Section C: God’s Truth and You
In this third section, we’ll examine practical applications of man’s personal relationship to his Creator and Saviour. As we do so, it must be kept constantly in mind that salvation is not a result of man’s efforts to please and obey God but is a free gift. However, good deeds are the natural fruit of a complete surrender to Jesus. We are saved by grace, through faith in the Son of God. And since “faith without works is dead” (see James 2:17, 18), all these facets tie together to make a perfect Christian, who is a blessing to his fellowmen and a delight to God.
In this lesson, the most beautiful study found in the Scriptures, we will learn what we can expect of Jesus and what He expects of us for our eternal salvation.
We are sinners
This realization is the first step toward our salvation, and even this realization is a gift from God! Without the divine work of the Holy Spirit in the heart, man would never make this important first step. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:10-12, 23. Furthermore, we are helpless to do anything to change our condition. It is just as impossible for us to overcome evil in our own strength at it is for a leopard to change his spots or the Ethiopian to change his skin. Isaiah 64:6. Feel with Paul the inner conflict and helplessness sin brings upon us. “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Romans 7:24. Yet, the Christian’s goal is perfection. “Be ye therefore perfect.” Matthew 5:48. How is this possible?
What must we do to be saved?
No more poignant entreaty is found in all the sacred Scriptures than the loving call of God to sinners in Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” God promises complete cleansing and renewal! First we must listen to God’s loving voice and repent of our sins; then we must confess and receive the forgiveness and cleansing He promises to us.
What will God do for us?
He has promised to give us a new heart and a new spirit! “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.” Ezekiel 36:26. We can receive the righteousness of Christ by faith. Christ justifies, or forgives all the past sins of, those who believe in Him and repent. We can never justify ourselves. Only the Sinless One, who has borne the full penalty of sin – death – for every man can satisfy the claims of the unchangeable law of God. Romans 3:22-26.
Once we realize our sins are forgiven, we are free from that heavy load of guilt, which weighs down the sinner. Guilt causes much inner conflict and frustration, which is frequently manifested in both physical and mental illnesses. Many a crime is committed because an individual feels guilty. And once done, these deeds bring an ever-heavier load of guilt. Is it any wonder that the hospitals and prisons are so full? Bu when we come to Jesus, He gives us complete freedom from guilt – complete cleansing! We can be as “white as snow”! Those who walk after the Spirit are not condemned. Romans 8:1.
Once forgiven, then, we must press on by faith toward perfection, forgetting the mistakes of the past but still remembering the lessons we learned so the sins will not be repeated. Philippians 3:13-15. Daily, as we look to Christ, we will grow to Christlikeness and be changed into His image from glory to glory. 2 Corinthians 3:18.
“What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 456.
Justification, or forgiveness of past sins, is the work of a moment. But sanctification, or being made holy day by day, is the work of a lifetime! 1 John 1:6, 7 illustrates how we must walk in the light as Christ daily cleanses us from sin. “If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Every man belongs either to the saved, or holy, class or to the unsaved, or unholy, class. Until the words of Revelation 22:11 are sounded by Christ, it is possible for a person to change from one class to the other. See 1 Corinthians 10:12; Acts 3:19.
By faith as we give all to Christ – our heart, our will, our service – we also receive all He has to offer – the fullness of Himself, His daily blessing, and His strength, purity, and righteousness. He will be our all in all!
Salvation’s three sides
Past tense – Justification. Grace and salvation were given us before the world began. 2 Timothy 1:9. Christ was slain from the foundation of the world. Revelation 13:8. We have been justified by faith. Romans 5:1. This is justification – we are saved.
Present tense – Sanctification. After being reconciled (justified), we are saved by Christ’s life – by patterning our lives after His. Romans 5:10. This is accomplished by the experiences and trials He permits to come to us to cleanse us from all imperfection. 1 Peter 1:6, 7. We are to be conformed to Christ’s image. Romans 8:29. We are changed into Christ’s image by beholding Him. 2 Corinthians 3:18. This is sanctification – we are being saved.
Future tense – Glorification. When Christ appears, we shall be like Him. 1 John 3:2. When He comes the second time, we will receive salvation. Hebrews 9:28.
Salvation will be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5. This is glorification – we will be saved.
Thus without Christ we as sinners can do nothing; but through the righteousness of Christ, freely given and living within us, we can reach the goal of perfection. Amazing love!
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell.
-F. M. Lehman
Christ has no hands but our hands
To do his work today;
He has no feet but our feet
To lead men in His way;
He has no tongues but our tongues
To tell men how He died;
He has no help but our help
To bring them to His side.
– Annie Johnson Flint