PERFECTING HOLINESS


Recently I have been thinking about some mind blowing text in the Bible which talks about victory over sin and I have been asking myself, “how attainable is character perfection in this present world?”

It is clearly taught in the Bible that all who will be translated from among men at Christ’s second coming must be found without spot, faultless and blameless. (1 Thessalonians 5:23, Revelation 14:1-5). To be among these special group of people, we must now send our sins before hand into the sanctuary that Christ may blot or purge all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to sin from the soul temple and also retain our names in the book of life. We have already entered into the time of the judgment since 1844 October 22; the time when all sins are to be removed from the soul temple as Christ simultaneously cleanses the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary.

If our sins are not sent into judgement for blotting, none can receive the seal of the living God in their forehead in the time of the refreshing of the latter rain. For we were told in Acts 3:19 to repent and be converted that the blotting out of sin can take place in the time of refreshing which will be bestowed from the presence of the Lord.

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” Acts 3:19.

The final atonement is both heavenly work and earthly work; christ work and man work. As christ cleanses the most holy place from all sins that is transfered into it, we also must simultaneously cleanse our hearts and mind from all sins which have been accumulated by traditions, customs and habits through the help of the Holy Spirit.

We all must, through the power of the former rain given by the Holy Spirit, overcome daily all our cultivated and inherited tendencies to sin which resides in their hearts.

Christ will not translate any of us if our hearts are full of sinfulness or any bent to do evil. No one will be in heaven with a bent or tendencies to do evil because all who will enter heaven must have attained the same sinlessness that Jesus had; they must be holy within and without. Therefore all must strive to overcome every selfishness, evil tendencies, cultivated habits and wicked ways. This is not a joking matter; it is a life and death issue. Christ will not accept 99.9% victory because 0.01% is putting heaven at risk.  The Lord has promised to “make an utter end” of all afflication, adversity, trouble, sin and they “shall not rise up the second time.” Nahum 1:9.

Therefore, we all are to strive to enter heaven, looking unto Jesus our forerunner as our example. To strive is to go against what the flesh desire and do the works of the Spirit. Jesus have given us no assurance that we will attain to this state of perfection in a smooth ride but he has given us 100% assurance that whosoever take hold of His strength of victory shall find peace during this race to perfection. (Isaiah 27:5).

But Christ has given us no assurance that to attain perfection of character is an easy matter. noble, all-round character is not inherited. It does not come to us by accident. A noble character is earned by individual effort through the merits and grace of Christ. God gives the talents, the powers of the mind; we form the character. It is formed by hard, stern battles with self. Conflict after conflict must be waged against hereditary tendencies. We shall have to criticize ourselves closely, and allow not one unfavorable trait to remain uncorrected.“– Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 331, par. 1.

As i have previously noted, according to the quote, to attain a perfect character is through “individual effort” and “through the merits and grace of Christ.” Man must cooperate with heavenly agencies as he wage “conflict after conflict” against the sinful hereditary tendencies. All must seriously and sincerely criticize themselves closely and allow not one blemish, stain, wrong habit, wrong feelings, sinful thoughts, guile remain uncorrected. This must be done daily, hourly and every minutes.

They must heed to the words of Paul: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2 Corinthians 13:5) Many christians are waiting for a miracle in their lives that will remove the filthiness in their soul. This, I say, will never happen. It is a false expectation that will never come to fulfillment.

It is true that there is no merit in our work. Nothing that we do earn us righteousness, for “by grace are ye saved through faith.” Ephesians 2:8. But yet the Bible is abundantly clear that we are judged and receive our rewards on the basis of our works. “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Matthew 16:27 (see Revelation 22:12, 1 Peter 1:17, Romans 2:6). Our works, deeds, effort, actions does not atone for our sins, but our cooperation with God is needed in attaining perfection of character. We must demonstrate to the fallen world and to the devil that we have Christ abiding in us and through Christ we can workout our salvation with fear and trembling.

Faith in christ is acting upon God’s word and living by every word that proceed out of the mouth of God. Faith is not idleness or inaction. Faith is action. Faith works by love and love is the fulfilling [keeping] of the Law. (Galatians 5:6; Romans 13:10). I often give this analogy to explain what faith is:

If you are in a lecture hall full of students and some group of police officers ran into the hall informing all to go out of the hall as a result of a time bomb which had been planted in the lecture hall by a terrorist and the time bomb could be seen by all in the lecture hall. Let me ask: “Will you remain sitted in the hall despite believing that a bomb was actually planted in the hall and the police officers are round to detonate the bomb, or will you run out of the hall despite believing that a bomb was actually planted?” Am sure a sensible person will flee from the hall as quick as possible despite believing that the bomb is about to be detonated by the police officers.

WHAT IS HOLINESS?

Faith is acting out what God has revealed to us in his Word and Testimonies. This faith is what lead us to a state of holy lifestyle. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14). This is not an option. This is a command without which we cannot see God.

“Holiness is agreement with God”– Testimonies vol. 5, p. 743.

“Holiness is not rapture; it is the result of surrendering all to God; it is doing the will of our heavenly Father.”– Thoughts from the mount of blessing, p. 149.

Holiness is wholeness for God; it is the entire surrender of heart and life to the indwelling of the principles of heaven.”– Desire of Ages, p. 555.

HOW DO WE PERFECT HOLINESS?

“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1

This text is powerful. It has come to be one of my favorite text on victory over sin. Paul gave a simple ways to perfect holiness. After one have been justified by grace through faith (imputed holiness), he or she had just begone the race of holiness, he or she now must live the life of Christ, he must take the following steps to enjoy the sanctified life (imparted holiness):

1. Having the promise of God: We must have the promises of God stored in the heart and not just a head knowledge. All must have a daily settling into the truth of the word of God intellectually and spiritually that they may not be moved to sin. This promises are gotten from the word of God. They are divine. They are powerful and sharper than any two edged swords (Hebrews 4:12). These promises are the words of God by which all must live on. We must have these promises stored in the heart that we might not sin against God. Said the Psalmist,  “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Psalm 119:11. This was Christ’s method in overcoming. Since the word is from God and not from man, we can rightfully say this is God’s helping hand to make us holy unto perfection. It is the word that sanctifies the soul and sanctification is holiness (1 Peter 1:22,23).

2. Cleanse yourself: The next step is the role that you and I are to play. The text we are considering above says, “Let us cleanse ourselves,” it didn’t say, sit back and watch Christ cleanse you. Rather the emphasis is on us cleansing ourselves. Some one may say, “You are working out your salvation without the help of Christ. This is legalism.” This is not so! Faith, has we have explained previously, is action: acting out the word of God. James also gave a similar counsel: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” James 4:8. Again we see a similar instruction to cleanse our hands and purify our hearts.

Does this mean we have a cleansing agent of our own to make this possible? Definitely not. What do Paul and James mean by us cleansing and purifying ourselves? David gave the answer. David asked the same question and the Holy Spirit gave him the answer: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.” Psalms 119:9.

According to Strong’s Definition, “to take heed” in hebrew is “שׁמר” or “shâmar” which literally means any of the following “to hedge about (as with thorns), that is, guard ; generally to protect, attend to, etc.: – beware, be circumspect, take heed (to self), keep (-er, self), mark, look narrowly, observe, preserve, regard, reserve, save (self), sure, (that lay) wait (for), watch (-man).” That means if any one seek to have his life cleanse in this world he or she must build an hedge round about his heart with the word of God by observing and keeping all that the word says. Also he must hedge out anything that will defile his heart such as impure pictures, songs, words, etc. Jesus will not do this for us. In fact his blood that cleanses from sin will not benefit us if we do not accept it by faith.

3. Filthiness of the flesh and spirit: What are we to cleanse ourselves of? We are to cleanse ourselves from the filthiness of  the flesh and of the spirit. What filthiness? Outward filthiness (in the flesh) and inward filthiness (in the spirit or heart). Man is made up of flesh and spirit. God wants us to be purified not only inwardly, but also outwardly. Must of us know the inward cleansing. This is purifying our hearts from evil thoughts, wicked thoughts and sinful hereditary tendencies. This inward cleansing is both the work of Christ and man. The cleansing agents are the blood, the word and the Holy Spirit. These three will not benefit us if we do not cooperate with Christ.

The area must often neglected is the cleansing of the flesh (the outward part). The flesh is the body and the body has been bought with a the blood of jesus.

“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:18-20

One way the body or flesh can be defile or made filthy is through sexual sin such as fornication, adultery, masturbation and having lustful desires by watching pornography movies or sexual content movies.

What we eat could also defile our body and make it filthy. Daniel understand this principle. “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8. Defilement of the flesh is connected to diet. This aspect is broad which I might create a time to write upon.

To attain perfection unto holiness we must have a clean heart and flesh. The clean flesh is not the same as holy flesh or immortal flesh but a flesh undefiled of sinful habits or unclean food. Let us walk in the spirit and make no provision for the lust of the flesh.

A GREAT MYSTERY


One of the greatest mystery that has stunned me recently is how millions of we Christians Love Jesus and want to associate with his personality. We all admire His goods works. We are amazed at His sinless life that He lived. We even brag about it to unbelievers. But I stop to ponder and ask myself:

“What exactly do I really admire about this Jesus?”

“Do I also want to live that sinless perfect life that He lived?”

This is certainly a great mystery!

Millions of we Christians are like those seven foolish women spoken of in Isaiah 4:1:

“And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.”  Isa 4:1

That One man is Jesus. We want to be called Christians by those around us but at the same time we want eat our own bread (false teachings) and wear our own apparel (self of righteousness). We want Jesus to take our reproach but we don’t want to have His righteous sinless life.

Someone once wrote:

“Jesus is worshiped and praised by masses of people, yet the idea of living a perfect, sinless life like He lived is considered dangerous, leading to pride, burdensome, and to be shunned!”

It was written about us thousands of years back by Prophet Isaiah under inspiration:

“. . . this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me [claiming to love My righteousness], but have removed their heart far from me [by their evil, imperfect thoughts and lives], and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men[false teachings that justify sinning until Christ second coming]” Isa 29:13.

Paul, the great preacher of righteousness wrote:

“But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.”  Gal 2:17

Christ cannot be a minister of Sin. While we seek to be Justified, Forgiven, cleansed, delivered, revived, and made perfect and we still love and cherish sin in our heart; not hating it has Christ hated it, then we are making Christ a minister of Sin. It is high time for us to make a decision today to live the life of Christ. He is ready to give us this new life to reflect to the whole world.

Doesn’t it sound simple and easy? Yes it does. That’s the Mystery of Godliness.

 

 

 

LORD, THE STANDARD IS TOO HIGH!


Among the subjects frequently discussed by our people is the question of standards, relating to the true ideals of Christian character, conduct, dress, recreation, eating and drinking, et cetera.

In these discussions we have observed quite a diversity of opinion regarding proper and necessary standards in all these matters. Sometimes we hear the remark that a certain worker’s standards are too high, and that they cause people to be discouraged. Again, we hear of another worker whose standards are too low, bringing reproach upon the cause. We cannot deny that this is a vital matter, and worthy of careful consideration.

The question of first importance is this:

Do we have any definite criterion by which we may determine just what are the right standards for true Christians?

To this we may give the positive answer that God has set His own standards of Christian charac­ter and deportment, and He expects His children to decide these matters on the authority of His Word.

Some may suppose that locality and cir­cumstances enter into the picture, and that a standard that would be acceptable to God in Africa, or China, might not be ac­ceptable in America. While this might be true of some particular style of dress, or form of recreation, we should realize that Christian standards are determined by Christian principles, which do not vary, but are the same in all the world.

It is important to have clear convictions of what is right, and to refuse to be in­fluenced by the personal opinions of others, for our safety lies in seeking earnestly and humbly to learn the principles God has given us, and in adhering to them at any cost.

Christ’s Standard for Us

In His wonderful Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave the command:

Matthew 5
48 Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Has any­one standing as a representative of Christ the right to set before men a lower standard than He did? His messenger to His people in these last days has stated:

The Desire of Ages, p. 311

“God’s ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought can reach.”

From the Saviour’s own words we can­not conclude that His standard for us is anything less than perfection of character. Yet when someone presents the plain teaching of the Bible regarding a life of victory over sin, some will come with the plea,

“Your standard is too high; it dis­courages the people. We all sin every day. We overcome some sins, but others keep coming up and probably always will as long as we are in this poor, weak humanity.”

When we quote the precious assurance,

“Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins,”

they say,

“Oh, yes, He always forgives our sins when we repent and confess them.”

But if that is our understanding of being saved from our sins, we have no assurance that we shall ever stop sinning. If we keep on sinning, and the Lord continues to forgive, and finally takes us to heaven without any change in our character, we are really saved in our sins, not from our sins.

Would it not seem that one who claims to believe the Word of God, and to be a sincere Christian, yet who keeps right on sinning every day, is really witnessing against Christ? Jesus says,

“Give yourself to Me, and I will save you from your sins.”

This man says,

“I have given myself fully to Him, but I keep right on sinning.”

Others say,

“I have gained the victory over some of my worst sins, but of course I still have some little sins. I am trying to overcome them, and believe that with His help I shall get the victory—sometime.”

Strange it would be if the God of heaven could give us victory over the big sins, but could not save us from the little ones!

I believe that many who are having this sad experience would have a wonderful transformation of life if the teaching of God’s Word regarding deliverance from the dominion of sin were made plain to them. Let us read a statement the Lord has sent us, and pray for the Holy Spirit to make clear to us God’s plan for complete victory over sin.

The Desire of Ages, p. 311

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This command is a promise. The plan of redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan. Christ always separates the contrite soul from sin. He came to destroy the works of the devil, and He has made provision that the Holy Spirit shall be imparted to every repentant soul, to keep him from sinning. There is no excuse for sinning. A holy temper, a Christlike life, is accessible to every repenting, be­lieving child of God. The ideal of Christian charac­ter is Christlikeness. As the Son of man was perfect in His life, so His followers are to be perfect in their life.”

God’s Plan for Us

According to this statement, the words of Jesus, “Be ye therefore perfect,” are a com­mand. Does any worker for God have a right to set before His people a standard that is not in harmony with the command of Christ? Let us thank the Lord that the command is a promise. Would it not be utterly inconsistent to read the command of Jesus, and then say to Him, “Lord, that is impossible; surely You know that I can­not be perfect”? How important it is for each one of us to study His Word and to learn just how the promise enables us to obey the command.

We are familiar with the words of Jesus spoken to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, and we think that we understand them.

John 3
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Many are baptized and unite with the church, and seem quite satisfied, though they lack the evidence that they are born again. Herein lies a seri­ous danger.

Many years after Jesus spoke these words to Nicodemus, John, the beloved disciple, was inspired to write,

1 John 5
18 We know that who­soever is born of God sins not.

This is one of those triumphant certainties that the loyal apostle of Jesus declares so enthusiastically again and again.

1 John 3
6 Whosoever abides in him sins not.

1 John 3
9 Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin.

We all know that no one stops sinning who is not born of God. But why do so many who claim to be born of God keep right on sinning, yet do not seem to be much con­cerned about it?

It seems to us that the answer is simply that they do not understand what is in­volved in being born again. Nicodemus did not understand Christ’s statement, and he asked for an explanation. He questioned the possibility of a man’s returning to his parents and being born again. Certainly a second birth of the same parents would not change the situation at all. Jesus said,

John 3
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Every human being born in this world since Adam and Eve disobeyed God, has been born of the flesh, inheriting the fallen, sinful, impure, degenerate nature of his parents. Our nature controls our lives; it is the source of all our thoughts and ac­tions, and determines our character. From this inherited nature springs every sin we commit. As the psalmist says,

Psalm 51
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Since our nature controls our life, no human being can stop sinning while controlled by a fallen, sinful nature; and no one can change his nature by an effort on his part.

We hear people say that they do not drink, or smoke, or steal, and that they en­deavor to treat others as they would like to be treated, and so they feel confident that they will get to heaven. Doubtless such reasoning is very pleasing to Satan. Such people do not realize they have a nature that God could never admit into heaven.

Look at Your Nature

Jeremiah 17
9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Mark 7
21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornica­tions, murders,
22 Thefts, covetousness, wick­edness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness;
23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Every child born of human parents has this kind of heart, and therefore cannot of himself live a sinless life. This is why we must be born again. We cannot be children of God until we are born of God.

John 1
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

When born physically of human parents, we inherit the fallen, sinful, unholy human nature of Adam after he sinned. When born again, we are born of God spiritually, and we inherit the pure, holy, divine nature of God.

2 Peter 1 [Weymouth]
4 It is by means of these that He has granted us His precious and wondrous promises, in order that through them you may, one and all, become sharers in the very nature of God, having completely escaped the cor­ruption which exists in the world through earthly cravings.

It is not difficult to understand that when one is released from the control of the fallen, sinful, corrupt human nature, and surrenders to the control of the pure, holy, upright, divine nature, a great change will take place in the life. Here it is graphically described:

2 Corinthians 5
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

How unfortunate it is, how really tragic, for one to believe the doctrines of God’s Word, be baptized, and be taken into mem­bership of the church without being born again. Because of this sad experience many church members are not witnessing by their lives that Jesus saves “his people from their sins,” and their example and influence are a stumbling block to others. It is quite evi­dent that “old things” are not “passed away,” and “all things” have not “become new.” Someone may say,

“The experience you speak of is just what I long for, but I fear my case is hopeless.”

Do not forget that the command to be perfect is a promise. Let us cooperate with our Saviour.

The messenger of the Lord has told us that

The Desire of Ages, p. 173

“…the blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God.”

The Desire of Ages, p. 176

“The light shining from the cross reveals the love of God. His love is drawing us to Himself. If we do not resist this drawing, we shall be led to the foot of the cross in repentance for the sins that have crucified the Saviour. Then the Spirit of God through faith produces a new life in the soul. The thoughts and desires are brought into obedience to the will of Christ. The heart, the mind, are created anew in the image of Him who works in us to sub­due all things to Himself.”

The Desire of Ages, p. 324

“When the soul surrenders itself to Christ, a new power takes possession of the new heart. A change is wrought which man can never accomplish for himself. It is a supernatural work, bringing a super­natural element into human nature. The soul that is yielded to Christ becomes His own fortress, which He holds in a revolted world, and He intends that no authority shall be known in it but His own. A soul thus kept in possession by the heavenly agencies is impregnable to the assaults of Satan. But unless we do yield ourselves to the control of Christ, we shall be dominated by the wicked one. We must inevitably be under the control of the one or the other of the two great powers that are contending for the supremacy of the world.”

Thus it is made plain that the experi­ence of deliverance from the dominion of sin, the experience of complete victory in our lives, depends upon this miracle of a change from the sinful human nature to the holy divine nature. It may help to make this clear if we look again at this promise:

1 John 5
18 We know that who­soever is born of God sins not.

We notice that this word “whosoever” is changed to “what­soever” in verse 4:

1 John 5
4 For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.

The miracle of transformation is not a physical but a spiritual change, brought into our lives by the exercise of faith in God’s Word. We have not been born again physically, and the natural desires of our mortal bodies are not changed, but the Holy Spirit has created in us “a new being in the image of God.” We are now partakers of the divine nature, which brings a “supernatural element into human nature.”

We know that two natures cannot con­trol us at the same time. When the old car­nal nature controls, we cannot be pure and righteous and victorious. When the new divine nature controls, we cannot do wrong. That makes it plain that “whatso­ever is born of God”—the divine nature­ sins not.

Now the important question is, What am I to do to make sure that the divine nature controls, and that the old nature is power­less? The Bible says we are to

Ephesians 4
22 …put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.

And then we are to

Ephesians 4
24 …put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

It is evident that this is a matter of our own choice, and involves the action of the will.

Steps to Christ, p. 47, 48

“What you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Every­thing depends upon the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you can­not of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do ac­cording to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him…Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in your life. By yielding up your will to Christ, you ally yourself with the power that is above all principalities and powers.”

Perhaps we are now prepared to under­stand what seems to be a very perplexing question arising from the apostle’s state­ment, “We know that whosoever is born of God sins not.” Many believe that they are sincere, earnest Christians who have been born again, yet they sometimes do wrong. And they incorrectly understand this statement to mean that if a person sins, it proves that he is not born of God. When we notice other statements of John, it is evident that he did not mean that it is impossible for one who is born again to sin. Notice this verse:

1 John 2
1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an ad­vocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

In addressing “my little chil­dren” he is evidently writing to God’s people.

It is necessary for us to understand what our attitude should be toward these two natures—the human nature, with which we are born physically; and the divine nature, which comes with spiritual birth from God. The instruction is

Ephesians 4
22 …that ye put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

How are we to put off this old man, or the flesh?

Galatians 5
24 They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

The only way to escape the control of our inherited, sinful nature is to crucify it. That is what the apostle Paul meant when he said,

Galatians 2
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me.

When we are born of God by a definite act of faith, we place our old sinful nature on the cross to die with Him, and we en­throne Christ in our hearts to reign.

So Paul was saying, “I crucified self, and enthroned Christ, and now He lives in me.” It was beautifully and simply expressed by Martin Luther, who said, “When the devil knocks at the door of my heart and asks, Does Martin Luther live here? I reply, No, Martin Luther is dead; Jesus Christ lives here.”

This is not an act performed once for all, but a daily experience with the true Christian. Paul said,

1 Corinthians 15
31 I die daily.

A well-known writer has said, “In every human heart there is a cross and a throne; when self is on the cross dying, and Christ is on the throne reigning, we see a true Christian.”

Let us notice how plainly this is set forth in Romans 6:

Romans 6
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

We are controlled by our nature; and if our old nature is hanging on the cross dying every day, and the divine na­ture is on the throne reigning every day, we shall not sin.

Romans 6
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Now the important thing for each one of us is to make this practical, in our teaching and in our own lives. Every day we are assailed by temptation through our different senses and faculties. Many plans are devised by the enemy to arouse evil thoughts, appetites, lusts of the flesh, de­sires of the fallen nature. When such a thought enters the mind, instantly there flashes into the mind the realization,

“Ah, that is the old nature—but it is dead. I nailed it to the cross today.”

And we are thrilled as we realize that the evil thoughts are gone. Faith is the victory, and our mind is reaching out after the higher attainments of Christian perfection.

Growing in Grace

Jesus gave us the command,

Matthew 5
48 Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

The apostle John declares,

1 John 3
9 Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin.

The Lord through His messenger has caused further light to shine upon these wonderful truths, making it plain how this experience is to be attained. Should we not study this counsel carefully?

Messages to Young People, p. 165

“He came to show man how to obey, how to keep all the commandments. He laid hold of divine power, and this is the sinner’s only hope. He gave His life that man might be a partaker of the di­vine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 194

“It is only through becoming partakers of His nature that we receive power to obey His commandments.”

Ministry of Healing, p. 180

“Christ came to make us “partakers of the divine nature,” and His life declares that humanity com­bined with divinity does not commit sin.”

Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 314

“But Christ came in the form of humanity, and by His perfect obedience He proved that humanity and divinity combined can obey every one of God’s pre­cepts.”

The Review and Herald, July 1, 1890

“Genuine faith appropriates the righteousness of Christ, and the sinner is made an overcomer with Christ; for he is made a partaker of the divine na­ture, and thus humanity and divinity are combined.”

The Review and Herald, Jan. 13, 1910

“We want to see the King in his beauty. Then let us daily keep our eyes fixed upon Christ, the per­fection of human character, and laying hold of his divine nature, we shall have the strength of divinity to overcome every evil tendency and desire.”

The Desire of Ages, p. 123

“Not even by a thought did He yield to tempta­tion. So it may be with us. Christ’s humanity was united with divinity; He was fitted for the conflict by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And He came to make us partakers of the divine nature. So long as we are united to Him by faith, sin has no more dominion over us. God reaches for the hand of faith in us to direct it to lay fast hold upon the divinity of Christ, that we may attain to perfection of character.”

Brethren, can the world see the character of Jesus in us? Do our members see in us the ideal we hold before them? Are our lives an irresistible attraction to the lost? If not, is it because we ourselves have not yet laid hold of the promised power to overcome sin? We are His people, His ministers. And the Saviour came to “save his people from their sins.”

Surely God would be pleased if we should kneel humbly before Him and pray:

“Father, You are reaching for my hand of faith, to direct it to lay fast hold of the divinity of Christ that I may attain to per­fection of character. By Your grace I now place my hand of faith in Yours, and rely­ing wholly upon Your infinite love and mercy and the merits of Jesus, I now deter­mine to set perfection of character through Christ as my goal. Lead me on till the goal is reached, and Your purpose is fulfilled. Amen.

Article written by Meade Macguire, 1956. Edited by Odunuga Oluseyi Emmanuel.

Meade MacGuire

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.

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