We are living in a time of lawlessness. It is described by the prophets: "Judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter." "By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood." Isa. 59:14; Hos. 4:2. While but a small part of the evil and corruption of our large cities is ever published, there is enough to make the daily papers a daily comment on these texts.
The passing days are eventful and full of peril. Signs of a most startling character appear in floods, in hurricanes, in tornadoes, in earthquakes, in casualties by sea and land. The judgments of God are falling on the world, that men may be awakened to the fact that Christ will come speedily.
The prevailing spirit of our time is one of infidelity and apostasy. The spirit manifested in the earth is a spirit of pride and self-exaltation. Men boast of illumination which in reality is the blindest presumption. Many do not hesitate to exalt human reason, to idolize human wisdom, and to set the opinions of men above the revealed wisdom of God.
The truth as it is in Jesus is regarded as an old-fashioned doctrine. Maxims and theories from the world have been worked into the church, and vain philosophy and science, falsely so called, are in the eyes of men of more value than the Word of God.
Why are these things so? Why is there such a spirit of lawlessness in the social world, and such a medley of strange doctrines in the church? Is it not because among the great mass of professed Christians, the grievous sin of transgressing the law of God is not understood? Even ministers in the pulpit "make void" [Romans 3:31] that law. The result is a general weakening of the bonds of righteousness, a far-reaching tendency to lawlessness, to crime of every sort. Nor can we wonder. When men are not taught that they must obey the law of God, how can they be expected to obey the laws of men?
The Lord requires no less of man now than he required of Adam,--perfect obedience to his law, unblemished righteousness. The requirement under the covenant of grace is just as broad as that made in paradise,--harmony with his law, which is holy, and just, and good. The gospel does not weaken the claims of the law; it exalts the law and makes it honorable. Under the New Testament no less is required than was required under the Old Testament. Let no one take up with the delusion, so pleasant to the human heart, that God will accept of sincerity, no matter what may be the faith or how imperfect the life. God requires of his children perfect obedience.
In order to meet the requirements of the law, our faith must grasp the righteousness of Christ, accepting it as our righteousness. Through union with Christ, through acceptance of his righteousness, we may become co-laborers with Christ in his work for fallen men. Those who are willing to drift along with the current of evil, and do not try to help restrain transgression in the family and in the church, that everlasting righteousness may be brought in, do not have true faith. Through the Holy Spirit Christ works in the heart to create holiness therein; but this cannot be done unless the human agent will work with Christ.
Let the soul look to Jesus. "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." [John 1:29] No one will be forced to look to Christ, but the yearning entreaty is going out, "Look and live." In looking unto Christ, we shall see that his love is without a parallel; that the Saviour has taken the place of the guilty sinner, and has imputed unto him his own spotless righteousness.
The sinner loves Christ, because Christ first loved him, and love is the fulfilling of the law. The repenting soul realizes that God "is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." [1 John 1:9] The Spirit of God works in the believer's soul, enabling him to advance from one line of obedience to another, reaching on from strength to greater strength, from grace to grace in Christ Jesus.