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Which Laws from the Old Testament Are We to Obey Today?

Excerpts from "Seventh-day Adventism Renounced"

By D.M. Canright, 1914

Part Two (of Two)

[The following excerpts are from Canfield’s excellent 1889 book, “Seventh-day Adventism Renounced,” 1914 edition. This article was mainly taken verbatim from chapter 17 regarding “the law,” although parts of the preface and introduction, etc. were included to provide a bit of background. Canright was an Adventist for 28 years, and was a high ranking pastor when he left. This book is probably one of the most effective books ever written exposing the errors of Adventist legalism and sabbatarianism, and has never been ably refuted. Few sabbatarians / legalists are able to thoroughly study this book and remain unchanged.

The following should be of special interest to all those who feel that Herbert Armstrong taught correct doctrine regarding old covenant law and the Sabbath. Mr. Canright builds a most convincing case, point by scriptural point, directly from the Bible, that is guaranteed to have the sabbatarian reader scratching his head and re-examining his Bible, as previously misunderstood scriptures begin to miraculously take on new meaning.]

We pick up where we left off 2 weeks ago, with Canright’s Propositon # 6. These propositions concerning the law seemed so plain and well supported by the Bible, that he felt that all must agree with them.]


PROPOSITION 6. THE LAW IS NO WHERE FOUND TILL MOSES. No copy of the law nor any reference to it can be found till Moses. Of course God's great moral and spiritual law, condemning every sin and requiring every righteous act - existed from Adam, nay, from eternity. But what in all the Jewish Scriptures is known as "the law," as drawn out in a code on Sinai, whether in a book or on the tables of stone, this certainly did not exist till Moses. The whole dispute between Paul and the Judaizers of his day was over this law. See Romans, Galatians and Acts 15 and 21. The question was whether "the law," that which was written in "the book of the law," Gal. 3:10, and "engraved in stones," 2 Cor. 3:7, was to be kept under the gospel. Paul said, No; they said, Yes. Sabbatarians now stick for the law of Sinai as did the Judaizers of old.

To say that the principles of the law existed before Sinai, does not prove that the law existed. These principles could have been taught to Adam and his descendants in a different form from the law as afterwards given at Sinai. But where do you find the law or even one of the ten commandments, as worded on Sinai, before that time? Nowhere. The various principles and precepts, moral, ceremonial, and typical, which had previously been taught in different ways, were now gathered into one code and worded so as to adapt them, for the time being, to the circumstances of the Jewish nation. As thus worded, certainly this law had never been given before.

PROPOSITION 7. THEIR FATHERS DID NOT HAVE THE DECALOGUE AS WORDED ON THE TABLES. This Moses directly states. Deut. 4:12, 13, says God spoke to them from heaven, and declared to them "his covenant," "even ten commandments," Chap. 5:2, 3, says: "The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us." Then he repeats the ten commandments as spoken from heaven. Verses 4-22; That the main principles and requirements of this code were taught to the fathers in some way no one can doubt; but that the fathers had the law as worded and arranged at Sinai is directly denied by Moses, as above.

PROPOSITION 8. THE LAW WAS GIVEN ONLY TO THE JEWS. This is so manifest in every item of the law, that it needs no argument to prove it. Moses says, Deut. 4:8, that no nation has a law so good "as all this law which I set before you this day." Then he names the ten commandments as a part of it. Verses 10-13. "This is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel." Verse 44. Before whom? Israel, not the Gentiles. So again, Chap. 5:1. "Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears." Then follows the decalogue. So it is a hundred times over all through the law. It is addressed to the Jews and to them only. The very wording of the law shows it was designed for them only. The decalogue is introduced thus: "I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." Ex. 20:2. To whom is that applicable? Only to the Jewish nation. Neither angels, Adam, nor Gentile Christians were ever in Egyptian bondage. Then this law is not addressed to them. To whom was the law given. Let Paul answer. "Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law." Rom. 9:4. It was given to Israel. "Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments." Malachi 4:4. The law was "for all Israel," and them only.

All these things show that this was a national law worded to fit the condition of the Jews at the time.

PROPOSITION 9. THE GENTILES DID NOT HAVE THE LAW. This has been proved already; but Paul directly says so. Rom. 2:14. "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto themselves." This is too plain to need arguing. The Gentiles did not have the law. Paul says so directly and that ought to settle it, and does. To understand and obey the great moral principles of that law is one thing, to be under the letter, the exact wording of the law as given in detail on Sinai, is quite another, as we will see further on.

PROPOSITION 10. THE REWARDS AND PENALTIES OF THE LAW WERE ALL TEMPORAL. There are no promises of future rewards, nor threatenings of future punishments in all the Mosaic law. The learned Bishop Warburton has fully demonstrated this in his "Divine Legation of Moses." Every careful student of that law must be aware of this feature of it. The reason is evident: it was a national, temporal law, given for a national, temporal purpose. As a sample of all, see Deut. 28:1-19. If they keep the law, they shall be blessed in children, in goods, in cattle, in health, etc. If they disobey, they shall be cursed in all these. Stoning to death was the penalty for theft, murder, etc. Hence that was the "ministration of death written and engraved in stones," 2 Cor. 3:7, and "is done away," verse 11.

Paul states that the promise of Christ and the future inheritance was made to Abraham four hundred and thirty years before the law was given. From this he argues, and forcibly, too, that the keeping of that law was not necessary in order to obtain Christ and the inheritance. Verses 16-18. "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise." So to the Romans he wrote: "For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect." Rom. 4:13,14.

This plainly teaches that the law was not given with reference to the future inheritance. Certainly Abraham did not keep a law which was not given till hundreds of years after he died. But Abraham is the father of all the faithful, and not simply of those who were "of the law." Rom. 4:13-16. This point alone ought to open the eyes of those who contend so earnestly for the keeping of that law as necessary to salvation. We are the children of Abraham, Gal. 3:29, and "walk in the steps of our father Abraham," who was never under the law. Rom. 4:12-16. We are under the covenant of promise made to Abraham 430 years before the law, Gal. 2:15-19, and not under the covenant of law from Sinai, which is bondage. Gal. 4:21-26.

PROPOSITION 11. GOD'S ETERNAL LAW OF RIGHTEOUSNESS EXISTED BEFORE THE LAW OF SINAI WAS GIVEN. This proposition is self-evident. Surely God had a law by which to govern his creatures, both angels and men, long before Sinai. But "the law," as worded in the decalogue and in "the book of the law," was not given till Moses, 2,500 years after creation. Hence moral obligation did not begin with that law, nor would it cease if that law was abolished. "All unrighteousness is sin." 1 John 5:17. And "sin is the transgression of the law." Chap. 3:4. This text is used by Sabbatarians to prove that every possible sin is always a violation of the ten commandments. But, 1. "The law" is the whole Mosaic law, not merely the decalogue. 2. A correct translation entirely spoils this text for them. The word law is not in the text in the original. The revised version gives it correctly. "Sin is lawlessness." This is the true meaning of the text. Sin is lawlessness, a disregard for some law, but not necessarily always the same law. Thus: "The angels sinned." 2 Pet. 2:4. But they did not violate the law of Sinai, for it was not given till thousands of years after they fell, and they were not under that law any way.

Adam "sinned" long before that law was given. So Paul says, Rom. 5:12-14. Cain sinned, Gen. 4:7. The Sodomites were "sinners," Gen. 13:13, and vexed Lot with their "unlawful deeds," 2 Pet. 2:8. Surely none of these violated "the law," which was not given till Moses, hundreds of years afterwards. To say that they must have violated the principles of that law is not to the point. When the Jews killed Stephen, Acts 7:59, they violated the principles of the law of Michigan, which forbids murder; but did they violate the "law of Michigan"? No; for it was not given for 1800 years after. And they were not under it any way. So neither the angels, nor Adam, nor the Sodomites could have transgressed the law of Sinai, for it was not yet given. So Abraham kept God's laws, Gen. 26:5, but surely not "the law which was four hundred and thirty years after," Gal. 3:17. All this clearly shows that God had a law before the code of Sinai was given.

Jesus, under the gospel 1500 years later, in naming the commandments, gives them neither in the same words nor in the same order as found in the decalogue. Further, he mingles with them some precepts from the book of the law as of equal importance with the ten commandments. Thus: Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, defraud not, honor thy father and mother. Mark 10:19. This shows that the mere form and order of the commandments is of no consequence as long as the idea is given. So the two editions of the decalogue in Ex. 20 and Deut. 5 vary much in the wording; yet one is as good as the other. This shows that the exact wording is not essential.

In whatever form or manner God chose to communicate his will to men, this would be "his commandments, his statutes, and his laws." Gen. 26:5. Paul says: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." Heb. 1:1, 2. A disregard for his revealed will would be lawlessness - sin. But to claim that God gave the patriarchs his law in the exact form and words of the ten commandments is a proofless assumption, contrary to reason and all the facts in the case.

PROPOSITION 12. THIS ORIGINAL LAW IS SUPERIOR TO THE LAW OF SINAI. When asked "Which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Matt. 22:37-40. Neither of these is in the decalogue; but that law hangs on this higher law, and so is inferior to it. These principles, clad in the panoply of eternal immutability, lay back of the Mosaic law and existed with it throughout that dispensation as they had existed before and exist now.

In its very nature this great law of supreme love to God, and equal love to fellow creatures, must be as eternal and everlasting as God himself. This law governs angels, governed Adam, the patriarchs, the pious Jews, while under "the law," and Gentile Christians now. It is applicable to all God's creatures, in all ages and all worlds. Idolatry, murder, theft, selfishness and "all unrighteousness," 1 John 5:17, are and always were violations of this supreme law of God. This great law might be worded in different ways at different times and yet the same essential idea be preserved. Thus Jesus stated the second great commandment in another form. "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets." Matt. 7:12. The idea is the same as "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." The exact words or form in which this law is stated is not material so long as the idea is made plain. Evidently this supreme law must have been made known to Adam and to the patriarchs but in just what form we are not told. To say that it was in the exact words of the decalogue is to affirm what can in no wise be proved.

PROPOSITION 13. THE MOSAIC LAW WAS FOUNDED UPON THE HIGHER AND ORIGINAL LAW. Jesus directly affirms this, Matt. 22:40. "On these two commandments hangs all the law." The principles of this great law were interwoven all through the law of Sinai, being the life, "the spirit," or "the righteousness" of "the law." Rom. 2:26-29; 8:4. As an example, examine Lev. 19. Here you have the second great commandment, verse 18, and the principles of every one of the ten commandments. Thus: 1st commandment, verse 32; 2nd, verse 4; 3d, verse 12; 4th, verse 30; 5th, verse 3; 6th, verse 17; 7th, verse 29; 8th, verse 13; 9th, verse 11; 10th verse 35. Mingled among these are commandments about sacrifices, verse 5; harvest, verse 9; clothing, verse 19; priests, verse 22; first fruits, verse 23; wizards, verse 31. Gentiles, verse 34, etc. All these are founded upon this higher law and can be changed to fit circumstances without affecting the supreme law, which is ever the same.

The particular wording of the law as adapted to the Jewish age was "the letter" or "form" of the law for the time being. While the spirit of the law can never change, the letter of it must change to fit the changing circumstances of God's people. If a Jew loved God with all his heart, he would have circumcised his sons, offered burnt sacrifices, paid tithes, kept the passover, the new moons, the Sabbath, and attended the temple worship, for this was "the law of the Lord." 2 Chron. 31:3; Luke 2:22-27. But if a Christian loves God he will be baptized, Acts 2:38, take the Lord's supper, 1 Cor. 11:24, attend church, Heb. 10:25, keep "the Lord's day," Rev. 1:10, and do many things very different from a Jew. Hence "there is made of necessity a change also of the law." Heb. 7:12. This is both Bible and common sense. Those who make the mere letter of the Jewish law an iron rule, and contend for the exact wording under all circumstances, and in all ages, miss the spirit of the gospel, and are in bondage to a system out of date. Gal. 3:19-25; 4:21-25; 5:1-3, 13, 14; 2 Cor. 3:3-15.

PROPOSITION 14. "THE LAW" OF SINAI WAS GIVEN TO RESTRAIN CRIMINALS WHO WOULD ONLY OBEY GOD THROUGH FEAR. Consider this proposition well. A failure to understand this simple fact is the cause of all the blunders of Sabbatarians and legalists in their extravagant and unscriptural praises of "the ministration of death written and engraven in stones." 2 Cor. 3:7. On this point hear Paul state why that law was made and notice that it is of the moral precepts of the law that he speaks. "Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine." 1 Tim. 1:9, 10. There can be no doubt that he refers to the code of Sinai, that which prohibited murder, thefts, etc.

This law he says was not made for a righteous man but for the lawless. Of this law in another place Paul says: "Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions." Gal. 3:19. Again, "The law entered that the offense might abound." Rom. 5:20, and, "until the law sin was in the world," verse 13. Hence it is manifest that sin, offense and transgression existed before "the law" was given, and that it was given to prohibit already existing crimes. Evidently God put the race on trial from Adam to Moses under the same eternal law of right and love which governed the angels and holy men. But mankind failed shamefully. They did not live by that rule. They became lawless. Disregard of God and open violence towards men were increasing, till life and property were insecure. Then God selected one nation, the Hebrews, and gave up the rest to their own ways. Rom. 1:20-28.

Up to this time God's people had not been a nation by themselves but had dwelt among other nations and had been subject to their civil laws which prohibited open violence and protected life and property. But as soon as they became a nation by themselves, it became absolutely necessary to have a national law of their own which would prohibit and punish open crime, such as murder, theft, adultery, etc. Life and property would not have been secure without this, because many among them were wicked, lawless men, "stiff-necked and rebellious." If all had been righteous, if all had loved God and their neighbors, there would have been no need of a prohibitory law with a death penalty. We can readily see the reason why Paul says "the law was not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless," These lawless ones would have robbed and murdered the righteous ones had there been no national, temporal law to protect them, for these wicked men would have cared little about God's higher law, which pertains to the future judgment. But as the Jewish government was a theocracy, one in which God himself was ruler, the law required and regulated service to him as well as duties among themselves.

Hence to this nation God gave the law of Sinai. Ex. 20:2. Would it have been given if men had obeyed God without? Paul has settled that point. "The law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient." l Tim. 1:9. Then the law was not made till man had sinned, Rom. 5:13, offended, verse 20, transgressed, Gal. 3:19, and became lawless. This then is not God's original law by which he prefers to govern men. It was a law largely of prohibitions, threats, pains and penalties. Its object was to restrain open crime, protect men in their natural rights and preserve the knowledge of God in the earth till Christ should come. Gal. 3:19-25. In order to keep that nation separate from all others, many burdensome rites were incorporated into the law which made it a yoke of bondage. Acts 15:10; Gal. 5:1, 3.

When Christ came, and the Jewish nation was rejected and dispersed, and their national law overthrown, and the gospel went to all nations, that law had served its purpose, and so passed away as a system. Matt. 5:17-18; Rom. 10:4; Gal. 3:24; Heb. 7:12-19. Now Christians are not under the Aaronic priesthood, nor the Jewish law. Heb. 7:11, 12; but are under the priesthood of Melchisedec, verses 14-19, as was Abraham our father, Gen. 14:18-20, who never had "the law" of Sinai, Gal. 3:17, but walked by the higher law which governs angels and holy men, Gen. 26:5. The Jewish law being removed, we now come under the same law by which Enoch and Abraham "walked with God." The sermon on the mount is a beautiful elucidation of that law, the rule by which all Christians should live, and by which all sinners will be judged at the judgment. Now, as in the days before Moses, God's people are not a nation by themselves, but are scattered among all nations where they are governed and protected by the civil law of those nations.

Hence the New Testament provides no civil law for the government of Christians, no temporal penalties for criminals. It would be directly contrary to the nature of the gospel to do either. All this is left to the rulers of nations wherever Christians happen to be. Open criminals, who will not obey from principle, the higher law, are now turned over to the civil magistrate. Paul makes this matter very plain and puts the question beyond dispute. Thus: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou, then, not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For, for this cause pay ye tribute also; for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing." Rom. 13:1-6.

There is where you find prohibitory law for "the lawless;" that is, in the civil law of the land where they live. This punishes their crime against society. Their offenses against God's great law will be recompensed at the judgment, but the saints of God must be governed by the higher law, the law of supreme love to God and equal love to fellows. Such obedience can come only from a heart renewed by the Spirit of God, 2 Cor. 3:3, and "if ye be led of the Spirit ye are not under the law." Gal. 5:18.

Is any man a Christian who refrains from murder, theft, and adultery, simply because the law says, "Thou shalt not"? No, indeed, he must refrain from these from a higher motive than that. Then surely he must be governed by a higher law than the decalogue. "Love is the fulfilling of the law." Rom. 13:10. The dispute between Paul and the Judaizers then was over the nature and obligation of the Jewish law. The dispute now concerning the Jewish Sabbath involves the same point, the obligation of the letter of the Jewish law.

PROPOSITION 15. THE LETTER OF THE LAW IS NOT BINDING UPON CHRISTIANS AS A COERCIVE CODE. Little argument ought to be needed to prove this; for if the letter of the law is binding, then we must be circumcised; offer sacrifices, keep the seventh day and all the Jewish ritual, for "the law" included the whole law, Gal. 3:10; 5:3.

Notice in the following text that "the righteousness of the law" and the spirit of the law is one thing, while "the letter" and outward service is quite another. Notice further that a man may "fulfill the law" without keeping the letter of it, and thus condemn the formalist who keeps the letter of the law but not the spirit of it. Paul says: "If the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God." Rom. 2:26-29.

Paul argues that Christians must be circumcised, but not "outwardly in the flesh," as formerly, but "inwardly in the spirit, not in the letter." By this he illustrates the difference between keeping the law now and formerly. So, further on: "Ye are not under the law but under grace." Rom. 6:14. So in the next chapter he says: "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." Rom. 7:6.

How can one misunderstand language so plain? Now, under Christ, we are delivered from the law; that law is dead, and we serve Christ in the spirit, "not in the old letter." So again he says, urging this point: "That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit." Chap. 8:4. Paul uses the word "flesh" for the outward "works of the law." See Gal. 3:2, 3. We do not walk according to the outward form of the law, but we do obey the intent and spirit of it or its "righteousness," as he here calls it.

The higher law of God, supreme love to God and equal love to our neighbors, upon which the Jewish law hung, was the "spirit," "righteousness," or real intent of "the law." This "first and great" law Christians do keep, while free from the mere letter of the law, which was bondage. Hence to the Galatians who were being troubled with Judaizing legalists, Paul wrote: "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." Gal. 5:13, 14, 18.

How he reiterates the truth in all his letters, that Christians are not under the law; that they are called to a liberty which Jews never enjoyed. Notice how he states it over and over that all the law is fulfilled in this, Love your neighbor as yourself. "Love is the fulfilling of the law." "He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." Rom. 13:8, 10. This is not a liberty to licentiousness and self-indulgence; but it is a liberty from the forms and ceremonies of the law which bound the Jews.

In Jer. 31:3l-34, it was foretold that the Lord would make a "new covenant" with Israel, "not according" to the one he made at Sinai; for he would put his laws in their hearts and minds. This clearly indicated a change from the previous formal way of governing God's people. Paul thus refers to that prophecy: "not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart." "Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." 2 Cor. 3:3, 6.

Now the law for the Christian is not that written in the book or on the tables of stone. It was not the letter but the spirit of that law which the apostles taught. So Paul says. Then he says that "the ministration of death written and engraven in stones, was" "done way." Verses 7, 11. Surely, then, Christians are free from the letter of that law; but it is still to be studied with reverence and its spirit carried out in Christian duties though in form these must differ from Jewish duties. The observance of the Lord's day meets the spirit of the fourth commandment. We are circumcised in heart, not in the flesh. Rom. 2:26-29.

Rev. W.P. Harrison, D.D., book editor of the M.E. Church, South, truly says: "The coming of Christ did not repeal any moral law, and the ceremonial law was not repealed, but fulfilled. All that was permanent, useful, or spiritual in the Mosaic economy remains, NOT IN THE LETTER OF STATUTES, but in the fulfilled and completed dispensation of grace." The Christian Sabbath, page 30. So Rev. J.H. Potts, D.D. Methodist, says: Law under the Mosaic dispensation was formulated into nine moral precepts, with a Sabbath commandment added, making ten in all. This same law under the Christian dispensation is summarized under two grand heads - love to God and love to man. Yet not one jot or one tittle of the essence of the moral law is abated. When Paul, referring to the abolishment of the law dispensation, said: 'For if that which was done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious,' he indicated the correct status of the law. The ESSENCE of the moral law 'remaineth.'" This is exactly what I believe.

The following, from Peter, is a fair illustration of the spiritual application of the old law which the apostles make all through the gospel: "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 2:5. The old temple, priesthood, and sacrifices of the law, now have a spiritual meaning as found in the church and its service.

PROPOSITION 16. THE LAW WAS CHANGED. Jeremiah predicted that under the new covenant, God's law would be written in the heart and not as it was before. "I will put my law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts." Jer. 31:33. Paul refers to this when he says, Ye are our epistle "written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart." 2 Cor. 3:3. So then God's law is not now written on tables of stone as at Sinai. This is a square contradiction to what Adventists teach. They claim that God's law is still on stones in heaven the same as of old. Paul says no, it is written by the spirit upon the heart.

This implied a radical change in the form of the law and the way it was to be taught. In Heb. 7:12, it is expressly declared that "there is made of necessity a change also of the law." The letter of the Jewish law is wholly unfitted to the condition of the Christian church. It can only be a guide to us as modified and interpreted by the gospel. But in the gospel there is no injunction to keep the seventh day. Hence the letter of that command does not concern us.

PROPOSITION 17. THE WHOLE MOSAIC SYSTEM ENDED AT THE CROSS. Surely this is so plainly taught all through the New Testament that no one should deny it. But we have clearly proved that "the law" included the whole code of laws given to Israel at Sinai, moral, civil, and ceremonial precepts, Decalogue and all.

That entire system of law was framed to fit the Jewish age and could not possibly be applied to Gentile Christians in all parts of the world. Hence a "new way," Heb. 10:20, a "new covenant," Heb. 8:13, a new "ministration," 2 Cor. 3:8, was introduced, so there was "made of necessity a change also of the law," Heb. 7:12.

Examine carefully a few texts to which I will refer. "The law was given by Moses but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." John 1:17. This implies a change. "Ye are not under the law, but under grace." Rom. 6:14. "Under the merciful dispensation of the gospel." John Wesley. "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster," Gal. 3:24, 25. "Ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ," Rom. 7:4. "Now we are delivered from the law," verse 6. "Christ is the end of the law," Rom. 10:4. "The ministration of death written and engraven in stones was glorious." "That which is done away was glorious," 2 Cor. 3:7, 10. That ends the decalogue.

"Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances," Eph. 2:15. "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross." "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days," Col. 2:14, 16, "For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law." "For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof." "For the law made nothing perfect but the bringing in of a better hope." Heb. 7:12, 18, 19.

Read Acts 15:1-29 and see this whole matter of "the law" discussed by the apostles and settled in these words: "Forasmuch as we have heard that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, YE MUST be circumcised, and keep the law; to whom we gave no such commandment." Verse 24. The, decision is positive and clear: the apostles gave no commandment to "keep the law." It does not say "ceremonial law," or a part of the law, but simply "the law." Adventists say we must keep the law or "ye can not be saved," exactly what those Judaizers said, verse 1, and just what the council condemned. Circumcision was specially mentioned because it was the initiatory rite, the sign which represented the whole law. Thus when a Gentile would partake of the privileges of the nation, he had first to be circumcised. Ex. 12:48. To be uncircumcised was to be a heathen, unclean, and lost; to be circumcised was to be an Israelite, a member of the holy nation.

Hence circumcision represented the whole law of Moses in all its parts. Elder Butler, Adventist leader, has to confess this. He says: "The term 'the law,' among the Jews generally included the five books of Moses, thus including the whole system, moral, ritual, typical, and civil. This as a system these Judaizing teachers desired to maintain. Circumcision was a sign of the whole." Law in Galatians, page 70. Never was a truer statement. Circumcision was the sign of the whole Mosaic system, moral, typical, civil, all that was written in the five books of Moses, of which the decalogue was a chief part. The apostles decided that Gentile believers were free from this whole system of law. Put with Butler's statement this from Elder Smith, another leading Adventist, and you have the whole truth: "That which was abolished at the cross was an entire system. God did not single out and abolish portions and pieces of some arrangement or system, and leave other parts remaining." Synopsis of Present Truth, page 259. Correct; the whole system ended at the cross.

PROPOSITION 18. NO PART OF GOD'S GREAT SPIRITUAL LAW WAS ABOLISHED, RE-ENACTED, OR CHANGED AT THE CROSS. Adventists make a great ado over the absurdity of the idea that God should abolish his law at the cross and then immediately re-enact nine-tenths of it. They say, as well cut off your ten fingers to get rid of one bad one and then stick nine on again. So they go on with a whole jumble of absurdities involved in the position that God's moral law was abolished at the cross and a new one given. But this is only a man of straw of their own making and hence easily demolished. We hold no such absurd position. God's great moral law is unchangeable. But the Mosaic law was only a national one founded upon the principles of God's moral law. Even while it existed it did not supersede God's higher law, and when it ended it in no way affected God's law, which continued right on unchanged and unchangeable.

To illustrate: The state law of Michigan forbids murder, theft and adultery. In these items it is founded upon God's moral law. Now abolish the law of Michigan. Does that abolish God's law? No. So with the state law of Israel. Neither its enactment on Sinai nor its abolition at the cross in any way changed God's great moral law by which he will judge the world. The Advent absurdities grew out of their own false theory, that is all. Adventists agree with us that the law of Moses, Acts 15:5, was abolished. Well, that law contained many precepts as purely moral as anything in the decalogue. Here are some: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart." Deut. 6:5. "Love thy neighbor as thyself." "Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another." Lev. 19:11, 18. Scores of such precepts are all through this law which they admit was abolished. They are just as moral, spiritual, and necessary as anything in the ten commandments, and yet all this law was abolished as they admit.

But did that abolish the duty enjoined in these precepts? No, because they were inherent in a higher law. Just so every moral principle involved in the decalogue existed in a higher law before that document was given, and so did not cease when that law expired. Elder White himself makes this admission: "The ten commandments are adapted to fallen beings. As worded in the sacred Scripture, they are not adapted to the condition of holy angels, nor to man in his holy estate in Eden. * * * But the two grand principles of God's moral government did exist before the fall, in the form of law. * * * These two great commandments embrace all that is required by the ten precepts of the decalogue." Law and Gospel, pages 4, 5. Good and true. Then the ten commandments are not God's primary law. They are only temporary, while that containing all that is moral in them, and much more, continues always.

"The teachings of Christianity are facts and principles, not propositions and restrictions; its institutions are simple outlines, not precise ceremonies; and its laws are moral sentiments, not minute mechanical directions." Pulpit Commentary on 2 Cor. 3:6. This is the truth well put.

So the wicked who do not live by these principles, who do not love God nor their fellows, but who live selfish, corrupt lives, will be judged and condemned by these principles of God's eternal law, as taught in the New Testament. ~   


[Wow! What a GREAT chapter from Mr. Canright’s book! He certainly had a talent for making things clear and plain, right from the Bible. I fail to see how anyone could read these last two postings and still insist on clinging to Armstrong’s misguided interpretation of what God expects from a New Covenant Christian. But rest assured, this will go over the heads of many who just don’t seem to be able to find their way back from “the dark side.”]

[Note: Those who would like to access the whole book, “Seventh-day Adventism Renounced,” by D. M. Canright can now find it on the web at: web2.airmail.net/billtod/renounce.htm. The original book was 22 chapters long and contained over 400 pages.]

Till next time, here’s whistlin’ at ya!


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