1. SOLDIERS OF THE CROSS
a. Of what must we constantly be aware in our sojourn on earth? 1 Peter 5:8. How does Paul therefore compare the life of a Christian? 2 Timothy 2:3.
“Nothing can be more helpless, nothing can be more dependent, than the soul that feels its nothingness and relies wholly upon the merits of the blood of a crucified and risen Saviour. The Christian life is a life of warfare, of continual conflict. It is a battle and a march. But every act of obedience to Christ, every act of self-denial for His sake, every trial well endured, every victory gained over temptation, is a step in the march to the glory of final victory.”—That I May Know Him, p. 253.
b. How only can we be victorious at the end? Ephesians 6:11–17.
“Those who will put on the whole armor of God and devote some time every day to meditation and prayer and to the study of the Scriptures will be connected with heaven and will have a saving, transforming influence upon those around them. Great thoughts, noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth and duty to God, will be theirs. . . . This class will have a sanctified boldness to come into the presence of the Infinite One. They will feel that heaven’s light and glories are for them, and they will become refined, elevated, ennobled by this intimate acquaintance with God. Such is the privilege of true Christians.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 112, 113.
2. POWER IN THE WORD
a. How penetrating is the Word when truly received into the soul? Hebrews 4:12.
“The words of inspiration, pondered in the heart, will be as streams flowing from the river of the water of life. Our Saviour prayed that the minds of the disciples might be opened to understand the Scriptures. And whenever we study the Bible with a prayerful heart, the Holy Spirit is near to open to us the meaning of the words we read.”—Our High Calling, p. 205.
“Practical truth must be brought into the life, and the Word, like a sharp, two-edged sword, must cut away the surplus of self that there is in our characters.
“The Word makes the proud humble, the perverse meek and contrite, the disobedient obedient. The sinful habits natural to man are interwoven with the daily practice. But the Word cuts away the fleshly lusts. It is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the mind. It divides the joints and marrow, cutting away the lusts of the flesh, making men willing to suffer for their Lord.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 7, p. 928.
b. In the beginning, how quickly did the Word create the heaven and the earth? Genesis 1:1; Psalm 33:6, 9.
c. From what material did God create the worlds using His word? Hebrews 11:3. After creating the worlds, did God leave the creation to fend for itself? Hebrews 1:3.
“The same creative energy that brought the world into existence is still exerted in upholding the universe and continuing the operations of nature. The hand of God guides the planets in their orderly march through the heavens. It is not because of inherent power that year by year the earth continues her motion round the sun and produces her bounties. The word of God controls the elements. He covers the heavens with clouds and prepares rain for the earth. He makes the valleys fruitful and ‘grass to grow upon the mountains;’ Psalm 147:8. It is through His power that vegetation flourishes, that the leaves appear and the flowers bloom.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, pp. 185, 186.
3. RECOGNIZING SIN
a. What was David’s desire after he had committed the sin against God and against Bathsheba? Psalm 51:1–4.
b. In reading David’s expressions of repentance preserved in the divine record, which were his deepest concerns—the consequences he would face—or restoring his relationship with God? Psalm 51:5–10.
“For a whole year after his fall David lived in apparent security; there was no outward evidence of God’s displeasure. But the divine sentence was hanging over him. Swiftly and surely a day of judgment and retribution was approaching, which no repentance could avert, agony and shame that would darken his whole earthly life. Those who, by pointing to the example of David, try to lessen the guilt of their own sins, should learn from the Bible record that the way of transgression is hard. Though like David they should turn from their evil course, the results of sin, even in this life, will be found bitter and hard to bear.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 723, 724.
“David’s repentance was sincere and deep. There was no effort to palliate his crime. No desire to escape the judgments threatened, inspired his prayer. But he saw the enormity of his transgression against God; he saw the defilement of his soul; he loathed his sin. It was not for pardon only that he prayed, but for purity of heart. David did not in despair give over the struggle. In the promises of God to repentant sinners he saw the evidence of his pardon and acceptance.”—Ibid., p. 725.
“David was pardoned of his transgression because he humbled his heart before God in repentance and contrition of soul, and believed that God’s promise to forgive would be fulfilled. He confessed his sin, repented, and was reconverted. In the rapture of the assurance of forgiveness, he exclaimed, ‘Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.’ Psalm 32:1, 2. The blessing comes because of pardon; pardon comes through faith that the sin, confessed and repented of, is borne by the great Sin Bearer. Thus from Christ cometh all our blessings. His death is an atoning sacrifice for our sins. He is the great Medium through whom we receive the mercy and favor of God.”—Our High Calling, p. 83.
4. POWER TO CHANGE A HUMAN HEART
a. What gives hope of the possibility to transform the filthy, sinful life into one of purity? Job 14:4; Jeremiah 13:23; Ezekiel 36:26, 27.
“It is true that there may be an outward correctness of deportment without the renewing power of Christ. The love of influence and the desire for the esteem of others may produce a well-ordered life. Self-respect may lead us to avoid the appearance of evil. A selfish heart may perform generous actions. By what means, then, shall we determine whose side we are on?”—Steps to Christ, p. 58.
“God has provided abundant means for successful warfare against the evil that is in the world. The Bible is the armory where we may equip for the struggle.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 502.
b. What is the only way for the corrupt human heart to be changed into one that delights in righteousness? John 3:3.
“The things they once hated they now love, and the things they once loved they hate. The proud and self-assertive become meek and lowly in heart. The vain and supercilious become serious and unobtrusive. The drunken become sober, and the profligate pure.”—Steps to Christ, p. 58.
c. What are the evidences of that change? Galatians 5:22, 23.
“The old nature, born of blood and the will of the flesh, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The old ways, the hereditary tendencies, the former habits, must be given up; for grace is not inherited. The new birth consists in having new motives, new tastes, new tendencies. Those who are begotten unto a new life by the Holy Spirit, have become partakers of the divine nature, and in all their habits and practices they will give evidence of their relationship to Christ. When men who claim to be Christians retain all their natural defects of character and disposition, in what does their position differ from that of the worldling? They do not appreciate the truth as a sanctifier, a refiner. They have not been born again.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1101.
5. BORN BY THE WORD OF GOD
a. What has power to make such a radical change in the heart of a corrupt, wicked individual? Romans 1:16; John 1:1; 15:3; 1 Peter 1:23.
“The Bible is the most wonderful of all histories, for it is the production of God, not of the finite mind. It carries us back through the centuries to the beginning of all things, presenting the history of times and scenes which would otherwise never have been known. It reveals the glory of God in the working of His providence to save a fallen world. It presents in the simplest language the mighty power of the gospel, which, received, would cut the chains that bind men to Satan’s chariot.”—Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 377.
b. What does the Word activate in us, and why is that so necessary for a victorious life? Romans 10:17; 1 John 5:4. How do we maintain that same type of victory for the rest of our lives? Colossians 2:6.
“As faith thus receives and assimilates the principles of truth, they become a part of the being and the motive power of the life. The word of God, received into the soul, molds the thoughts, and enters into the development of character.
“By looking constantly to Jesus with the eye of faith, we shall be strengthened. God will make the most precious revelations to His hungering, thirsting people. They will find that Christ is a personal Saviour. As they feed upon His word, they find that it is spirit and life. The word destroys the natural, earthly nature, and imparts a new life in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes to the soul as a Comforter. By the transforming agency of His grace, the image of God is reproduced in the disciple; he becomes a new creature. Love takes the place of hatred, and the heart receives the divine similitude.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 391.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How serious is the Christian’s warfare with evil?
2. What important place does the Word have in this warfare?
3. How is it possible to understand the depth of the destructive nature of sin?
4. How does the transformation of the soul take place?
5. How do we maintain our relationship with Christ?