Sabbath, October 3, 2015

“In looking to ourselves for righteousness, by which to find acceptance with God, we look to the wrong place, ‘for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.’ Romans 3:23. We are to look to Jesus; for ‘we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory.’ 2 Corinthians 3:18. You are to find your completeness by beholding the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” –Faith and Works, p. 108. 

From righteousness to unrighteousness 

1. What is said about how man was originally created? How did His state change after the fall? 

Ecclesiastes 7:29 Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions. 

Matthew 19:17, first part And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.

“Man was originally endowed with noble powers and a well-balanced mind. He was perfect in his being, and in harmony with God. His thoughts were pure, his aims holy. But through disobedience, his powers were perverted, and selfishness took the place of love. His nature became so weakened through transgression that it was impossible for him, in his own strength, to resist the power of evil. He was made captive by Satan, and would have remained so forever had not God specially interposed.” –Steps to Christ, p. 17. 

“When man transgressed the divine law, his nature became evil….” –The Great Controversy, p. 505. 

“God declares, ‘There is none righteous, no, not one.’ Romans 3:10. All have the same sinful nature. All are liable to make mistakes. No one is perfect. The Lord Jesus died for the erring that they might be forgiven. It is not our work to condemn. Christ did not come to condemn, but to save.” –In Heavenly Places, p. 292. 

The general condition

2. How far have sin and death reached? Is anyone an exception to this? 

Romans 5:12; 3:11, 12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:… 3:11There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 

“The Word of God declares, ‘All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.’ Romans 3:23. ‘There is none that doeth good, no, not one.’ Romans 3:12. Many are deceived concerning the condition of their hearts. They do not realize that the natural heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. They wrap themselves about with their own righteousness, and are satisfied in reaching their own human standard of character; but how fatally they fail when they do not reach the divine standard, and of themselves they cannot meet the requirements of God.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 320. 

“Adam could not transmit to his posterity that which he did not possess; and there could have been no hope for the fallen race had not God, by the sacrifice of His Son, brought immortality within their reach. While ‘death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,’ Christ ‘hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.’ Romans 5:12; 2 Timothy 1:10. And only through Christ can immortality be obtained.” –The Great Controversy, p. 533. 

Not willing to surrender

3. Is man’s carnal nature willing to be subdued and surrender to the Lord’s will? What have human beings become by following their natural tendencies to sin? 

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.

Colossians 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.

“But the heart that is surrendered to God, loves the truth of God’s word; for through the truth the soul is regenerated. The carnal mind finds no pleasure in contemplating the word of God, but he who is renewed in the spirit of his mind, sees new charms in the living oracles; for divine beauty and celestial light seem to shine in every passage. That which was to the carnal mind a desolate wilderness, to the spiritual mind becomes a land of living streams. That which to the unrenewed heart appeared a barren waste, to the converted soul becomes the garden of God, covered with fragrant buds and blooming flowers.” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 182. 

Impure thoughts and feelings

4. What desires and lusts dominate human flesh? Where does sin start before it matures and becomes active? 

Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

James 1:14, 15 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 

“Our improvement in moral purity depends on right thinking and right acting. ‘Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.’ ‘For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man.’ Matthew 15:11, 19, 20. 

“Evil thoughts destroy the soul. The converting power of God changes the heart, refining and purifying the thoughts. Unless a determined effort is made to keep the thoughts centered on Christ, grace cannot reveal itself in the life. The mind must engage in the spiritual warfare. Every thought must be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. All the habits must be brought under God’s control.” –Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, p. 69. 

Inability to do good

5. When one wishes to do good things, what is the result? Can he trust his good intentions? 

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. 

“As we see the condition of mankind today, the question arises in the minds of some, Is man by nature totally and wholly depraved? Is he hopelessly ruined? 

“Men have sold themselves to the enemy of all righteousness. They cannot redeem themselves. Of themselves they can do no good thing. But there is a way of escape. When man sinned, Christ offered to stand as his substitute and surety, in order to provide a way whereby the guilty race might return to loyalty. He took humanity, and passed over the ground where Adam stumbled and fell. Without swerving from His allegiance, He met the temptations wherewith man is beset.” –The Signs of the Times, June 14, 1905.

Personal responsibility 

6. Although children do not inherit the specific sins of their parents, what do they receive from them? Is there any hope of overriding bad inclinations and tendencies? 

Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity or sins of the fathers, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. 

Deuteronomy 24:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin. 

1 Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers. 

“How can we expect anything else of the children, with their inherited tendencies, while the older ones set them such an example? God pity the poor slave to these indulgences!” –Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, p. 18. 

“As a rule, children inherit the dispositions and tendencies of their parents, and imitate their example; so that the sins of the parents are practiced by the children from generation to generation.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 118. 

“Children inherit inclinations to wrong, but they also have many lovely traits of character. These should be strengthened and developed, while the tendencies to evil should be carefully guarded against and repressed.” –Mind, Character and Personality, pp. 144, 145.

Cleansed by Christ

7. Although this is our difficult condition, what is possible through the Lord Jesus and the infilling of His Holy Spirit? What may a person become by faith? 

1 Corinthians 6:11; 1:30 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God…. 1:30But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.

Romans 6:17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 

John 1:12 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.

“We must learn in the school of Christ. Nothing but His righteousness can entitle us to one of the blessings of the covenant of grace. We have long desired and tried to obtain these blessings, but have not received them because we have cherished the idea that we could do something to make ourselves worthy of them. We have not looked away from ourselves, believing that Jesus is a living Saviour. We must not think that our own grace and merits will save us; the grace of Christ is our only hope of salvation. Through His prophet the Lord promises, ‘Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon’ (Isaiah 55:7). We must believe the naked promise, and not accept feeling for faith. When we trust God fully, when we rely upon the merits of Jesus as a sin-pardoning Saviour, we shall receive all the help that we can desire.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 351. 

For additional study

“The eye of Him who sees the present condition of things has portrayed the state of things existing in the world and the church today. Psalm 14:1-4. And what has brought about this terrible condition? It is the making void of the law of God.” –The Signs of the Times, March 20, 1901.

“Those who put their trust in Christ are not to be enslaved by any hereditary or cultivated habit or tendency. Instead of being held in bondage to the lower nature, they are to rule every appetite and passion. God has not left us to battle with evil in our own finite strength. Whatever may be our inherited or cultivated tendencies to wrong, we can overcome through the power that He is ready to impart.…” –Counsels on Health, p. 440.