, instead of trusting God’s promise.

Likewise at Sinai the people promised three times,

“All the Lord has spoken we will do.” Exodus 19:824:324:7.

Their promises are like the “Hagar” mentality. The people were trusting their own promises and works of the flesh, instead of trusting God to work in and through them. When Paul referred to Sinai in Galatians 4:24 instead of the the law of Ten Commandments, he mentions Hagar. In Hebrews Paul explains that the problem at Sinai was the people were making their own promises, instead of trusting God’s.

For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Hebrews 8:7-10 NKJV

Paul promotes the Law and says it is to be written on our hearts. The Law was not the problem at Sinai. The problem, Paul says, is how the people tried to establish the Law. They were depending upon themselves instead of God’s promises. Remember Joshua telling Israel that they could not serve the Lord in Joshua 24:19, but they went on and promised they could anyway?

So Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord for yourselves, to serve Him.” Joshua 24:22 NKJV

Joshua sees the people are making the same mistake made at Sinai. In Galatians, Paul sees the Galatians making that same mistake. They thought they could earn God’s favor. They thought they could rely on their own promises to keep the Law. By trusting the strength of their own promises they were making the “Hagar” mistake, just like Abraham. The commandments are good, and while we can’t keep them in the strength of our own promises, what is impossible with us is possible with God. Remember what we read last quarter?

by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:4 NKJV

Abraham trusted the works of his own flesh with Hagar, instead of trusting God’s promise. The problem at Sinai was that the same Hagar mentality was present. Paul wants the Law written on the Galatians’ hearts as well as our hearts, by trusting God instead of the works of the flesh.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

Better Promises Make A Better Covenant

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The story goes of a man who got a job chopping down trees. The first day his foreman noticed he had chopped down only ten trees while the other men had cut down a hundred or so. “Oh well,” thought the foreman, “it was his first day,” But the next couple days went the same way, so the foreman decided to have a talk with the new worker. “I am sure you have noticed you are not chopping down nearly as many trees as the others are” the foreman began. “Yes I know sir, but I am having trouble with this saw you gave me,” said the new worker. The foreman took a look at the saw and pulled the cord to start the motor. The buzz of the motor on the saw scared the new worker, and he jumped back shouting, “What is that sound?”

The new worker did not realize he was not expected chop down a hundred trees in his own power. He did not realize what power was available to him. It’s the same way with us.

Many people shirk at keeping the law, thinking it is an impossibility, not realizing they were never expected to keep it in their own power, and like the power saw, there is plenty of power available. If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it.  But when God found fault with the people, he said:

“The day is coming, says the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel and Judah.
This covenant will not be like the one
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
and led them out of the land of Egypt.
They did not remain faithful to my covenant,
so I turned my back on them, says the Lord.
But this is the new covenant I will make
with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds,
and I will write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people. Hebrews 8:7-10

There are those who would have us believe that the Ten Commandments were done away with because God realized they were unreasonable and could not be obeyed. However that is not the case.

Psalms 19:7 KJV says,

 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.

A legend tells about a huge ship that spotted a light off in the distant fog and radioed the source of the light telling it to change its course 15 degrees to avoid a collision. The source of the light radioed back that the ship needed to change its course instead. The arrogant sea captain once again demanded the other vessel change its course instead, only to find out the source of the light was not coming from a vessel but from a lighthouse.

So it is in life. Many people want the law to be changed just like the ship wanted the lighthouse to change, but lighthouses don’t move out of the way and neither does the law. The law is perfect. The law does not need to change.

That the law which was spoken by God’s own voice is faulty, that some specification has been set aside, is the claim which Satan now puts forward. It is the last great deception that he will bring upon the world. He needs not to assail the whole law; if he can lead men to disregard one precept, his purpose is gained. For “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” James 2:10. By consenting to break one precept, men are brought under Satan’s power. By substituting human law for God’s law, Satan will seek to control the world. This work is foretold in prophecy. Of the great apostate power which is the representative of Satan, it is declared, “He shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand.” Daniel 7:25-Ellen White, Desire of Ages, page 763

No, the law is not faulty. Hebrews 8:8 NLT says the fault was not with the law but with the people. So why would God change the law when the law was not the problem?

The fault of the people was in trying to keep the law in their own power. God made a covenant with the people, and instead of them asking for God’s help they eagerly replied,

“We will do everything the Lord has commanded.” Exodus 19:8 NLT

God knew this was never going to work from the get-go.

He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 172

God never intended for man to keep the law on His own. This is why God says in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah 31:33 NLT,

“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

You see, the old covenant was not called old because it was the first covenant. It was called old because it was a useless covenant that God never asked them to make. He never asked Abraham to have a son on his own. He never asked us to keep the commandments on our own. This is what Paul is talking about inHebrews 8:6 NLT when He says the new covenant is, “based on better promises.”

In the first covenant the people in Exodus 19:8 were the ones making promises God never asked them to make. I don’t need to tell you how worthless man’s promises are. The new covenant is based on better promises because they are God’s promises!

And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. 2 Peter 1:4 NLT

The law was never the problem. The problem was the people and their worthless promises. Even in the Old Testament we find the new and better covenant when Abraham becomes the father of Isaac, based on God’s promise. We find the new and better covenant based on better promises in Jeremiah 31:33 when God is promising to write and establish the perfect law in the hearts of men, not by their own power and promises, but by His power and promises.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.