The Perfect Standard
June 26, 1900
The Perfect Standard
Mrs. E. G. White
The law of God is the only true standard of moral perfection. In the life of Christ this law was carried into action, and this is our example. Nothing short of this will meet the requirements of God. We may plead our inability to keep the law, but this will not excuse us. Such a plea is the language of the carnal heart, which is not willing to put forth determined effort in self-conquest. Christ could say, "I have kept my Father's commandments." And the disciple John declares, "He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked."
We read the biographies of Christians, and think their experience and attainments entirely beyond our reach. These, we say, are the histories of a few who were specially favored by grace. But these high attainments are for all. Christ died for every soul, and God assures us in his word that he is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him than parents are to give good gifts to their children. We may be engaged in the common duties of everyday life, but we can make these sacred by simple, earnest faith, and persevering, trusting prayer. God is honored by the steadfast integrity, the holy walk and conversation, of his people, even in the humblest walks of life.
The apostles and prophets and holy men of old did not perfect their characters by miracle. They used the ability given them by God, trusting alone in the righteousness of Christ; and all who will use the same means may secure the same result. It is our privilege to have high spiritual attainments; for God's word has declared it. But these call for faith and labor on our part. We must have an earnest desire for higher and still higher attainments in the Christian life. Paul exhorts us to "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." This means a close connection with God, which will give us trust and confidence in him, until we have an experimental knowledge of his divine nature, and are changed into his image. Then we can glorify God by revealing to those with whom we associate the result of the transforming influence of his grace.
There are many whose religion consists in theory. To them a happy emotion is godliness. They say, "Come to Jesus, and believe in him. It makes no difference what you believe so long as you are honest in your belief." They do not seek to make the sinner understand the true character of sin. He is not urged to search the Scriptures on bended knees that he may know what is truth, or to pray that his eyes may be anointed with eyesalve that he may see the grace of Christ. When the lawyer came to Christ, saying, "Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" the Saviour did not say, Believe, only believe, and you will be saved. "What is written in the law?" he said; "how readest thou?" The lawyer answered: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself." Christ said, "Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live." Here the false doctrine that man has nothing to do but believe is swept away. Eternal life is given to us on the condition that we obey the commandments of God.
Satan is willing that every transgressor of God's law shall claim to be holy. This is what he himself is doing. He is satisfied when men rest their faith on spurious doctrines and religious enthusiasm; for he can use such persons to good purpose in deceiving souls. There are many professedly sanctified ones who are aiding Satan in his work. They talk much of feeling; they speak of their love for God. But God does not recognize their love; for it is a delusion of the enemy. God has given these persons light, but they have refused to accept it. With the father of lies, they will receive the reward of disobedience. It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than after they had known it to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. The testimony of John is, "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." "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected."
Christ warns his followers, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing; but inwardly they are ravening wolves." He exhorts us not to be deceived when false shepherds present their doctrines. These men tell us that the commandments of God were done away at the death of Christ. Shall we believe them, these men who claim to be sanctified, while they refuse to obey God? They say the Lord has told them that they need not keep the ten commandments; but has the Lord told them this?óNo; God does not lie. Satan, who is the father of lies, deceived Adam in a similar way, telling him that he need not obey God, that he would not die if he transgressed the law. But Adam fell, and by his sin he opened the floodgates of woe upon our world. Again, Satan told Cain that he need not follow expressly the command of God in presenting the slain lamb as an offering. Cain obeyed the voice of the deceiver; and because God did not accept his offering, while he showed his approval of Abel's offering, Cain rose up in anger and slew his brother.
We need to know for ourselves what voice we are heeding, whether it is the voice of the true and living God, or the voice of the great apostate. Eternal life is of value to each of us, and we must take heed how we hear. We need sound doctrine, pure faith. We cannot afford to receive the sayings of men for the commandments of God. God declares, "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."
John gives us the definition of sin. "Whosoever committeth sin," he says, "transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." And this was after the crucifixion of Christ, when, we are told, the law was abolished. When type met antitype in the death of Christ, the sacrificial offerings ceased. The ceremonial law was done away. But by the crucifixion the law of ten commandments was established. The gospel has not abrogated the law, nor detracted one tittle from its claims. It still demands holiness in every part. It is the echo of God's own voice, giving to every soul the invitation, Come up higher. Be holy, holier still. This just and holy law is the standard by which all will be judged in the last day. We need to ask ourselves the question, Are we making void the law of God, or are we standing in vindication of it? We should carefully examine our thoughts and words.
The law has no power to pardon transgression. Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ must be exercised. As the sinner looks into this divine mirror, he will see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and will be driven to Christ. Godly sorrow will result from a realization of his frailty and depravity. His faith in the atoning sacrifice will be based on the sacred promise of full and complete pardon in Christ.
Let us earnestly inquire, What is truth? We can not afford to build on a sandy foundation. The doctrines revealed in the word of God are to be the foundation of our faith. It is of the utmost importance that we understand, as far as God has given us capacity for understanding, the principles upon which his government rests; for the principles which we believe and receive into the heart will govern and control the actions. The more clear the understanding of the truth which is in Jesus, the more spiritual will be the religious life, the more holy the affections.