Godís Principles Under Test
Such was the nature of the constitution of Godís government as it was
in heaven before the entrance of sin. It was idealistic and realistic.
It was a system providing for the absolute happiness, security, and
fulfillment of the created ones both in heaven and throughout the universe.
It placed at their disposal every needed power in infinite abundance together
with full protection from any risk of those powers turning out of their
appointed place of service to become agencies of destruction.
This system worked to perfection under the conditions which existed
before rebellion began. Every one of Godís subjects served Him with undivided
devotion because each had the inner conviction that Godís ways were the only
ways of life. They understood that the law was not a code of bondage but a
wonderful protection conceived for them in the heart of infinite love.
Thus, no situation ever arose for which the
use of force needed to be considered. No killing ever took place, no
destruction was undertaken. Nothing arose to mar the perfect happiness of
every created being.
It should not be difficult to see that Godís principles of government
would and did work perfectly under those conditions. So far, our study has
been of that sinless period.
Now the attention must be focused on the drastically changed
conditions which developed after firstly angels and then men, exercised their
God-given liberty to choose not to serve Him. With intense interest the
entire universe looked on to see whether these principles could still operate
without modification, addition, or any other changes. Would God find it
necessary, after all, to personally execute punishments on those who had
rebelled? Would He be compelled to solve the sin problem by exercising His
infinite physical power to destroy the wrongdoers who had refused every
overture of mercy?
As students and others have viewed history, they have been convinced
that the entrance of sin has imposed on God the necessity to take actions He
was never obliged to take before. They look at the flood, the burning of
Sodom and Gomorrah, the plagues upon Egypt, the destruction of the rebels who
worshipped the golden calf, the death of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, the
liquidation of Sennacheribís army, the stoning of the Sabbath breaker, the
adulterer, and Achan, and many other such instances. They read the words used
to describe Godís responses and conclude from this that God did exercise
force to put down rebellion, that He did punish by His own decision and
decree, that He did destroy those who had rejected His last offers of mercy,
and that He does not therefore give all men full liberty to yield or withhold
We recognize that it strongly appears that this is true, but, at the
same time, we know that there is more than one way of understanding what
happened. When the alternative views are considered, it will be seen that God
did not behave as most have thought. It will be discerned that He neither
introduced nor resorted to any measures, subsequent to the fall, which He did
not employ before it.
The point was developed in the last chapter that God designed His law
as a protection to His creatures, not as a means of safeguarding His own
position and authority. Therefore, it was emphasized, punishments were not
the administration of God, but the natural outworking of casting aside the
lawís protection through disobedience to it.
Yet, despite the inspired teachings as to the true nature of the law,
there prevails in the world today the concept that the law was made for Godís
personal exaltation, His invention to produce and maintain His position of
undisputed authority. Therefore, it is seen as a device calculated to exalt
One at the expense of the rest.
What is the origin of this teaching? Who was the first to introduce it
seeing that it has no foundation in Scripture? Can the answer to this
question be found?
The answer is clearly written in the Scriptures wherein it is revealed
when, where, and by whom these things were first taught in this world and
what the result was of accepting those teachings. The origin and the effect
of such teachings will be an infallible guide as to whether they are true or
representations of the character and purpose of Godís law were first taught
on this earth by Satan in the Garden of Eden. He presented them to the
original couple with the specific purpose of enlisting them in his rebellion against
God and his method was successful. The result is that there has been opened
upon this world the flood tide of every sin and iniquity which can be named.
†††† A careful study of
what took place in the Garden of Eden will reveal the truth of the above
†††† God had made the
earth, and equipped it with all the powerful life-support systems as a love
gift to Adam and Eve. Because He was interested only in receiving from them a
service motivated by love, He did not place them ďbeyond the possibility of
wrongdoing. God made them free moral agents, capable of appreciating the
wisdom and benevolence of His character and the justice of His requirements,
and with full liberty to yield or to withhold obedience.Ē Patriarchs and Prophets, 48.
†††† There is no point
in saying that one has full liberty to withhold obedience if there is no
opportunity to do so. Therefore, God provided them not only with full liberty
to withhold obedience but also the means to do so by placing the tree of
knowledge of good and evil in the midst of the Garden. That was the one tree
the Lord did not give them. It was His
property, not theirs. All He asked of them was to respect it
as being His. If they could always do this, and teach their children the same
principles, then there could never be unhappiness in the world. There could
be only perfect trust and security.
†††† If they could learn
perfect respect for anotherís property, there would never be any stealing,
adultery, or murder. If they could respect the time belonging to another,
there could never be a Sabbath breaker.
†††† This is what the
law is all aboutórespect for that which belongs to another. On the first
table of the law is the area of respect for that which is Godís, and on the
second, for that which is manís.
†††† If Adam and Eve
could not respect this tree which God has reserved for the express purpose of
teaching them this lesson, then, with the principle of respect being
discarded, there could only be murders, thefts, adulteries, and all such
terrible outworking in the lives of men and women upon this earth.
†††† They were given the
clearest warnings of this in the words, ďBut of the tree of knowledge of good
and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof
thou shalt surely die.Ē Genesis
†††† It is just as
important to see what the text does not say, as to see what it says. It does
not say that in the day when they ate of it the Lord would destroy them. It
says that they would die. Granted, the text does not spell out the way they
would die, and it could be interpreted to mean that they would die at Godís
†††† But Adam and Eve
did not understand it that way and Satan knew this. He knew that they
understood Godís words to mean that the
destruction would be the result of their eating of that tree and not the act
of God. Therefore, Satan set to work to destroy their confidence in that
interpretation of Godís Word and to substitute it with one of his own.
†††† The certainty that
Adam and Eve did understand Godís words to mean that their deaths would come
because of their disobedience and not at the hand of a punishing God, is
confirmed by Satan himself. This is deduced in the following way. Satan came,
not to endorse Godís truth, but to overthrow it. Therefore, his
interpretation of that Word was a false one designed to overthrow their faith
in the real interpretation. There were only two possible ways of
understanding Godís words. They either meant that God would personally kill
them for disobeying Him, or they would die as a consequence of their wrong
deeds. It is only necessary to ask which of the two Satan denied, to perceive
which is the truth, and what he supported to know which is the error.
†††† Throughout that
conversation with Eve, Satan worked up to and stressed the idea that there
was no danger in eating of the tree. That would not bring death. He
insinuated that there was another reason for Godís stipulations, a reason
entirely motivated by self-protectionism and self-interest. Therefore, he
implied, without directly saying it, that if there was
any death at all it would be Godís directly administered act,
not the outworking of broken law.
†††† He was too cunning
to confront Eve with this counter-interpretation in the first moments of
their contact. Firstly, he must inject just enough doubt into her mind to get
her thoughts working in the desired direction. So he asked in an incredulous
tone if it was really true that the Lord had denied to a creature so
beautiful, intelligent, and worthy as herself, the right to partake of the
fruit of the tree. To give more power to the suggestion ď. . . the serpent
continued, in a musical voice, with subtle praise of her surpassing
loveliness; and his words were not displeasing.Ē Patriarchs and Prophets, 54.
†††† In her reply, Eve
misquoted Godís words, thus showing that doubt had begun to form. Whereas God
has said, ďThou shalt surely die,Ē she quoted Him as saying, ďYe shall not
eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.Ē Genesis 3:3.
†††† The word ďlest,Ē
denies the certainty and admits only a possibility. Her use of it transmitted
to the serpent the information that her conviction of the nature of Godís law
†††† Thus he was
emboldened to make a direct attack on the law and the character of the One
Who had made it. So he said to the woman, ďYe shall not surely die.Ē Verse 4.
†††† This is the attack
on the law. God has said that disobedience to the law would bring death, but
Satan was saying that the law could be broken with impunity. He was arguing
that there is nothing in the law which affords a protection from death. Such
a claim is opposite from the truth expressed by God to Adam and Eve wherein
He has said that breaking the law would bring death upon the transgressor. It
is the very opposite from the truths expressed elsewhere in the Word of God
and as outlined in the last chapter. Eve had the choice then of whether she
would believe the truth as God told it, or Satanís proposition. That choice
is still ours today. We can either believe that the law is Godís loving
provision to enable us to safely enjoy the wondrous blessings contained in
the mighty powers He has given us, or we can believe Satanís lie that the law
itself is no protection from death.
†††† Having made the
assault on the law, Satan follows it with an attack on Godís character. In
order to sustain his statement that breaking the law would not bring death,
he said that there was another purpose for Godís saying it would. Here are
his words. ďYe shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat
thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, (margin)
knowing good and evil.Ē Genesis 3:4,
†††† He offered an
altogether different reason for the framing of the law, from the purpose
envisaged by God. He represented God as One Who was deeply concerned lest any
of His creatures should ascend to a position of equality with Himself, so
that the glory, honor, and power which He had previously enjoyed as His own
special privilege, would have to be shared with others.
†††† While God had not
told them, and for very good reason, Satan insinuated, there were in that
tree certain magical properties which would project those who partook of it,
into a gloriously superior station in the universe. While God had not
revealed this to them, Satan continued, He certainly knew about it and was
desperately afraid that they would partake of the tree and thus become equal
with Himself. In order to be secure from such a terrible contingency, He had
invented the device of putting into them a fear of eating of the tree.
†††† This was the base
from which Satan would later develop the teaching that it is God Who
destroys. There was no need to take this teaching all the way then, for he
could accomplish the objective of the moment without doing so. Having once
established in Adam and Eve, the idea that God had invented the teaching that
disobedience to the law would bring death in order to safeguard His own
position, it was one more logical step to believe that God would destroy. In
fact, it is illogical to think otherwise.
†††† If God was the kind
of being who would stoop to inventing a lie in order to safeguard His own
position, and should that lie be discovered and the people do the very thing
He had commanded them not to do, then He would not quietly acquiesce to
sharing His throne with them. He would naturally resort to other measures to
accomplish the same purpose. The point is that a being of the character Satan
represented God to be, would be unable to do anything else. Deception having
failed, He would be driven to use the only other weapon availableóforce. He
would enter into direct physical conflict with those who sought to climb into
His place, and in the end, when even that failed, He would have to liquidate
†††† In the Garden of
Eden, Satan assumed the role of interpreter of Godís words. Adam and Eve
accepted that interpretation and partook of the forbidden fruit. By this
means they sought to make themselves equal with God. Instead they ushered the
human race into the long and fearful history of suffering and death which has
been the portion of sinful man. Throughout that dark period, God has been
working constantly to restore the lost condition, but through it all, Satan
has continued to offer himself as the interpreter of Godís actions and words
†††† The result is that
men have come to see God as One Who is constantly seeking to preserve His
position and power by physically going to war with man and destroying him if
he will not yield to Godís authority. In this, Satan has been extremely
successful, for the vast majority of mankind, both in and out of the
churches, firmly believe that the destructions which have wasted this world
are the handiwork of a God Who is determined to assert His authority and
preserve His position.
†††† It is from these
errors that the truth of God is to deliver us and it is the purpose of this
book to assist in such deliverance. Before us lies the choice as to which we
shall believeóthe truth of God which reveals that Godís law is His wonderful
provision for the blessing of every one of His children, or
Satanís lie that it is a cunning device to serve the interests
of God at the expense of His creatures.
†††† Thus, from the sure
Word of God, comes the revelation of the time and place where, for the first
time upon this earth the idea was advanced that the law of God was a measure
instituted to assure Him of His rights, and that, therefore, disregard of it
would not bring death as a direct consequence.
†††† That time was at
the very commencement of human history and the place was the Garden of Eden.
†††† Likewise, the
instigator of these ideas is unmasked.
†††† He is the devil,
the enemy of God and man.
†††† Furthermore, the
sad outworking of the acceptance of those ideas has been witnessed with
terrible clarity throughout human history. All the misery, frustrations,
suffering, disease, and death, are directly traceable to that teaching.
†††† What more evidence
than this is needed to reject such philosophies entirely and eternally? This
is more than enough. Thus, in reality, it is made a simple matter to decide
what the real truth is on the subject. The author of this book together with
those whose support made its production possible, emphatically reject Satanís
arguments. We see God in an altogether different light from that which the
devil would have us view Him. That law is Godís love gift to us, wonderfully
designed to protect and preserve and to make available to us the highest
opportunities of progress and development.
†††† While we are now
aware of who authored these rebellious ideas, we are to understand that this
does not explain how God worked these principles out in every one of the
difficult complications introduced by the sin problem. But a foundation has
been laid upon which such comprehensions can be built. It will now be
possible to approach every situation, knowing that the devil will continue
attempting to cloud the mind with the erroneous view of what God did, exactly
as he did in the Garden. There will now be the blessed tendency to reject
such an interpretation and search further for the real one.
†††† That foundation
being laid, the time has come to study Godís behavior, as far as it can be
understood, during the interlude of sin. May the Lord assist every reader to
prayerfully and patiently wrestle with these deep problems until the truth is
fully clarified in the mind unto righteousness.
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