Timely Greetings Volume 2, No. 23
KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS, THE STONY HEART AND THE CARNAL MIND
TEXT OF ADDRESS BY V.T. HOUTEFF,
MINISTER OF D. SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS
SABBATH, JANUARY 17, 1948
MT. CARMEL CHAPEL
TEXT FOR PRAYER
Sowers Of The Seed
I shall read from Christ’s Object Lessons, beginning on page 57.
“The sowers of the seed have a work to do in the preparing hearts to receive the gospel. In the ministry of the world there is too much sermonizing, and too little of real heart-to-heart work…. So the sowers have something to do that the seed may not be choked with thorns or perish because of shallowness of soil…. Every believer…should be taught that he is not merely to be saved by Christ’s sacrifice, but that he is to make the life of Christ his life and the character of Christ his character. Let all be taught that they are to bear burdens and to deny natural inclination. Let them learn the blessedness of working for Christ, following Him in self-denial, and enduring hardness as good soldiers. Let them learn to trust His love and to cast on Him their cares. Let them taste the joy of winning souls for Him. In their love and interest for the lost, they will lose sight of self. The pleasures of the world will lose their power to attract and its burdens to dishearten.”
We are to pray that we shall realize that we are not saved merely by the sacrifice of Christ but that we are to strive to be like Him in life and character, and as we interest ourselves in the salvation of others, our own lives will be refreshed; that we shall do more heart-to-heart work; that we shall bear burdens and deny natural inclination. Thus will the pleasures of the world lose their power to attract, and its burden lose its power to dishearten.
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KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS, THE STONY HEART AND THE CARNAL MIND
Our text of Scripture is found in Revelation 22:14, 15.
Rev. 22:14, 15 — “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.”
Here we see that only those who do His commandments have the right to enter the City. When the work of salvation is finished and the people gathered home, they will be those who will still keep the commandments of God, even after sin is eradicated. Sin nevertheless cannot be eradicated while the law is transgressed, for the transgression of it is sin. (1 John 3:3, 4.) The Commandments of God, you see, are eternal, and only when Christians begin to live the life which the Word of God advocates, will they find themselves living above the law; then only will they be free from transgression.
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Finally, if the commandments of God are eternal, then they must have always existed. The Sabbath that was made and hallowed in the week of creation, before sin came, is contained in the commandments. And, too, Adam could not have sinned if the commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me,” had not then been in existence.
Rom. 7:7 — “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.”
Saint Paul’s inspired statement places the ten commandments, you see, in the very framework of the Gospel. Without the commandments, he declares, the followers of the Gospel would not know what sin is.
Rom. 7:8-10 — “But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.”
Here we see that the law does not save but it condemns; and that without the law there would be no sin. The law did not save Adam and Eve, but it judged them unworthy of the Tree of Life and of a home in Eden. In fact, it sentenced them to death. The law is only a teacher of righteousness. That is all. It is not a saviour.
Rom. 7:12-14 — “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then
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that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.”
The people who obey a state law think it an excellent statute of liberty, but those who delight in sinning, to them the law is anathema. Any murderer who by law has been sentenced to death, naturally does not delight in the law that sentenced him, nor in the people that executed his sentence. If such a one had his own way, he would abolish the law. All criminals would do away with the law of God, too, for the law is spiritual, and they carnal, sold under sin.
What would happen if there were no law in the Kingdom of God, no law against murder and theft, or against envy and jealousy? Who would want to be in the Kingdom even for a time? If such were the case, then, of course, we would be better off in the kingdoms of the world.
The Decalogue, moreover, is not only a moral code, but also a physical one, for sin against the law involves the sinner’s descendants, too. It visits the “iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.” Ex. 20:5.
Then, too, every descendant of Adam is naturally born in sin, is given to sin:
Rom. 7:15 — “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.”
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Such being man’s lot, the carnal man hates the law of God, and more so because it crosses his will.
Rom. 7:16 — “If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.”
If one abstains from theft, he consents that the law is good and effective, although by nature he might like the idea of stealing.
Rom. 7:17-23 — “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”
Here, you see, we are born with the law of sin within us, and so it is absolutely necessary for the law of God to restrain us from sinning.
Rom. 7:24, 25 — “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
Yes, God and His law in our minds, which we acquire only by the study of the Word of God
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are our only hope for victory over the law of sin and the flesh.
Rom. 8:1 — “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
The moment we accept Christ as our Saviour, all of our trespasses against the law are blotted out, and paid for by the death of Christ. Were this not the case we ourselves would have to pay the penalty of death, from which there is no resurrection to eternal life.
Rom. 8:2 — “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
Here the apostle introduces another law, the law of the Spirit of life — three laws in all: (1) the law of ten commandments, (2) the law of the flesh, (3) the law of the Spirit of life. But this third law, let us remember, is in Christ, and it makes us free from the law of sin and death only is we be in Him.
Rom. 8:3-11 — “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His Own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against
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God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
It is our privilege to have the same Spirit that was in Christ. In fact, we must have this Spirit if we are to walk in newness of life, and if we are to have a part in the resurrection of the just.
From Paul’s discourse you see that to be a Christian means to watch every step you make, and to war against your own flesh, lest you willfully fall into the pit from which there is no escape. The Christian, moreover, cannot sin; his righteousness in Christ is absolutely secured, for Christ has paid the penalty for his past sins. Moreover, if he should accidentally sin again, he has an Advocate to plead his case, even Jesus Christ, the righteous. Thus it is that though a righteous man fall seven times a day, he rises up, still continues the race and finally wins.
But suppose that you should have to struggle to keep the commandments of God in the Kingdom of God throughout eternity, should have to struggle as you struggle now? Suppose the law of the flesh should stay with you forever? — What
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then? Would you then be as anxious as you are now for a place in the Kingdom? God tells us what to expect.
Jer. 31:31-34 — “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which My covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Here is a promise of a new contract, a new covenant. It is not the kind God made with our predecessors in the day they came up out of Egypt, the day He wrote the commandments on tables of stone and thus to keep them. Instead He makes a new covenant, a covenant to write them on our very hearts. Then every one of us will consequently know Him without having to be taught.
Take notice, though, He is not to make a new law, but a new covenant, a new contract for keeping the law. The difference is that rather than His writing the law on tables of stone, He will write it on the fleshly tables of the
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heart, the seat which the law of sin now occupies.
This covenant, you see, is to be made with both the house of Israel and the house of Judah, — with all God’s people.
The scripture, remember, does not say that we cannot keep the law while it is written on the tables of stone, but it definitely says that we can, for those who broke the law are reproved for so doing. We can, therefore, even now inconveniently keep the commandments though they be still written on stones. For convenience sake most Christians wish the law were abolished, and some make themselves believe that it has been abolished, although the only law that has been abolished is the ceremonial, sacrificial law, the shadow of the Lamb of God.
What difference would there be whether the law be written on stone, or on our hearts? — The experience of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon reveals the answer.
Had the king by force been made to live with the cattle, in a stable or in a field, he would have committed suicide if possible. But as soon as God took his human heart away from him, and put the heart of an ox in him, the king was perfectly contented to be with the cattle, and altogether discontented to live in his palace.
Were the same thing done to anyone of us, our desires would be the same as the king’s. In like manner, when the stony heart is taken away from us, and the heart of flesh with the
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law of God written on it put in us, we shall then find it altogether too inconvenient to sin, and most delightful to keep the commandments of God. And so you need not fear having to struggle to keep the law of God in the Kingdom, as you do here. You will then be perfectly contented to live a sinless life. In fact you will want to sin no more than you would now want to die.
Wonderful indeed! but when may we expect this miracle to take place? To find the answer to this question, we need connect Jeremiah’s prophecy with Ezekiel’s prophecy of the same event:
Jer. 31:8 — “Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.”
Ezek. 36:24-28 — “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God.”
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The records from both prophets clearly point out the time in which this miracle will be performed on the hearts of all God’s people. Both prophets make it as clear as can be made, that this change of heart takes place in the Holy Land, Palestine, at the beginning of the kingdom which God promises to set up “in that days of these kings” (Dan. 2:44), not after their days. He moreover says that He will take us from among the heathen and gather us from all countries, and take us into our own land (Ezek. 36:24), the land in which our fathers dwelt (Ezek. 36:28). “Then,” at that time, says Inspiration, not before, will He sprinkle clean water upon us, cleanse us from all filthiness, and from all idols. Also, a new heart will He then put in us (Ezek. 36:26). He will give us His Spirit and cause us to comply with His statutes, and to keep His judgments (Ezek. 36:27). Read these scriptures for yourself and see if they say all I am trying to tell you they say.
Jer. 31:35-40 — “Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is His name: if those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me for ever. Thus saith the Lord; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the city shall be built to the Lord from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner. And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb,
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and shall compass about to Goath. And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the Lord; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.”
People can believe anything they wish to believe, but we will believe the Bible. I know that this is what the Bible teaches, and that this is God’s schedule for these events. And since this is God’s program for the cleansing of His people, and for their receiving the new heart, our message becomes exceedingly important to all who wish to be in the Kingdom. We can but put our heart and soul in the work, though, and leave the results to God. If we ever had to be all out for God and none for self, it is now.
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