Abraham believed God - This is quoted from Genesis 15:6; (note); and St. Paul produces it, Romans 4:3-5; (note). Abraham, while even uncircumcised, believed in God, and his faith was reckoned to him for justification; and Abraham is called the father of the faithful, or, of believers. If, then, he was justified without the deeds of the law, he was justified by faith; and if he was justified by faith, long before the law was given then the law is not necessary to salvation.
It is remarkable that the Jews themselves maintained that Abraham was saved by faith. Mehilta, in Yalcut Simeoni, page 1, fol. 69, makes this assertion: "It is evident that Abraham could not obtain an inheritance either in this world or in the world to come, but by faith."
Even as Abraham believed God - see this passage fully explained in the notes at Romans 4:3. The passage is introduced here by the apostle to show that the most eminent of the patriarchs was not saved by the deeds of the Law. He was saved by faith, and this fact showed that it was possible to be saved in that way, and that it was the design of God to save people in this manner. Abraham believed God, and was justified, before the Law of Moses was given. It could not, therefore, be pretended that the Law was necessary to justification; for if it had been, Abraham could not have been saved. But if not necessary in his case, it was in no other; and this instance demonstrated that the false teachers among the Galatians were wrong even according to the Old Testament.
It was their own evil heart of unbelief, controlled by Satan, that led them to hide their light, instead of shedding it upon surrounding peoples; it was that same bigoted spirit that caused them either to follow the iniquitous practices of the heathen or to shut themselves away in proud exclusiveness, as if God's love and care were over them alone. PP 370.1
As the Bible presents two laws, one changeless and eternal, the other provisional and temporary, so there are two covenants. The covenant of grace was first made with man in Eden, when after the Fall there was given a divine promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. To all men this covenant offered pardon and the assisting grace of God for future obedience through faith in Christ. It also promised them eternal life on condition of fidelity to God's law. Thus the patriarchs received the hope of salvation. PP 370.2
This same covenant was renewed to Abraham in the promise, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 22:18. This promise pointed to Christ. So Abraham understood it (see Galatians 3:8, 16), and he trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. It was this faith that was accounted unto him for righteousness. The covenant with Abraham also maintained the authority of God's law. The Lord appeared unto Abraham, and said, “I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect.” Genesis 17:1. The testimony of God concerning His faithful servant was, “Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” Genesis 26:5. And the Lord declared to him, “I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee.” Genesis 17:7. PP 370.3
Though this covenant was made with Adam and renewed to Abraham, it could not be ratified until the death of Christ. It had existed by the promise of God since the first intimation of redemption had been given; it had been accepted by faith; yet when ratified by Christ, it is called a new covenant. The law of God was the basis of this covenant, which was simply an arrangement for bringing men again into harmony with the divine will, placing them where they could obey God's law. PP 370.4Read in context »
There is a belief that is not a saving faith. The Word declares that the devils believe and tremble. The so-called faith that does not work by love and purify the soul will not justify any man. “Ye see,” says the apostle, “how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” Abraham believed God. How do we know that he believed? His works testified to the character of his faith, and his faith was accounted to him for righteousness. RC 79.5Read in context »
While we are to be in harmony with God's law, we are not saved by the works of the law, yet we cannot be saved without obedience. The law is the standard by which character is measured. But we cannot possibly keep the commandments of God without the regenerating grace of Christ. Jesus alone can cleanse us from all sin. He does not save us by law, neither will He save us in disobedience to law. FW 95.3Read in context »
15-21 (1 Timothy 1:9, 10; James 1:22-25; see EGW on 2 Corinthians 3:6-9). Not Obedient, but Transgressors, Under Bondage—Paul in his Epistle to Timothy describes the very men who are under the bondage of the law. They are the transgressors of the law. He names them lawless, disobedient, sinners, unholy, profane, murderers, adulterers, liars, and all who depart from sound doctrine. 1 Timothy 1:9, 10. 6BC 1077.2
The law of God is the mirror to show man the defects in his character. But it is not pleasant to those who take pleasure in unrighteousness to see their moral deformity. They do not prize this faithful mirror, because it reveals to them their sins. Therefore, instead of instituting a war against their carnal minds, they war against the true and faithful mirror, given them by Jehovah for the very purpose that they may not be deceived, but that they may have revealed to them the defects in their character. 6BC 1077.3Read in context »