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The Last Conflict
E G White
Desire of Ages 762.001
Through Jesus, God's mercy was manifested to men; but mercy does not set aside justice.
The law reveals the attributes of God's character, and not a jot or tittle of it could be changed to meet man in his fallen condition. God did not change His law, but He sacrificed Himself, in Christ, for man's redemption. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself." 2 Corinthians 5:19.
The law requires righteousness,--a righteous life, a perfect character; and this man has not to give. He cannot meet the claims of God's holy law. But Christ, coming to the earth as man, lived a holy life, and developed a perfect character. These He offers as a free gift to all who will receive them. His life stands for the life of men. Thus they have remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.
More than this, Christ imbues [fills] men with the attributes of God. He builds up the human character after the similitude of the divine character, a goodly fabric of spiritual strength and beauty. Thus the very righteousness of the law is fulfilled in the believer in Christ. God can "be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." Romans 3:26.
God's love has been expressed in His justice no less than in His mercy.
Justice is the foundation of His throne, and the fruit of His love. It had been Satan's purpose to divorce mercy from truth and justice. He sought to prove that the righteousness of God's law is an enemy to peace. But Christ shows that in God's plan they are indissolubly joined together; the one cannot exist without the other. "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other." Psalm 85:10.
By His life and His death, Christ proved
that God's justice did not destroy His mercy, but that sin could be forgiven,
that the law is righteous, and can be perfectly obeyed.
Satan's charges were refuted. God had given man unmistakable evidence of His love.
Another deception was now to be brought forward.
Satan declared that mercy destroyed justice, that the death of Christ abrogated [annulled] the Father's law. Had it been possible for the law to be changed or abrogated, then Christ need not have died. But to abrogate the law would be to immortalize transgression, and place the world under Satan's control. It was because the law was changeless, because man could be saved only through obedience to its precepts, that Jesus was lifted up on the cross.
Yet the very means by which Christ established the law Satan represented as destroying it.
Here will come the last conflict of the great controversy between Christ and Satan.
That the law which was spoken by God's own voice is faulty, that some specification has been set aside, is the claim which Satan now puts forward.
It is the last great deception that he will bring upon the world.
He needs not to assail the whole law; if he can lead men to disregard one precept, his purpose is gained. For "whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." James 2:10. By consenting to break one precept, men are brought under Satan's power. By substituting human law for God's law, Satan will seek to control the world. This work is foretold in prophecy. Of the great apostate power which is the representative of Satan, it is declared, "He shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand." Daniel 7:25.
Men will surely set up their laws to counterwork the laws of God. They will seek to compel the consciences of others, and in their zeal to enforce these laws they will oppress their fellow men.
The warfare against God's law, which was begun in heaven, will be continued until the end of time. Every man will be tested. Obedience or disobedience is the question to be decided by the whole world. All will be called to choose between the law of God and the laws of men.
Here the dividing line will be drawn.
There will be but two classes.
Every character will be fully developed; and all will show whether they have chosen the side of loyalty or that of rebellion.
Then the end will come.
God will vindicate His law and deliver His people. Satan and all who have joined him in rebellion will be cut off. Sin and sinners will perish, root and branch, (Malachi 4:1),--Satan the root, and his followers the branches. The word will be fulfilled to the prince of evil, "Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; . . . I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. . . . Thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more." Then "the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be;" "they shall be as though they had not been." Ezekiel 28:6-19; Psalm 37:10; Obadiah 16.
This is not an act of arbitrary power on the part of God.
The rejecters of His mercy reap that which they have sown. God is the fountain of life; and when one chooses the service of sin, he separates from God, and thus cuts himself off from life. He is "alienated from the life of God."
Christ says, "All they that hate Me love death." Ephesians 4:18; Proverbs 8:36.
God gives them existence for a
time that they may develop their character and reveal their
principles. This accomplished, they receive the results of their
own choice. By a life of
rebellion, Satan and all who unite with him place themselves so
out of harmony with God that His very presence is to them a
consuming fire. The glory of Him who is
love will destroy them.
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