Chapter 15: God The Great Motivator

We should ever bear in mind that despite the fact that God, in exchange for our faith, "considers the character of Jesus to be our character," He nevertheless has one overriding purpose in all of His dealings with us, and that is the changing of our characters.

'Our sanctification is God's object in all His dealing with us. He has chosen us from eternity that we may be holy.' (3SM202)
This matter is of such consequence that . . .
'[The] scheme of restoring the moral image of God in debased humanity entered into every purpose of the life and character of Christ.' (FCE408)
We must conclude, therefore, that even if our works of obedience cannot save us, it is nevertheless God's cherished dream to make obedient children of every one of us. As such, it is vitally important that we understand the nature of true obedience - and, of course, that we understand the nature of the law that we are expected to obey.
The Nature of God's Law

In seeking to understand the character of God's law, we need to first of all understand that the law is not just a list of do's and don'ts. There is in fact a very deep spirituality attached to His law.
'Christ had repeatedly shown that His Father's law contained something deeper than mere authoritative commands.' (DA608)
In reality, God's law is the code of rule that governs the entire universe. It is, in fact, a perfect representation of the character of God.
'The law of God is an expression of His very nature; it is an embodiment of the great principle of love, and hence is the foundation of His government in heaven and earth.' (SC60)
'God's law . . . is a code of principles expressing mercy, goodness and love. It presents to fallen humanity the character of God, and states plainly the whole duty of man.' (19MR182)
When the Ten Commandment 'law is presented as it should be, it reveals the love of God.' (GW157)
It simply cannot be otherwise for, if the law represents God's character, and God is love, then His law must be a perfect word representation of love.
'God is love. His nature, His law, is love.' (PP33)
This is why Paul tells us that . . .
'The goal of this command is love.' (1 Timothy 1:5)
In other words, the very intent and purpose of the law is the fostering and maintenance of love throughout the universe.
Paul also tells us that . . .
'Love is the fulfillment of the law.' (Romans 13:10)
Thus we must conclude that only genuine love can meet the sacred demands of God's law, and this is why Jesus' ultimate act of love was able to fulfill, or to fully satisfy, the ultimate code of love - once, for all, and for all time.
'In giving His only-begotten Son to die for sinners, God has manifested to fallen man love that is without a parallel. By the suffering and death of Christ is proven His boundless love to man.' (1SM309, 325)
In summary, therefore, love is the subject and the purpose of the law and, as such, only perfect love can satisfy the demands of this perfect law of love.
The Nature of Obedience

The above thoughts lead us to a very crucial and yet a very logical deduction. If the law of God is the code of love, it surely follows that true obedience to the law of God is nothing other than love. John confirms this thought when he tells us that . . .
'This is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands.' (2 John 1:6)
In simple terms, therefore, . . .
'Love is expressed in obedience.' (SD51)
This being the case, . . .
'Those who love Him will show their love by obedience.' (DA 668)
This is why Scripture tells us that we will be able to identify truly obedient Christians by the fruits of their characters. In other words, a Christian will be known for His love, as expressed in his 'joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.' (Galatians 5:22)
'The fragrance of the life, the loveliness of the character, reveal to the world the fact that they are children of God.' (HP35)
Thus the obedience that God seeks to bring about in our lives is a spiritual obedience, it is not simply a matter of hands and feet doing what God desires, but a matter of a heart and a mind that are in harmony with the principles of love - a heart and a mind that love God, delight to do His will, and that thus direct the hands and feet accordingly.
'Obedience is not a mere outward compliance, but the service of love.' (SC60)
Speaking of one who is righteous, the psalmist tells us that . . .
'The law of God is in his heart.' (Psalm 37:31)
In other words, the law of God is to become a part of the character - which means that obedience to the law of love is an active principle - it is a reflection of the state of the heart, and not just a passive, intellectual endorsement of a code of rule.
Jesus was living proof of this fact because . . .
He 'served all, ministered to all. Thus He lived the law of God, and by His example showed how we are to obey it.' (DA649)
'As He went about doing good, and healing all who were afflicted by Satan, He made plain to men the character of God's law and the nature of His service.' (DA24)
Thus it is that Jesus came to show us that obedience is represented by the cross - the vertical bar being a symbolic representation of our praise and loving service to God - as presented in the first four commandments; the horizontal bar representing our loving service and unselfish ministry to others - as presented in the last six commandments. This, after all, is what true love is all about.
True obedience to the law of love therefore embraces so much more than just what we eat or drink, so much more than mere do's and don'ts, so much more, for that matter, than the hollow observance of 'a religious festival, new moon celebration, or a Sabbath day.' (Colossians 2:16)
Clearly, obedience to God's law is first of all a matter of what the heart is, and not just a matter of what the hand does. In other words, obedience is more a matter of what we are than a matter of what we do or do not do. This is obvious, for it is always and only the state of the heart that determines the action of the hand.
'God has given us the rule of conduct which every one of His servants must follow. It is obedience to His law, not merely a legal obedience, but an obedience which enters into the life, and is exemplified in the character.' (DA523)
This, in fact, was the burden of Jesus' instruction to His disciples . . .
'He taught them that if they would keep God's commandments, love for God and for their fellow men must be manifested in their daily life.' (RC61)
The need of the disobedient, therefore, and that includes all of us, is not merely a change of action, or a change in our eating habits, or a change in our style of dress, or a change of the special day on which we worship God - as important as these things may be - but a change of character. God's great goal for humanity is to change what we are because He knows all too well that . . .
'You must be good before you can do good.' (MB128)
'Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.' (Isaiah 40:31)
When our characters are changed, we will refrain from evil, not as a result of our painful struggles against human desire, but because, by God's grace, we are no longer swayed by human desire. The heart that once yearned to do wrong will now have an even stronger yearning to do right - and this yearning is what lies at the very heart of true obedience.
Looking down to the end of time, John identifies God's children as . . . 'those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.' (Revelation 12:17)
In a wicked and degenerate world, these commandment-keeping people will stand out, not just because they worship on an unusual day, or because they do not commit adultery, or because they do not take the Lord's name in vain. They certainly will be noted for these things, but the one thing that will stand out above all others will be their outstanding characters. They will stand out because of their love, a love that will find expression in joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This will be a love that will delight in praising God and giving glory to Him; it will be a love that will find its greatest joy in bringing comfort and peace to others - and especially to the downtrodden of earth. This, after all, is the ultimate experience that God desires for His children, for He knows all too well that . . .
'When we love the world as He has loved it, then for us His mission is accomplished. We are fitted for heaven; for we have heaven in our hearts.' (DA641)
'"O," you may say, "I do keep the commandments." Do you? . . . Do you carry out the principles of God's commandments in your home, in your family? Do you never manifest rudeness, unkindness, and impoliteness in the family circle? If you do manifest unkindness at your home, no matter how high may be your profession, you are breaking God's commandments. No matter how much you may preach the commandments to others, if you fail to manifest the love of Christ in your home life, you are a transgressor of the law.' (RH 03-29-92)
In the light of this chapter, the reader is referred to the article A Brand New You. We cannot change our own hearts, but God has a simple plan whereby our hearts may be changed.

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