What is the underlying principle in the statement “Sin is the transgression of the law”? Welcome as we explore this matter by the grace of God.


1John 3:4: Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.


James 4:17: Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.


Love Fulfills the Law


Love is not a substitute for the keeping of the law, but is the perfection of it. Just here it would be well to read 1Cor.13. “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Rom.13:10. “If any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” 1Joh.4:20. If, therefore, a man loves his neighbor it must be that he loves God. “Love is of God,” for “God is love.” Therefore love is the life of God. If that life be in us, and be given free course, the law will necessarily be in us, for God’s life is the law for all creation. That life of love was manifested in the gift of Himself for the world. “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” {1900 EJW, GTI 213.1}


Love Is Unselfishness


This follows from the foregoing; for since love means service, and service means the doing of something for others, it is evident that love takes no thought of itself, and that he who loves has no thought but of how he may bless others. So we read, “Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil.” 1Cor.13:4,5, R.V. {1900 EJW, GTI 214.1}


It is just on this vital point that everybody in the world is making or has made a mistake. Happy are they who have found out their mistake, and have come to the understanding and practice of true love. “Love seeketh not her own.” Therefore self-love is not love at all, in the right sense of the word. It is only a base counterfeit. Yet the most of that which in the world is called love, is not really love for another, but is love of self. Even that which should be the highest form of love known on earth, the love which is used by the Lord as a representation of His love for His people,–the love of husband and wife,–is more often selfishness than real love. Leaving out of the question, as unworthy of notice, marriages that are formed for the purpose of gaining wealth or position in society, it is a fact, which all will recognize when their attention is called to it, that in nearly every case the parties to a marriage are thinking more of their own individual happiness than of the happiness of the other. Of course this condition of things exists in varying degrees, and in proportion as real, unselfish love exists, is there real happiness; for it is a lesson that the world is slow to learn, that true happiness is found only when one ceases to seek for it, and sets about making it for others. {1900 EJW, GTI 214.2}


“Love Never Faileth.”


Here again is a test which shows that much that is called love is not love. Love never ceases. The statement is absolute, never. There is no exception, and no allowance made for circumstances. Love is not affected by circumstances. We often hear about one’s love growing cold, but that is something that can never happen. Love is always warm, always flowing; nothing can freeze the fountain of love. Love is absolutely endless and unchangeable, simply because it is the life of God. There is no other love than the love of God, therefore the only possibility for true love to be manifested among mankind is for the love of God to be shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit. {1900 EJW, GTI 215.1}


Why Love?


Sometimes when a declaration of love is made, the loved one asks, “Why do you love me?” Just as if anybody could give a reason for love! Love is its own reason. If the lover can tell just why he loves another, then that very answer shows that he does not really love. Whatever object he names as a reason for love, may sometime cease to exist, and then his supposed love ceases to exist; but “love never faileth.” Therefore love can not depend upon circumstances. So the only answer that can be given to the question as to why one loves, is “because,” because of love. Love loves, simply because it is love. Love is the quality of the individual who loves, and he loves because he has love, irrespective of the character of the object. The truth of this is seen when we go back to God, the Fountain of love. He is love; love is His life; but no explanation of His existence can be given. The highest human conception of love is to love because we are loved, or because the object of our love is lovable. But God loves the unlovely, and those who hate Him. “We also were aforetime foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Saviour, and His love toward man, appeared, not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to His mercy He saved us.” Titus 3:3,4, R.V. “If ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?” “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matt.5:46,48. {1900 EJW, GTI 215.2}


Working no ill


“Love worketh no ill to his neighbor.” The word “neighbor” means whoever dwells near. Love, therefore, extends to everything with which it comes in contact. He who loves must necessarily love everybody. It may be objected that love does make distinctions, and the case of husband and wife, or of any of the members of a family, may be cited. But the objection does not hold, for the family relation, rightly understood, was instituted in order that by a union love might the more effectually be manifested to others. On the principle that strength is not merely doubled, but increased tenfold, by union, as shown by the statement that “one shall chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight,” union multiplies the working value of love. If two persons, each of whom has this unselfish love to all mankind, unite in love, then their union makes them ten times better able to serve others. If any one thinks this is too high a standard, let him remember that we are considering a very high thing–the highest thing in the universe. We are talking of love, absolute and unqualified, as it comes from heaven, and not that which has been dragged through the mire of earth. Poor, frail human beings certainly need the very best. {1900 EJW, GTI 216.1}


Since love worketh no ill to his neighbor, it obviously follows that Christian love,–and there is really no other love, as we have seen,–does not admit of wars and fightings. No philosophy can ever make it appear that it does a man any good to kill him. When the soldiers asked John the Baptist what they should do, as followers of the Lamb of God, to whom he pointed, he replied, “Do violence to no man.” Luke 3:14. Those who asked were “soldiers on service,” as we see from the margin of the Revised Version. And the margin also gives as the alternative rendering of John’s answer, “Put no man in fear.” It would be a very mild war in which this command was followed. If an army were composed of Christians,–true followers of Christ,–when they came in contact with the enemy, instead of shooting them, they would find out what they needed, and supply their wants. “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Rom.12:20,21. {1900 EJW, GTI 217.1}


When we say sin is the regression of the law, it has to be understand that its more than just not being in harmony with “thou shall do this and thou shall not do that” but it’s the motivation of serving self and breaking the great principle of love. Every command in the Decalogue is founded on the principle of service of love both to God and fellow humans hence the first table deals with vertical love and the second table deals with horizontal love.




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