Overcoming and Perfection
"Whereby are given unto us exceeding greet and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. for if these things be in you, and bound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Werefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." II Peter, 1:4-11.
If we can Partake of Christ's Divine Nature, What Power did He Have That we Cannot Have for the Purpose of Overcoming?
"Jesus revealed no qualities, and exercised no powers, that men may not have through faith in Him. His perfect humanity is that which all His followers may possess, if they will be in subjection to God as He was." Desire of Ages, 664.
"When it is in the heart to obey God, when efforts are put forth to this end, Jesus accepts this disposition and effort as man's best service, and makes up for the deficiency with His own divine merit. But He will not accept those who claim to have faith in Him, and yet are disloyal to His Father's commandments." E.G. White, Selected Messages, vol. 1, 382.
"Since the fall of Adam, men in every age have excused themselves for sinning, charging God with their sin, saying that they could not keep his commandments. This is the insinuation Satan cast at god in heaven. But the plea, 'I cannot keep the commandments,' need never be presented to God, for before Him stands the Saviour, the marks of the crucifixion upon His body, a living witness that the law can be kept. It is not that men cannot keep the law, but they will not....in His human nature, Christ rendered perfect obedience to the law of God, thus proving to all that this law can be kept." E.G. White, Review and Herald, vol. 4, p. 303, May 28, 1901.
Perfection is a Life-long Work of Slow and Toilsome Steps.--"Perfection of character is a lifelong work, unattainable by those who are not willing to strive for it in God's appointed way, by slow and toilsome steps. We cannot afford to make any mistake in this matter, but we want day by day to be growing up into Christ, our living Head." E.G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 500.
How to Achieve Character Perfection.--"Christ is seeking to reproduce Himself in the heats of men.... There can be no growth or fruitfulness in the life that is centered on self. If you have accepted Christ as a personal Saviour, you are to forget yourself, and try to help others.... As you receive the Spirit of Christ--the Spirit of unselfish love and labor for others--you will grow and bring forth fruit.... Your faith will increase....your love be made perfect. More and more you will reflect the likeness of Christ in all that is pure, noble, and lovely." Christ's Object Lessons, p. 67, 68.
"God Reveals the Motives.--God leads His people on, step by step. He brings them into positions which are calculated to reveal the motives of the heart. Some endure at one point but fall off at the next. At every advance step the heart is tested and tried a little closer. If any find their hearts opposed to the straight work of God, [Straight Testimony--Chastenings, Scourgings, Trials-Tribulations etc.], it should convince them that they have a work to do in overcoming, or they will be finally rejected of the Lord." E.G. White, Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, 347.
Not an Instantaneous Work.--"The work of grace upon the heart is not an instantaneous work. It is effected by continuous, daily watching and believing the promises of God. The repentant, believing one, who cherishes faith and earnestly desires the renewing grace of Christ, God will not turn away empty. He will give him grace. And ministering angels will aid him as he perseveres in his efforts to advance." E.G. White, Evangelism, p. 287.
Not Developed in a Moment.--"The precious graces of the Holy Spirit are not developed in a moment. Courage, fortitude, meekness, faith, unwavering trust in God's power to save, are required by the experience of years. By a life of holy endeavor and firm adherence to the right the children of God are to seal their destiny." E.G. White, The ministry of Healing, p. 454.
Some Overcome Easier and Faster.--"If the soul is to be purified and ennobled, and made fit for the heavenly courts, there are two lessons to be learned--self-sacrifice and self-control. Some learn these important lessons more easily than do others, for they are exercised by the simple discipline the Lord gives them in gentleness and love. Others require the slow discipline of suffering, that the cleansing fire may purify their hearts of pride and self-reliance, or earthly passion and self-love, that the true gold of character may appear and that they may become victors through the grace of Christ." E.G. White, Faith and Works, p. 86.
Accusers of the Brethren.--"The soldiers of Christ may not always reveal perfection in their step, but their mistakes should call out form their fellow comrades not words that will weaken, but words that will strengthen, and will help them recover their lost ground. They should not turn the glory of God into dishonor, and give an advantage to the bitterest foes of their King.
Let not fellow soldiers be severe, unreasonable judges of their comrades, and make the most of every defect. Let them not manifest satanic attributes in becoming accusers of the brethren....God will charge those who unwisely expose the mistakes of their brethren with sin of far greater magnitude than He will charge the one who makes a misstep. Criticism and condemnation of the brethren are counted as criticism and condemnation of Christ." E.G. White, Selected Messages, vol. 3, pp. 344-5.
Presenting Extreme the Positions of God's Messengers.--"In presenting the extreme positions that have been taken by the messengers of God, do you think that confidence will be inspired in the work of God for this time? Let God by inspiration trace the errors of His people for their instruction and admonition; but let not finite lips or pens dwell upon those features of the experience of God's people that will have a tendency to confuse and cloud the mind. Let no one call attention to the errors of those whose general work has been accepted of God....
God's children are very precious in His sight, and those who by pen or voice weaken the influence of even the least of those who believe in Jesus Christ, are registered in heaven as injurers of the Lord Himself. 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.'" E.G. White, Selected Messages, vol. 3, pp. 344.
"Turn Not Weapons on Christ's Soldiers.--"We are to direct the weapons of our warfare against our foes, but never to turn them toward those who are under marching orders from the King of kings, who are fighting manfully the battles of the Lord of lords. Let no one aim at a soldier whom God recognizes, who God has sent forth to bear a special message to the world and to do a special work.." E.G. White, Selected Messages, vol. 3, p. 344.
Daily Growth.--"We are to grow daily in spiritual loveliness. We shall often have to bow down to weep at the feet of Jesus, because of our shortcomings and mistakes; but we are not to be discouraged; we are to pray more fervently, believe more fully, and try again with more steadfastness to grow into the likeness of our Lord." E.G. White, Maranatha, p. 227.
"Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not. 1 John 3:6. A mere profession of godliness is worthless. It is he that abideth in Christ that is a Christian. For 'every man that hath this hope in him puifieth himself, even as he is pure.' In every clime, in every nation, our youth should cooperate with God. The only way a person can be pure is to become like-minded with God. How can we know God?--By studing His word...
It is through faith in Jesus Christ that the truth is accepted in the heart and the human agent is purified and cleansed. Jesus was 'wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.' Is it possible to be healed, while knowingly committing sin?--No; it is genuine faith that says, I know that I have committed sin, but Jesus has pardoned my sin; and hereafter I will resist temptation in and through His might., 'Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.' He has an abiding principle in the soul, that enables him to overcome temptation.
'Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not.' God has power to keep the soul who is in Christ, when that soul is under temptation. 'Whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him.' That is, every one who is a true believer is sanctified through the truth, in life and character. 'Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.' 'Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; ...because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil.' Now mark where the distinction is made: 'Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither is he that loveth not his brother.' 'My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.'" E.G. white, Sons and Daughters of God, p. 297.
The Human Nature of Christ as Our Example.--"The Son of God was assaulted at every step by the powers of darkness. After his baptism he was driven of the Spirit into the wilderness, and suffered temptation for fort days. Letters have been coming in to me, affirming that Christ could not have had the same nature as man, for if he had, he would have fallen under similar temptations. If he did not have man's nature, he could not be our example. If he was not a partaker of our nature, he could not have been tempted as man has been. If it were not possible for him to yield to temptation, he could not be our helper. It was a solemn reality that Christ came to fight the battles as man, in man's behalf. His temptation and victory tell us that humanity must copy the Pattern; man must become a partaker of the divine nature....
Those who would overcome must put to the tax every power of teir being. They must agonize on their knees before God for divine power. Christ came to be our example, and to make known to us that we may be partakers of the divine nature [2 Peter 1:4-12]. How?--By having escaped the corruptions that are in the world through lust...Christ, by his own example, made it evident that man may stand in integrity. Men may have a power to resist evil--a power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master; a power that will place the where they may overcome as Christ overcame. Divinity and humanity may be combined in them." E.G. White, Review and Herald, vol. 2, p. 367.
"Let none, then, regard their defects as incurable. God will give faith and grace to overcome them." The Great Controversy, p. 489.
Why Christ Waits.--"In consideration of the shortness of time we as a people should watch and pray, and in no case allow ourselves to be diverted from the solemn work of preparation for the great event before us. Because the time is apparently extended, many have become careless and indifferent in regard to their words and actions. They do not realize their danger and do not see and understand the mercy of our God in lengthening their probation, that they may have time to form characters for the future, immortal life. Every moment is of the highest value. Time is granted them, not to be employed in studying their own ease and becoming dwellers on the earth, but to be used in the work of overcoming every defect in their own characters and in helping others, by example and personal effort, to see the beauty of holiness. God has a people upon the earth who in faith and holy hope are tracing down the roll of fast-fulfilling prophecy and are seeking to purify their souls by obeying the truth, that they may not be found without the wedding garment when Christ shall appear.... The signs foretold in prophecy are fast fulfilling around us. This should arouse every true follower of Christ to zealous action." Testimonies, vol. 4, pp. 306, 307.
"Essential to Forsake Sin.--Here is where you bring yourself into condemnation, that you continue to sin. In the strength of Christ cease to sin. every provision has been made that grace should abide with you, that shin shall ever appear the hateful thing that it is, sin. 'And if any man sin,' he is not to give himself up in despair and talk like a man who is lost to Christ." E.G. White, Mind, Character and Personality, vol. 2, p. 456.
Conflict Painful and Protracted.--"Satan, with all his masterly power, has interposed himself between man and the law of God, that through falsehood and sophistry he may inspire men with the same rebellion against God and his law as actuates himself. those whom he can not deceive, he hates. He misinterprets their words and actions, and causes the world to persecute and destroy, in order that earth may hold no soul who is not in league with the prince of this world and the ruler of its darkness. History testifies to the fact that no man can serve God without coming in conflict with the united forces of evil. The conflict between the believer and his foes may be painful and protracted, and at times the soul may, through manifold temptations, yield to the power of the evil one; but God will not give his servant up to be the prey f the destroyer as long as he cries unto Him. The pitiful Saviour knows his weakness, and though his servant John, he has sent the repenting sinner a message of consolation: 'If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us form all unrighteousness.' '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; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments." E.G. White, The Signs of the Times, 11-14-1895, pr. 3.
Inward Assurance.--"When man is created anew in Christ Jesus, he becomes a partaker of the divine nature. God has, through His own power, united in man the human and the divine. He clothes humanity with the robe of Christ's righteousness. Man is enabled to discern the Saviour, and by beholding he is changed into the likeness of His character. He recognizes the words of Christ, 'All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.' He who discerns Christ is a partaker o His Spirit and His righteousness. He has the inward assurance that Christ is abiding in the soul-temple." E.G. White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, p. 20.
Grace Power for Overcoming--How to Obtain.--"I saw how this grace could be obtained. Go to your closet and there alone plead with god. 'Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.' Be in earnest, be sincere. Fervent prayer availeth much. Jacob-like, wrestle in prayer. Agonize. Jesus in the garden sweat great drops of blood; you must make an effort. Do not leave your closet until you feel strong in God; then watch, and just as long as you watch and pray, you can keep these evil besetments under, and the grace of God can, and will, appear in you." E.G. White, Spiritual Gifts, vol. II, 257.
Greater Power for Overcoming.--"The Holy Spirit has been given us as an aid in the study of the Bible. Jesus promised, 'The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.' John 14:26. When the Bible is made the study book, with earnest supplication for the Spirit's guidance, and with a full surrender of the heart to be sanctified through the truth, all that Christ has promised will be accomplished. The result of such Bible study will be quickened, the sensibilities aroused. The conscience will become sensitive; the sympathies and sentiments will be purified; a better moral atmosphere will be created; and new power to resist temptation will be imparted." E.G. White, Counsels to Teachers, p. 357.
"Let none, then, regard their defects as incurable. God will give faith and grace to overcome them." The Great Controversy, 489.
"It will cost us an effort to secure eternal life. It is only by long and persevering effort, sore discipline, and stern conflict that we shall be overcomers. But if we patiently and determinedly, in the name of the Conqueror who overcame in our behalf in the wilderness of tempttion, overcome as He overcame, we shall have the eternal reward. Our efforts, our self-denial, our perseverance, must be proportionate to the infinite value of the object of which we are in pursuit." Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 324, 325.
"The precious graces of the Holy Spirit are not developed in a moment. Courage, fortitude, meekness, faith, unwavering trust in God's power to save, are acquired by the experience of years. By a life of holy endeavor and firm adherence to the right the children of God are to seal their destiny." Testimonies, vol. 8, 314.
"Minds that have been given up to loose thought need to change. 'Girding up the loins of your mind, be sober and set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as children of obedience, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in the time of your ignorance; but like as He who called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living; because it is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy.' ! Peter 1:13-16, A.R.V. The thoughts must be centered upon God. Now is the time to put forth earnest effort to overcome the natural tendencies of the carnal heart." Testimonies, vol. 8, 315.
"Paul's sanctification was the result of a constant conflict with self. He said: 'I die daily.' I Corinthians a5:31. His will and his desires every day conflicted with duty and the will of God. Instead of following inclination, he did God's will, however crucifying to his own nature." Testimonies, vol. 8, 313.
"God alone can renew the heart. 'It is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for His good pleasure.' But we are bidden: 'Work out your own salvation.' Philippians 2:13, 12, A.R.V." Testimonies, vol. 8, 312.
"The Work That Requires Our Thought.--Wrongs cannot be righted, nor can reformations in character be made, by a few feeble, intermittent efforts. sanctification is the work, not of a day, or of a year, but of a lifetime. The struggle for conquest over self, for holiness and heaven, is a lifelong struggle. Without continual effort and constant activity there can be no advancement in the divine life, no attainment of the victor's crown." Testimonies, vol.. 8, 312, 313.
"The Secret of Overcoming Sin.--We become overcomers by helping others to overcome, by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. The keeping of the commandments of God will yield in us n obedient spirit, and the service that is the offspring of such a spirit, God can accept." E.G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 974.
"The disciples were the channel of communication between Christ and the people. This should be a real encouragement to His disciples today. Christ is the great center, the source of all strength. His disciples are to receive their supplies from Him. The most intelligent, the most spiritually minded, can bestow only as they receive. Of themselves they can supply nothing for the needs of the soul. We can impart only that which we receive from Christ; and we can receive only as we impart to others. As we continue imparting, we continue to receive; and the more we impart, the more we shall receive. Thus we may be constantly believing, trusting, receiving, and imparting." The Desire of Ages, 370.
"If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword.' These words are true. Exact obecience is required, and those who say that it is not possible to live a perfect life throw upon God the imputation of injustice and untruth." E.G. White, Review and Herald, vol. 6, p. 519.
"Christ came to the world that we might become new creatures, created after the similitude of his own character; that we might have purity like the purity of God, have perfection like his perfection. In the work of regeneration, the original loveliness begins to be restored. The attributes of the character of Christ are imparted to the soul, and the image of the divine begins to shine forth. 'We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.' It is plainly declared that a change takes place in the character of the human agent.' E.G. White, The Signs of the Times, 08-21-93, pr. 3.
"Until Perfection of Character is Reached.--At this time in the history of the world, we should have but one object in view--to gain eternal life. Every other desire should be subordinate to this. The work of regeneraiton must go on in every soul until perfeciton of character is reached; for nothing short of this will meet the mind of God.--Manuscript 119, 1899, p. 1. (Words to Parents, August 21, 1899). E.G. White, Manuscript Releases Volume Five, 338.
"There are two kinds of experience,--the external showing and the the inward working. The divine and the human were at work in the character of Judas. Satan was working the human, Christ the divine. Jesus longed to see Judas conformed to the image of Christ's character. This regeneration, this new birth, would have come to him through a vital connection with Christ. The Saviour's abiding presence would have been to him a daily renewal of consecration and progressive sanctificaiton of the entire man. But the human side of the character of Judas was confused with his religious sentiments, and was treated by him as essential. By taking this view of things, he left an open door for Satan to enter and take possession of him." E.G. White, Advent Review and Herald, 10-12-97, pr. 4.
"Christ is seeking to reproduce Himself in the hearts of men.... There can be no growth or fruitfulness in the life that is centered on self. If you have accepted Christ as a personal Saviour, you are to forget yourself, and try to help others.... As you receive the Spirit of Christ--the Spirit of unselfish love and labor for others--you will grow and bring forth fruit.... Your faith will increase.... your love be made perfect. More and more you will reflect the likeness of Christ in all that is pure, noble, and lovely." E.G. White, Christ's Object Lessons, p 67, 68.
"When self is merged in Christ, love springs forth spontaneously. The completeness of Christian character is attained when the impulse to help and bless others springs constantly from within--when the sunshine of heaven fills the heart and is revealed in the countenance." E.G. White, Christ's Object Lessons, 384.