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SALVATION THROUGH TRUTH, OR DOCTRINAL SUICIDE
Part 3 -- The Nature of Sin
In two of our previous Sermons, we examined the issue of Christ's nature and flesh, clearly understanding that Christ lived His human life in the sinful nature and flesh of humanity--not the sinless nature and flesh. We will now examine the issue of the nature of sin.
The main point at stake with this issue is whether it is possible, or impossible, for anyone today to overcome all sin as did Christ when He was on this earth. Most all of the churches of Babylon believe that it is impossible to overcome all sin. They believe that all humanity were born sinners, and thus reason that sin will always be a part of life. In other words, these Babylonian churches and theologian leaders believe in the Augustinian and Catholic doctrine of original sin. And this includes the S.D.A. church!
"The spiritual disease that has infected all of us is sin...we are all in a sinful state because of the decision of Adam, the corporate head of the human race...by man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and as a result, all men sinned. That is, because of Adam's sin, all men became sinners....
"We are sinful by nature." Adventist Review, June 28, 1990, p 8-9.
"We are all sinners, whether we have ever done anything `wrong' or not. It is not sinning that makes us sinners. It is getting born that makes us sinners....
"We are born sinners, and we sin because we are sinners. We are not sinners because we sin!...
"Since we are sinners by nature, we of ourselves are never going to be able to produce any obedience." Faith That Works, p 161-65.
"We are born sinful...Clearly Adam's sin affected the race--constituted them sinners." Issues: The Seventh-day Adventist Church and Certain Private Ministries, p 118.
"We are born sinners." SDA Senior Sabbath School Quarterly, First Quarter, January 23, 1983, p 35.
Other Christians believe that we are indeed born in sin, but no one is born a sinner. These hold that a person only becomes a sinner when they choose to sin. But what does God's word state? Did we sin when our parents sinned, and their parents sinned, and so on, all the way back to Adam? Are we really born sinners?
"...the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness...transgressors shall be taken up in their own naughtiness." Proverbs 11:5-6.
"...he is taken away in his iniquity...that wicked man shall die in his iniquity...for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it...I will judge you every one after his ways." Ezekiel 33:6, 8, 13, 20.
"It is inevitable that children should suffer from the consequences of parental wrongdoing, but they are not punished for the parents' guilt, except as they participate in their sins. It is usually the case, however, that children walk in the steps of their parents." Patriarchs and Prophets, p 306.
So everyone will be punished for their own sins, not for the sins of their predecessors. Thus no one is born a sinner!
"...The flesh of itself cannot act contrary to the will of God." Adventist Home, p 127.
Now this is a very interesting statement: "The flesh itself cannot act contrary to the will of God." To understand this more clearly, let us use the example of my hand. My hand is made of flesh. It has bones; it has muscles, tendons, and nerves; it also has a blood supply, and thus all the nourishment it needs to function and move. But it cannot move one bit on its own power. The only way my hand can move is if my mind commands it to move. Thus the flesh, of itself, cannot sin against God. Then how is sin committed?
"As we near the end, temptations will be stronger and more seductive, but we need not yield to them, we need not open the door of the heart and invite Satan to enter. There is no power in earth or hell to compel either of you to sin and dishonor your holy faith as you have done." Manuscript Releases, vol 13, p 89-90.
"The strongest temptation is no excuse for sin. However great the pressure brought to bear upon the soul, transgression is our own act. It is not in the power of earth or hell to compel any one to sin. The will must consent, the heart must yield, or passion cannot overbear reason, nor iniquity triumph over righteousness." Signs of the Times, October 4, 1883 (vol 1, p 379).
Sin is committed only when we choose to yield ourselves to the temptation. Thus sin is committed by our own choice. We do not become sinners when we are born, but we become sinners because we choose to be.
"But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
"Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." James 1:14-15.
Thus when we are enticed and choose to give in to the enticement, then is when sin is committed. Thus no one is born a sinner, but the child becomes a sinner because he chooses to do wrong.
"For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil..." Romans 9:11.
So a child, born with a fallen human nature, has to first do good or evil before you know what his character is. Thus he is not born a sinner. When Christ was born in fallen human flesh, He was not born a sinner. He had to learn to recognize good from evil, and then He had to choose between them. And praise God He never once chose to give in and do evil, but He always chose to do good. He always chose to follow His Father's will.
"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings." Isaiah 7:14-16.
Thus Christ was not born a sinner, but He had to choose between right and wrong. If He had chosen wrong, then He would have chosen to sin and become a sinner by that choice. In the same manner, not one of us are born sinners. We make ourselves sinners because we choose to sin. What we inherited from Adam's sin is a fallen human nature and death because of it, but we did not become sinners by his sin--we become sinners by our choice to sin!
Many try to evade this solemn realization, and instead of resting blame upon themselves for their own evil actions, they try to place the blame upon others. In fact, some even charge God with their sins!
"There are many who in their hearts murmur against God. They say, `We inherit the fallen nature of Adam, and are not responsible for our natural imperfections.' They find fault with God's requirements, and complain that He demands what they have no power to give. Satan made the same complaint in heaven, but such thoughts dishonor God." Signs of the Times, August 29, 1892 (vol 2, p 508).
Since no one is born a sinner, what is the real nature of sin, and how does it spread?
"The people of God should awaken to a keen perception of the grievous character of transgression. Sin is disguised, and many are deceived in regard to its nature. Satan has planned it thus, that the understanding may be clouded, the spiritual vision obscured, the perceptive faculties of the soul blunted. But God would not have one of us to be ensnared, therefore the nature of sin is faithfully portrayed in the inspired pages,--its offensive character before God, its corruption, its shame, and its results. Everything has been done that God could do to save man from the power of sin, which defaces the divine image, frustrates God's purpose in man's existence, degrades his God-given powers, narrows his capacity, leads to unholy imaginations, and gives loose rein to unsanctified passions. Sin! how hateful in the sight of God! Holy angels look upon it with abhorrence." Review and Herald, June 3, 1880 (vol 1, p 235-36).
"It is the nature of sin to increase. From generation to generation sin has spread like a contagious disease. Hatred of God's law, and as the sure result hatred of all goodness became universal. The world was in its infancy, yet after sin was first introduced it soon became fearful in its proportions until it deluged the world." Signs of the Times, December 20, 1877 (vol 1, p 48).
"Through the medium of influence, taking advantage of the action of mind on mind, he (Satan) prevailed on Adam to sin....And ever since then sin has continued its hateful work, reaching from mind to mind." Review and Herald, April 16, 1901 (vol 4, p 281).
"Sin is corrupting in its nature. One man infected with its deadly leprosy may communicate the taint to thousands." Conflict and Courage, p 120.
It is the nature of sin to spread like a contagious disease--from one person to another. It is spread by influence; it is spread from mind to mind. And since sin spreads from mind to mind, then it is in the mind in which sin is first committed. It is not committed because we are born sinners. It is first in the mind that sin is accepted and then it is committed, and so it is by choice that we sin.
But what exactly is sin?
"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." 1 John 3:4.
Now which law? In James 2:8 it is called the Royal Law. In Exodus 20:3-17 it is called God's Ten Commandments. And in James 1:25 it is called the law of liberty. But liberty from what? It is liberty or freedom from sin. By keeping God's law you would not be committing sin, and thus would be free from it.
Christ came to this earth. He lived as one of us; He took our fallen nature and sinful flesh upon Himself; He resisted all the inward inclinations and desires towards sin, and died as our Substitute and perfect, sinless Pattern. But why?
"...and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21.
Christ died in order to save us from our sins, not in our sins. And this is the whole point why there is such a heated battle and debate over this issue of Christ's nature, and of what flesh He took and lived in. People do not want to be saved from their sins, but they want to continue to commit sin and yet believe they will escape the lake of fire to live forever! This is nothing more than the original lie which Satan deceived Eve by stating that she could disobey God's express command, and yet "ye shall not surely die" (Genesis 3:4).
But God tells us in Ezekiel 18:20 that "the soul that sinneth, it shall die." So to believe that you can continue to live in sin and yet escape death, you are actually believing in the immortality of the soul--that you can sin and live forever, when the Bible states otherwise. This original lie of the devil of the immortality of the soul is the foundational basis for all spiritualism and all occultic religions.
But yet, all the churches of Christendom are teaching this spiritualistic doctrine of the immortality of the soul--that you can sin, and still go to heaven and live forever. And this immortality of the soul heresy is even taught by the S.D.A. church and it's theologians.
"We are sinners. We will be sinners until Jesus comes, and sinners cannot produce obedience....All we can do is to give up ever hoping to produce any real obedience." Faith That Works, p 175.
"We shall never reach sinless perfection in this life." Review, May 19, 1966, p 4.
"We should remember that only when Jesus comes can we be made perfect." Ministry, December, 1965, p 9.
So the Adventist church, along with the other churches of Babylon, is teaching the same lie of the immortality of the soul: that you can continue to sin, and yet you will not die because God will come, make you perfect and give you everlasting life.
So if you believe that Christ did not take our fallen, sinful nature upon Himself; if you believe that Christ did not live in our sinful flesh; if you believe that Christ did not experience the inward, inner desires and inclinations toward committing sin, which He always resisted; if you believe that we are born sinners, and that sin is not committed by choice, including the belief that Christ had advantages over us in overcoming sin which we do not have today, then you are really declaring that you believe in the false doctrine of the immortality of the soul! You are thus involved in spiritualism, and are being led by the devil towards everlasting destruction. Thus you are committing doctrinal suicide!
As sin is committed by our choice to disobey God's law, and since there is no power in heaven or in earth that can compel any of us to sin, then can you and I really keep all of God's commandments and thus overcome all sin?
Moses tells us: "...ye shall...observe to do, all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life..." Deuteronomy 32:46-47.
Joshua tells us: "But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law...to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul." Joshua 22:5.
Jeremiah tells us: "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts and will be their God, and they shall be my people....for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Jeremiah 31:33-34.
David tells us: "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." Psalms 40:8.
Paul tells us: "For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified." Romans 2:13.
"Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." Romans 3:31.
"Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?...Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." Romans 7:1, 12.
And Christ tells us: "What is written in the law?...
"And he (Jesus) said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live." Luke 10:26, 28.
In fact John tells us: "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." 1 John 5:2-3.
So it is only out of love for God that we allow His law to be written in our hearts and minds, and then we can keep and do this law, and thus show our love for Him.
"Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Revelation 14:12.
"Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Revelation 22:14.
God is very clear that it is required that you and I must keep God's law perfectly. In fact, God expects and requires all of His true people to do so. And what God requires of us He is more than willing to help us perform (see Philippians 4:13)! God has mercifully prepared the way for each and every one of His people to be able to keep His commandments if they choose to.
As such, if we should fail to keep all of God's law and we lose heaven, who is to blame? Is God to blame?
"Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them." Deuteronomy 27:26.
Thus, if we refuse to keep and do God's law, then we will be cursed.
"If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes." Psalms 89:30-32.
Therefore who will be punished? It is the very person who chooses to sin.
"And whosoever will not do the law of thy God...let judgment be executed speedily upon him..." Ezra 7:26.
So if we do not keep God's law, what are we facing? Our judgement.
"Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel." Isaiah 5:24.
In fact we are told that there will only be one question asked us in the judgement. And this question is:
"The only question asked in the judgment will be, `Have they been obedient to My commandments.'" Gospel Workers, p 315.
So brothers and sisters, if we do not overcome all sin by keeping all of God's commandments, then who alone is to blame for our sins? We have only ourselves to blame; we cannot blame our parents, friends, circumstances, or even God for our own choice to sin!
But how is it possible to overcome all sin? Many have tried to overcome--exerting all their strength and will power to do so, and have miserably failed. Why did they fail? And more importantly; is it really possible for you and me to no longer commit sin?
"For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I....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. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me....But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Romans 7:14-15, 18-21, 23-24.
So it is impossible for either you or me, of ourselves, to keep God's law and to overcome all sin in our own strength. We continue to find ourselves giving in to the sin, even though we don't want to. We find ourselves choosing to sin, even though we want to follow God's will and perform righteousness in keeping His law. Thus the big question is:
"...Who then can be saved? And he (Jesus) said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." Luke 18:27.
"...for with God all things are possible." Mark 10:27.
"Wherefore he (Christ) is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him..." Hebrews 7:25.
Christ clearly stated: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Matthew 28:18.
"...for without me ye can do nothing." John 15:5.
Without Christ we can do nothing in this battle against sin. Outside of Christ we would continue to find ourselves giving in to sin and losing the battle instead of gaining the victory. But with Christ, what can we do?
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13.
This then raises the distinct possibility that we can overcome all sin, that we can keep God's law through Christ which would strengthen us. So can we, with Christ strengthening us, keep God's law perfectly--all ten commandments?
"It was impossible for the sinner to keep the law of God, which was holy, just, and good; but this impossibility was removed by the impartation of the righteousness of Christ to the repenting, believing soul. The life and death of Christ in behalf of sinful man were for the purpose of restoring the sinner to God's favor, through imparting to him the righteousness that would meet the claims of the law, and find acceptance with the Father. But it is ever the purpose of Satan to make void the law of God, and to pervert the true meaning of the plan of salvation. Therefore he has originated the falsehood that the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary's cross was for the purpose of freeing men from the obligation of keeping the commandments of God. He has foisted upon the world the deception that God has abolished his constitution, thrown away his moral standard, and made void his holy and perfect law. Had he done this, at what terrible expense would it have been to Heaven! Instead of proclaiming the abolition of the law, Calvary's cross proclaims in thunder tones its immutable and eternal character. Could the law have been abolished, and the government of heaven and earth and the unnumbered worlds of God maintained, Christ need not have died. The death of Christ was to forever settle the question of the validity of the law of Jehovah. Having suffered the full penalty for a guilty world, Jesus became the Mediator between God and man, to restore the repenting soul to favor with God by giving him grace to keep the law of the Most High. Christ came not to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfill them to the very letter. The atonement of Calvary vindicated the law of God as holy, just, and true, not only before the fallen world, but before Heaven and before worlds unfallen. Christ came to magnify the law and to make it honorable." Signs of the Times, June 20, 1895 (vol 3, p 216).
So the very fact that Christ died on Calvary's cross shows that God's law is still in force today. It is still to be obeyed by His people. Hence, those who believe or proclaim that no one can keep all of God's ten commandments today are being led of the devil, and are involved in clinging to a doctrine from hell!
"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. Men who are under the control of Satan repeat these accusations against God, in asserting that man can not keep the law of God." Signs of the Times, January 16, 1896 (vol 3, p 264).
Those who proclaim that no one can keep God's law are actually stating that there is fault with God for giving us a law that could not be kept. They are also backing Satan's rebellion against God, and stating that God is less than perfect. Thus it is clear that those who are under the control of Satan repeat Satan's words that no one can keep God's law today. Please wake up from the deception that you are under if you believe such a hellish doctrine, because in stating that no one can keep God's law today, you are actually condemning God whom you profess to serve!
Then is it really possible for humanity, with Christ strengthening us, to no longer commit sin?
"Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways....Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." Psalms 119:1-3, 11.
"...Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not." Exodus 20:20.
So it is possible for you and me to no longer commit sin--by having God's word in our hearts and strength from Christ.
"...Jesus findeth him in the temple, and saith unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." John 5:14.
Now why would Christ tell this man to "sin no more" if it was impossible for him to no longer sin? Jesus was trying to get him to understand that if he accepted Christ as his Messiah because he was healed from his past sinful life and was cured, then he could go forward and "sin no more." God also clearly tells His people:
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?...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. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him...Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:1-2, 6-9, 11.
"Awake to righteousness, and sin not..." 1 Corinthians 15:34.
"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: And he is the propitiation for our sins..." 1 John 2:1-2.
"And ye know that he (Jesus) was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him (Jesus) sinneth not...Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin..." 1 John 3:5-6, 9.
So if we abide IN Christ, if we have the fear of God before our face, if we have confessed our past sins and allowed Christ to heal us from that past life, if we have chosen to be in Christ and to live through him and to be dead to sin because our past "old man" is crucified with Christ, then we will no longer commit sin! So it is possible for you and me to no longer commit sin. But Satan leads people to believe that it is not possible to cease from sinning, and so they choose to continue living in sin when they could actually be freed from it.
"It is Satan's constant effort to misrepresent the character of God, the nature of sin, and the real issues at stake in the great controversy. His sophistry lessens the obligation of the divine law and gives men license to sin." Great Controversy, p 569.
So what is the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan centering on? It is the choice to either follow the will of God or follow the will of Satan. It is either being hid in Christ, overcoming all sin, or it is being hid in Satan and continuing in sin. Who are we going to follow? Who are you going to choose to be your general? Who's servant are you? These questions we need to ask and answer ourselves, and it will be by our fruits or actions that we are known (see Matthew 7:15-20).
"...for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage." 2 Peter 2:19.
"Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" Romans 6:16.
"He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed (Christ) remaineth in him and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother." 1 John 3:8-10.
If we do not choose to follow God, but continue to commit sin, then we will never make it to heaven and gain eternal life.
"The gift of God in his beloved Son was the expression of an incomprehensible love. It was the utmost that God could do to preserve the honor of his law, and still save the transgressor. Why should man not study the theme of redemption? It is the greatest subject that can engage the human mind. If men would contemplate the love of Christ, displayed in the cross, their faith would be strengthened to appropriate the merits of his shed blood, and they would be cleansed and saved from sin. There are many who will be lost, because they depend on legal religion, or mere repentance for sin. But repentance for sin alone cannot work the salvation of any soul. Man cannot be saved by his own works. Without Christ it is impossible for him to render perfect obedience to the law of God; and heaven can never be gained by an imperfect obedience; for this would place all heaven in jeopardy, and make possible a second rebellion." Signs of the Times, December 30, 1889 (vol 2, p 345).
If we continue to choose to sin and break God's law we will never make it to heaven. If we did, it would make possible a second rebellion, and God will never permit this. That is why God sent Christ to become our Saviour from sin, our Redeemer, Substitute, Surety and Sacrifice for sin. That is why Christ came down and took our fallen, sinful nature upon Himself, choosing to live in sinful flesh and thereby feel all the inward downward pulls, all the inclinations and desires to commit sin, but He resisted them all. So there is no excuse for sin, because our Savior showed us--in the same nature we possess--that it is possible to serve God perfectly. By choosing to unite with Christ, we can also have divine power to follow Christ's example perfectly and do the will of God in keeping His commandments without sinning.
If we fail to overcome all sin, but choose to continue living in it and lose heaven, who is to blame?
"Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." John 8:34.
"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." Hebrews 10:26-27.
"The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin." Deuteronomy 24:16.
"What more could he have done for his vineyard than he has done? God has made provision to supply his rich grace, to give divine power for the performance of his work. Nothing is wanting on the part of God; the lack is on the part of the human agency, who refuses to co-operate with divine intelligences. Through the plan he has devised, nothing can be done for the salvation of man save through the co-operation of man. Sinners who have been blessed with light and evidence, who know that through grace that can be supplied to them, they may meet the conditions upon which salvation is promised, and yet who decline to make the attempt, have but themselves to blame for their own destruction. We feel that of such it may be said that Christ has died for them in vain." The Home Missionary, April 1, 1895.
Please do not let it be said that Christ died in vain for your salvation because you refused to avail yourself of His strength, grace and the power to no longer sin. But let it be said that Christ did not die in vain for you because your name has been written in the books of life by choosing to follow your Saviour in all things, and doing God's will and not your own.
Praise God, that we do not have to remain bond-servants to sin, but we can be freed from past sin through the blood of Christ, and from future sinning through the strength of Christ (see Psalms 97:10, 24:3-6; Proverbs 3:7, 4:26-27; 1 Peter 3:10-11; 3 John 11). But if we choose to continue to be evil, wicked, impure, unholy and ungodly, then we will never see the Lord (see Titus 2:11-14; 1 John 3:1-3; James 4:8-10; Matthew 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:22-24; Hebrews 12:14).
Although some will admit that it is indeed possible to be changed from sin to holiness by being united with God, they do not yet understand that it is impossible for any of us to be pure in God's sight while we willingly remain connected to corrupt churches or wicked organizations or groups. As long as we continue associating with corrupt and apostate churches; as long as we are willing to keep our connection or membership with unclean corporate bodies; as long as we refuse to willingly separate our presence and membership from these harlot churches, we will never become pure and clean and holy in God's sight. Why? Because we become partakers of her sins, and are held guilty. This is called corporate responsibility.
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 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 Cor 6:14-18, 7:1.
When do we become God's people and He becomes our Father? Is it while we are in union with corrupt churches? No! Is it while we are associating with the impure and unclean? No! It is only after we have broken our connection with sin and wicked churches; it is only after we have separated from sin and sinners--not before but after! So as long as we remain connected with apostate, corrupt groups, churches, or organizations, which are full of darkness, and who are following Satan, then we will be held responsible for her sins and thus we will never perfect holiness in the fear of God. Which means we will never make it to heaven because we would be touching the unclean thing, and thus we would be unclean by this connection!
"...neither be partaker of others men's sins: keep thyself pure." 1 Timothy 5:22
"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." Revelation 18:4.
It is in loving mercy that God tells His people to come out of every unclean, apostate, corrupt, and wicked church; that we must separate our presence and membership from every harlot church of Babylon, from every church that is following the devil, from every group and organization that is showing fruits of unrighteousness, wickedness, sin, apostasy and rebellion against God. And if we refuse to come out, then we are a partaker of her sins--meaning that we share in these sins, and thus we would receive the same punishment and destruction that the church receives--which is the plagues of God, and we are lost!
"Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity....My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver every man his soul from the fierce anger of the Lord." Jeremiah 51:6, 45.
So those who believe that you can remain connected to, and a member of, an unclean church, and that you will still go to heaven; those who believe that we have nothing to worry about because God will save your soul, while He destroys all the sinners all around you out of the corrupt church, are resting their salvation upon false hopes and erroneous beliefs. Just as God could told Lot and his family to flee out of Sodom and Gomorrah or they would be destroyed right along with it, so God is warning His people today to flee from the wrath to come, or they will be destroyed along with the church!
"You are exhorted to touch not the unclean thing; for in touching this, you will yourself become unclean. It is impossible for you to unite with those who are corrupt, and still remain pure....God and Christ and the heavenly host would have man know that if he unites with the corrupt, he will become corrupt." SDA Bible Commentary, vol 6, p 1102.
"We are exhorted, `Touch not the unclean.' Those who associate with the impure, themselves become impure. If we choose the society of the ungodly, we shall be affected by their ungodliness." Review and Herald, October 23, 1888 (vol 2, p 255).
It is high time to get our feet out of the sin-filled, unclean, and muddy church, and to no longer believe that it's good to be contaminated with the mud! And if we do not separate ourselves from all sin, as well as our membership from every unclean church, and we lose our salvation, who alone is to blame?
"Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil..." Romans 2:9.
"...a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit...Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." Matthew 7:17, 19.
"...the face of the Lord is against them that do evil." 1 Peter 3:12.
"Evil shall slay the wicked..." Psalms 34:16, 21.
"As righteousness tendeth to life: so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death." Proverbs 11:19.
"Arise ye, and depart; for this (unclean church) is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction." Micah 2:10.
And if we should choose not to go out of "her", or to separate from an unclean church, thereby becoming unclean and risking being destroyed, will we be able to obtain salvation and go to heaven?
"For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person...hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." Ephesians 5:5.
So is it really possible for you and me, with Christ strengthening us, to overcome all our character defects and habits of sin, and to also separate from all corrupt churches and organizations, so that we may become the sons and daughters of God?
"As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." John 1:12.
"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. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him." Romans 6:6-8.
If our old man would be crucified, this means we would no longer give in to the habits of sin. We would no longer give in to our character defects, but we would overcome them through Christ.
"Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof." Romans 13:13-14.
"For the love of Christ constraineth us...that they which live should not live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again....Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 17.
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh...Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." Galatians 5:16, 19-25.
This has to do with our freedom of choice: to choose to no longer allow our character defects and habits of sin to be brought forth. It is choosing to be dead to self and alive in Christ--following not the carnal law, but the spiritual law and walking in the spirit so that we do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. In constantly doing this we would not exhibit any character defects. But this takes a determined choice. Are we going to live in the old man, or are we going to live in the new man through Jesus?
"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God....Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him...Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness." Colossians 3:1-3, 9-10, 12-14.
This is a daily, moment by moment decision to die to self and not to give in to temptation or commit sin. It is also a daily, moment by moment decision not to give in to the thought that we cannot overcome all our character defects or habits of sin, and also not to think that we can do this on our own without Christ strengthening us. This is a daily dying to self.
"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Luke 9:23.
"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 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. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 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 Corinthians 9:24-27.
Then what are we to be doing in this day of our probation? Our Saviour is in the Most Holy Place in the heavenly sanctuary, making it possible for us all to have our past sins forgiven, and to no longer commit sin. What are we to be doing now? Are we to be carefree and unconcerned whether our characters are like our Saviour?
"Brethren, be no longer slothful servants. Every soul must battle against inclination. Christ came not to save men in their sins, but from their sins. He has made it possible for us to possess a holy character; do not, then, be content with defects and deformities. But while we are to seek earnestly for perfection of character, we must remember that sanctification is not the work of a moment, but of a lifetime. Said Paul, `I die daily.' Day by day the work of overcoming must go forward. Every day we are to resist temptation, and gain the victory over selfishness in all its forms. Day by day we should cherish love and humility, and cultivate in ourselves all those excellencies of character which will please God and fit us for the blessed society of heaven. To all who are seeking to accomplish this work, the promise is very precious, `He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.'" Historical Sketches, p 181.
"Overcoming, means much more than we realize. It means resisting the enemy and drawing nigh to God. It means taking up the cross and following Christ, doing cheerfully those things that are contrary to natural inclination. Christ came from heaven to show us how to live a life of self-sacrifice. In His strength we are to gain perfection. He has made it possible for us to do this, and when He comes the second time, He will ask us why we have not fulfilled His purpose for us. Day by day, hour by hour, we are preparing for the judgment, deciding our eternal destiny. We are trading on our Lord's goods. When He comes, He will reckon with us, to see how we have improved His goods. Results proportionate to the talents entrusted will be required, and to every faithful, self-denying Christian will be given a reward proportionate to his work. Nothing that is done in sincerity is in vain. Everything is accurately weighed in the golden scales of the sanctuary." Signs of the Times, July 17, 1901 (vol 4, p 189).
"We can never see our Lord in peace, unless our souls are spotless. We must bear the perfect image of Christ. Every thought must be brought into subjection to the will of Christ. As expressed by the great apostle, we must come `unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.' We shall never attain to this condition without earnest effort. We must strive daily against outward evil and inward sin, if we would reach the perfection of Christian character." Selected messages, Book 3, p 148.
What are you doing during your probationary time? Are you squandering it away by not putting forth earnest efforts in overcoming sin? Or are you allowing Christ to work in your life to purify your actions and character? What are you doing?
"The time of probation is given us that we may perfect a character fit for eternity. How solemn is the thought..." Review and Herald, June 17, 1890 (vol 2, p 404).
"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6.
"...ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God." Colossians 4:12.
"Before the world, God is developing us as living witnesses to what men and women may become through the grace of Christ. We are enjoined to strive for perfection of character. The divine Teacher says, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). Would Christ tantalize us by requiring of us an impossibility? Never, never! What an honor He confers upon us in urging us to be holy in our sphere, as the Father is holy in His sphere! He can enable us to do this, for He declares, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matt. 28:18). This unlimited power it is our privilege to claim." That I May Know Him, p 131.
What kind of power can we have in overcoming sin and perfecting our characters from wickedness and evil into being pure and holy? An unlimited power, brothers and sisters! And where do we find this infinite power? In only one place, and that is through Christ. Through Jesus we have an unlimited power to use in working out our own salvation (Philippians 2:12-13), which means there is unlimited results that can be obtained. Thus perfection of character is possible!
"Our Saviour does not require impossibilities of any soul. He expects nothing of His disciples that He is not willing to give them grace and strength to perform. He would not call upon them to be perfect if He had not at His command every perfection of grace to bestow on the ones upon whom He would confer so high and holy a privilege." God's Amazing Grace, p 230.
"If you make God your strength, you may, under the most discouraging circumstances, attain a height and breadth of Christian perfection which you hardly think it possible to reach. Your thoughts may be elevated, you may have noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth, and purposes of action which shall raise you above all sordid motives." Counsels on Health, p 384.
Thus God is telling His people that we can have all the power that is necessary to become perfect--just like Jesus. God points us to the Saviour and says; "See what My Son was able to accomplish with the very same nature you have? And you can do the same if you will but trust and believe in me." So if we do not overcome all sin; if we do not perfect our character, if we do not become pure, holy and perfect; if we do not separate and break all our connections with apostate and corrupt churches and wicked organizations, then it shows us that we dis-believe God when He tells us it is possible. This would show a lack of faith in God on our part, and whatsoever is not of faith is sin (see Romans 14:23; Hebrews 11:6).
Oh, brothers and sisters, do not fall into that snare because you will never get out of it. It is a snare that leads to destruction. God clearly tells, commands, and requires all of His people to gain the victory over every temptation, over every sin, over every character defect, and to be perfect as Christ was perfect on this earth. But how? How can we accomplish all this and become spotless and perfect? There is only one way. And this one and only way is not found on earth. Nor is it found inherently within our own hearts. This one and only way is found in Jesus Christ!
Many will declare; "Well, that is very easy to say, but how do we perform it?" So, what is the practical process in which we can overcome all sin and perfect our characters in righteousness? This then brings us to the fourth part in this series, or the issue of How to Overcome. What is the practical process in which we may be perfect through Christ?