Sabbath, August 1, 2009
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” 1 Timothy 2:5, 6.
Inability of the will
1. What does it mean for every one of us personally that we are fallen in sin?
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.
“It is difficult for those who feel secure in their attainments, and who believe themselves to be rich in spiritual knowledge, to receive the message which declares that they are deceived and in need of every spiritual grace. The unsanctified heart is ‘deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.’ I was shown that many are flattering themselves that they are good Christians, who have not a ray of light from Jesus. They have not a living experience for themselves in the divine life. They need a deep and thorough work of self-abasement before God before they will feel their true need of earnest, persevering effort to secure the precious graces of the Spirit.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 253.
2. Is this awareness and our desire to change enough to free us from our sinful nature?
Romans 7:18, 19 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Job 15:14-16 What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight. How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?
“The nearer we come to Jesus, and the more clearly we discern the purity of His character, the more clearly shall we see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the less shall we feel like exalting ourselves. There will be a continual reaching out of the soul after God, a continual, earnest, heartbreaking confession of sin and humbling of the heart before Him. At every advance step in our Christian experience our repentance will deepen. We shall know that our sufficiency is in Christ alone and shall make the apostle’s confession our own: ‘I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing.’ ’God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.’ Romans 7:18; Galatians 6:14.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 561.
Human power is incapable
3. Is there any hope of our changing our way of life by ourselves?
Jeremiah 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.
1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
“The carnal mind cannot comprehend these mysteries. If questioners and doubters continue to follow the great deceiver, the impressions and convictions of God’s Spirit will grow less and less, the promptings of Satan more frequent, until the mind will fully submit to his control. Then that which appears to these bewildered minds as foolishness will be the power of God, and that which God regards as foolishness will be to them the strength of wisdom.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 585.
“We should ask the Lord to open our understanding, that we may comprehend divine truth. If we humble our hearts before God, empty them of vanity and pride and selfishness, through the grace abundantly bestowed upon us; if we sincerely desire and unwaveringly believe, the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness will shine into our minds, and illuminate our darkened understanding.” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 183.
4. Is there any human being or system of man’s devising that is able to change the nature of man or one’s own nature from bad to good? The next question will ask you to explain your answer.
Job 14:4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.
Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
“If you have chosen such a life, you know that you are spending money for that which is not bread, and labor for that which satisfieth not. There come to you hours when you realize your degradation. Alone in the far country you feel your misery, and in despair you cry, ’O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ Romans 7:24. It is the statement of a universal truth which is contained in the prophet’s words, ’Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord….’ Jeremiah 17:5.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 201.
5. What Scriptural concept supports your answer to question 4? What is the natural response of our human flesh and mind to God and His law?
Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.
Romans 8: 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
Romans 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
“We are to keep our hearts with all diligence that we may not make shipwreck of faith. Those who neglect to watch and pray in these days of peril; those who neglect to unite with their brethren in seeking the Lord, but who stand aloof from God’s appointed agencies in the church, are in grave danger of strengthening themselves in their own way, following the impulses of their own minds, and of refusing to heed the admonitions of the Lord….
“Let every believer closely examine himself to ascertain what are his weak points. Let him cherish a spirit of humility and plead with the Lord for grace and wisdom and for the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. Let him cast away all self-confidence…. Self-confidence leads to a lack of watchfulness…. Those who walk humbly before God, distrustful of their own wisdom, will realize their danger and will know the power of God’s keeping care.” –In Heavenly Places, p. 97.
Only one real solution
6. What is absolutely necessary if one is to escape from this desperate condition?
John 3:5, 6 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh: and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
“Again: it is written, ‘But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’ John 1:12, 13. Jesus declared, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ John 3:3. ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’ John 3:5. It is not a low standard that is placed before us; for we are to become the children of God. We are to be saved as individuals; and in the day of test and trial we shall be able to discern between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not. We are saved as individual believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.” –Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 367, 368.
7. Who is the only one who can free a person from the enslavement of sin and its horrible consequences?
John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
“Jesus is the Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He is the Light of the world, and He bids us come unto Him, and learn of Him. Jesus was the great Teacher.” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 183.
“Without the grace of Christ, the sinner is in a hopeless condition; nothing can be done for him; but through divine grace, supernatural power is imparted to the man, and works in mind and heart and character. It is through the impartation of the grace of Christ that sin is discerned in its hateful nature, and finally driven from the soul temple. It is through grace that we are brought into fellowship with Christ, to be associated with Him in the work of salvation. Faith is the condition upon which God has seen fit to promise pardon to sinners; not that there is any virtue in faith whereby salvation is merited, but because faith can lay hold of the merits of Christ, the remedy provided for sin. Faith can present Christ’s perfect obedience instead of the sinner’s transgression and defection. When the sinner believes that Christ is his personal Saviour, then, according to His unfailing promises, God pardons his sin, and justifies him freely. The repentant soul realizes that his justification comes because Christ, as his substitute and surety, has died for him, is his atonement and righteousness.” –Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 366, 367.