"LET THERE BE LIGHT" Ministries
THE WILL - YOUR POWER OF CHOICE
First Printing, 1987
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THE WILL - YOUR POWER OF CHOICE
What is the will? Sister White writes:
Steps to Christ (SC), p 47: "This (the will) is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will."
So the will is our power of choice, it is our power of decision, and it is the governing power, or force, in our natures.
When do we use our will? When does our will come into play? It comes into play in every act of life. We cannot do one thing without our will. When we wake up in the morning until we fall asleep at night, we are constantly using our will to make decisions. So we can begin to see that our lives are made up of the different choices and actions that we make. And when we continually choose to repeat a certain action we begin to form habits. And according to our own particular habits will our characters be formed.
Christ's Object Lessons (COL), p 356: "He acts on the principles to which he has accustomed himself. Thus actions repeated form habits, habits form character, and by our character our destiny for time and for eternity is decided."
That I May Know Him (TMK), p 141: "...words and actions form character."
So we become exactly what we choose ourselves to be. If we choose to form bad characters for ourselves, then we will reap everlasting destruction. But if we choose to form good, righteous characters for ourselves then we will reap everlasting life. And it means everything to us to be able to spend eternity close beside our King and our merciful Saviour. That is why she said that "everything depends on the right action of the will."
With this in mind let us turn our attention to Adam before he sinned. God says:
"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..." Genesis 1:26.
Now why would God use two words to describe making man--both in His image and after His likeness? Likeness would mean the outward shape or form, and image would mean the inward shape or form--or character. (NOTE:--the Hebrew word for image means a representative figure). So we were created to represent God in both outward appearance and inward character!
Patriarchs and Prophets (PP), p 45: "Man was to bear God's image, both in outward resemblance and in character."
Letter 69, Feb 7, 1897 (MR #701, p 11): "The Lord did not make man to be redeemed, but to bear His image."
COL 355: "God created man, that every faculty might be the faculty of the divine mind..."
What a solemn thought this is! God has created every single person in this world with faculties, that if wisely built up and used properly, they could be able to reflect the divine mind in every action that they make.
Now was Adam perfect when he was created? Yes, he was. Did Adam have a perfect sinless nature? Yes, he did. Was he created with a perfect and complete character? No, he was not!
SC 62: "It was possible for Adam, before the fall, to form a righteous character by obedience to God's law. But he failed to do this, and because of his sin our natures are fallen..."
So Adam was not created with a perfect and complete character. His character was imperfect or unformed. But he was given the opportunity and ability to form and perfect his character by using his will in making the right decisions, in performing righteous actions, in forming righteous habits, and thus to form and perfect a righteous character.
Adam had no driving inclinations within himself to do wrong but yet he was free to yield his will to Satan and choose to do wrong if he wanted too. And sadly this is exactly what Adam chose to willingly do.
Because of Adam's sin, human nature fell and became sinful, full of evil and wicked lusts, and desires. Now man had a strong inward driving inclination to continue on sinning, which was not present before. Now when man would be faced with a temptation to do wrong, his fallen nature, with all its evil desires and inclinations, would exert an almost overpowering desire to follow and give in to that temptation, while his conscience would be telling him to resist the temptation and to do good. Thus a war would begin within himself whether to give in and sin or to resist and follow God. Which means that man would be forced to use his will to decide which path to follow.
Now after the fall, did anything happen to our will? Yes.
Testimonies, vol 5 (5T), p 515: "This will, that forms so important a factor in the character of man, was at the fall given into the control of Satan; and he has ever since been working in man to will and to do of his own pleasure, but to the utter ruin and misery of man."
So with Satan having the mastery over the will, and with man's fallen nature exerting an almost overpowering urge and desire to sin, we certainly would stand no chance of overcoming sin, would we? We would continue to lack enough strength and power on our own, to stand against temptation and we would not be able to gain control over our will and force it into the path of resistance and overcoming. We would continually find ourselves yielding to temptation and choosing to sin even though we didn't want to. Paul says this very thing:
Romans 7:18-19, 22-24: "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....For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 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?"
Is there any hope for the human race under these conditions? No, we would continue to be the servants of sin and remain under bondage to the devil. All the good things that we would do, all our righteousness, would be as filthy rags to God. Satan would continue to claim us as his own, and he would be our master and father.
The only hope for the entire human family would be help from God!
Education (ED), p 29: "The result of the eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is manifest in the every man's experience. There is in his nature a bent to evil, a force which, unaided he cannot resist. To withstand this force, to attain that ideal which his inmost soul he accepts as alone worthy, he can find help in but one power..."
But God cannot just pardon man and his sin, because it would prove the penalty to be useless, and sin would be allowed to live forever. The only way to break Satan's claim and bondage upon us and save humanity, would be for a son of the human race to choose to live his entire life without sinning. To continually war, struggle, and fight against the almost overpowering desire and lusts of a fallen human nature; to continually force his will to overcome all temptations, relying upon God for help, and then to walk in the path of humble obedience to God's commands perfectly. This is the only way to break Satan's control over our will and his claim upon us, because it would then prove that the law of God is holy, just and good, and that it could be obeyed perfectly by humanity. There is no other way for man's salvation and freedom from the bondage of Satan and sin!
Selected Messages, book 1 (1SM), p 340-41: "Justice demands that sin be not merely pardoned, but the death penalty must be executed. God, in the gift of His only-begotten Son, met both these requirements. By dying in man's stead, Christ exhausted the penalty and provided a pardon.
"Man through sin has been severed from the life of God. His soul is palsied through the machinations of Satan, the author of sin. Of himself he is incapable of sensing sin, incapable of appreciating and appropriating the divine nature. Were it brought within his reach there is nothing in it that his natural heart would desire it. The bewitching power of Satan is upon him. All the ingenious subterfuges the devil can suggest are presented to his mind to prevent every good impulse. Every faculty and power given him of God has been used as a weapon against the divine Benefactor. So, although He loves him, God cannot safely impart to him the gifts and blessings He desires to bestow.
"But God will not be defeated by Satan. He sent His Son into the world, that through His taking the human form and nature, humanity and divinity combined in Him would elevate man in the scale of moral value with God.
"There is no other way for man's salvation."
God, our merciful and blessed Father, gave His only begotten Son to become bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh; to be our Substitute, our Surety and Sacrifice for sin; to wrestle with and overcome the strong foe.
Now did Christ overcome the devil with man's fallen human nature upon Him, or did He overcome with the unfallen nature that angels and Adam had before the fall?
Hebrews 2:16-18: "For verily he (Christ) took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted."
So Christ had man's nature from Abraham onward, which means that Christ had to have the nature of man after the fall. But some will interpret and reason these scriptures otherwise and say that Christ did indeed take the human nature and became man, but He did not have the sinful, fallen nature that we possess today? Is this true? Let us look a little closer at the text we just read.
Vs 18 stated: "For in that he (Christ) himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted."
Christ suffered by being tempted. Now why would Christ suffer by being tempted if He had only an unfallen human nature? Wouldn't it be easy to say no to sin, if you did not have any inward driving desire to want to sin? Yes it would. Then why did Christ suffer when temptation came His way?
James 1:14 sheds some light on this and says: "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed."
So every man is tempted when the desires and lusts within his human nature drives, wars, and clamors for him to commit that sin. Now what kind of human nature do you have to have in order to have almost overpowering desires and lusts to sin? You must have human nature in its fallen condition!
So our dear Saviour had to have the same nature, the same fallen, sinful, human nature as you and I have, so that He could be tempted just like you and I are tempted, and overcome.
Hebrews 4:15: "For we have not a 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."
So in all areas, Christ was "tempted like as we are" with the same fallen nature, with the same driving and almost overpowering desires to commit sin, yet He did not sin in one instance.
Hebrews 2:17: "Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people."
The suffering that Christ experienced over the temptation was by Him fighting against it and using all the power of His being in grabbing hold of His will, forcing it to resist and overcome the temptation, choosing to follow the will of God in all things, and then walking or doing the will of God perfectly.
Our High Calling (OHC), p 107 (Manuscript 48, 1899): "Paul declares, 'I am crucified with Christ...' Gal 2:20. There is nothing so hard as the crucifixion of the will. Christ was tempted in all points like as we are; but His will was ever kept on the side of God's will. In His humanity He had the same free will that Adam had in Eden. He could have yielded to the temptation as Adam yielded, and Adam by believing God and being a doer of His word, could have resisted temptation as Christ resisted it. Had Christ so willed it, He could have commanded the stones to be made bread. He might have cast himself down from the pinnacle of the temple. He might have yielded to Satan's temptation to fall down and worship him, the usurper of the world. But at every point He met the tempter with, 'it is written.' He was in perfect obedience to the will of God, and the will of God was revealed throughout His entire life...
"Those who follow Christ, if they would become complete in Him must keep their will surrendered to the will of God."
This destroys the false doctrine of those who teach that after conversion, the Christian does not have to exert his will power to say no to temptation, that by faith alone you overcome. But this is not true, because our Saviour showed us how to overcome temptation, by yielding our will to Gods will every moment of our life. Christ, by His example, showed each one of us how to overcome with a fallen, sinful human nature.
Sister White makes it even more clear and writes:
Bible Commentary, vol 4 (4BC), p 1147 col 2: "He took upon Himself fallen, suffering human nature, degraded and defiled by sin."
Review and Herald, vol 1 (1RH), p 140 col 3: "He would take man's fallen nature and engage to cope with the strong foe who triumphed over Adam."
3RH 421 col 2: "...He was ever pure and undefiled, yet He took upon Him our sinful nature."
Christ didn't commit sin to obtain our sinful nature, but He took it upon Himself in order to endure the same strong inward inclinations and to overcome them--being our perfect example.
5T 177: "He knows how strong are the inclinations of the natural heart, and He will help in every time of temptation."
Praise be to God! Have you ever stopped to think of what kind of humility Christ had to have in order to step down from the highest position in heaven, where the angels were bowing at His feet, eagerly waiting to follow His every command? To give up all that, to step down from His position next to the Father, and become one of His own creation in order to show us exactly how we can overcome all sin and temptations and come back in favor with God again? Did you ever stop to think what humiliation that was to the Son of God? Yet there are so many Christians today who can't take up the cross and follow after Christ.
Now did Christ have a perfect and complete character at birth? No, He did not.
Hebrews 2:10: "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."
Hebrews 5:8-9: "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him..."
Spirit of Prophecy, vol 2 (2SOP), p 39: "It was in the order of God that Christ should take upon Himself the form and nature of fallen man, that He might be made perfect through suffering, and Himself endure the strength of Satan's fierce temptations, that He might understand how to succor those who should be tempted."
5RH 91 col 1: "Christ came to stand at the head of humanity, to work out in our behalf a perfect character."
Oh, my brothers and sisters, Christ was victorious over every temptation. He has already fought all the battles that we will ever have to fight in perfecting our character, and He has obtained the victory over every sin that there is in agonizing conflict with the strong man and the strong foe, in order to set us free from bondage!
Matthew 12:29: "Or else, how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house."
Now there are some symbols here that we need to define. Who represents the strong man? It would be Satan. What represents the strong man's house? His house would be his territory or domain--which would be this world. Now how did Christ bind the strong man? Christ overcame every temptation Satan threw His way. He triumphed over Satan and so Satan did not have anything to triumph in over Christ. In John 14:30 Christ says, "the devil has nothing in me."
Now what does it mean to spoil satan's goods and his house? Why this would be setting free Satan's prisoners and belongings or removing them from being under his control and power (see Isaiah 14:12, 17). Satan wanted us to remain under bondage and captivity to him forever without any possibility of escape. But Christ did not let this happen. He did not want our will--the freedom to choose whom we want to obey--to be destroyed, and He has secured this power of choice for humanity to freely exercise.
Mount of Blessings (MB), p 62: "God does not design that our will should be destroyed, for it is only through its exercise that we can accomplish what He would have us do. Our will is to be yielded to Him, that we may receive it again, purified and refined, and so linked in sympathy with the Divine that He can pour through us the tides of His love and power. However bitter and painful this surrender may appear to the willful, wayward heart, yet 'it is profitable for thee.'"
Christ has made us free from the from the power of the devil and sin, setting us a perfect example of how to also overcome sin and perfect our own characters. And we can! But we must surrender ourselves to God, become converted to Him, and we must understand the power of the will.
Letter 24a, Jan 27, 1890 (Manuscript Release (MR) #448, p 12-13): "The stronghold of sin is in the will."
But some just do not know how to give themselves up to Jesus and become converted to Him--being born again and obtaining the new heart.
Manuscript 36, Sept. 19, 1891 (MR #551 p 3): "What is the new heart? It is the new mind. What is the mind? It is the will. Where is your will? It is either on Satan's side or Christ's side. Now it is up to you. Will you put your will today on Christ's side of the question? That is the new heart. It is the new will. A new mind. 'A new heart will I give thee.' Then let us begin right here.
"Conversion is simple, very simple. Let us commence right here to come into the kingdom of heaven. How? As a little child. Just as simple as simple can be. You may get all your mysteries of the new birth, and you cannot make anybody understand it, or understand it yourself. But the best way for you is to give your mind to Jesus Christ, and the mind is the will..."
SC 46-47: "Many are inquiring, 'How am I to make the surrender of myself to God?' You desire to give yourself to Him, but you are weak in moral power, and controlled by the habits of your life of sin. Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections. The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity:, and causes your to feel that God cannot accept you; but you need not despair. What you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him.
"Desires for goodness and holiness are right as far as they go; but if you stop here, they will avail nothing. Many will be lost while hoping and desiring to be Christians. They do not come to the point of yielding the will to God. They do not now choose to be Christians.
"Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in your life. By yielding up your will to Christ, you ally yourself with the power that is above all principalities and powers. You will have strength from above to hold you steadfast, and thus through constant surrender to God, you will be enabled to live the new life, even the life of faith."
Overcoming our habits and patterns of sin, striving to enter in at the straight gate, is not going to be easy. It is going to take all the power and strength that God has given us in order to use our will effectively and war successfully against the sins which so easily beset us. And it will be only those who do this that will obtain the kingdom of heaven.
1T 397: "Satan and his hosts are warring against the government of God, and all who have a desire to yield their hearts to him (to God) and obey his requirements, Satan will try to perplex, and overcome with his temptations, that they may become discouraged and give up the warfare."
Christ has told us plainly of this whole battle going on, and He also told us those who would win it.
Matthew 11:12: "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force."
Now what does this mean? First, lets start defining some terms. Where is the kingdom of heaven? Is Christ speaking of the literal kingdom above, or is he speaking of this in a spiritual sense.
Luke 17:20-21: "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."
So the kingdom of God is within us. Now what does it mean to exert violence, to take it by force? The violence would come from putting forth all your powers to wrestle away from sin, and using the force of your will to obtain the kingdom of heaven by force.
5BC 1089 col 2: "With the great truths we have been privileged to receive we should and under the Holy Spirit's power we could become living channels of light. We could then approach the mercy seat and see in the bow of promise and kneel with contrite hearts and seek the kingdom of heaven with a spiritual violence that would bring its own reward. We would take it by force as did Jacob."
Now what does this mean, to "take it by force as did Jacob?" What did Jacob do?
1BC 1095 col 2: "Jacob was in fear and distress while he sought in his own strength to obtain the victory. He mistook the divine visitor for an enemy, and contended with him while he had any strength left. But when he cast himself upon the mercy of God, he found that instead of being in the hands of an enemy, he was encircled in the arms of infinite love. He saw God face to face and his sins were pardoned. 'The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force.' This violence takes in the whole heart. To be double minded is to be unstable. Resolution, self-denial, and consecrated effort are required for the work of preparation. The understanding and the conscience may be united; but if the will is not set to work, we shall make a failure. Every faculty and feeling must be engaged. Ardor and earnest prayer must take the place of listlessness and indifference. Only by earnest determined effort and faith in the merits of Christ can we overcome, and gain the kingdom of heaven. Our time for work is short. Christ is soon to come the second time."
Letter 16f, May 9, 1892 (MR #995, p 7-9): "We must enter the strait gate....Satan has placed his active agents along the passage to dispute the way of every soul. Christ has encouraged His followers not to be intimidated. Press on, urge your way through. 'Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able' (Matt 13:24). Darling, cherished idols will have to be given up, and the sins that have been indulged, even if it comes as close as the plucking out of the right eye or cutting off the right arm. Agonize! force your way through the very armies of hell that oppose your passage.
"Oh! we must be terribly in earnest to impress upon every soul that there is a heaven to win and a hell to shun. Every energy of the soul must be aroused to force their passage, and seize the kingdom by force. Satan is active, and we must be active too. Satan is untiring and persevering, and we must be the same. There is no time to make excuses and blame others for our backslidings; no time now to flatter the soul [that] if circumstances had only been more favorable, how much better, how much easier [it would be] for us to work the works of God. We must tell even those who profess to believe in Christ, that they must cease to offend God by sinful excuses.
"Jesus has provided for every emergency. If they will walk where He leads the way, He will make rough places plain. He, with His experience will create an atmosphere for the soul. He closes the door and brings the soul into seclusion with God, and the needy soul is to forget everyone and everything, but God. Satan will talk with him, but speak aloud to God and He will drive back the hellish shadow of Satan. With humble, subdued, thankful hearts they will come forth saying, 'Thy gentleness hath made me great.' The sincere seeker comes forth from the alliance with God, rich in the assurance of His love, to go forth to distill a heavenly prayer wherever he goes. He can talk of the righteousness of Christ; he can talk [of] the love of God with sincerity. He has trusted and he knows the Lord is good."
1 Corinthians 9:25 and Acts 14:22 tells us the same, that we have to strive for the mastery, and through much tribulation we shall enter the kingdom of God. But before we can overcome at all, we must yield our wills to God and become converted to His service.
While we remain selfish, unconverted and without Godliness, we have no strength whatsoever to stand against and resist temptations, and in this unconverted condition all our righteousness is as filthy rags.
Isaiah 64:6: "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."
So in this unconverted, selfish condition all our righteousness are as filthy rags.
MB 54: "It is impossible for man, of himself, to keep this law; for the nature of man is depraved, deformed, and wholly unlike the character of God. The works of the selfish heart are 'as an unclean thing;' and 'all our righteousness are as filthy rags.'"
Since the unconverted or the selfish do not have any strength to stand against temptations, in what position would we be in if we had no strength at all to stand? Well, we would be flat on our backs. In this condition, how could we get ourselves to the foot of the cross to become converted and justified in God's sight? We could not get up and walk there because we have no strength to do so! So how do we arrive at the foot of the cross?
John 12:32: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."
The Greek word used here for "draw" means literally "to drag." And in lying flat on our backs without any strength to get up and move, this would be the only way we could get there.
Letter 135, 1898 (MR #99, p 26): "Man cannot possible work out his own salvation without the ordained divine power, and God will not do for man that which He requires man shall do for himself, through his own earnest willing cooperation. Man in the work of the saving of the soul, is wholly dependent upon God. He cannot of himself move one step toward Christ without the Spirit of God [drawing] him, and this drawing is ever, and will continue until man grieves the Holy Ghost by his persistent refusal." (see also 1SM 390-91).
Now, will we be drawn to the cross if we do not want ourselves to be? Not at all. We have to be willing to let ourselves be drawn to the cross. The amount of time that it takes us to arrive there, will be according to how willing we are to get there.
Once at the foot of the cross, we behold our beaten and bloodied Saviour hanging there, and we come to the realization at that time that "it is my sin that has caused this to happen to my Saviour and my God."
We then begin to realize the extreme sinfulness of sin and we plead for pardon and forgiveness, confessing and forsaking our past sins. 1 John 1:9 becomes a precious promise, and the Lord forgives us of our past confessed and forsaken sins, and justifies us in His sight. He then gives us the strength and grace to stand, and fight manfully, or womanfully, the battles of the Lord in overcoming sin.
We are hence born again or converted, and the seed of Christ is planted within us. Since we are converted and the seed of Christ is planted within us, we no longer have that filthy rag, unconverted experience any longer.
In looking closer at Isaiah 64:6, in the unconverted condition with "all our righteousness are as filthy rags," the word "filthy rag" means a woman on her menstruation cycle. And in Leviticus it mentions the blood defiling everything that it touches. This is a very descriptive example of our own righteousness in an unconverted state.
But when we are born again, 1 John 3:9 states that the seed of Christ is planted within us. And when a women becomes impregnated with seed, what happens to her menstruation cycle? It ceases, and so there is no more blood to defile. So in this born again condition, we become impregnated with the seed of Christ, or united with divinity, and then our righteousness is acceptable to God. We no longer have the filthy rag experience and can then do the works of righteousness, continuing in the sanctification process.
Manuscript 16, Feb 10, 1898 (MR #599 p 3): "The Son of God came to our world in human form to show men that divinity and humanity combined does not commit sin."
So once we are converted and begin the process of sanctification, do we have anything else to do? Since we have been given the strength and power to stand, do we then begin to walk forward and advance, or will God do the rest for us and make us perfect without us having to put forth any effort?
Sons and Daughters of God (SD), p 200: "'Walk in the light.' To walk in the light means to resolve, to exercise thought, to exert will-power, in an earnest endeavor to represent Christ in sweetness of character. It means to put away all gloom. You are not to rest satisfied simply in saying, 'I am a child of God.' Are you beholding Jesus, and, by beholding, becoming changed into His likeness? To walk in the light means advancement and progress in spiritual attainments. Paul declared, 'Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but...forgetting those things which are behind,' constantly beholding the Pattern, I reach 'forth unto those things which are before.' To walk in the light means to 'walk uprightly,' to walk 'in the way of the Lord,' to 'walk by faith,' to 'walk in the Spirit,' to 'walk in the truth,' to 'walk in love,' to 'walk in the newness of life.' It is 'perfecting holiness in the fear of God.'"
Letter 135, 1898 (MR #99 p 27): "The Spirit of God does not propose to do our part either in the willing or the doing. This is the work of the human agent in cooperating with the Divine agencies, which as soon as we incline our will to harmonize with God's will, the grace of Christ stands to cooperate with the human agent; but it will not be the substitute to do our work independent of our resolving and decidedly acting; therefore it is not the abundance of light, and evidence piled upon evidence, that will convert the soul. It is only the human agent accepting the light, arousing the energies of the will, realizing and acknowledging that which he knows is righteousness and truth, and co-operating with the heavenly ministrations appointed of God in the saving of the soul....unless the human agent inclines his heart to do God's will, and takes up God's service, the light will shine in vain. A thousand fold more light and conviction would accomplish nothing. God knows He has sufficient evidence already. 'They have Moses and the prophets.' If they will not believe their testimony and arouse to action, neither will they believe though one should be sent to them from the dead."
Some have the idea that God's grace is given to them, to help them to overcome temptation, before they do anything themselves in resisting that temptation. But remember in the previous testimony it stated that as soon as we inclined our will to harmonize with God's will, then the grace of Christ stands to cooperate with the human agent; but His grace will not be the substitute of the doing of our work independent of our resolving and decidedly acting!
So when a temptation comes our way, we must do our part, or take the first step in resisting that temptation before the grace and power from Christ can cooperate with us and gain us the victory.
My Life Today (MLT), p 100: "There is but one power that can bring us into conformity to the likeness of Christ, that can make us stead-fast and keep us constant. It is the grace of God that comes to us through obedience to the law of God."
We have perfect examples of this whole process found in the Bible. The first was during the Red Sea experience.
The children of Israel came to the Red Sea, and were hindered from crossing it. The Egyptians were coming behind them, and it seemed like there was no way of escape. They were going to be overborne by the strong foe. But what did God do? He told them to go forward, and the children of Israel by faith had to take the first step and put their feet in the water before the power of God came through and opened up the water and brought them the victory over their foes (see PP 290).
Another experience was the Jordan River, the very same thing happened. The children of Israel had to show faith in God, to exert effort, and in faith take the first step in obedience to God and overcoming the obstacle that was preventing their advancement. They had to take the first step and put their foot in the water, and then the Lord came through with His power, and they were able to overcome that obstacle, and gain the victory.
Now what if, while we are in this converted, born again experience with the seed of Christ impregnated within us, we then yield our will up to Satan and choose to sin--what happens? We fall from our converted condition back down to being unconverted, and the filthy rag experience begins to occur all over again.
But what would have had to occur to the seed of Christ that was impregnated or planted within us, in order for us to begin the filthy rag, unclean condition once again? We would have had to abort that seed out of us! Which means that we would be guilty of killing that seed, or of killing Christ afresh by our willing choice to sin once again.
Desire of Ages (DA), p 300: "By every sin Jesus is wounded afresh..."
MB 10: "He has crucified to himself the Son of God afresh and pierced anew that bleeding and stricken heart."
Oh, dear brothers and sisters, we must overcome our sins and stop crucifying our Saviour afresh. We must gain control of our will.
Letter 24a, Jan 26, 1890 (MR #448 p 12-13): "The stronghold of sin is in the will. Put your will on God's side of the question; place yourself no longer in the position of a sinner..."
Fundamentals of Christian Education (FCE), p 132: "Why is it that our youth, and even those of maturer years, are so easily led into temptation and sin? It is because the word of God is not studied and meditated upon as it should be. If it were appreciated, there would be an inward rectitude, a strength of spirit, that would resist the temptation of Satan to do evil. A firm, decided will-power is not brought into the life and character because the sacred instruction of God is not made the study, and the subject of meditation. There is not the effort put forth that there should be to associate the mind with pure, holy thoughts and to divert it from what is impure and untrue. There is not the choosing of the better part, the sitting at the feet of Jesus, as did Mary, to learn the most sacred lessons of the divine Teacher, that they may be laid up in the heart, and practiced in the daily life. Meditation upon holy things will elevate and refine the mind, and will develop Christian ladies and gentlemen." (see also 5T 513-5).
FCE 134: "Every besetting sin must be put away. Warfare must be waged against it until it is overcome. The Lord will work with your efforts. As finite, sinful man works out his own salvation with fear and trembling, it is God who works in him, to will and to do of His own good pleasure. But God will not work without the co-operation of man. He must exercise his powers to the very utmost; he must place himself as an apt, willing student in the school of Christ; and as he accepts the grace that is freely offered to him, the presence of Christ in the thoughts and in the heart will give him decision of purpose to lay aside every weight of sin, that the heart may be filled with all the fullness of God, and of His love."
We have been given the exalted privilege of uniting together with our Lord and putting forth earnest efforts in perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
1RH 291 col 3: "God has no use for listless souls. Ministers sometimes tell the people that they have nothing to do but believe; that Jesus has done it all, and their own works are nothing. But the word of God plainly states that in the Judgment the scales will be balanced accurately, and the decisions will be based on the evidence adduced....Our effort in works of righteousness, in our own behalf and for the salvation of souls, will have a decided influence on our recompense.
"...every temptation resisted is a priceless victory gained in subduing self; it bends the powers to the service of Jesus, and increases faith, hope, patience, and forbearance." (see also SD 285, 118 or Youth Instructor, 9-20-1894).
We have been given the exalted privilege of developing the God-given faculties of our mind into the highest possible development attainable. And how high is that?
ED 123-25: "For the mind and the soul, as well as for the body, it is God's law that strength is acquired by effort. It is exercise that develops. In harmony with this law, God has provided in His word the means for mental and spiritual development.
"In searching out the various parts and studying their relationship, the highest faculties of the human mind are called into intense activity. No one can engage in such study without developing mental power.
"He who with sincere and teachable spirit studies God's word, seeking to comprehend its truth, will be brought in touch with its Author; and, except by his own choice, there is no limit to the possibilities of his development."
Now how high is that?
ED 18: "Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God's ideal for His children. Godliness--godlikeness--is the goal to be reached."
Remember she said that "God created man that every faculty might be the faculty of the divine mind..." (COL 355).
Oh, dear friends, this is God's highest ideal for us, that we develop our faculties and characters into representing and being just like the mind and character of our Creator and God! Does Philippians 2:5 have a deeper meaning to you now?
But we can choose not to follow God's highest ideal for us, and instead of perfecting and building up our faculties, we choose to sin and abuse this precious treasure hidden within us. But if we do such a thing we must then suffer the eternal consequences.
This Day With God, p 350: "Every sin, every unrighteous action, every transgression of the law of God tells with a thousandfold more force upon the actor than the sufferer. Every time one of the glorious faculties with which God has enriched man is abused or misused that faculty looses forever a portion of its vigor and will never be as it was before the abuse it suffered. Every abuse afflicted upon our moral nature in this life is felt not only for time but for eternity. Though God may forgive the sinner yet eternity will not make up that voluntary loss sustained in this life. To go forth into the next, the future life, deprived of half the power which might be carried there is a terrible thought. The days of probation lost herein acquiring a fitness for heaven is a loss which will never be recovered. The capacities of enjoyment will be less in the future life for the misdemeanors and abused moral powers in this life. However high we might attain in the future life we might soar higher and still higher if we had made the most of our God-given privileges and golden opportunities to improve our faculties here in this probationary existence."
That's quite a solemn thought! But we do not have to continue in this way. We can choose not to!
Who will join with me in striving "to enter in at the strait gate" "that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel" for "ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin....wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed."
"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" "now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have."
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil....stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked, and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all 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 labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily."
"For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor." "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works" for "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me." and he will "forsake not the works of [his] own hands."
So let us "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my [the Lord's] house may be filled" Luke 13:24; Philippians 1:27; Hebrews 12:4, 12-14; 2 Corinthians 8:11; Ephesians 6:10-11, 14-18; Colossians 1:27-29; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4; Hebrews 6:1; Psalms 138:8; and Luke 14:23).