1. AVOIDING A COMMON SNARE
a. What dangerous lie is increasingly taught in the professedly religious world today, and how does Scripture refute it? James 2:14, 20–22, 24.
“From the pulpits of today the words are uttered: ‘Believe, only believe. Have faith in Christ; you have nothing to do with the old law, only trust in Christ.’ How different is this from the words of the apostle who declares that faith without works is dead.”—Faith and Works, p. 89.
“The desire for an easy religion that requires no striving, no self-denial, no divorce from the follies of the world, has made the doctrine of faith, and faith only, a popular doctrine; but what saith the word of God? . . . [James 2:14, 21, 22, 24 quoted.]
“The testimony of the word of God is against this ensnaring doctrine of faith without works. It is not faith that claims the favor of Heaven without complying with the conditions upon which mercy is to be granted; it is presumption; for genuine faith has its foundation in the promises and provisions of the Scriptures.
“Let none deceive themselves with the belief that they can become holy while willfully violating one of God’s requirements. The commission of a known sin silences the witnessing voice of the Spirit and separates the soul from God. ‘Sin is the transgression of the law.’ And ‘whosoever sinneth [transgresseth the law] hath not seen Him, neither known Him’ (1 John 3:4, 6).”—The Great Controversy, p. 472.
2. TRULY ACCEPTING THE PLAN OF SALVATION
a. What are the first steps toward real salvation? Acts 2:37, 38; Romans 5:1.
“As we behold the Lamb of God upon the cross of Calvary, the mystery of redemption begins to unfold to our minds and the goodness of God leads us to repentance. In dying for sinners, Christ manifested a love that is incomprehensible; and as the sinner beholds this love, it softens the heart, impresses the mind, and inspires contrition in the soul.”—Steps to Christ, pp. 26, 27.
“Repentance includes sorrow for sin and a turning away from it. We shall not renounce sin unless we see its sinfulness; until we turn away from it in heart, there will be no real change in the life.”—Ibid., p.23.
b. For Christ’s followers, what important truth is of supreme importance? Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:13–16.
“Holiness is agreement with God.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 743.
“When in conversion the sinner finds peace with God through the blood of the atonement, the Christian life has but just begun. Now he is to ‘go unto perfection;’ to grow up ‘unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.’ ”—The Great Controversy, p. 470.
“Through the merits of Christ, through His righteousness, which by faith is imputed unto us, we are to attain to the perfection of Christian character. Our daily and hourly work is set forth in the words of the apostle: ‘Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:2). . . .
“The manifestation of God’s love, His mercy and His goodness, and the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart to enlighten and renew it, place us, through faith, in so close connection with Christ that, having a clear conception of His character, we are able to discern the masterly deceptions of Satan. . . .
“Brethren and sisters, it is by beholding that we become changed. By dwelling upon the love of God and our Saviour, by contemplating the perfection of the divine character and claiming the righteousness of Christ as ours by faith, we are to be transformed into the same image.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 744.
3. AN ACHIEVABLE GOAL
a. What is God’s plan for us in our preparation to meet our Lord in peace? Matthew 5:48; Psalm 101:2.
“While Christ is cleansing the sanctuary, the worshipers on earth should carefully review their life, and compare their character with the standard of righteousness. As they see their defects, they should seek the aid of the Spirit of God to enable them to have moral strength to resist the temptations of Satan, and to reach the perfection of the standard. They may be victors over the very temptations which seemed too strong for humanity to bear; for the divine power will be combined with their human effort.”—Reflecting Christ, p. 296.
“Besetting sins must be battled with and overcome. Objectionable traits of character, whether hereditary or cultivated, should be taken up separately and compared with the great rule of righteousness; and in the light reflected from the word of God, they should be firmly resisted and overcome, through the strength of Christ.”—Christian Education, p. 113.
b. Why should we strive for perfection by walking in the light of God’s revealed will? 1 Corinthians 9:24, 25; Philippians 3:12–14.
“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.”—Sons and Daughters of God, p. 200.
“Whatever the mistakes or failures of the past, we may, with the help of God, rise above them.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 516.
c. What is promised to those who yearn for genuine moral righteousness? Ephesians 3:16; Matthew 5:6.
4. SERIOUS STRENGTH FOR OUR URGENT NEED
a. How only can we be equipped to stand in the final conflict? Jeremiah 15:16.
“None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 593, 594.
b. How can we benefit by increased dedication in our devotional habits to better know God’s will? 1 John 5:14; Psalm 119:129–131.
“The testimonies are unread and unappreciated. God has spoken to you. Light has been shining from His word and from the testimonies, and both have been slighted and disregarded. The result is apparent in the lack of purity and devotion and earnest faith among us.
“Let each put the question to his own heart: ‘How have we fallen into this state of spiritual feebleness and dissension? Have we not brought upon ourselves the frown of God because our actions do not correspond with our faith?’ ”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 217.
“Beware how you neglect secret prayer and a study of God’s word. These are your weapons against him who is striving to hinder your progress heavenward. The first neglect of prayer and Bible study makes easier the second neglect.”—Messages to Young People, p. 96.
c. Why is it crucial to render wholehearted, 100 percent obedience to God’s will as plainly revealed in written form by Inspiration? James 1:21–25.
“Satan leads many to believe that God will overlook their unfaithfulness in the minor affairs of life; but the Lord shows in His dealings . . . that He will in no wise sanction or tolerate evil. All who endeavor to excuse or conceal their sins, and permit them to remain upon the books of heaven, unconfessed and unforgiven, will be overcome by Satan.”—The Great Controversy, p. 620.
“God works mightily for a faithful people who obey His word without questioning or doubt.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 164.
5. SUBMITTING TO PURIFICATION
a. Explain the sanctification process. 1 John 3:1–3; Hebrews 5:12–14; 6:1.
“Obedience can be made perfect only by the incense of Christ’s righteousness, which fills with divine fragrance every act of obedience. The part of the Christian is to persevere in overcoming every fault. . . .
“Day by day God labors for man’s sanctification, and man is to cooperate with Him, putting forth persevering efforts in the cultivation of right habits. . . . Our Saviour is always ready to hear and answer the prayer of the contrite heart, and grace and peace are multiplied to His faithful ones. Gladly He grants them the blessings they need in their struggle against the evils that beset them.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 532.
b. Why is it crucial that we do not stubbornly resist this process? Ephesians 4:30.
“The first resistance to the Spirit’s pleading prepares the way for the second resistance. Thus the heart is hardened, and the conscience seared.
“On the other hand, every resistance of temptation makes resistance more easy. Every denial of self makes self-denial easier. Every victory gained prepares the way for a fresh victory. Each resistance of temptation, each self-denial, each triumph over sin, is a seed sown unto eternal life.”—Messages to Young People, pp. 96, 97.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What false idea leads many professed Christians into presumption?
2. How can I discern whether my level of repentance has been too shallow?
3. How can I be sure that God is really willing to help me overcome my faults?
4. How much time do I spend with the Testimonies compared to other books?
5. Explain the method by which God motivates us to sow seeds for eternal life.