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    March 14, 1898

    “The Righteousness of God” The Bible Echo 13, 11.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33.BEST March 14, 1898, par. 1

    The righteousness of God, says Jesus, is the one thing to be sought in this life. Food and clothing are minor in comparison with it. God will supply them, as a matter of course, so that anxious care and worriment need not be depended on them; but to secure God’s kingdom and His righteousness should be the only object of life.BEST March 14, 1898, par. 2

    In 1 Corinthians 1:30 we are told that Christ is made unto us righteousness as well as wisdom; and since Christ is the wisdom of God, and in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, it is evident that the righteousness which life is made to us is the righteousness of God. let us see what this righteousness is.BEST March 14, 1898, par. 3

    In Psalm 119:172 the Psalmist thus addresses the Lord: “My tongue shall speak of Thy Word; for all Thy commandments are righteousness.” The commandments are righteousness, not simply in the abstract, but they are the righteousness of God. For proof read the following:-BEST March 14, 1898, par. 4

    “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath; for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner; but My salvation shall be for ever, and My righteousness shall not be abolished. Hearken unto Me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is My law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.” Isaiah 51:6, 7.BEST March 14, 1898, par. 5

    What do we learn from this? That they who know the righteousness of God are those in whose heart is His law, and therefore that the law of God is the righteousness of God.BEST March 14, 1898, par. 6

    This may be proved again, as follows: “All unrighteousness is sin.” 1 John 5:17. “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4. Sin is the transgression of the law, and it is also unrighteousness; therefore sin and unrighteousness are identical. But if unrighteousness is transgression of the law, righteousness must be obedience to the law. Or, to put the proposition into mathematical form:-BEST March 14, 1898, par. 7

    Unrighteousness-sin. John 5:17.BEST March 14, 1898, par. 8

    Transgression of the law-sin. 1 John 3:4.BEST March 14, 1898, par. 9

    Therefore, as two things that are equal to the same thing are equal to each other, we have:-BEST March 14, 1898, par. 10

    Unrighteousness-transgression of the law, which is a negative equation. The same thing, stated in positive terms, would be:-BEST March 14, 1898, par. 11

    Righteousness-obedience to the law.BEST March 14, 1898, par. 12

    Now what law is it obedience to which is righteousness and disobedience to which is sin? It is that law which says, “Thou shalt not covet;” for the Apostle Paul tells us that this law convinced him of sin. Romans 7:7. The law of ten commandments, then, is the measure of the righteousness of God. Since it is the law of God and is righteousness, it must be the righteousness of God. There is, indeed no other righteousness.BEST March 14, 1898, par. 13

    Since the law is the righteousness of God-a transcript of His character-it is easy to see that to fear God and keep His commandments is the whole duty of man. Ecclesiastes 12:13. Let no one think that his duty will be circumscribed if confined to the ten commandments, for they are “exceeding broad.” “The law is spiritual,” and comprehends a great deal more than can be discerned by an ordinary reader. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14. The exceeding breadth of the law of God can be realised only by those who prayerfully meditate upon it. A few texts of Scripture will suffice to show us something of its breadth.BEST March 14, 1898, par. 14

    In the sermon on the mount Christ said: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment; but I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matthew 5:21, 22. And again: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery; but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Verses 27, 28.BEST March 14, 1898, par. 15

    This does not mean that the commandments, “Thou shalt not kill,” and, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” are imperfect, or that God now requires a greater degree of morality from Christians than He did from His people who were called Jews. He requires the same from all men in all ages. The Saviour simply explained these commandments, and showed their spirituality. To the unspoken charge of the Pharisees, that He was ignoring and undermining the moral law, He replied by saying that He came for the purpose of establishing the law, and that it could not be abolished, and then He expounded the true meaning of the law in a way that convicted them of ignoring and disobeying it. He showed that even a look or a thought may be a violation of the law, and that it is indeed a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.BEST March 14, 1898, par. 16

    In this Christ did not reveal a new truth, but only brought to light and unfolded an old one. The law meant just as much when He proclaimed it from Sinai as when He expounded it on the mountain in Judea. When, in tones that shook the earth, He said, “Thou shalt not kill,” He meant, “Thou shalt not cherish anger in the heart, thou shalt not indulge in envy, nor strife, nor anything which is in the remotest degree akin to murder.” All this and much more is contained in the words, “Thou shalt not kill.” And this was taught by the inspired words of the Old Testament; for Solomon showed that the law deals with things unseen as well as things seen, when he wrote:-BEST March 14, 1898, par. 17

    “Let us heart the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14.BEST March 14, 1898, par. 18

    The argument is this: The judgment passes upon every secret thing; the law of God is the standard in the judgment,—it determines the quality of every act, whether good or evil; therefore the law of God forbids evil in thought as well as in deed. So the conclusion of the whole matter is that the commandments of God contain the whole duty of man, and are therefore the true standard of righteousness.BEST March 14, 1898, par. 19

    E. J. WAGGONER.

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