a. When we truly confess our sins and surrender our life to Jesus—whether at the beginning of our Christian experience or at every step of the way—what do we receive from God? Romans 3:24–26.
“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 and we cannot make ourselves righteous. Since we are sinful, unholy, we cannot perfectly obey the holy law. We have no righteousness of our own with which to meet the claims of the law of God. But Christ has made a way of escape for us. He lived on earth amid trials and temptations such as we have to meet. He lived a sinless life. He died for us, and now He offers to take our sins and give us His righteousness. If you give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your Saviour, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous. Christ’s character stands in place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned.”—Steps to Christ, p. 62.
b. How long is this journey to last? Proverbs 4:18; Mark 13:13.
2. IMPROVING THE CHRISTIAN GRACES
a. Besides forgiveness/justification, what else does God want to give us? 2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 6:1; Philippians 3:12–14.
“Such transformation of character as is seen in the life of John is ever the result of communion with Christ. There may be marked defects in the character of an individual, yet when he becomes a true disciple of Christ, the power of divine grace transforms and sanctifies him. Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, he is changed from glory to glory, until he is like Him whom he adores.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 559.
“Without the grace of Christ, the sinner is in a hopeless condition; nothing can be done for him; but through divine grace, supernatural power is imparted to the man, and works in mind and heart and character. It is through the impartation of the grace of Christ that sin is discerned in its hateful nature, and finally driven from the soul temple.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 366.
“Nothing but divine power can regenerate the human heart and imbue souls with the love of Christ, which will ever manifest itself with love for those for whom He died. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. When a man is converted to God, a new moral taste is supplied, a new motive power is given, and he loves the things that God loves; for his life is bound up by the golden chain of the immutable promises to the life of Jesus. Love, joy, peace, and inexpressible gratitude will pervade the soul, and the language of him who is blessed will be, ‘Thy gentleness hath made me great’ (Psalm 18:35).”—Ibid., p. 336.
b. What are some of the steps in the improvement of the Christian graces we need on the road to the kingdom of heaven? 2 Peter 1:5–11.
“Christ, who connects earth with heaven, is the ladder. The base is planted firmly on the earth in His humanity; the topmost round reaches to the throne of God in His divinity. The humanity of Christ embraces fallen humanity, while His divinity lays hold upon the throne of God. We are saved by climbing round after round of the ladder, looking to Christ, clinging to Christ, mounting step by step to the height of Christ, so that He is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 147.
3. POWER THROUGH GOD’S WORD
a. How does God enlighten our minds so that Christian growth may be steadily onward? 2 Corinthians 4:4–6; Psalm 119:105; Leviticus 20:7, 8.
“As the will of man cooperates with the will of God, it becomes omnipotent. Whatever is to be done at His command may be accomplished in His strength. All His biddings are enablings.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 333.
“Perfection of character is based upon that which Christ is to us. If we have constant dependence on the merits of our Saviour, and walk in His footsteps, we shall be like Him, pure and undefiled.
“Our Saviour does not require impossibilities of any soul. He expects nothing of His disciples that He is not willing to give them grace and strength to perform. He would not call upon them to be perfect if He had not at His command every perfection of grace to bestow on the ones upon whom He would confer so high and holy a privilege. He has assured us 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.”—That I May Know Him, p. 130.
b. What do we call this process of Christian growth in the truth through the power of the Word? John 1:14; 17:17.
“When truth becomes an abiding principle in the life, the soul is ‘born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.’ This new birth is the result of receiving Christ as the Word of God. When by the Holy Spirit divine truths are impressed upon the heart, new conceptions are awakened, and the energies hitherto dormant are aroused to cooperate with God.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 520.
“The sanctification of the church is God’s object in all His dealings with His people. He has chosen them from eternity, that they might be holy. He gave His Son to die for them, that they might be sanctified through obedience to the truth, divested of all the littleness of self. From them He requires a personal work, a personal surrender. God can be honored by those who profess to believe in Him, only as they are conformed to His image and controlled by His Spirit. Then, as witnesses for the Saviour, they may make known what divine grace has done for them.”—Ibid., p. 559.
4. FALSE CLAIMS
a. Considering the holy men of God throughout Bible times, what must we understand about claiming final victory? 1 John 1:8, 10; Romans 7:18; Galatians 6:14.
“The honors bestowed upon Daniel excited the jealousy of the leading men of the kingdom. The presidents and princes sought to find occasion for complaint against him. ‘But they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him’ (Daniel 6:4).
“What a lesson is here presented for all Christians. The keen eyes of jealousy were fixed upon Daniel day after day; their watchings were sharpened by hatred; yet not a word or act of his life could they make appear wrong. And still he made no claim to sanctification, but he did that which was infinitely better—he lived a life of faithfulness and consecration.”—The Sanctified Life, p. 42.
“Spurious sanctification leads directly away from the Bible. Religion is reduced to a fable. Feelings and impressions are made the criterion. While they profess to be sinless and boast of their righteousness, the claimants of sanctification teach that men are at liberty to transgress the law of God and that those who obey its precepts have fallen from grace. A presentation of its claims arouses their opposition and excites anger and contempt. Thus their character is shown, for ‘the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be’ (Romans 8:7).”—Faith and Works, p. 53.
b. Does the belief in the need for sanctification mean that we are to earn our salvation? John 14:15; 1 John 3:5, 6.
“Righteousness has its root in godliness. No human being is righteous any longer than he has faith in God and maintains a vital connection with Him. As a flower of the field has its root in the soil; as it must receive air, dew, showers, and sunshine, so must we receive from God that which ministers to the life of the soul. It is only through becoming partakers of His nature that we receive power to obey His commandments. No man, high or low, experienced or inexperienced, can steadily maintain before his fellowmen a pure, forceful life unless his life is hid with Christ in God. The greater the activity among men, the closer should be the communion of the heart with God.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 194.
5. WHAT ABOUT SANCTIFICATION?
a. Is sanctification—growth in Christian character—typically noticeable to the individual in whom it is occurring? Mark 4:26–29. What about to others?
“The unstudied, unconscious influence of a holy life is the most convincing sermon that can be given in favor of Christianity. Argument, even when unanswerable, may provoke only opposition; but a godly example has a power that it is impossible wholly to resist.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 511.
b. What shows that this growth is continual and that we can never rest satisfied with our progress and achievements? 1 Corinthians 15:31; Matthew 10:22; Philippians 3:12–16.
“The Lord would have all His sons and daughters happy, peaceful, and obedient. . . . Through faith, every deficiency of character may be supplied, every defilement cleansed, every fault corrected, every excellence developed.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 564.
“Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, a day, but of a lifetime. It is not gained by a happy flight of feeling, but is the result of constantly dying to sin, and constantly living for Christ. Wrongs cannot be righted nor reformations wrought in the character by feeble, intermittent efforts. It is only by long, persevering effort, sore discipline, and stern conflict, that we shall overcome. We know not one day how strong will be our conflict the next. So long as Satan reigns, we shall have self to subdue, besetting sins to overcome; so long as life shall last, there will be no stopping place, no point which we can reach and say, I have fully attained. Sanctification is the result of lifelong obedience.”—Ibid., pp. 560, 561.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How are we treated by God with regard to every moment of justification?
2. How does God show that His desire for us is more than just forgiveness?
3. What is the secret of transformation?
4. What does false sanctification lead us away from?
5. How do we know sanctification involves an entire life of continual growth?