Magnifying the Law
is a direct and inseparable connection between Christ’s role as the Revelator
of the Father’s character and as the Magnifier of God’s law. Scriptures have
already been quoted which state that Christ came to show men the Eternal One
as He really is. Now is presented this text in regard to the work of Christ
and the law.
“The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will magnify the law, and make it
honorable.” Isaiah 42:21.
It would be a serious mistake to think of this as being a separate and
different work from that of the unfolding of God’s character. “His law is a
transcript of His own character, and it is the standard of all character.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 315. Thus is
made plain the truth that the character of God is directly and accurately
expressed in His law. To see one is to see the other. This means that God,
Christ, and the law are three identical entities. Between them there is no
difference even though it is difficult to grasp this. There is the
inclination to think of God as a Being of living power with infinite
possibilities of exercising His will. We tend to see the law as being a much
lesser thing, merely the spoken will of the supreme ruler and certainly not
something which is the expression of Himself.
mind must be re-educated away from such ideas. The law of God is to find its
true level in the thinking of those through whom the Lord will finish His
work. They are to understand that the law of God is as high, as great, as
infinite and wonderful as Himself.
“The law of God is as sacred as God Himself. It is a revelation of His
will, a transcript of His character, the expression of divine love and
wisdom.” “The broken law of God demanded the life of the sinner. In all the
universe there was but One Who could, in behalf of man, satisfy its claims.
Since the divine law is as sacred as Himself, only One equal with God could
make atonement for its transgression. None but Christ could redeem fallen man
from the curse of the law and bring him again into harmony with Heaven.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 52, 53.
“The law of God is as holy as He is holy, as perfect as He is perfect.
It presents to men the righteousness of God.” Mount of Blessing, 54.
Therefore, to place God on a level of infinite greatness, while
relegating the law to a lesser plane, is to hold a position of serious error.
They must be thought of as being as holy, as great, as infinite, and as
sacred as one another.
Likewise, the understanding that Jesus came to reveal the Father, is
to comprehend that Christ came to magnify the law. These were not two
separate tasks to be accomplished in turn or even in concert. They were
one and the same work. The revealing of
God’s character was the magnification of the law.
Great stress has been placed upon the truth that the last conflict
will be over the law of God. This has not been overdone. Despite all the
emphasis, there has not yet been conveyed the real significance of the place
of the law in that final struggle. Generally, it is thought that the issue
will simply be proving the seventh day is the Sabbath, with the corresponding
exposure of Sunday as being the day of the man of sin. But the issues will go
vastly deeper than this. It is true that Sabbath versus Sunday will be the
focal point of issue, but not at a merely technical lever. Furthermore, the
whole of the law will be contested, not just one point of it.
The deepest spiritual implications and ramifications of the law will
be explored, presented, and controverted. Because the law is the very
expression of the righteousness or character of God, the issue will involve
the question of how God keeps that law. Does He kill, destroy, punish,
annihilate, and execute? The time will have come for the final settlement of
the great questions of the law and the character of God to be made before the
“From the very beginning of the great controversy in heaven, it has
been Satan’s purpose to overthrow the law of God. It was to accomplish this
that he entered upon his rebellion against the Creator; and though he was cast out of
heaven, he has continued the same
warfare upon the earth. To deceive men, and thus lead them to transgress
God’s law, is the object which he has steadfastly pursued. Whether this be accomplished
by casting aside the law altogether, or by rejecting one of its precepts, the
result will be ultimately the same. He that offends “in one point,’ manifests
contempt for the whole law; his influence and example are on the side of
transgression, he becomes ‘guilty of all.’
“In seeking to cast contempt upon the divine statutes, Satan has
perverted the doctrines of the Bible, and errors have thus become
incorporated into the faith of thousands who profess to believe the
Scriptures. The last great conflict between truth and error is but the final struggle of the long-standing
controversy concerning the law of God. Upon this battle we are now
entering,--a battle between the laws of men and the precepts of Jehovah,
between the religion of the Bible and the religion of fable and tradition.” The Great Controversy, 582.
If every believer in the Word of God could understand how deep and
extensive this controversy over God’s character and law will be, he would
enter into a far more thorough and diligent preparation to take his place in
that final and finishing battle.
But why should there be a controversy over the law of God? Surely the
declarations of Scripture are clear enough! Surely there is need for nothing
more than to prove that the ten commandments mean just what they say! The
seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord, not the first or any other. Such
words are clear beyond question. In fact
they are so clear that each of the Sunday keeping churches have admitted that
the seventh day is the divinely designated day of worship.
These are worthy questions. The fact is that the declarations of the
law are clear and plain, yet despite that and the admissions of the churches
that the seventh day is the Sabbath of God, they still observe the counterfeit
day of rest and think they justify themselves in doing so from the
In other words, while they admit that the law says the seventh day is
the Sabbath, they declare that the words mean other than they say. There are
the words and there is their magnification of those words. They live by the
latter, not the former.
Exactly as men have provided a distorted magnification of the Sabbath
commandment for themselves, so they have for the others. Surprising as it may
seem, the simple commandments, “Thou shalt not steal, bear false witness or
kill,” have one meaning in the Bible, and
another in the philosophy of man. This erroneous concept has its origin
in Satan who has systematically inculcated these ideas into human minds for
the express purpose of undermining faith in the law and of thereby fostering
disobedience to it.
It was to correct this distorted understanding of God’s law that
Christ came to magnify the law and to make it honorable. To magnify is to
enlarge so that details previously obscure and difficult, may be seen with
unmistakable clarity for what they are. Hidden details are brought to light
and no possible misapprehension of them remains.
Take a drop of water and gaze at it with the naked eye. There is
little to be seen. Then place it beneath the lens of a high-powered
microscope and wonders are revealed which were not even imagined previously.
Any argument as to what is contained in that particular water droplet is
settled by the magnification provided by the instrument.
So, in the Old Testament, there is found the direct word of God which
says, “Thou shalt not kill, steal, or bear false witness.” Of those words
there are two separate and opposed magnifications. There is the one provided
by Satan and generally accepted by man. It is a magnification as misshapen as
that produced by a lens warped out of normal symmetry. No one can possibly understand
the real truth of the law and character of God through this medium.
Then there is another magnification as provided by Jesus Christ. This
magnification is so powerful that every detail is brought to view leaving no
remaining questions. It brings us to the position where “All that man needs
to know or can know of God has been revealed in the life and character of His
Son.” Testimonies, 8:286. The
magnification has been provided. Christ is the microscope. But the instrument
must be used. Advantage of the provision must be taken, or we shall be left
as much in the darkness of ignorance as if it had never been provided.
It is not enough to read the ten commandments and assume that their
meaning is understood. There is no question as to what the words are, but
there does remain the query of what God meant when He used those words. Men
have their version, learned under Satan’s tutelage, to counter which the Lord
has provided His interpretation in the life of Christ. It remains with each
individual to decide which of those two he will accept as the Word of God to
him. Sadly enough, the average person does not even question the version
given by Satan. To him it is the logical and only way to relate to the law.
Let a comparative consideration be given to the magnification of the
law as it exists on one hand in the minds and practices of men and on the
other in the life of Christ, the Word of God.
Man actually injects another word into the Scriptures. He says that
the law really means, “Thou shalt not lie, steal, or kill—unlawfully.,” Or he
will express it in these words, “Thou shalt commit no murder,” a distinction
in meaning being made between the words kill and murder. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines “murder”
in this way: “To kill (a human being) unlawfully
and with premeditate malice or wilfully, deliberately, and unlawfully.”
once sat in a courtroom in support of a friend who had accidentally killed a
person in a road smash. Because of the circumstances, the state was charging
him with the death. I was particularly struck with the wording of the
indictment in which he was accused of having killed the other person unlawfully. This made it quite clear
that in human minds there is a distinction between lawful and unlawful
There are thus situations at least in which men regard it as being
lawful to kill another human being.
Human laws will leave a man uncondemned and free, if he kills in
self-defense or in defence of others. All he has to do is satisfy the court
that the only way in which he could preserve his own life or the lives of
others was to kill the assailant.
Early in 1976, a man in southern Queensland, Australia, attacked a
small group of people and began to kill them one by one. He had taken the
lives of the first two or three, when a young woman snatched up a gun and
killed the assailant, thus saving her own and the lives of others not yet
When the case came before the judge, he quickly exonerated the girl
with warm praise for her courage and resourcefulness. She, according to his
judgment, had killed lawfully, and
there were none to dispute him.
This is not an isolated case. At any time if the slayer can prove that
he was forced to kill his attacker in order to save his own life, he will be
judged a killer within the bounds of the law and will be set free.
The second situation in which killing is judged to be lawful is when a
person has been tried and found guilty of taking human life. The State then
claims every right to take his life in return. This, they say, is lawful killing.
The third is when an alien army invades the borders. Men regard it as
being perfectly lawful, necessary and expedient to slaughter as many of the
enemy as necessary to prevent the invasion from being successful.
Men of every nation on earth throughout human history accept these as
working principles. To man’s mind, not only are they right, but they are the
only solution to the problems involved in these situations. They firmly
believe they can do it this way and still be keepers of the law. In fact,
high honors are heaped upon those men in war who can destroy the most.
To ensure that men never weaken in these convictions, the whole
educational system, built up under Satan’s direction, is geared to
systematically, continually, and persistently reiterate these ideas. Never in
history has Satan been better equipped to do so than in this age. Now he has
at his command not just the verbal story teller, the limit of his facilities
in the beginning, but the stupendous volume of cheap novels, the radio, the
movie theatre and now most present and insistent of all teachers, the
As people sit before these media, they think that they are being
harmlessly entertained, but in actual truth they are being thoroughly
educated in Satan’s doctrines. With every appreciative viewing of the usual
television story the watcher is more firmly entrenched in erroneous notions
of God’s character.
This is made apparent as soon as a candid analysis of the message of
the movie is conducted. Here is the typical plot. It is found with minor
variations in western, detective, police, military, espionage, and other
tales. The message is always that the law must be broken in order to uphold it.
The film introduces the watcher to a segment of society. Maybe it is a
ranch family or a small town as in the western, or a town or farmhouse in the
case of a war story.
Care is taken to show this capsule of humanity as a clean,
respectable, law-abiding group of people. There is love, trust, and
cooperation between them. A little friction may intrude at times, but that is
purely incidental and designed to show that they are not super-humans but
everyday folk just like the viewers. The onlooking audience has no difficulty
in identifying with the people on the screen. A sense of fellowship and
brotherhood is established.
Then the lawbreaker is introduced. In the westerns, he appears as a
dark man, clad in black clothes, riding a black horse, and armed with black
guns. With him is a gang of men who look like their leader. They are
hard-faced, tough, callous, and ruthless, with a total disregard for human
life. Any who stand in their way, great or small, are simply gunned down.
They achieve their ends by lying, stealing, and killing.
As they direct their attacks against the happy segment of society
previously introduced, the audience is apprehensive and indignant, the more
so as the victims are powerless to protect themselves from the
desperadoes. Every instinct and desire of
the audience clamors for the punishment of the outlaws.
Up till this point the universal problem of man has been presented
with truthful accuracy. The people of this world, generally speaking, are on
the surface, law-abiding people. They are good neighbors, help each other,
and are clean living. They are pictured in the film by the ranch or village
as the case may be.
Just as those people are threatened by a desperado and his gang, so
today, the world lies under the threat of Satan and his followers. Man is
entirely unable to rescue himself from the power of the devil and his angels.
Thus Satan has presented the problem of the human family in a truly
accurate form. As a problem requires a solution, one is offered in every film
presentation. In the western it is the arrival of a lone champion on a
beautiful white horse. In contrast to the robber, he is dressed in white
clothes, has a handsome, open face, carries white guns, and is stirred to the
depths as he realizes the plight of the oppressed. Alone and unassisted, at
any sacrifice even to life itself, he pledges to set them free and to relieve
the earth forever from the scourge of the terrorist. For his services he
seeks neither fame nor reward. He does it as a mission, his only motivation
being that of dedicated service.
So far in the story there is the continued portrayal of the truth, for
just as the solution to the film story is found in the advent of a champion
of self-sacrificing spirit and character, so Jesus Christ came in that way to
redeem mankind. Like the hero in the story, His soul was stirred with
indignation as He beholds the predicament of man, and He resolved that He
would save him, no matter what the cost. He would not do it for price nor
reward, but only from the motivation of love and mercy.
It has long been an understood device of selling to have the customer
agreeing with you as you move forward to the clinch. So Satan has the
audience agreeing with him as he spells out that which is the truth at first.
Then, when all are moving forward together, he craftily introduces the
deviant lines of teaching. He is gleeful as he sees millions of people go
right along with his philosophy to the end.
The great white hero with his pearl-handled guns rides forth on his
white charger to deal with the liars, thieves, and murderers. But see how he
does it! In order to outwit the liars, he lies; to catch the thieves, he
steals, for if he suddenly needs a horse, saddle, or rifle, he will simply
help himself to another person’s; and to end the murderous reign of the
killers, he kills.
When he is finished, the lawbreaking is ended. The law has been
upheld. But, the message of the film story has been that in order to achieve
this, the law had to be broken. Only by lying, stealing, and killing could
lying, stealing, and killing be brought to an end. The law had to be broken
in order to ensure that it was kept. This is Satan’s message. He does not say
that the law is wholly bad and should be entirely done away with. He ad-
mits that under certain circumstances it is
good and should be obeyed. But, he continues, that law is not perfect for
there are situations where it must be disobeyed in order to solve the problems
Both evil men and their master, the devil, want a law. They want it
composed so that it protects them from other men but not other men from them.
It is impossible to have such a law for every man. But it is possible for a
privileged class to have it at the expense of the masses. Consider the
despotic king of old time. If he coveted the lands, house, wife, slaves,
horse, or even the life of any one of his subjects, he took it, but let any
of the subjects take a fish from the king’s pool or a brace of quail from his
meadows, and he was punished with anything up to death. The law protected the
king from the people, but it did not protect the people from the king. This
is the way the devil and man want it, but it is impossible to have it that
way and yet provide equal justice and happiness for all.
Such, then, is the message contained in Satan’s educational program.
In his classrooms there is no dissent. Study, if you have the opportunity,
the faces and the feelings of the watchers before the flickering screens. As
the villain lies, steals, and murders, they are indignant and long to see him
punished. But, when the hero lies, steals, and murders, they applaud. They
honor him for what he has done and consider him very smart to use such
weapons in his campaign.
Were you to propose to the viewers after the show is ended that, since
they called for the punishment of the villain for lying, stealing, and
should not the hero be punished in the same
way for his lying, stealing and killing, the idea would be so novel to them
that they might well regard you as being blighted with a questionable mental
condition. Their reaction would show as ridicule or even hostility. To them
the villain was unlawfully lying,
stealing and killing, whereas the hero was doing it lawfully. Therefore, the villain was criminal, but the hero was
Why do men take such an attitude toward this problem? There is a very
real psychological reason for it. As noted above, every man consciously or
subconsciously longs to be in the position where he is protected by law but
does not have to keep it himself. He identifies himself with the victims in
the film story, and therefore obtains satisfaction from being vicariously in
the situation where he is not bound by the law not to lie, steal, and kill.
He is happy to have the experience where the villain is not protected by law
The feeling is accentuated by the sense of impotent frustration felt
by the average person as they live under the shadow of the massive government
machinery which can hit them as hard as it wishes but against which they have
no redress. They feel that the law protects the government from them but not
them from the government. Now they are placed in the world of make-believe,
in a situation where this is reversed, and they make the most of it.
Furthermore, it gives them a sense of security, for they are assured as to
what they would do if they faced such a situation in real life.
Such is Satan’s and, in turn, man’s magnification of the law which
states, “Thou shalt not kill, lie, or steal.” We know that it is of the devil
because of the media through which it is promoted, and because such a
philosophy finds no place in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. We know
that god has no part in the movie business. That is entirely the instrument
of Satan who is not about to use his machinery to educate in the ways of God
or to set forth the truth regarding His wonderful character. That is the last
thing Satan would ever begin to do.
Having examined the magnification of the law as set forth by the
devil, the time has come to consider its enlargement as presented by Jesus
Christ. Without doubt or question, we know that whatever that will be, it
will be the truth, for Christ is the very fountain of truth.
Jesus showed that there is no such thing as lawful and unlawful lying,
stealing, and killing. He lived His whole life upon this earth devoted to
ending all such. Yet, in order to accomplish that, He never once lied, stole,
or killed. Never, never, never!
With no danger of losing, anyone can lay out the challenge to all and
sundry to search Christ’s life through and through to find, if they can, one
single instance where Jesus ever told a lie, ever stole the property of
another, or took anyone’s life. It will be impossible to uncover a single
such instance. Under every circumstance, every possible pressure, threat or
danger, Jesus told only the truth, respected the property of all, and took
the lives of none.
In doing so He demonstrated forever how we are to keep that law and
how, in turn, the Father and He keep that law. He showed that when God said
in a few simple words, “Thou shalt not lie, steal, or kill,” He did not add
provisos and exceptions. No matter what the circumstances, pressures,
dangers, threats, needs, or any other seeming justification for breaking
those commands, might be, the words were still “Thou shalt not . . .” No
distinction whatever, exists in God’s mind between lawful and unlawful
killing. With God there is only unlawful killing.
God has spoken in His Word, saying, “The law of the Lord is perfect. .
.” Psalm 19:7. It could, of course,
be none other than this, seeing that it is the transcript of the character of
the Eternal. He is perfection in the absolute sense. Therefore, His law is
likewise perfect. Such perfection does not mean that it is the perfect answer
for certain situations, but needs to be modified or even abrogated to suit
other situations. On the contrary, it means that no matter what circumstance,
situation, or pressure may arise, the law is still the one and only code for
When any person claims that it is lawful
to kill when the commandments so distinctly say, “Thou shalt not kill,”
he is in that moment charging the law, and the God of that law, as being
imperfect, less than infinite, and therefore less than God. It is also to
deny the whole witness of Christ’s ministry. It is to declare the truth of
God a lie.
The point which the devil is bent on making is that the law must be
broken in order for it to be maintained. The life and teachings of Christ
deny this. So does the message of God in the Old Testament. There is the
story of two people who adopted the policy of breaking the law in order to
ensure that it should be kept. That no man might be mistaken as to God’s
attitude about it, there is also appended the way in which God related
Himself to their actions.
It is the story of Jacob and his mother in their quest for the
promised birthright. Before the birth of the two children, God farseeing with
infinite accuracy the character of each, declared that Jacob should have the
birthright instead of the elder son, Esau.
“And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two
manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; the one people shall be
stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.”
Rebekah clearly and correctly understood that the last sentence in
this verse was a promise to Jacob that the birthright should be his, not
Esau’s. “Rebekah remembered the words of the angel, and she read with clearer
insight than did her husband the character of their sons. She was convinced
that the heritage of divine promise was intended for Jacob. She repeated to
Isaac the angel’s words; but the father’s affections were centered upon the
elder son, and he was unshaken in his purpose.
“Jacob had learned from his mother of the divine intimation that the
birthright should fall to him, and he was filled with an unspeakable desire
for the privileges which it would confer.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 178.
God’s selection of Jacob to inherit the birthright was not an
arbitrary one. The directions given by God, were done so on the foreknowledge
that Esau would disqualify himself from the right to its possession. Without
question, Isaac should have accepted the decree made on this basis,
especially when Esau’s behavior confirmed the rightness of God’s decision.
The law stipulated that should a young man marry among the heathen, then he
automatically forfeited all right to the birthright. This Esau had done
polygamously, to make matters worse. “And Esau was forty years old when he
took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the
daughter of Elon the Hittite.
“Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and Rebekah.” Genesis 26:34, 35.
Upon Esau’s doing this, Isaac, in strict obedience to the law, ought
to have relinquished his paternal preferences for his elder son and prepared
to confer the birthright blessing on Jacob. But he allowed his affections to
overrule his conscience so that he chose his own way in preference to the
clear will of God.
Rebekah exerted all the influence she could to dissuade him from his
fixed determination to confer the birthright blessing on Esau. She pointed
out the disinterest in, and disregard, for the spiritual responsibilities
involved in the birthright which marked Esau’s life. She reminded him of the
prophecy made before the boys were born, and of Esau’s marriage to the
heathen. She pointed to the contrasting spirit, attitude, and consecrated
life of Jacob, but all her reasonings and pleadings were to no avail.
The only thing she did achieve was a deferment of the day when the
blessing was to be bestowed. But as the infirmities of age advanced on Isaac,
he realized that if he did not pronounce the blessing soon, it would be too
late. He determined on a secret session rather than the joyous family affair
which was the usual way. He called Esau and instructed him to take his
weapons and catch his favorite venison. They would have a little feast
together after which the son would receive the prized blessing. It is to be
noted that Esau’s interest lay in the material blessing, for the spiritual
had no attraction for him. Rebekah was listening in as the supposedly secret
instructions were being given, and with a chill in her heart she realized the
implications of what her husband was about to do.
“Rebekah divined his purpose. She was
confident that it was contrary to what God had revealed as to His will. Isaac
was in danger of incurring the divine displeasure and of debarring his
younger son from the position to which God had called him. She had in vain
tried the effect of reasoning with Isaac, and she determined to resort to
stratagem.” Patriarchs and Prophets,
With great clarity she saw that Isaac was about to act in direct
opposition to the stipulations of the law, and thereby incur the divine
displeasure. She saw that by so doing, Jacob would be deprived of the
blessing which was rightfully his. Therefore, she reasoned, she must prevent
Isaac from breaking the law, both for his own good and for the good of Jacob.
She had worked hard for years to forestall such an action by appealing
to Isaac. That had proved unsuccessful, so she must now use other means.
To what method did she turn?
In order to save Isaac from being a lawbreaker, she became a lawbreaker
herself and induced Jacob to become one with her. They turned from God’s way
to man’s way. They acted out the same principles or lack of them, as
portrayed by the heroes of the silver screen, the novel, or any other form of
fiction. It was an evil sowing which brought them only a bitter reaping. It
is true that they did achieve their objective to a point. Jacob did obtain
the spiritual blessing, but the material wealth and power fell into Esau’s
hands just the same.
“Jacob and Rebekah succeeded in their purpose, but they gained only
trouble and sorrow by their deception. God had declared that Jacob should
receive the birthright, and His word would have been fulfilled in His own
time had they waited in faith for Him to work for them. But like many who now
profess to be children of God, they were unwilling to leave the matter in His
hands. Rebekah bitterly repented the wrong counsel she had given her son; it
was the means of separating him from her, and she never saw his face again.
From the hour when he received the birthright, Jacob was weighed down with
self-condemnation. He had sinned against his father, his brother, his own
soul, and against God. In one short hour he had made work for a lifelong
repentance. This scene was vivid before him in after-years, when the wicked
course of his own sons oppressed his soul.” ibid.
Rebekah and Jacob broke the law in order to keep it from being broken.
They were wholly wrong in so doing, as is proved by the sad punishment they
had to bear for their mistake. Let not their mistake and its consequent
troubles be of no value to those of us facing the final confrontation over
what the law really means. Let it be that we shall see with great clarity
that the law cannot be upheld by its being broken.
Those words, “Thou shalt not bear false witness, steal, or kill,” set
forth the pattern of behavior no matter what the circumstances, pressures,
threats, demands, necessities, advantages, or whatever else it may be. In
God’s kingdom and under His principles the end can never, never, never
justify the means. Therefore, in every situation, the law, and not
expedience, is to be consulted and obeyed. When God has a people who will
stand by these principles and be guided in this way, He will have a people
whom He can trust to finish the work and it will then be finished.
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