HOW TO FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT


PAUL’S CONFESSION:

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Tim 4:7-8 (KJV)

The Christian life is a battle and a march. In this warfare there is no release; the effort must be continuous and persevering. It is by unceasing endeavor that we maintain the victory over the temptations of Satan. Christian integrity must be sought with resistless energy and maintained with a  resolute fixedness of purpose. 

“No one will be borne upward without stern, persevering effort in his own behalf. All must engage in this warfare for themselves; no one else can fight our battles. Individually we are responsible for the issues of the struggle; though Noah, Job, and Daniel were in the land they could deliver neither son nor daughter by their righteousness.”[1]

PAUL CHARGED TIMOTHY AND ALL CHRISTIANS

TIMOTHY: “18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; 19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: 20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” 1 Tim 1:18-20 (KJV)

12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” 1 Tim 6:12 (KJV)

CHRISTIANS IN CORINTH: “24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”1 Cor 9:24-27 (KJV)

“When souls are converted, their salvation is not yet accomplished. They then have the race to run. An arduous struggle is before them, to do what?–To “fight the good fight of faith,” to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” There is no release in this warfare; the battle is life-long, and must be carried forward with determination and energy proportionate to the value of the object to be attained, which is eternal life. Immense interests are here involved. We are made partakers of Christ’s sacrifice here in this life, and if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end, we are assured that we shall be partakers of all the benefits of the future, immortal life.”[2]  {RH, August 25, 1891 par. 2}

HOW TO FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT

1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. 4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” Heb 12:1-4 (KJV)

  1. Laying aside every weight (v. 1): “The weights that are here referred to are the evil habits and practices we have formed by following our own natural dispositions.”[3] 7 BC 934.
  2. Laying aside every sin. (v. 1)

“Every Christian must stand on guard continually, watching every avenue of the soul where Satan might find access. He must pray for divine help and at the same time resolutely resist every inclination to sin. By courage, by faith, by persevering toil, he can conquer. But let him remember that to gain the victory Christ must abide in him and he in Christ. . .

It is only by personal union with Christ, by communion with Him daily, hourly, that we can bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit[4].  {5T 47, 48}

  1. Running patiently (v. 1): PATIENT, a. pa’shent. [L. patiens.]

Having the quality of enduring evils without murmuring or fretfulness; sustaining afflictions of body or mind with fortitude, calmness or Christian submission to the divine will; as a patient person, or a person of patient temper. It is followed by of before the evil endured; as patient of labor or pain; patient of heat or cold.

  1. Looking unto Jesus and considering Him as our example. (v. 2, 3)
  2. Striving against sin even if it might cost our life. (v. 4). Christ wrestled even to the point where blood begins to drop from the pores of his skin. (See Luke 22:39-46). It was after his victory at Gethsemane was he able to endure the Temptations that came afterward.

Through the enabling grace of God, through is Holy Spirit, we all must daily fight and wrestle with hereditary and cultivated sinful habits and tendencies to sins. Without daily overcoming, no one can be sealed with the seal of the living God.

[1] The Ministry of Healing, P. 453

[2] The Review and Herald, August 25, 1891 par. 2

[3] 7 BC 934

[4] 5 Testimonies, 47, 48

CHARACTER PERFECTION: THE CLOSE OF PROBATION (PART TWO)


In part one; we saw what is meant to be perfect. God does not require absolute Perfection from any mortal or angel. We also noticed that man experienced nature perfection at Eden prior to the fall, but presently his nature is fallen and sinful. God has promised to restore his nature and the world back to the pre-fall state, where sin and evil does not exist. The only condition or state which God require from us is character surrender which will lead to character maturity.

Someone might say, “How can I ever attain to this standard? It is too high for any mortal, in this world, to attain. I see myself falling below the standard Christ has given to me. HOW can I be MATURE in character?”

But before we study the HOW, let us see WHY this issue of Character Maturity or Perfection of Character is so important to our salvation in these last days.

CLOSE OF PROBATION

What will happen to our character BEFORE Christ comes in the clouds of glory?

Some sincere Christians believe in the gospel that Christ is coming to take away their sins. But this is a false gospel being preached to them. Christ is not coming to save any man in sin. He is not coming to take away our sins, rather he is coming to reward, those who have perfected their character, with immortality. This is only accomplished by the imputed and imparted righteousness of Christ to them.

When the general probation closes, Christ will cry with a loud voice in the Most Holy Place “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.  And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:11, 12

This text shows that, the Character of all will be fixed permanently before the second coming of Christ. Those who are wicked will stay that way, and those who are righteous will stay that way at a certain point in time.

A short time after this point, Jesus will come “quickly.”  We call this point the close of probation, because that ends the time when human beings can change loyalties from one side to the other.

The scripture point to us the time we are living in. “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor or the sea, nor on any tree.”  Revelation 7:1

We are in the period just before the final time of trouble breaks upon the earth.  God’s angels have been commissioned to hold back the winds of destruction for a specific purpose. 

This specific purpose is stated in the next few verses of the same chapter. Apostle John wrote:

“And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheadsAnd I heard the number of them which were sealed, and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.”  Revelation 7:2-4

God is waiting for a special people, a people whom He can seal as His very own.  When He has found and sealed this final generation, then the climactic end of this world’s history will rapidly follow.

The scripture describe these people as follows:

“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.”  Revelation 14:1 These people are called the 144000 who will be alive when Christ shall come in the clouds of Glory.

What then will be the spiritual experience of this people?

“And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.”  Revelation 14:5

What! They are without fault! This is impossible! Yes it sounds impossible. Isn’t it? But, brethren, I present to you not my word, but the word of God. This is the description of people who were ones sinners but whose sins have been blotted out by the blood of Christ while their probation lingers. God said it. And He will do it. Do you believe it? Yes I believe God can do it?

Jude wrote,

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” Jude 1:24, 25

If we might have any doubt about what “without fault” means, 1 Peter 1:19 and Hebrews 9:14 use this same phrase to refer to Jesus Christ.  There is simply no sin in their lives. They lived a sinless perfect Life taking Christ as their example.

“But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” 1 Peter 1:19

“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:14

WHAT THEN ARE THE PRACTICAL WAYS TO OVERCOME SIN AND SATAN DAILY?

This will be treated in part three of this topic.

CHARACTER PERFECTION: IS IT POSSIBLE? (PART ONE)


Everywhere there are hearts crying out for something which they have not. They long for a power that will give them mastery over sin, a power that will deliver them from the bondage of evil, a power that will give health and life and peace.[1]

Satan declared that it was impossible for the sons and daughters of Adam to keep the law of God, and thus charged upon God a lack of wisdom and love.  If they could not keep the law, then there was fault with the Lawgiver.[2]

Christ took humanity and bore the hatred of the world that He might show men and women that they could live without sin.[3]

PERFECTION can really be a very troublesome word and it actually is a troublesome word to some. What does it really mean?  What does it NOT mean? The major reason why we are perplexed about this topic is because we have not fully defined, from the Bible, what perfection actually is. We often assume what is with our finite, distorted mind. When we get the Bible picture from the Scripture, all fears and doubt will vanish and we will see the beautiful truth revealed to sanctify our souls.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE PERFECT?

Of all the books and articles that I have read in regard to perfection of Christian character and Righteousness by Faith, none has given a well explanatory description of this topic than Dr. Dennis Priebe[4], save the writings of Ellen G. White and the Scripture. Dr. Priebe gave a sound and Biblical based definition. Priebe pointed out four types of Perfection which include the following: ABSOLUTE PERFECTION, NATURE PERFECTION, CHARACTER SURRENDER and CHARACTER MATURITY. In this article we will take a look at these four definitions in this present article and their application in later article.

The first definition of perfection is ABSOLUTE PERFECTION.

“For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” Mal 3:6 (KJV)

“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” Num 23:19 (KJV)

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17 (KJV)

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Heb 13:8 (KJV)

And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” Heb 1:10-12 (KJV)

From the above quotations, we could clearly see that ABSOLUTE PERFECTION means the Godhead [Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit] can never err. They can never make a mistake based on faulty information. They are not limited to time and space because they created time. In Christ exit all knowledge and wisdom. The Godhead exist outside of time. As Priebe wrote, “absolute perfection is never possible for created beings—not for human beings and not for angels.” Ellen G. White also wrote, “Angelic perfection failed in heaven. Human perfection failed in Eden.”[5]

The second is NATURE PERFECTION.

In order to understand this aspect, we need understand creation. The question may be asked, “How was Man created?”

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Gen 1:27 (KJV)

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” Gen 1:31 (KJV)

“Man was to bear God’s image, both in outward resemblance and in character. Christ alone is “the express image” (Hebrews 1:3) of the Father; but man was formed in the likeness of God. His nature was in harmony with the will of God His mind was capable of comprehending divine things. His affections were pure; his appetites and passions were under the control of reason. He was holy and happy in bearing the image of God and in perfect obedience to His will.”[6]

What will happen to us at resurrection?

“So also is the resurrection of the dead.  It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption . . . . In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”  1 Corinthians 15:42, 52, 53 (KJV)

Thus nature perfection, which involves removal of temptation from within, will occur only at the second coming of Christ. We cannot experience nature perfection before then before the second coming. The only time man ever experienced nature perfection was at Eden before the fall and the only time man will experience it again is at the second coming of Christ.

Another one is CHARACTER SURRENDER.

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”  Matthew 22:37 (KJV)

At the moment of conversion, when we surrender our lives completely to Christ, we are counted perfect in Christ. The moment one surrenders his or her life to Christ, in penitence, he or she at that moment is justified and made righteous.

“Through the righteousness of Christ we shall stand before God pardoned, and as though we had never sinned.”[7] Even though we are just beginning our walk with Christ, He accepts our CHARACTER SURRENDER and we are counted perfect in Christ.  Another word for justification is “to be righteous.” When one is regarded righteous such person is perfect so long he remain in that state through the grace of Jesus Christ

The other definition is CHARACTER MATURITY.

The plan of God for us is explicitly stated by Apostle Paul when he writes to the Church of Ephesus:

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13 (KJV)

God expects us to grow to maturity. This is His will for all who profess to be Christians and who are waiting patiently to be translated or to be sealed with the seal of the living God on their foreheads.

For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Heb 5:13-14 (KJV)

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection [or Maturity]; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” Heb 6:1-2 (KJV)

While God is very gracious to give us time to learn and develop, and He counts us perfect during that time of development, He wants us to grow up to full maturity. He even says that we can grow to the stature of the fullness of Christ because Christ is the STANDARD

Priebe says, “CHARACTER MATURITY is simply the ripening of the harvest in the individual life.  We are becoming mature in Christ when we no longer choose to sin against God.”

WHAT CAN GOD ACCOMPLISH IN US?

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”  1 John 3:9 (KJV)

God’s plan is that we do not sin. The new birth makes it possible for us to stop sinning. That is why it is called the “New Birth.” It is not called the Old Birth. Paul wrote, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Cor 5:17 When old things are passed away, it means they are dead. When an old man dies, we often say, “he has passed away,” it is in this sense that we are to regard our old life or old man has been passed away (or dead) and we have become a new man because we are “in Christ” and “Christ is in us.”

The Process of Perfection of Character can be explained with this formula:

Christ in—sin out.

Sin in—Christ out.

We cannot have both Christ and sin reigning on the throne of the life at the same time. Christ will not accept a divided heart.  In a mature character, Christ is controlling totally and therefore we are not making rebellious choices. In a divided heart Satan is controlling totally.

In summary, what God REQUIRE from you and I is not absolute perfection because that is solely the character and nature of the Godhead. Neither is He expecting Nature perfection from us, for this is not attained in this part of life until the second coming when Christ makes all things perfect. Presently our nature is sinful and we are living in a sinful world.

God only expects us to surrender our heart and will to Him every moment of our lives that He may make us fully matured unto the stature of the fullness of Christ. This is Possible and it is a must for us to experience now. CHARACTER MATURITY is the STANDARD for all humanity to ATTAIN before they can receive the mark or seal of God. We must have it before Probation closes on us.

In Part 2 of the article, we will continue to see how we can daily gain the victory and live a perfect Christian life to the glory of God.

[1] E. G. White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 143.

[2] E. G. White, Signs of the Times, Jan. 16, 1896.

[3] E. G. White, The Upward Look, p. 303.

[4] For more information about Elder dennis Priebe visit his website; http://www.dennispriebe.com/new/

[5] E. G. White, Our High Calling, p. 45.

[6] E. G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, 45.

[7] E. G. White, SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, p.1142. 5.

BOND SERVANTS OR FREEMEN: WHICH ARE YOU?


The power of faith in bringing victory may be shown by [this] line of Scripture texts, which are exceedingly practical. In the first place, let it be understood that the sinner is a slave. Christ said, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” John 8:34. Paul also says, putting himself in the place of an unrenewed man, “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.” Rom. 7:14. A man who is sold is a slave; therefore, the man who is sold under sin is the slave of sin. Peter brings to view the same fact, when, speaking of corrupt, false teachers, he says, “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption, for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” 2 Peter 2:19.

The prominent characteristic of the slave is that he cannot do as he pleases, but is bound to perform the will of another, no matter how irksome it may be. Paul thus proves the truth of his saying that he, as a carnal man, was the slave of sin. “For that which I do I allow not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 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.” Rom. 7:15, 17-19.

The fact that sin controls proves that a man is a slave, and although everyone that committeth sin is the bond-servant of sin, the slavery becomes unendurable when the sinner has had a glimpse of freedom and longs for it, yet cannot break the chains which bind him to sin. The impossibility for the unrenewed man to do even the good that he would like to do has been shown already from Rom. 8:7, 8 and Gal. 5:17.

How many people have in their own experience proved the truth of these scriptures. How many have resolved and resolved again and yet their sincerest resolutions have proved in the face of temptation as weak as water. They had no might, and they did not know what to do, and, unfortunately, their eyes were not upon God so much as upon themselves and the enemy. Their experience was one of constant struggle against sin, it is true, but of constant defeat as well.

Call you this a true Christian experience? There are some who imagine that it is. Why, then, did the apostle, in the anguish of his soul, cry out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Rom. 7:24. Is a true Christian experiencing a body of death so terrible that the soul is constrained to cry for deliverance? Nay, verily.

Again, who is it that, in answer to this earnest appeal, reveals himself as a deliverer? Says the apostle, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In another place he says of Christ:

“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their life-time subject to bondage. Heb. 2:14, 15

Again, Christ thus proclaims His own mission:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” Isa. 61:1.

What this bondage and captivity are has already been shown. It is the bondage of sin–the slavery of being compelled to sin, even against the will, by the power of inherited and acquired evil propensities and habits. Does Christ deliver from a true Christian experience? No, indeed. Then the bondage of sin, of which the apostle complains in the seventh of Romans, is not the experience of a child of God, but of the servant of sin. It is to deliver men from this captivity that Christ came, not to deliver us, during this life, from warfare and struggles, but from defeat; to enable us to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, so that we could give thanks unto the Father “who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son,” through whose blood we have redemption.

How is this deliverance effected? By the Son of God. Says Christ, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:31, 32, 36. This freedom comes to everyone that believeth, for to them that believe on His name, He gives the “power to become the sons of God.” The freedom from condemnation comes to them who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1), and we put on Christ by faith (Gal. 3:26, 27). It is by faith that Christ dwells in our hearts.

The above article was taken from the book, “Christ and His Righteousness” by Waggoner, Ellet Joseph (1855-1916), CHAPTER 12 originally titled “Bond servants and freemen.” He was a Physician, minister, teacher, editor, and writer. He wrote on the theme of righteousness by faith in relation to the law.

This was slightly edited for suitable reading by the admin.

WHAT IS MAN?


David, the Psalmist, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit over 3000 years ago asked the most perplexing question facing man today. “What is man,” he asked, “that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” Psalms 8:4. The most amazing and mysterious creature that came forth from the hand of the Creator was Man. The Holy Scripture reveal the truth  on how man was created in the image of God and after His own likeness and how He gave unto him “dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” Gen 1:26. God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life which resulted into him becoming a living soul. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Gen 2:7. “Adam came from the Creator’s hand, he bore, in his physical, mental, and spiritual nature, a likeness to his Maker.”[i] Adam and Eve were “fearfully and wonderfully made” Psalms 139:14.

A Perfect Man

At creation God did not speak into existence His crowing creation like every other creation, but He took off His royal robe and diadem, stoop so low and allowed His hand of kindness to get dirty by molding Adam from the dust of the earth. God shaped his eyes, leg, intestine, heart, brain, hands, and every of his other delicate parts. But to this new creation, life was not yet given to him. Adam was lifeless. He could not move, talk, see, feel, or possess the ability to relate with his environment and his Creator. God looked upon His handiwork with love, stooped over him and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and immediately he became a living soul. These combination of Dust and Breath of Life made man a Living Soul. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Gen 2:7. Adam and Eve were Perfect, sinless, holy beings that came forth from the hand of the creator. They were beautiful beyond description.

Before the fall of man, the tripartite nature of man, Spirit, Soul and Body were in harmony with each other. They were not in conflict as they now are. Man’s spirit was the highest part of his entire being to which soul and body were to be subject. It was through man’s spirit that man was to receive and commune with his creator; for the spirit was originally made to be the highest part of man’s entire being. Christ explained this truth to the Samaritan woman at the well when he spoke to her about worship. He said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24. Man was to worship God through his spirit. Paul also shed light on this truth when he wrote to the church in Rome, “For God is my witness,” he wrote, “ whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son.” Romans 1:9. The spirit of man was to touch the spiritual world of God. For the Spirit of God was to communicate to man through his spirit. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” Romans 8:16. The Spirit of God must bear witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. The soul is the seat of Man’s consciousness. It is the self-consciousness. The will of man, his judgment, his decision, his appetite, his emotion, his intellect, his mind, his passion, and self makes him a living soul and all these reside in the soul. The soul is the personality of man. The soul is what makes man who he is. It communicate with the self-conscious world. The body of man was to receive and interact with the physical world. The body serve as the puppet or the non-corporal element of man. Through the flesh or body man may carry out righteous deeds or evil deeds. The body (flesh) gives man the world consciousness.  Paul’s sequence of spirit, soul, body in 1 Thess. 5:23 was not a coincidence, he wrote, “the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When the spirit is sanctified by the sanctifying power of Holy Spirit and the Word of God, the mind, will, passion, desire, emotion, feelings, which are part of the soul, will be under the controlling power of the Holy Spirit. Consequently the soul will enable man to make his body an instrument of righteousness. We understand from the Bible that human being is an indivisible unit. Deficiency in one part will cause harm to the other two. Therefore, there exist a great sympathetic relationship among these three faculties of man.

Thus, what we eat, see, feel, smell have direct link to our spiritual life. At the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were created perfect and holy. The spirit was in constant communion with the Spirit of God. His mind, affection, love, intentions were pure and holy. While his body was in constant obedience to the dictate of the spirit. Adam and Eve “bore in outward resemblance the likeness of their Maker. Nor was this likeness manifest in the physical nature only. Every faculty of mind and soul reflected the Creator’s glory. Endowed with high mental and spiritual gifts. . .”[ii]

“Adam was a noble being, with a powerful mind, a will in harmony with the will of God, and affections that centered upon heaven. He possessed a body heir to no disease, and a soul bearing the impress of Deity.”[iii]

Man was “bearing the impress of Deity” and “every faculty of mind and soul reflected the Creator’s glory.” O, what a perfect being coming forth from the Makers hand! Full of beauty and glory. The spirit of man was in perfect communion with the Spirit of God. It was not in enmity with the Law of God. Man’s will was perfectly subjected to the will of God due to a constant communion with God’s Spirit. His passion, judgment, appetite, self, knew no sin. The flesh or body was for the glory of God. The deeds of his body were not unto death but unto life. The flesh was controlled by the spirit because it was in connection with the Spirit of God. Adam was in perfect obedience to the immutable Law of God. He remains’ “the son of God” so long as he was continually “led by the Spirit of God.” Luke 3:38; Rom. 8:14.

Free To Decide

At creation, God gave man the free will to decide. This free will resides in man’s soul. Adam was not created to be a robot or a puppet that can be controlled against his own will by the Creator. A perfect God gave man the perfect freedom to either obey Him or disobey Him. The “LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Gen 2:16-17. This was a commandment of choice. Man was commanded to either choose life or death. Man’s obedience to God was to be a voluntary one.

“God might have created man without the power to transgress His law. . . .  but in that case man would have been, not a free moral agent, but a mere automation. Without freedom of choice, his obedience would not have been voluntary, but forced. There could have been no development of character. . . . It would have been unworthy of man as an intelligent being, and would have sustained Satan’s charge of God’s arbitrary rule.”[iv]

The freedom of choice given to man was to enable him to develop a Christ-like character when the choices made are positive and heavenward. From Ellen White’s comment and the Bible, we understand that man’s free will, though given, made him highly different from other creatures. Adam was left with the choice to eat of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” or not to eat, to rebel or not to rebel against God’s Divine commandment. Jehovah is God of Love. He can never compel us to do anything against our will. Neither Him nor the devil could control our will without our consent. Ellen White has the following to say; “The tempter can never compel us to do evil. He cannot control minds unless they are yielded to his control. The will must consent, faith must let go its hold upon Christ, before Satan can exercise his power upon us.”[v]  “God does not control our minds without our consent; but if we desire to know and to do His will, His promises are ours. . . Through faith in these promises, every man may be delivered from the snares of error and the control of sin.”[vi]

[i]Ellen G. White, The Faith I Live By, p. 29.

[ii]Ellen G. White, Education, p. 20.

[iii] Ellen G. White, The Youth’s Instructor, March 5, 1903.

[iv] Ellen G. White, Conflict and Courage, P. 13

[v] Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 125.

[vi] Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 258.

 

Article was written by ODUNUGA OLUSEYI EMMANUEL

TWO FASHION DESIGNERS: WHO WILL YOU CHOOSE?


Let me start by asking you this question: “Who was the first worldly fashion designer?” Am very sure many will flop this question. You need not look up the internet for an answer because the answer is given in the Bible. I will not tell you who I think it is but we will allow the Bible to speak for itself. Remember, the Bible is the Revelation of God to mankind, for “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2Timothy 3:16-17. We were also instructed by our Lord Jesus Christ to “search the scriptures” to have eternal life. John 5:39. Therefore, we will search the scriptures to know what God require of us in regard to Fashion, most especially “how to Dress like Christ.” In some cases I will be asking us some questions. I will, as much as possible, use the Bible and quotations from books, commentaries and articles to answer these questions.

In the beginning

God, in the beginning, “created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” Genesis 1:27. The Bible is so clear regarding the distinctiveness of Adam and Eve. God made a distinct sex of Male and Female. Not male and male or female and female as homosexuals regard it to be. Not Adam and Steve, but Adam and Eve. These newly created beings were created in the image of God. They “were both naked . . . and were not ashamed” Genesis 2:25. Why were they naked and not ashamed? When Moses, who wrote the Creation account, was writing under the power of the Holy Spirit, he saw Adam and Eve being naked, naked in the sense that, they wore no artificial garments (or cloths) as we presently wear. It is imperative to note at this junction that the word “naked” means “not covered; bare; having no clothes on; as a naked body or a naked limb.”[1] This means that Adam and Eve were without artificial cloths. Though they were without artificial garments, they were covered with the same covering that God wore because we were previously told that they were made in God’s image and likeness. The scripture gave us some hints on what this covering might have looked like. The Psalmist said, “Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain” Psalms 104:1-2. Note, God is clothed with “honour and majesty” and he covers Himself with “light as with a garment.” Therefore, if God is clothed with honour, majesty, and light, it follows that the newly created beings were also covered with lights and glory and not with the artificial garments as we have today. The garments of Adam and Eve were just like those of the Angels. Adam and Eve were sinless, perfect, and beautiful. They had a nature that is different from ours, a nature that is regarded to be unfallen. God needed no artificial garments and make-ups to perfect their beauty. As Ellen G. White rightly puts it;

“Man was to bear God’s image, both in outward resemblance and in character. Christ alone is “the express image” (Hebrews 1:3) of the Father; but man was formed in the likeness of God . . . His countenance bore the ruddy tint of health and glowed with the light of life and joy. Adam’s height was much greater than that of men who now inhabit the earth. Eve was somewhat less in stature; yet her form was noble, and full of beauty. The sinless pair wore no artificial garments; they were clothed with a covering of light and glory, such as the angels wear. So long as they lived in obedience to God, this robe of light continued to enshroud them.”[2]

If an earthly parent have been given the responsibility of clothing a newly born child or the responsibility of clothing a grown up child, just the same way he clothe himself, don’t you think God, being our heavenly Parent, also have the responsibility of clothing Adam and Eve with the same garment with which He is clothed as revealed in Psalm 104:1-2? Nature should be able to teach us some things about God. “For the invisible things of him [God] from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” Romans 1:20 (emphasis supplied).

Eyes opened to evil

But something happened in Eden that altered God’s order. If we are to re-read the last sentence of the quotation above we will get a glimpse of what caused the alteration. It says “so long as they lived in obedience to God, this robe of light continued to enshroud them.” Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s explicit Law. God had commanded them earlier not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil and the day they eat of it, they will surely die (Genesis 2:17). The holy pair disregarded the commandment of God and allowed the serpent, Satan, to deceive them. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” Genesis 3:6. For the Bible said the moment Adam and Eve transgressed the Law of God, “the eyes of them both were opened.” Vs. 7. Opened to what? Their eyes were opened to evil.

“After his transgression Adam at first imagined himself entering upon a higher state of existence. But soon the thought of his sin filled him with terror. The air, which had hitherto been of a mild and uniform temperature, seemed to chill the guilty pair. The love and peace which had been theirs was gone, and in its place they felt a sense of sin, a dread of the future, a nakedness of soul. The robe of light which had enshrouded them, now disappeared, and to supply its place they endeavored to fashion for themselves a covering; for they could not, while unclothed, meet the eye of God and holy angels.”[3]

The air that was once “mild and uniform in temperature” now became “chill.” Sin altered everything that God created. Sin took away the robe of light and opened their eyes to nakedness. Sin (or Satan) and nakedness are always intertwine. Satan wants us to be both physically naked and spiritually naked before God. Ellen White said, “they felt a sense of sin . . . a nakedness of soul.” This is exactly Satan’s first agenda, to make bare the soul, to undress it and place us in the state of shame. This first step will lead us to the undressing of the body making us physically naked. Adam felt shame not only for the sin committed, but also because he was physically naked and with his body not being properly clothed. For this reason he hid from God his maker and from holy angels.

The Fashion Designer

When man transgressed God’s Law his mind became the mind of sin. The mind of God that was previously in him had known nothing like nakedness or shame. But when sin came in, his mind became polluted and he could not reason rightly but contrary to the will of God. When Satan saw that he has successfully deceived our first parents, he worked on their mind to invent his own kind of fashion, which I call “Satan’s fashion”. Adam and Eve became the first worldly fashion designer in the history of Humanity under the auspices of their new master, Satan. “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” Genesis 3:7. They sewed for themselves fig leaves to make an apron without the consent of their Maker. Satan influenced Adam to make a covering that will partially cover his nakedness. Satan’s fashion, which is now known as, worldly fashion, does not promote modesty, simplicity, spirituality and health, rather it promotes sex, fornication, licentiousness, adultery, nudity and every works of the flesh.

Sin altered God’s original plans for Adam and Eve. Sin can alter God’s plan for our life. Sin separates us from God and makes us naked before Him. Isaiah wrote, “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” Isaiah 59:1-2. Even though Adam was the one who sewed the fig leaves to cover his nakedness and that of Eve, the man behind the scene was Satan. In the world today, many people fail to ask: “Who are those designing or making the clothes worn by the worldlings?” Many, I don’t mean all, of the designers, that designs the clothes that are worn by those in the entertainment industries are being influenced by Satan. Even in the church of God, amidst the professing followers of Christ, especially them that call themselves the remnant of God, this worldly seductive cloths are worn freely without the shepherds blowing the trumpet of clear warning to save souls from destruction. We need to carefully choose those who makes or design our clothes through the help of God. And we must never pattern our fashion with that of the world. God expect us, who are called by His name, to be as distinct as possible in a world where fashion is now regarded as god.

Apron or Coats

What did Adam and Eve sewed for their coverings?  The Bible says “they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” Genesis 3:7. Hmm! It is very interesting to note that the word translated as apron in Hebrew is called “chagowr” which literally means “a belt for the waist.” That is serious! As intelligent as Adam and Eve, what they could come up with, as their best clothing invention, was a form of covering that only covered their private parts. This reveals to us that sin has a great power to blur ones intelligence. When we trifle with it, we are held by its cord. You will bear me witness that sin is very dangerous to play with. Solomon explains it better when he wrote about what will happen to the wicked, that “his own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be held with the cords of his sins.” Proverbs 5:22. When you go near the door step of sin, depending on our feeble strength to save us, be assured that you shall be held with the cords of sin. The mind of sin (or Satan) cannot invent anything good, for it is in enmity with God. We don’t even need a dictionary to define for us what apron is or how apron look like. We know that an apron has the following characteristics on anyone who wears it: the back is open, the chest is exposing, the length is very short, it is usually above the knee, and the limbs are exposed.  These are contrary to God’s order. These characteristics of a cloth, when worn especially by a woman, be it a believer or unbeliever, will certainly ignite and incite the debase passion dwelling in man’s sinful nature. This is the type of cloth you see children, youths and adult wear, not as underwear’s, but as the outer garment to expose their nakedness if not fully, but partially. Just go to any store around you, where clothes are being sold, and compare it with what an apron is characterized to be, you will be surprise that many are contrary to the clothes God expect us to wear. Many of these clothes worn by ladies and guys publicly are in apron forms. This clothes worn exposes their back, chest, arms, legs and other sensitive parts of their body. These are immodest and unhealthful to begin with. We need to search the Bible to know how God’s people dresses and how God expects us also, in this last day, where sexual sin is on the rise.

“Satan invented the fashions which leave the limbs exposed . . .Those parents who follow fashion instead of reason will have an account to render to God for thus robbing their children of health. Even life itself is frequently sacrificed to the god of fashion.”[4]

God, the best fashion Designer, came in to correct the order. He was not comfortable with their form of clothing. He saw that there was “deformity” in Adam’s clothing and because of this He introduced the first “Dress Reform” known to humanity. Where ever there is deliverance from the power and dominion of sin, there is always a reform in habit and lifestyle that must follow. Revival leads to Reformation and not Reformation leading to Revival. If there is no reformation when you have been spiritually revived your revival was not genuine. This is one way one can know if he or she is genuinely converted. God was teaching Adam salvation process in the Garden of Eden.  Where ever God is, there is order because He is a God of order. “For God is not the author of confusion” but of order. 1 Corinthians 14:33. He killed a lamb, which Biblically, symbolizes Jesus Christ dying for the remission of our sins and that we may receive forgiveness. The Bible said Jesus Christ was the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. And this Lamb was the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:8. What a Marvelous Grace! God gave man another opportunity to life. An opportunity for him to perfect his character through faith in the Son of God if he was to regain the robe of light that was lost.

“This is what the transgressors of God’s law have done ever since the day of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. They have sewed together fig leaves to cover the nakedness caused by transgression. They have worn the garments of their own devising, by works of their own they have tried to cover their sins, and make themselves acceptable with God.

But this they can never do. Nothing can man devise to supply the place of his lost robe of innocence. No fig-leaf garment, no worldly citizen dress, can be worn by those who sit down with Christ and angels at the marriage supper of the Lamb.”[5]

But for what other purpose, apart for the Salvation purpose, did God kill this lamb? “The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field.” Proverbs 27:26. Therefore the lamb that was killed was to clothe Adam and Eve. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21.  It is imperative to note that the root word for coats is “to cover” in the Hebrew. The Hebrew word for “coats” in the strong’s concordance is “kuttoneth” meaning “garment, robe, shirt or a coat.” These are words that signify that the clothes that God designed to cover our first parent’s nakedness did not expose much of their legs, back, arms, chest or any other sensitive parts of their body. Why did I say so? Just check up the word coat in a dictionary and you will see that it often indicate a proper covering of the body, even though in modern times, the word coat is often applied to men’s attire, but that is not the case with God in the text we just read. The Bible said God made coats of skin for Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness and I believe the coat here in principle means a covering that covers both the male and female properly without exposing any sensitive part of their body. If the coat invented by God was not unique and modest, why would He regard Adam’s Apron as immodest?

From the beginning of time, we can clearly see that Satan has his own fashion, pattern and style of Clothe and God also has His own fashion, pattern and style of Clothe. One is regarded as the work of the flesh, while the other is regarded as the work of the Spirit of God. One promotes nudity, sex, licentiousness, fornication, adultery, pride, murder and finally leading to eternal damnation. The other promotes simplicity, modesty, spirituality, health, righteousness and finally leading to eternal life. Which one will you go for? God’s fashion or Satan’s fashion? I plead that you go for God’s fashion. “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” Joshua 24:15.  Do not serve the god of the fashion of this world which will lead to damnation. Choose and serve the God of the fashion of heaven and you will be counted among those who will be given the garments of light that Adam and Eve lost in their innocence, if you remain faithful unto the end.

[1] Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary

[2] Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 45.

[3] Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 57.

[4] Ellen G. White (1954), Child Guidance, p.427

[5] Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p.311.

 

This article was written by Odunuga Oluseyi Emmanuel. It was taken from the first chapter of his unfinished book titled “DRESS LIKE JESUS” 

Comment and contribution are welcome to perfect this first chapter for future publication.