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SALVATION THROUGH TRUTH, OR DOCTRINAL SUICIDE
Part 4 -- How To Overcome
Dear friends, how can we become spotless and perfect in character? 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 solely through Jesus Christ!
But 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 in this issue of salvation, or the issue of How to Overcome. What is the practical process in which we may be perfect through Christ?
The main point at stake with this issue is what do we do, what is our part, in the practical process of overcoming temptation and sins.
Most all the Babylonian churches--including the SDA church, believe that Christ has already overcome for us and so we do not need to exert any efforts to overcome. The SDA church states:
"Is our obedience to God's will (as some assert) composed partly of our efforts and part of God's? No! Such is not the case!" Marked, p 129.
"Forgiveness is a gift, salvation is a gift, and obedience is a gift...He [Christ] wants to give us victory and overcoming as gifts." To Know God, p 101, 112.
"He [Christ] gives us rest...from our own attempt to overcome sin and the devil, and from fighting the battles that Jesus has promised to fight for us." Adventist Review, December 24, 1981, p 5.
While others believe that justification is indeed received as a gift by faith alone, but that sanctification, or the overcoming of sin, is a combination of God's power combined with our weak human efforts in gaining the victory over all temptation and sin.
Since this issue has to do with temptation, what exactly is temptation?
"...temptation...it is the means by which those who claim to be the children of God are tested and tried." SDA Bible Commentary, vol 1, p 1094.
"Temptation is enticement to sin..." Mount of Blessings, p 115-16.
So when we are tempted we are actually being tested and tried, by being enticed or lured to commit sin, in order to see if we are really the children of God whom we claim to be.
Is God the one who tempts us to commit sin? No.
"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man..." James 1:13.
Since it is not God who tempts those who claim to be His children and followers, then it must be the Devil who tempts us to commit sin. But why?
"Satan seeks to bring us into temptation, that the evil of our characters may be revealed before men and angels, that he may claim us as his own....The enemy leads us into sin, and then he accuses us before the heavenly universe as unworthy of the love of God." Mount of Blessings, p 116.
Is temptation sin? No.
"For we have not an high priest [Christ] which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15.
"There is no sin in having temptations; but sin comes in when temptation is yielded to." Testimonies, vol 4, p 358.
All temptations are brought to us from the Devil. But where do these temptations originate from?
"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.
The Greek word "lust" (#1939 in Strong's Concordance) translates "desire." So every man is drawn away of his own inward desire and enticed to yield to sin. So these temptations originate from within each of us. Why? Because each person, since the fall of Adam, has inherited a fallen sinful nature. And it is from this natural internal source that Satan tempts us to give in to these natural sinful desires and commit sin.
"The season of temptation, under which, it may be, one falls into grievous sin, does not create the evil that is revealed, but only develops or makes manifest that which was hidden and latent in the heart." Mount of Blessings, p 60.
So temptation is not sin, but sin is committed when we give in to the desires or inclinations of our fallen sinful nature. Thus sin is committed by our choice to sin, not because we are forced to sin. Sin is our choice.
"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 anyone to sin. The will must consent, the heart must yield, or passion cannot overbear reason, nor iniquity triumph over righteousness." Maranatha, p 225.
When a Christian chooses to give in to temptation, yielding their will to Satan and commits sin, what occurs?
"It is a thought that should arouse Christians to greater zeal and earnestness in overcoming evil, that every defect in character, every point in which they fail to meet the divine standard, is an open door by which Satan can enter to tempt and destroy them; and, furthermore, that every failure and defect on their part gives occasion to the tempter and his agents to reproach Christ." Testimonies, vol 5, p 472.
None of us wish our Saviour to be reproached by the Devil and his agents because of our failure to get sin out of our lives. And yet, when we choose to sin, this is exactly what occurs! Every time we choose to sin, we in effect give Satan permission to reproach our Saviour! Then how, brothers and sisters in the same precious separated faith, can we overcome all temptation, no longer choose to sin, and stop allowing Satan to reproach Christ?
First, we must recognize that we are being tempted, because if we do not spot the temptation then how can we know that we are in danger of committing sin? After we recognize that we are being tempted, then we must also recognize that we are weak against the power of Satan, that we are powerless to resist the devil's bidding, and that without a greater power then Satan we will surely fall into sin. This understanding is key to overcoming sin!
"Your confidence in your own poor, weak, faulty self must be broken. You must feel your weakness before you will drop, with your burden, into the hands of God. The soul that trusts fully and entirely in God will never be confounded." Testimonies, vol 3, p 457.
"God's children never claim to be perfect, because they are often weakened by temptation, but they honestly strive for the victory. Satan tempts them to throw away their hope, because they fall under temptation; but they may be reassured by the words of Christ, `I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'
"Him that cometh to Me, I will in nowise cast out." He came not to save men in sin, but from sin. And all who feel their need of a Saviour, and come to Him believing in His power, will gain the victory over sin. `As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.'" The Signs of the Times, February 24, 1898.
And through what channel alone does God's grace and power come to us? Only through the Holy Spirit!
"The Spirit of Jesus Christ ever has a renewing, restoring power upon the soul that has felt it's own weakness and fled to the unchanging One who can give grace and power to resist evil. Our Redeemer has a broad, comprehensive humanity....The feeblest cry of human suffering never reaches His ear in vain." Spalding and Magan, p 107.
Once we recognize that we are being tempted and that we are weak and powerless to resist, then and only then do we begin to feel our need of the grace and power of Christ and trust in Him to aid us in overcoming the temptation and not commit sin. Thus we begin to understand that without Christ we are and can accomplish nothing.
"...for without me, ye can do nothing." John 15:5.
God will never fail His humble trusting children!
"All that God requires is simple trust--to drop into His arms with all his weakness, and brokenness, and imperfection, and Jesus will help the helpless, and strengthen and build up those who feel that they are very weakness itself. God will be glorified in his affliction, through the patience, faith, and submission exemplified by him. Oh! this will prove the power of the truth we profess; it is consolation when we need it; it is support when every prop of an earthly nature, which has been a measurable support, is removed." Testimonies, vol 2, p 99.
Here is when we begin to understand that God has given us a distinct honor and privilege to come and present our needs directly before Him at any time we need to!
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalms 46:1.
"My help cometh from the Lord....The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul." Psalms 121:2, 7.
The only way to come to the throne of grace is through prayer. God has given each one of His children a most powerful weapon and defense against Satan and temptation, and this most powerful offensive and defensive weapon is the power of prayer!
"There is a mighty power in prayer. Our great adversary is constantly seeking to keep the troubled soul away from God. An appeal to heaven by the humblest saint is more to be dreaded by Satan than the decrees of cabinets or the mandates of kings." SDA Bible Commentary, vol 2, p 1008.
"Satan attacks us at our weak points; but we need not be overcome. The assault may be severe and protracted, but God has promised help for us, and in His strength we may conquer....The precepts and promises of God's word will arm you with divine power to resist the enemy....Satan will be baffled and defeated when he finds the heart preoccupied with the truth of God. We need also to be often found at the throne of grace. Earnest, persevering prayer, uniting our human weakness to Omnipotence, will give us the victory." Our High Calling, p 14.
Prayer: something so simple to perform that even the humblest and most inexperienced follower of God may use it in combating sin. And yet prayer is so powerful that even the weakest believer in the truth can utilize it against temptation. Yet, there is no power at all in the prayer itself! Prayer itself cannot save anyone from the power of temptation. The power to overcome sin is not found in the prayer itself, but the power is found in the One whom we direct our prayers to.
Without the realization, that only in Christ can the strength be found to overcome temptation, our prayers are useless and but a hollow form against the power of the Devil. It is only as we realize our weakness and flee to our loving and strong Saviour, fervently pleading with Him to grant us the power to overcome the strong foe, that Satan can be defeated.
"Satan knows better than God's people the power that they can have over him when their strength is in Christ. When they humbly entreat the mighty Conqueror for help, the weakest believer in the truth, relying firmly upon Christ, can successfully repulse Satan and all his host....
"Satan cannot endure to have his powerful rival appealed to, for he fears and trembles before His strength and majesty. At the sound of fervent prayer, Satan's whole host trembles." Testimonies, vol 1, p 341, 346.
Why does Satan and his whole host of evil angels tremble at our fervent prayers being directed to Christ?
"Satan is enraged at the sound of fervent prayer, for he knows that he will suffer loss." Testimonies, vol 1, p 295.
So when we are tempted, and we recognize that we are weak and cannot resist on our own, and we send up our prayers to Christ--pleading with Him to grant us His strength to overcome, then what do we do? We must believe that our Saviour has heard our prayers, and must have faith that He will grant us all the strength necessary to overcome.
"Jesus saith unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." Mark 9:23.
Then what do we do? We must show God that we are serious about overcoming sin, and then do battle against self, submit or yield our will to God, and fully surrender ourselves to Him.
"The Christian life is a battle and a march. But the victory to be gained is not won by human power. The field of conflict is the domain of the heart. The battle which we have to fight--the greatest battle that was ever fought by man--is the surrender of self to the will of God, the yielding of the heart to the sovereignty of love. The old nature, born of blood and of the will of the flesh, can not inherit the kingdom of God. The hereditary tendencies, the formed habits, must be given up." The Signs of the Times, May 18, 1904.
"I saw that the great condescension for man has been made. Jesus condescended to the shameful death of the cross, and now man in his turn must condescend and bow. He must yield up his will and pleasure if he would follow in the only road to heaven. I saw that God would not compel any to be saved. Jesus has made the great sacrifice, and if man will freely, gladly accept it; if he will choose life, he can have it. But his life must be one of continual yielding." Spiritual Gifts, Vol 2, p 278-79.
After we have submitted or yielded or surrendered our will to God, and have chosen to follow God's will and not our own, then what are we to do? Will God overcome for us? No. We must then exercise faith. We must put forth earnest efforts, resolutely resisting the temptation and the Devil before we will gain the victory in Christ's strength.
"The power of God, combined with human effort, has wrought out a glorious victory for us. Shall we not appreciate this? All the riches of heaven were given to us in Jesus....God has resources of power of which we as yet know nothing, and from these He will supply us in our time of need. But our effort is ever to combine with the divine. Our intellect, our perceptive powers, all the strength of our being, must be called into exercise. We must co-operate with God in this work of salvation. If we will rise to the emergency, and arm ourselves like men who wait for their Lord; if we will work to overcome every defect in our characters, God will give us increased light and strength and help." Youth's Instructor, January 4, 1900 (p 439-440).
"When Christ would define the advancement possible for us, He said, `Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.' This advancement is not gained without effort. The Christian life is a battle and a march." The Signs of the Times, May 18, 1904.
This battle and march against the sins which so easily beset us is not fought for just an hour, or a day, or a year, but is to be fought for the rest of our life! It is not once saved always saved, but it is a continual battle against sin and self.
Sanctification is not attained instantly, but it is attained by growing in grace day by day.
"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Luke 9:23.
"I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily." 1 Corinthians 15:31.
"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called..." 1 Timothy 6:12.
"We have before us a warfare,--a lifelong conflict with Satan and his seductive temptations. The enemy will use every argument, every deception, to entangle the soul; and in order to win the crown of life, we must put forth earnest, persevering effort. We must not lay off the armor or leave the battlefield until we have gained the victory, and can triumph in our Redeemer. As long as we continue to keep our eyes fixed upon the Author and Finisher of our faith, we shall be safe. But our affections must be placed upon things above, not on things of the earth. By faith we must rise higher and still higher in the attainment of the graces of Christ. By daily contemplating His matchless charms, we must grow more and more into His glorious image. While we thus live in communion with Heaven, Satan will lay his nets for us in vain." Messages to Young People, p 104.
Will God ever fail or let down the expectations of His humble children? NO!
"God knows the feebleness of the body and of the mind, and will require no more of him than He will give him strength to perform." Testimonies, vol 2, p 98.
Praise God! We indeed have a strong, compassionate, merciful, and loving Helper who knows--by experience--all the conflicts we will ever be called upon to fight. And He has promised to help each one of His followers to gain the victory over every temptation.
"Christ knew of the long years of conflict to be waged between man and his subtle foe. He is the refuge of all who, beset by temptation, call upon Him. Temptation and trial will come to us all, but we need never be worsted by the enemy. Our Saviour has conquered in our behalf. Satan is not invincible. Day by day he meets those who are on trial, striving by his wiles to gain the mastery over them. But they have a Helper who was tempted in all points like as they are, and who knows how to succor them. Temptation is not sin; the sin lies in yielding. To the soul that trusts in Jesus, temptation means victory and greater strength." Signs of the Times, December 10, 1902.
By putting forth earnest efforts in resisting temptation, and following God's will, our prayer becomes a prayer of living faith in the power and grace of God through Christ in us to overcome sin.
"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." James 2:26.
"The prayer of faith is the great strength of the Christian and will assuredly prevail against Satan." Testimonies, vol 1, p 296.
"Behold the Son of God bowed in prayer to His Father! Though He is the Son of God, He strengthens His faith by prayer, and by communion with heaven gathers to Himself power to resist evil and to minister to the needs of men. As the Elder Brother of our race He knows the necessities of those who, compassed with infirmity and living in a world of sin and temptation, still desire to serve Him. He knows that the messengers whom He sees fit to send are weak, erring men; but to all who give themselves wholly to His service He promises divine aid. His own example is an assurance that earnest, persevering supplication to God in faith--faith that leads to entire dependence upon God, and unreserved consecration to His work--will avail to bring to men the Holy Spirit's aid in the battle against sin." Acts of Apostles, p 56.
"Man is Satan's captive and is naturally inclined to follow his suggestions and do his bidding. He has in himself no power to oppose effectual resistance to evil. It is only as Christ abides in him by living faith, influencing his desires and strengthening him with strength from above, that man may venture to face so terrible a foe. Every other means of defense is utterly vain. It is only through Christ that Satan's power is limited. This is a momentous truth that all should understand. Satan is busy every moment, going to and fro, walking up and down in the earth, seeking whom he may devour. But the earnest prayer of faith will baffle his strongest efforts. Then take `the shield of faith,' brethren, `wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.'" Testimonies, vol 5, p 294.
So it is by resisting the Devil and his temptations, that forces him to flee from us as he fled from Christ, and as we take this first step in overcoming, we are also cleansing our hands and purifying our hearts from sin.
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded." James 4:7-8.
"When the first suggestion of wrong is heard, dart a prayer to heaven, and then firmly resist the temptation to tamper with the principles condemned in God's word." SDA Bible Commentary, vol 3, p 1155.
But not one of us will obtain the grace and power from God necessary to overcome sin until we show Him that we are serious, and put forth the ernest efforts to resist the temptation!
"Each one has a personal battle to fight. Each must win his own way through struggles and discouragements. Those who decline the struggle lose the strength and joy of victory. No one, not even God, can carry us to heaven unless we make the necessary effort on our part." Testimonies, vol 5, p 345.
"We give evidence of the sincerity of our prayers by the earnestness of our endeavors to answer them, to overcome the sins which strive for a place in the life. Our prayers will be ineffectual unless we continually strive to correct that which is wrong and unlovely in our lives. If we ask God to work for us, and then make no effort to conquer self, our prayers will rise no higher than our heads. God helps those who co-operate with him. We can obtain forgiveness only through the blood of Christ. His atoning sacrifice is all-powerful. But in the struggle for immortality we have a part to act. Christ will help those who pray and then watch unto prayer. He calls upon us to use every power he has given us in the warfare against sin. We can never be saved in inactivity and idleness. We might as well look for a harvest from seed which we have not sown, and for knowledge where we have not studied, as to expect salvation without making an effort. It is our part to wrestle against the evil tendencies of the natural heart." Youth's Instructor, March 5, 1903 (p 562).
"There is but one power that can bring us into conformity to the likeness of Christ, that can make us steadfast and keep us constant. It is the grace of God that comes to us through obedience to the law of God." My Life Today, p 100.
So after we recognize the temptation, we must also recognize that we are weak, then pray for God to help us overcome, then yield and submit ourselves to God to do His will and not our own, and then put forth the efforts needed to resist the temptation. It is only at this point that God recognizes our sincerity and sends the grace and power through Christ, which then works in us, combining with our feeble efforts, to aid us in advancing until we will have gained the victory. Thus the 4 key steps in overcoming sin and temptations are:
M Recognize the temptation and humbly admit that we are weak,
M Pray to God for grace and strength to overcome,
M Submit our will unto God,
M Resist the temptation by putting forth efforts to do God's will.
Recognize, Pray, Submit, Resist. R.P.S.R.
A practical example of this process can be seen in the following example. A health reform believer wakes up at midnight with the thought about the package of soft, chewy, sweet dates they purchased and placed in the refrigerator earlier that day. Now they know that they should not eat in between meals, and that it is wrong to do so (see 2T 374; CD 180). Yet they continue to dwell upon the thought of the delicious taste of these dates. Finally they decide that they would go into the kitchen and get a cold drink of water. On the way into the kitchen they see the refrigerator, and again picture the dates inside, only now the dates have grown in sweetness and chewy-deliciousness in their imagination. They then decide to open the fridge door and take a quick look at the dates. Oh, they look so delicious! They finally decide to just smell them, and then only to take a small bite to see if these dates do indeed taste as wonderful as they believe. Soon the whole date is being chewed in their mouth, and with one eaten why not more!
In the above example, when was sin committed? The sin was not committed until the date was in their mouth. All the many prior steps which led up to the date being placed in their mouth, were temptations or enticements designed to lead them to eating between meals and committing sin by disobeying God's will. Of course, the best time to resist the temptation was at the very beginning, while they were still in bed. At the first suggestion to do wrong, is the easiest to overcome through God's strength and grace; every other step towards the sin becomes more difficult to resist. But even at the point where they smelled the dates, they still could have overcome the temptation and not committed sin.
What they should have done at the very beginning was to recognize that they were being tempted to break God's will; then pray to God for the grace and strength to resist; then submitted their will to God, and firmly resist the temptation; and then they would not have committed sin. But we must all pray before we try to resist any temptation, because if we do not pray, then we are actually trying to resist it in our own strength!
"If you look to, or trust in, your own ability, you will destroy the effect of actual effort. God alone can give the victory, and he will vindicate the truth, if men will not take credit to themselves; God will do honor to those who live not to self, but to him." General Conference Bulletin, April 1, 1895 (p 502).
"God will help you in your efforts if you strive only in Him." Testimonies, vol 4, p 259.
"He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. Man cannot be saved without obedience, but his works should not be of himself; Christ should work in him to will and to do of His good pleasure. If a man could save himself by his own works, he might have something in himself in which to rejoice. The effort that man makes in his own strength to obtain salvation is represented by the offering of Cain. All that man can do without Christ is polluted with selfishness and sin; but that which is wrought through faith is acceptable to God. When we seek to gain heaven through the merits of Christ, the soul makes progress. `Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,' we may go on from strength to strength, from victory to victory; for through Christ the grace of God has worked out our complete salvation." Faith and Works, p 94.
Thus it is God through Christ who is working in us to do His will. And in being united with Christ and divinity, we can--with Him--gain the victory over all sin.
"...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Philippians 2:12-13.
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13.
"Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 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....We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." 1 John 3:6-9, 5:18.
"The Saviour took upon Himself the infirmities of humanity and lived a sinless life, that men might have no fear that because of the weakness of human nature they could not overcome. Christ came to make us `partakers of the divine nature,' and His life declares that humanity, combined with divinity, does not commit sin." Ministry of Healing, p 180.
"The Son of God came to our world in human form to show man that divinity and humanity combined does not commit sin. He is our pattern. Through Him we may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." Manuscript Releases, vol 8, p 291.
We do not have a passive Saviour, who gives us His strength and then leave us to battle alone. But Christ has promised to battle with us against sin and temptation!
"As the enemy worked to overcome the Saviour, so he will work with the human family today. But in every time of trial and difficulty, remember that Christ has passed through similar experiences, and He came out from every trial without a stain of sin upon His character. He came to show what every member of the human family may become trough His grace. He understands every difficulty that we must meet, and He stands ready to strengthen those who struggle with Him against the powers of evil. He waits to hear and answer their prayers." Upward Look, p 245.
What a glorious privilege and honor granted to us that we might be united with our God! We are not called to fight this battle alone, but Christ has promised to fight it with and through us! And if we suffer by crucifying self in order to do God's will, then we would be suffering with Christ!
"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Romans 8:16-18.
"While God works in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure, we must work in harmony with Him." Testimonies, vol 5, p 345.
What a privilege to overcome and struggle with Christ and, in His infinite strength, gain victory over all sin to the glory of God which shall be revealed in us!
"The command is not, Let him that glorieth glory in himself, but in God. For sinful men, the highest consolation, the greatest cause of rejoicing, is that Heaven has given Jesus to be the sinner's Saviour. When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, there was no hope for the sinful race; but Christ offered to take the sin upon himself. He offered to go over the ground where Adam stumbled and fell; to meet the tempter on the field of battle, and conquer him in man's behalf....It was not for himself, but that he might break the chain that held the human race in slavery to Satan. He saw that man had become so weakened by disobedience that he had not wisdom or strength to meet the wily foe, and this is why the Son of God takes upon himself man's nature, and, gaining the victory in our behalf, brings to us divine power, that, combined with human effort, will enable us to overcome." Review and Herald, March 15, 1887 (vol 2, p 119).
If we just could comprehend this glorious truth, that through faith the all-powerful God is working with and in us to overcome sin to the glory of Him who has called us out of darkness to His marvelous light, how could we ever fail and fall into sin again?
"For with God nothing shall be impossible." Luke 1:37.
"The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." Luke 18:27.
"...in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." Romans 8:37.
"God Himself has pledged to help you in every determined effort you make to regain your manhood (from sin). If you accept His help, you will become a bright and shining light in the world, and will at last hear the benediction, `Well done.'" Signs of the Times, January 30, 1901 (vol 4, p 166).
"He (God) will glorify Himself by working in and through them who wholly follow Him, so that it shall be known that it is the Lord and that their works are wrought in God." Testimonies, vol 2, p 148.
But what happens if we, who profess to serve and worship God alone, should choose to disobey God and to commit sin? The only way we could sin, would be for us to reject God and cast Him away from us so that self would instead be revealed. And in allowing self instead of Christ to be revealed in us, then we would be denying, piercing, and crucifying Christ afresh!
"(Because of sinning) He has crucified to himself the Son of God afresh and pierced anew that bleeding and stricken heart." Mount of Blessings, p 10.
"By every sin Jesus is wounded afresh..." Desire of Ages, p 300.
"...if we deny him, he also will deny us." 2 Timothy 2:12.
If we could just keep self out of the picture, allowing self and pride to be crucified and mortified, and instead allow God to work through and in us--thereby revealing Him and His righteous character to all around us, we would then gain the victory over sin because of our union with Christ which strengthens us.
"Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily." Colossians 1:26-29.
"When we bring our lives to complete obedience to the law of God, regarding God as our supreme Guide, and clinging to Christ as our hope of righteousness, God will work in our behalf. This is a righteousness of faith, a righteousness hidden in a mystery of which the worldling knows nothing, and which he cannot understand. Sophistry and strife follow in the train of the serpent; but the commandments of God diligently studied and practiced, open to us communication with heaven, and distinguish for us the true from the false. This obedience works out for us the divine will, bringing into our lives the righteousness and perfection that was seen in the life of Christ." SDA Bible Commentary, vol 1, p 1118.
"It is the righteousness and perfection of his Son, who takes upon himself our sins, our defects, our weaknesses, which God accepts; and through faith in the merits of the blood of a crucified and risen Saviour we are prisoners of hope. Christ's righteousness becomes our righteousness, if we sustain a living connection with him. Then we cease to transgress the holy law of God, and become partakers of the divine nature." Review and Herald, December 18, 1888 (vol 2, p 269).
So by retaining a living connection with Jesus, allowing Him to live in and through us, His righteousness becomes our righteousness by a living active faith. Thus through His strength we cease to commit sin, and become a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption which is in the world through lust.
Thus there is no room for any glory to be given to any one of us, because all the power we used to obey God and His law came from God through Christ to us!
"...God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Galatians 6:14.
Brothers and sisters, we can only live the life of faith and obedience through and in Jesus Christ when we are dead to self.
"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." 1 John 4:9.
"For to me to live is Christ..." Philippians 1:21.
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20.
But in allowing self to be revealed in us, instead of Christ and His righteousness, we would be robbing God of the right to live His life through us, and thus we would be stealing away any glory which would have been given to Him!
"The proud heart strives to earn salvation; but both our title to heaven and our fitness for it are found in the righteousness of Christ. The Lord can do nothing toward the recovery of man until, convinced of his own weakness, and stripped of all self-sufficiency, he yields himself to the control of God. Then he can receive the gift that God is waiting to bestow. From the soul that feels his need, nothing is withheld. He has unrestricted access to Him in whom all fullness dwells....The highest evidence of nobility in a Christian is self-control. He who under abuse or cruelty fails to maintain a calm and trustful spirit robs God of His right to reveal in him His own perfection of character. Lowliness of heart is the strength that gives victory to the followers of Christ; it is the token of their connection with the courts above." Desire of Ages, p 300-301.
But without prayer, there is no possible way we could overcome self and temptation! That is why Satan hates prayer so much, and is doing everything he can to keep us from praying--especially when we are tempted.
"Satan leads many to believe that prayer to God is useless and but a form. He well knows how needful are meditation and prayer to keep Christ's followers aroused to resist his cunning and deception." Testimonies, vol 1, p 295.
Prayer is the only channel we have to communicate directly to Christ in every time of need. Prayer is therefore the breath of life to the Christian.
"Prayer is the breath of the soul. It is the secret of spiritual power. No other means of grace can be substituted, and the health of the soul preserved. Prayer brings the heart into immediate contact with the Well-spring of life, and strengthens the sinew and muscle of the religious experience." Gospel Workers, p 254-55.
"Prayer is the breath of the soul, the channel of all blessings....Prayer unites us one to another and to God. Prayer brings Jesus to our side, and gives new strength and fresh grace to the fainting, perplexed soul." Review and Herald, October 30, 1900 (vol 4, p 231).
Brethren, as sinful and unworthy as we are, we have been given the distinct honor and privilege of talking directly with, and can even urge our petitions before, the King of the entire universe! There is no other royalty who will allow every subject in their kingdom to approach them at any hour with their petitions and requests.
It is out of love for unworthy you and me that our Saviour is willing to take all our fervent requests before the Father. And the Father, out of love for Christ and humanity, is willing to hear and answer our requests according to His will!
"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every time of need." Hebrews 4:15-16.
What love is this brethren? And yet, many have come to look upon prayer as a drudgery, or an almost unnecessary item for salvation. But prayer is vital for our spiritual life and for a victorious warfare against every temptation and sin. But it must be the prayer of faith. Without an active exercising of faith in using God's strength to overcome, it is impossible to please God.
"But without faith it is impossible to please him..." Hebrews 11:6.
"...If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain (of sin), Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." Matthew 17:20.
"...and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." 1 John 5:4.
"Live the life of faith day by day. Do not become anxious and distressed about the time of trouble, and thus have a time of trouble beforehand. Do not keep thinking, `I am afraid I shall not stand in the great testing day.' You are to live for the present, for this day only. To-morrow is not yours. To-day you are to maintain the victory over self. To-day you are to live a life of prayer. To-day you are to fight the good fight of faith. To-day you are to believe that God blesses you. And as you gain the victory over darkness and unbelief, you will meet the requirements of the Master, and will become a blessing to those around you." Historical Sketches, p 142-43.
This road of overcoming is not easy to travel. It is a straight, rough, and narrow pathway. Yet, yoked up with Christ, the hard rough road becomes plain, and any trials or suffering becomes bearable and the victory sweet.
"Blessed be God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ....Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." 1 Peter 1:3-7, 9.
"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake..." Philippians 1:29.
"If we believe in the power of Jesus' name, and present our petitions to God in his name, we shall never be turned away. The Lord says, `To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.' The psalmist says, `He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.' Our help cometh from God, who holds all things in his own hands. Our peace is in the assurance that his love is exercised toward us. If faith grasps this assurance, we have gained all; if we lose this assurance, all is lost. When we surrender all we have and are to God, and are placed in trying and dangerous positions, coming in contact with Satan, we should remember that we shall have victory in meeting the enemy in the name and power of the Conqueror. Every angel would be commissioned to come to our rescue, when we thus depend upon Christ, rather than that we should be permitted to be overcome. But we need not expect to get the victory without suffering; for Jesus suffered in conquering for us. While we suffer in his name, while we are called upon to deny appetite, and to withdraw ourselves from lovers of pleasure (or from apostate corrupt churches), we should not murmur, but should rather rejoice that we are privileged in a very small degree to be partakers with Christ of the trial, the sacrifice, the self-denial, and the suffering that our Lord endured on our behalf, that we might obtain eternal salvation." Review and Herald, February 5, 1895.
Brethren, let us remember to pray to God for His strength to overcome every time we find ourselves tempted, submitting ourselves to Him and then firmly resist the Devil. May we allow God to live in and through us. May we allow the righteousness of Christ to shine from us, that glory may be given to the Lord God of all.
But some may be praying and yet still finding themselves overcome by temptation. If this is your experience, please write for our compiled Bible and SOP list of the reasons why we find ourselves overcome by sin; the various practical ways on how to resist every temptation; and the promises which God provides for us in this battle against sin.
May we remember the above truths, especially the 4 keys to successfully overcome all sin and temptations--R.P.S.R. (Recognize, Pray, Submit, Resist). And may we always remember to pray for strength to overcome, and then escape sin through our Saviour's power and righteousness to the glory of God.
But all the praying in the world cannot save one soul from sin if we choose not to resist temptation!
"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." Signs of the Times, July 17, 1901 (vol 4, p 189).
"Desires for goodness and purity are right, so far as they go; but if we stop here, they avail nothing. Many will go down to ruin while hoping and desiring to overcome their evil propensities. They do not yield the will to God. They do not choose to serve Him.
"God has given us the power of choice; it is ours to exercise. We cannot change our hearts, we cannot control our thoughts, our impulses, our affections. We cannot make ourselves pure, fit for God's service. But we can choose to serve God, we can give Him our will; then He will work in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus our whole nature will be brought under the control of Christ." Ministry of Healing, p 176.
This then brings us to the fifth and last part in this series of salvation: THE HUMAN WILL.