a. Where must be our first work when beginning a spiritual reformation? 2 Corinthians 13:5; Romans 8:10.
“True reformation begins with soul cleansing. Our work for the fallen will achieve real success only as the grace of Christ reshapes the character and the soul is brought into living connection with God.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 180.
b. What is inward working power is essential to accomplish an outward reformation? Titus 3:5; Ezekiel 36:26, 27.
“It is the still, small voice of the Spirit of God that has power to change the heart.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 169.
“The plan of beginning outside and trying to work inward has always failed and always will fail. God’s plan with you is to begin at the very seat of all difficulties, the heart, and then from out of the heart will issue the principles of righteousness; the reformation will be outward as well as inward.”—Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 35.
2. BEHOLDING CHRIST
a. What do we see in Christ’s example? Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 2:21–23.
“The law condemns all sin and requires all virtue. It demands of man an outward respect, and it requires purity of soul. ‘Behold,’ writes the psalmist, ‘thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom’ (Psalm 51:6). The law was exemplified in the life of Christ. He is a pattern for all humanity. He lived the law. His purity and beneficence, His devotion to the truth, and His zeal for God’s glory reveal the perfection of the law. His every act was a revelation of the glory of the Father. He was all that the law required Him to be.”—The Review and Herald, February 26, 1901.
“Christ lived a life of perfect obedience to God’s law, and in this He set an example for every human being. The life that He lived in this world we are to live through His power and under His instruction.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 180.
b. In what way does beholding transform us? 2 Corinthians 3:18; Psalm 119:11.
“By beholding Christ we become changed. If the mind dwells upon temporal things constantly, these things become all-absorbing, affecting the character, so that God’s glory is lost sight of and forgotten. The opportunities that are within reach for them to become conversant with heavenly things, are overlooked. Spiritual life dies.”—Sons and Daughters of God, p. 105.
“In order to give such a message as John gave, we must have a spiritual experience like his. The same work must be wrought in us. We must behold God, and in beholding Him, lose sight of self.”—Gospel Workers, p. 55.
“The heart preoccupied with the word of God is fortified against Satan. Those who make Christ their daily companion and familiar friend will feel that the powers of an unseen world are all around them; and by looking unto Jesus they will become assimilated to His image. By beholding they become changed to the divine pattern; their character is softened, refined, and ennobled for the heavenly kingdom.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 616.
3. PUTTING SELF ASIDE
a. When we see that a reform is necessary, what is the first step to take? Mark 8:34; 2 Corinthians 10:5.
“The teaching of John aroused in the hearts of many a great desire to have a part in the blessings that Christ was to bring, and they received the truth. . . . Nothing save a vehement desire, a determined will, a fixedness of purpose, could resist the moral darkness that covered the earth as the pall of death. In order to obtain the blessings that it was their privilege to have, they must work earnestly, they must deny self.”—The Youth’s Instructor, May 17, 1900.
“When the Spirit of God, with its marvelous awakening power, touches the soul, it abases human pride. Worldly pleasure and position and power are seen to be worthless. . . . Then humility and self-sacrificing love, so little valued among men, are exalted as alone of worth. This is the work of the gospel, of which John’s message was a part.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 135.
b. How extensive is the work of self-renunciation? Philippians 1:21; 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15; John 3:30.
“Looking in faith to the Redeemer, John had risen to the height of self-abnegation. He sought not to attract men to himself, but to lift their thoughts higher and still higher, until they should rest upon the Lamb of God. He himself had been only a voice, a cry in the wilderness. Now with joy he accepted silence and obscurity, that the eyes of all might be turned to the Light of life.”—Gospel Workers, p. 56.
c. What should be the attitude of a true messenger of God? Romans 14:7, 8; Galatians 2:20.
“Those who are true to their calling as messengers of God will not seek honor for themselves. Love for self will be swallowed up in love for Christ. They will recognize that it is their work to proclaim, as did John the Baptist, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29).”—Ibid.
4. TEMPERANCE AND COMMITMENT
a. How does diet help toward a more effective work? 1 Corinthians 9:25–27. When and where is this work to be applied? Philippians 2:5; 2 Peter 1:5–8.
“The great work of temperance reform, to be thoroughly successful, must begin in the home.”—The Review and Herald, August 23, 1877.
“The light of health reform is opened before the people of God at this day, that they may see the necessity of holding their appetites and passions under control of the higher powers of the mind. This is also necessary, that they may have mental strength and clearness to discern the sacred chain of truth and turn from the bewitching errors and pleasing fables that are flooding the world.”—The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, p. 44.
“The appetites and passions must be held in subjection to the higher powers of the mind. This self-discipline is essential to that mental strength and spiritual insight which will enable us to understand and to practice the sacred truths of God’s word. For this reason temperance finds its place in the work of preparation for Christ’s second coming.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 101.
b. How should we encourage the youth to control their thoughts? Romans 12:2; 1 Peter 1:13.
“We have each of us an individual work to do, to gird up the loins of our minds, to be sober, to watch unto prayer. The mind must be firmly controlled to dwell upon subjects that will strengthen the moral powers. The youth should begin early to cultivate correct habits of thought. We should discipline the mind to think in a healthful channel and not permit it to dwell upon things that are evil. The psalmist exclaims, ‘Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer’ (Psalm 19:14). As God works upon the heart by His Holy Spirit, man must cooperate with Him. The thoughts must be bound about, restricted, withdrawn from branching out and contemplating things that will only weaken and defile the soul. The thoughts must be pure, the meditations of the heart must be clean, if the words of the mouth are to be words acceptable to heaven and helpful to your associates.”—The Review and Herald, June 12, 1888.
5. HUMILITY IN MINISTRY
a. What do we need to understand in order to be successful in winning souls to Christ? Luke 14:8–11; John 3:30.
“Before honor is humility. To fill a high place before men, Heaven chooses the worker who, like John the Baptist, takes a lowly place before God. The most childlike disciple is the most efficient in labor for God. The heavenly intelligences can cooperate with him who is seeking, not to exalt self, but to save souls. He who feels most deeply his need of divine aid will plead for it; and the Holy Spirit will give unto him glimpses of Jesus that will strengthen and uplift the soul. From communion with Christ he will go forth to work for those who are perishing in their sins. He is anointed for his mission; and he succeeds where many of the learned and intellectually wise would fail.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 436.
b. What is needed in the church today? 1 Peter 5:5, 6.
“The precious grace of humility is sadly wanting in the ministry and the church. Men who preach the truth think too highly of their own abilities. True humility will lead a man to exalt Christ and the truth, and to realize his utter dependence upon the God of truth. It is painful to learn lessons of humility, yet nothing is more beneficial in the end. The pain attendant upon learning lessons of humility is in consequence of our being elated by a false estimate of ourselves, so that we are unable to see our great need.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 378.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What does it mean to have a change of heart, and how can we have this change?
2. How can we follow Jesus’ example in living a life of perfect obedience to God’s law?
3. When the Spirit of God touches the soul, what happens?
4. How can we control our thoughts, and how will this affect our words?
5. How does humility help us in our ministry for others?