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Waggoner on Romans

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    Form and Fact

    December 12, 1895

    In the first chapter, it will be remembered we have a representation of the case of the heathen. In the second, as far as already studied, we have the case made general. Now the verses immediately before us, we have in unmistakable language the direct, personal charge.WOR 40.1

    “Thou Art the Man.” Romans 2:17-24

    “Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,and knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest they boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonorest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles through you, as it is written.”WOR 40.2

    Questioning the Text

    To whom does the apostle now address himself?WOR 40.3

    “Behold, thou art called a Jew?”WOR 40.4

    in what does the one called a Jew rest?WOR 40.5

    “And restest in the law.”WOR 40.6

    Of what does he boast?WOR 40.7

    Makest thy boast of God.”WOR 40.8

    What does he know?WOR 40.9

    “And knowest his will.”WOR 40.10

    How is it that he knows God’s will?WOR 40.11

    “Being instructed out of the law.”WOR 40.12

    Knowing the will of God through being instructed out of the law, what is he able to do?WOR 40.13

    “Triest the things that differ,” marginal reading.WOR 40.14

    Of what does his knowledge of the law give him confidence?WOR 40.15

    “Are confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes.”WOR 40.16

    What, and what only, does he have in the law?WOR 40.17

    “Hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.”WOR 40.18

    What questions imply that he has not the fact or the truth of the law?WOR 40.19

    “Dost thou steal?” “Dost thou commit adultery?” “Dost thou commit sacrilege?” “Through breaking the law dishonorest thou God?”WOR 40.20

    What shows that these leading question are really positive charges of breaking the law?WOR 41.1

    “For the name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles through you, as it is written.”WOR 41.2

    A Professed Jew.-Are professed Christians to throw away this portion of the book of Romans as not applicable to them, since it is addressed to a professed Jew? By no means. Professed Christians are the very ones who are meant by the apostle. Read the description: Thou “restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.” Whom does he address? Every one who professes to know the Lord, no matter by what name he is called; every one who thinks himself fully qualified to instruct others in the way of the Lord.WOR 41.3

    “Called a Jew.” -It should not be overlooked as a trifling matter that the apostle does not say, “Behold, thou art a Jew,” but, “Behold, thou art called a Jew.” People are not always what they are called, nor what they call themselves. Beginning with the seventeenth verse the apostle settles the question of who are Jews. Before we have finished the chapter it will seem that by using the word “called” he meant to intimate that the one addressed and described in the following verses is not really a Jew, and is not considered so by the Lord.WOR 41.4

    Claiming to Be Jews.-In Revelation 2:9 we read, “I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.” And again, “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.” Revelation 3:9. From this we see that to be a Jew indeed is so high an honor that many will falsely claim it. Yet the people called Jews have been held in contempt by the greater part of the world, for many hundred years. At no time and in no part of the world, since the New Testament was written, has it ever been an object for anybody to claim that he was a Jew, in the common acceptation of the term. The Jews as a class have never been in such honor that it would benefit one’s prospects to be called one. But it has been and is very often an advantage for a man to be known as a Christian, and very many have falsely made the claim, in order to better their business prospects.WOR 41.5

    Jew and Christian.-It is not straining the text at all to say that when “Jew” is used in these verses, it means what is now known as “Christian.” This will be apparent if we consider what a real Jew is. We may quote enough to show that from the beginning a true Jew was one who believed in Christ. Of the head of the race the Lord Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad.” John 8:56. He believed in the Lord, and it was counted to him for righteousness; but righteousness comes only through the Lord Jesus. Moses, the leader of the Jews, esteemed “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.” Hebrews 11:26 The rebellious Jews in the wilderness tempted and rejected Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:9. When Christ came in the flesh, it was “his own” that received him not. John 1:11. And to crown all, Christ said that no one could believe the writings of Moses unless he believed on him. John 5:46, 47. Therefore it is evident that no one is or ever has been a real Jew unless he believes in Christ. He who is not a Jew indeed is of “the synagogue of Satan.”WOR 41.6

    “Salvation Is of the Jews.” -Jesus said to the woman of Samaria at the well of Jacob, “Ye worship ye know not what; we know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews.” John 4:22. Christ himself was “made of the seed of David according to the flesh,” and was therefore a Jew; and there is no other name than his “under heaven ... whereby we must be saved.” No other people on earth, besides the Jews, have ever had so high a name. No other people have been so highly favored of God. “For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” Deuteronomy 4:7, 8.WOR 42.1

    Resting in the Law.-As stated in the verse last quoted, the Jews had committed to them the most perfect law in the universe, God’s own. It was called “the testimony,” because it was for a witness against them. They were not taught that they could get righteousness out of it, although it was perfect, but the contrary. Because it was so perfect, and they were sinners, it could have nothing but condemnation for them. It was designed only to drive them to Christ, in whom alone they could find the perfect righteousness that the law requires. “The law worketh wrath” (Romans 4:15), and Christ alone saves from wrath. But they “rested in the law,” and therefore rested in sin. They “trusted in themselves that they were righteous.” Luke 18:9. They found no righteousness, “because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law.” Romans 9:31, 32.WOR 42.2

    Boasting of God.-This is something different from making one’s boast in the Lord. Psalm 34:2. Instead of rejoicing in the Lord’s salvation, the Jews boasted over their superior knowledge of God. They did indeed have more than others, but they had nothing that they had not received, yet they boasted as though they had not received it. They glorified themselves, rather than God, for the knowledge that they had; and therefore they put themselves in the condition of the heathen who “when they knew God, glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations.” Whatever reader is inclined to censure the ancient Jews for their vain boasting, let him remember how he himself has often felt on comparing himself with the inhabitants of heathen countries, and with the “lowest class” in his own land.WOR 42.3

    God’s Will His Law.-The apostle says that the Jew knows the will of God, because he is instructed out of the law. This is sufficient to show that the law of God is his will. Indeed, no argument should be needed on this point. The will of any government is expressed in its law. Where there is an absolute ruler, his will is always law. God is an absolute ruler, although not an arbitrary one, and as his will is the sole rule of right, it follows that his will is law. But his law is summed up in the Ten Commandments; therefore the Ten Commandments contain a summary statement of the will of God.WOR 42.4

    The Form of Knowledge and Truth.-Although the Ten Commandments contain a statement of the will of God, which is the perfection of wisdom and truth, they are only a statement, and not the thing itself, just the same as a picture of a house is not a house, although it may be a perfect picture. Mere words written in a book or graven in stone have no life; but we know that the law of God is life everlasting. Only in Christ can the living law be found, since he is the only manifestation of the Godhead. Whoever has the life of Christ dwelling in him, has the perfect law of God manifest in his life. But he who has only the letter of the law, and not Christ, has only the form of knowledge and of truth. Thus, the law is often rightly said to be a photograph of the character of God. But a photograph or other picture is only the shadow of the reality; it is not the very substance. He who has Christ has both the form and the substance, since one can not have a thing without also possessing its form. But he who has only the statement of the truth, without Christ who alone is the Truth has the form of godliness without the power thereof.WOR 42.5

    Hard Questions.-In verses 21-23 the apostle asks some hard questions. “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonorest thou God?” Let each soul that has been wont to pride himself upon the correctness of his life answer these questions for himself. It is easy and natural for a man to pride himself upon his “morality.” Men who are not Christians comfort themselves with the thought that they live “moral” lives, and that therefore they are as well off as though they were Christians. Let all such know that there is no morality except conformity to the law of God. Everything that is in any respect below the standard of that law is immorality. Knowing this, let them see if they have perfectly kept that law.WOR 43.1

    “Dost Thou Steal?” -Most people will say, “No; I am honest in all my dealing.” Very well, but let us not decide the case offhand. Let us examine the Scripture. It says, “The law is spiritual.” Romans 7:14. “The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12. No matter how correct we are in our outward acts, if in spirit or thought we have transgressed, we are guilty. The Lord looks at the heart, instead of the outward appearance. 1 Samuel 16:7. Again, it is just as wrong to steal from God as to steal from man; have you given God his due? Have you dealt in a perfectly honest way with him? Hear what he says: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.” Malachi 3:8, 9. Does this mean you? Have you rendered to God that which is his due in tithes and offerings? If not, what will you answer when the word of inspiration asks, “Thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?”WOR 43.2

    “The Law Is Spiritual.” -In the fifth chapter of Matthew the Saviour has set forth the spirituality of the law. He says that unless our righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, we can not enter the kingdom of heaven. What was their righteousness? He said to them, “Ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” Matthew 23:28. Therefore, unless we are righteous inwardly, we are nothing. God desires “truth in the inward parts.” Psalm 51:6. Following on in the fifth chapter of Matthew, the Saviour shows that one may break the sixth commandment, which says, “Thou shalt not kill,” by the utterance of a single word. He also shows that we may break the seventh commandment which says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” by a look and a thought. The same principle of course obtains with all the commandments. This being the case, it becomes one to be very careful about saying that he has perfectly kept the law.WOR 43.3

    Some have said that the Ten Commandments are a very low standard, and that a man might keep them all and still not be worthy of admission into respectable society. Such know nothing about the law. As a matter of fact, a man may break all the commandments, and still figure as a shining light in the “best society.”WOR 43.4

    The Name of God Blasphemed.-“The name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles through you, as it is written.” Who has done this? The one who teaches the law, and who says that one who teaches the law and who says that one should not take the name of the Lord in vain. When David sinned in the case of Uriah’s wife, God said to him, “By this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.” 2 Samuel 12:14. That is, he was a professed follower of the Lord, and by his violation of the law of the Lord he had given unbelievers a chance to say, “There, that is a specimen of Christianity.” Who is there that can say that as a professed follower of the Lord he has always correctly represented the truth? Who is there that must not admit to himself and God that, either by his words or actions, he has very often misrepresented the truth which he professed? Who is there that has not by his failures, either in teaching or acting, given people a miserably inadequate idea of what true godliness is? In short, who is there that must not say yes to the apostle’s question, “Through breaking the law, dishonorest thou God?” And since thus the name of God is blasphemed through professed Christians, who is there that can declare himself guiltless before God’s law?WOR 44.1

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