Sabbath, December 4, 2010
“God has given man intellect, and endowed him with capacities for improvement. Then let there be a strong taking hold upon God, a putting away of frivolity, amusement, and all uncleanness. Overcome all defects of character.” –Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, p. 105.
1. What are the works of the flesh, which keep us from reaching the mark?
Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
“Every good principle must be cherished if we would have it thrive in the soul. That which Satan plants in the heart–envy, jealousy, evil surmising, evil speaking, impatience, prejudice, selfishness, covetousness, and vanity–must be uprooted. If these evil things are allowed to remain in the soul, they will bear fruit by which many shall be defiled. Oh, how many cultivate the poisonous plants that kill out the precious fruits of love and defile the soul!” –The Adventist Home, p. 196.
“Envy, malice, evil thinking, evilspeaking, covetousness–these are weights that the Christian must lay aside if he would run successfully the race for immortality. Every habit or practice that leads into sin and brings dishonor upon Christ, must be put away, whatever the sacrifice. The blessing of heaven cannot attend any man in violating the eternal principles of right.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 273.
2. How is it possible to gain the victory over these natural tendencies and produce the fruit of the Spirit?
Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Galatians 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
“Through faith in Christ, every deficiency of character may be supplied, every defilement cleansed, every fault corrected, every excellence developed.” –Education, p. 257.
“God has given us intellectual and moral power; but to a great extent every one is the architect of his own character. Every day the structure more nearly approaches completion. The word of God warns us to take heed how we build, to see that our building is founded upon the eternal rock. The time is coming when our work will stand revealed just as it is. Now is the time for all to cultivate the powers that God has given them, that they may form characters for usefulness here and for a higher life hereafter….
“The precious hours of probation are granted that you may remove every defect from your character, and this you should seek to do, not only that you may obtain the future life, but that you may be useful in this life. A good character is a capital of more value than gold or silver.” –Messages to Young People, pp. 412, 413, 415, 416.
“Are you ready to make the surrender now? You are to put away your sin right now when you see it…. Do not make leeway that you are going to overcome by degrees; you are going to try little by little to give up sin. Now, while it is called today, heed the invitation and harden not your hearts.
“Oh, my soul, why not leave the cursed thing today? Sin crucified my Lord. Why not turn from it with loathing? Why not love the things that Christ loved, and hate the things that Christ hated? He has made provision ample enough for you that you can, through Him, be more, yea, more than overcomers.” –The Upward Look, p. 283.
With Jesus by our side
3. How do we know that God has not left us alone to overcome temptations and character defects?
Hebrews 2:18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
Hebrews 4:15, 16 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
“There is hope for every one of us, but only in one way, and that is by binding ourselves to Christ, and exerting every energy to attain to the perfection of His character.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 540.
“Let no one say, I cannot remedy my defects of character. If you come to this decision, you will certainly fail of obtaining everlasting life. The impossibility lies in your own will. If you will not, then you cannot overcome. The real difficulty arises from the corruption of an unsanctified heart, and an unwillingness to submit to the control of God.” –Messages to Young People, p. 99.
“The tempter’s agency is not to be accounted an excuse for one wrong act. Satan is jubilant when he hears the professed followers of Christ making excuses for their deformity of character. It is these excuses that lead to sin. There is no excuse for sinning. A holy temper, a Christlike life, is accessible to every repenting, believing child of God.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 311.
Not a single cherished defect
4. In the Old Testament, we read that just one spot or blemish was enough for the leper to be declared unclean by the priest (Leviticus 13). What will happen if one cherishes even a single sin? Why is this the case?
James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
“We may flatter ourselves that we are free from many things of which others are guilty; but if we have some strong points of character, and but one weak point, there is yet a communion between sin and the soul. The heart is divided in its service, and says, ‘Some of self and some of Thee.’ The child of God must search out the sin which he has petted and indulged himself in, and permit God to cut it out of his heart. He must overcome that one sin; for it is not a trifling matter in the sight of God….
“One defect, cultivated instead of being overcome, makes the man imperfect, and closes against him the gate of the Holy City. He who enters heaven must have a character that is without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. Naught that defileth can ever enter there. In all the redeemed host not one defect will be seen.” –Messages to Young People, pp. 91, 144.
“We should learn wherein we fail, and then guard ourselves upon that point. We must have perfect control over our own spirit. ‘If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.’ ” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 307.
5. What does becoming a partaker of the divine nature encompass?
Philippians 2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
2 Peter 1:3-11 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
“You can never secure a good character by merely wishing for it. It can be gained only by labor. Your desires in this direction must be expressed in earnest, honest endeavor and patient toil. By taking advance steps each day up the ladder of progress, you will find at last at the top–a conqueror, yes, more than a conqueror, through Him who has loved you.” –Messages to Young People, p. 348.
“When you ask for the blessings you need, that you may perfect a character after Christ’s likeness, the Lord assures you that you are asking according to a promise that will be verified. That you feel and know you are a sinner is sufficient ground for asking for His mercy and compassion.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 130, 131.
Overcoming every defect
6. Just as Jesus prayed without ceasing, how should we cherish this precious means for conquering the foe?
Luke 22:40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
“In God is our strength. Pray much. Prayer is the life of the soul. The prayer of faith is the weapon by which we may successfully resist every assault of the enemy.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 88.
“Prayer is heaven’s ordained means of success in the conflict with sin and the development of Christian character. The divine influences that come in answer to the prayer of faith will accomplish in the soul of the suppliant all for which he pleads. For the pardon of sin, for the Holy Spirit, for a Christlike temper, for wisdom and strength to do His work, for any gift He has promised, we may ask; and the promise is, ‘Ye shall receive.’ ” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 564.
“When secret prayer and reading of the Scriptures are neglected today, tomorrow they can be omitted with less remonstrance of conscience. There will be a long list of omissions, all for a single grain sown in the soil of the heart. On the other hand, every ray of light cherished will yield a harvest of light. Temptation once resisted will give power to more firmly resist the second time; every new victory gained over self will smooth the way for higher and nobler triumphs. Every victory is a seed sown to eternal life.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 120.
Abiding in Christ
7. What is the key to success?
John 15:4-11 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
“Men and women can reach God’s ideal for them if they will take Christ as their helper. What human wisdom cannot do, His grace will accomplish for those who give themselves to Him in loving trust.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 115.
“Christ must dwell in him by faith. He, their Exemplar, was self-possessed. He walked in humility. He had true dignity. He had patience….
“The example of Christ is before us, ever to keep the law and the gospel closely connected. They cannot be separated. Let calmness and self-possession be cultivated and perseveringly maintained, for this was the character of Christ….
“Remember in Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. If Christ is abiding in our hearts by faith, we shall, by beholding the manner of His life, seek to be like Jesus, pure, peaceable, and undefiled. We shall reveal Christ in our character. We will not only receive and absorb light but will also diffuse it. We will have more clear and distinct views of what Jesus is to us. The symmetry, loveliness, and benevolence that were in the life of Jesus Christ will be shining forth in our lives.” –Selected Messages, book 2, pp. 22, 23.
“Christ does not weigh character in scales of human judgment. He says, ‘I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me’ (John 12:32). Every soul who responds to this drawing will turn from iniquity. Christ is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto Him. He who comes to Jesus is setting his feet upon a ladder that reaches from earth to heaven. Teach it by pen, by voice, that God is above the ladder; the bright rays of His glory are shining upon every round of the ladder. He is looking graciously upon all who are climbing painfully upward, that He may send them help, divine help, when the hand seems to be relaxing and the foot trembling. Yes, tell it, tell it in words that will melt the heart, that not one who shall perseveringly climb the ladder will fail of an entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; those who believe in Christ shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of His hand.” –Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 181, 182.