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The Reformation Herald Online Edition

Wake Up Already!

The Challenging Walk
A Bible and Spirit of Prophecy compilation, with comments
M-A.F. Ducheine
The Challenging Walk

“The Lord requires us to be submissive to His will, subdued by His Spirit, and sanctified to His service. Selfishness must be put away, and we must overcome every defect in our characters as Christ overcame.” —Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 66.

This letter is truly the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel.” Thus wrote Martin Luther about the book whose reading helped to launch the reformation of the 16th century. The Epistle of Paul to the Romans—and especially the seventh chapter—has been the object of many studies. Theologians and preachers have expressed their ideas and penned many pages regarding the book that I believe could be well (re-)named the Gospel of Jesus Christ According to Paul. As we take a closer look at the seventh chapter of this piece, may the Lord help us to understand the essence of the gospel.


The law of God is perfect, eternal, immutable (Psalms 19:7; 111:7, 8), holy, just, good, and spiritual (Romans 7:12, 14). “The law of God is the expression of His character. God possesses absolute, invariable, and immutable independence, and His law is without variableness, unalterable, eternal, because it is the transcript of His character. No event can take place that will in any sense make it necessary to declare a law of a contrary nature. ‘The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul’ (Psalm 19:7). Any change in the law would mar its perfection. The slightest variance in its precepts would give reason to the hosts of heaven and to unfallen worlds to think that God’s counsels and declarations are not to be relied upon but need to be remodeled, because they are of a faulty character. Should any change be made in the law of God, Satan would gain that for which he had instituted controversy.”1

Sin and its consequences

The Bible teaches us that “all unrighteousness is sin” (1 John 5:17). Sin is the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4); it is the neglect of any known duty (James 4:17). It entered the world through the disobedience of the first human being (Romans 5:12, 19).

The consequences of sins are:

1. Separation from God (Isaiah 59:1, 2).

2. Disease (Psalm 38:1–10).

3. Death (Romans 6:23).

“It is the nature of sin to spread and increase. Since the first sin of Adam, from generation to generation it has spread like a contagious disease. While the world was yet in its infancy, sin became fearful in its proportions. Hatred of God’s law, and, as the sure result, hatred of all goodness, became universal.”2

Human nature

The human race was created perfect, but after the Fall, we became “carnal, sold under sin” (Romans 7:14) and incapable of doing any good (Jeremiah 13:23; 17:9).

“It is impossible for us, of ourselves, to escape from the pit of sin in which we are sunken. Our hearts are evil, and we cannot change them. ‘Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.’ ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be’ (Job 14:4; Romans 8:7). Education, culture, the exercise of the will, human effort, all have their proper sphere, but here they are powerless. They may produce an outward correctness of behavior, but they cannot change the heart; they cannot purify the springs of life.”3

But in spite of the sinful nature of men and women, God expects perfection (Matthew 5:48) and holiness (Hebrews 12:14) from us.

“What does God require? Perfection; nothing less than perfection.”4

The Christian experience

As a beautiful butterfly comes out of its cocoon transformed, so does the newborn Christian become a new creation by the power of Christ (John 3:1–3; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Born of water and of the Spirit, the newly born soul receives a new heart from the Chief Surgeon (Romans 6:3–6, 10–14; Ezekiel 36:25–28; Psalm 51:10). And this is Good News (the gospel).

The life of the newborn is characterized by faith in the Son of God; he/she is “crucified with Christ;” therefore Christ lives/abides in the heart (Galatians 2:20; 6:14) and he/she does not practice sin any more (1 John 3:6, 9), “having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” and having partaken of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).

The Spirit of Prophecy states: “God’s law is immutable and eternal; for it is the transcript of His character, and by it God designs to bring the family on earth into harmony with the family in heaven. God has made it possible for men to obey His requirements, by making it possible for them to be partakers of the divine nature. Thus our characters may be molded in accordance with the law of God. And by willing obedience to this law our characters are conformed to the character of God.”5

Conflicting natures

There is, in the life of every believer, an ongoing warfare between the carnal nature against the spiritual nature (Galatians 5:1, 16–18, 24–26). “The life of the Christian is not all smooth. He has stern conflicts to meet. Severe temptations assail him. ‘The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh’ (Galatians 5:17). The nearer we come to the close of this earth’s history, the more delusive and ensnaring will be the attacks of the enemy. His attacks will grow fiercer and more frequent. Those who resist light and truth will become more hardened and unimpressible, and more bitter against those who love God and keep His commandments.”6

Paul eloquently wrote: “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 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” (Romans 7:15–19).

The servant of the Lord commented on these verses, saying, “It is not enough to perceive the loving-kindness of God, to see the benevolence, the fatherly tenderness, of His character. It is not enough to discern the wisdom and justice of His law, to see that it is founded upon the eternal principle of love. Paul the apostle saw all this when he exclaimed, ‘I consent unto the law that it is good.’ ‘The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.’ But he added, in the bitterness of his soul-anguish and despair, ‘I am carnal, sold under sin’ (Romans 7:16, 12, 14). He longed for the purity, the righteousness, to which in himself he was powerless to attain, and cried out, ‘O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death’? (Romans 7:24, margin). Such is the cry that has gone up from burdened hearts in all lands and in all ages. To all, there is but one answer, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29).”7

Our only hope

Our only hope is outlined in the following verses:“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:1–4).

“Nothing but a deep personal experience will enable us to stand the test of the trials and temptations we shall meet in the Christian warfare. Too often we feel well when everything goes smoothly; but when doubts assail the soul, and Satan whispers his suggestions, our defense is gone, and we yield quickly to the arts of the tempter, with scarcely an effort to resist and repulse him, It is not enough to have good impulses. The soul must be barricaded by prayer and study [of] the Scriptures. Armed with these weapons, Jesus encountered our wily foe on the field of battle, and overcame him. We may all conquer in His strength; but it will not answer for us to suppose that we can dispense with His help. He says, ‘Without me ye can do nothing’ (John 15:5). But no truly humble soul who walks in the light as Christ is in the light, will be ensnared by Satan’s deceptive devices.”8

“We should now consider that our life is swiftly passing away, that we are not safe one moment unless our life is hid with Christ in God.”9

The experience of Paul: A good illustration

1. Romans 7:5–11.

“The apostle Paul, in relating his experience [in Romans 7:9], presents an important truth concerning the work to be wrought in conversion. He says, ‘I was alive without the law once’—he felt no condemnation; ‘but when the commandment came,’ when the law of God was urged upon his conscience, ‘sin revived, and I died.’ Then he saw himself a sinner, condemned by the divine law. Mark, it was Paul, and not the law, that died.”10

2. How did Paul deal with the problem? Philippians 3:3–17.

“Paul says that ‘as touching the law’—as far as outward acts were concerned—he was ‘blameless,’ but when the spiritual character of the law was discerned, when he looked into the holy mirror, he saw himself a sinner. Judged by a human standard, he had abstained from sin, but when he looked into the depths of God’s law, and saw himself as God saw him, he bowed in humiliation, and confessed his guilt. He did not go away from the mirror and forget what manner of man he was, but he exercised genuine repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. He was washed, he was cleansed.”11

The apostle testified: “I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily” (1 Corinthains 15:31, emphasis added).

“The Lord requires us to be submissive to His will, subdued by His Spirit, and sanctified to His service. Selfishness must be put away, and we must overcome every defect in our characters as Christ overcame. In order to accomplish this work, we must die daily to self. Said Paul: “I die daily.” He had a new conversion every day, took an advance step toward heaven. To gain daily victories in the divine life is the only course that God approves. The Lord is gracious, of tender pity, and plenteous in mercy. He knows our needs and weaknesses, and He will help our infirmities if we only trust in Him and believe that He will bless us and do great things for us.”12

“It is the daily dying to self in the little transactions of life that makes us overcomers. We should forget self in the desire to do good to others.”13

“Paul’s sanctification was the result of a constant conflict with self. He said: ‘I die daily’ (1 Corinthians 15:31). 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. God leads His people on step by step. The Christian life is a battle and a march. In this warfare there is no release; the effort must be continuous and persevering. It is by unceasing endeavor that we maintain the victory over the temptations of Satan. Christian integrity must be sought with resistless energy and maintained with a resolute fixedness of purpose. No one will be borne upward without stern, persevering effort in his own behalf. All must engage in this warfare for themselves. Individually we are responsible for the issue of the struggle; though Noah, Job, and Daniel were in the land, they could deliver neither son nor daughter by their righteousness.”14

3. Did Paul gain the final victory? Philippians 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:6–8.

“Avoid running into temptation. When temptations surround you, and you cannot control the circumstances which expose you to them, then you may claim the promise of God and with confidence and conscious power exclaim, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me’ (Philippians 4:13). There is strength for you all in God. But you will never feel your need of that strength which alone is able to save you unless you feel your weakness and sinfulness.”15

4. What godly advice did Paul leave for us? Ephesians 6:10, 11.

“Everyone who has enlisted under the bloodstained banner of Christ has entered upon a warfare that demands constant vigilance. Satan is determined to keep up the warfare to the end. Coming as an angel of light, claiming to be the Christ, he will deceive the world. But his triumph will be short. No storm or tempest can move those whose feet are planted on the principles of eternal truth. They will be able to stand in this time of almost universal apostasy.”16

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10, 11).

“Day by day we are to fight the good fight of faith. Day by day God will give us our work; and though we cannot see the end from the beginning, we are to examine ourselves daily to see if we are in the path of righteousness. We must strive to overcome, looking unto Jesus; for in every temptation He will be at our side to give us the victory. Every day should come to us as the last day in which we may be privileged to work for God, and much of it must be given to prayer that we may work in the strength of Christ. This is the way in which Enoch walked with God, warning and condemning the world by manifesting before them a righteous character.”17


“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever” (Jude 24, 25).

“Our only safety is to watch and pray, and depart from all iniquity. If we would stand in the day of the Lord, we must search carefully our own hearts, and know whether we are in the love of God. Says the apostle: ‘Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?’ (2 Corinthians 13:5). This close self-examination must go forward day by day and hour by hour.”18

Always remember that “you are unsafe, unless you hold the hand of Christ.”19

1 The Signs of the Times, March 12, 1896.
2 Reflecting Christ, p. 321.
3 Steps to Christ, p. 18.
4 The Upward Look, p. 353.
5 The Review and Herald, May 3, 1898.
6 The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1111.
7 Steps to Christ, p. 19.
8 Our High Calling, p. 330.
9 Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 190.
10 The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1076.
11 Ibid.
12 Testimonies, vol. 4, pp. 66, 67. [Emphasis supplied.]
13 Ibid., vol. 2, p. 132.
14 Ibid., vol. 8, pp. 313, 314.
15 Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, p. 317.
16 The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1106.
17 The Review and Herald, August 18, 1891.
18 Ibid., October 16, 1883.
19 Medical Ministry, p. 37.