How does righteousness deliver from death? The theme of the 1888 message is: “The Lord our righteousness.” We read of this blessing in Proverbs: “Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death” (Prov. 10:2).
Now the message of comfort, which God sends to His people, especially for the days immediately preceding His coming, is this, “Behold your God!” (Isa. 40:9). That means that as a necessary preparation for His coming, He wants us to know our own lack of righteousness by beholding His righteousness.
"We mean to teach just what the Word of God teaches—that ‘the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men’ (Titus 2:11, RV). God has wrought out salvation for every man, and has given it to him; but the majority spurn it and throw it away."
Christ has so completely identified Himself with humanity, that no act can be done to a fellow-man without being done to Him. Our treatment of our fellows shows exactly how we would treat the Lord Himself. Not only so, but it shows how we do treat Him.
Not the man, but the message, must be made prominent. Human plans, human organizations, human agents, must all be hidden from view, that the Word of God alone may be heard and seen and felt, and may have all the glory.
The underlying principle of the commandments isn’t about stealing, adultery or even killing; it is the truth that while God’s law requires us not to be involved in these activities or thoughts, these activities are the very makeup and core of our base humanity since the fall. Therefore it is impossible for man, whether a heathen or a professed minister of God to abstain, by any amount of effort or desire, from these works of the flesh. The works of man are just that, the works of man.
"The offense of the cross is that the cross is a confession of human frailty and sin and of inability to do any good thing. To take the cross of Christ means to depend solely on Him for everything, and this is the abasement of all human pride. Men love to fancy themselves independent. But let the cross be preached, let it be made known that in man dwells no good thing and that all must be received as a gift, and straightway someone is offended."