1. ASKING FOR HELP
a. Since all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), do any deserve to be justified? Job 25:4–6.
b. How can we be saved if we do not deserve it? Psalm 55:16; Acts 2:21.
c. How is it possible that I, in my sinfulness, can call upon God’s holy name? Psalm 55:17; 2 Chronicles 6:36–39; Romans 8:26; 1 John 1:7, 9.
“From these scriptures it is evident that it is not God’s will that you should be distrustful and torture your soul with the fear that God will not accept you because you are sinful and unworthy. ‘Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you’ (James 4:8). Present your case before Him, pleading the merits of the blood shed for you upon Calvary’s cross. Satan will accuse you of being a great sinner, and you must admit this, but you can say: ‘I know I am a sinner, and that is the reason I need a Saviour. Jesus came into the world to save sinners. . . . I have no merit or goodness whereby I may claim salvation, but I present before God the all-atoning blood of the spotless Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is my only plea. The name of Jesus gives me access to the Father. His ear, His heart, is open to my faintest pleading, and He supplies my deepest necessities.’ ”—Faith and Works, pp. 105, 106.
2. BEHIND THE SCENES OF REPENTANCE
a. For what are we to pray? Acts 3:19; Psalm 51:1.
b. As we have received forgiveness from sin, we have repented. But how do we arrive at the point of repentance? Acts 5:30, 31; John 16:7, 8.
“Like Nicodemus, we must be willing to enter into life in the same way as the chief of sinners. Than Christ, ‘there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.’ Acts 4:12. Through faith we receive the grace of God; but faith is not our Saviour. It earns nothing. It is the hand by which we lay hold upon Christ, and appropriate His merits, the remedy for sin. And we cannot even repent without the aid of the Spirit of God.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 175.
c. It is true that the Lord has left His people in this world to call sin by its right name (Isaiah 58:1), but what is necessary in order to bring conviction to the heart of one we are trying to reach? John 14:26; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8.
“The light shining from the cross reveals the love of God. His love is drawing us to Himself. If we do not resist this drawing, we shall be led to the foot of the cross in repentance for the sins that have crucified the Saviour. Then the Spirit of God through faith produces a new life in the soul. The thoughts and desires are brought into obedience to the will of Christ. The heart, the mind, are created anew in the image of Him who works in us to subdue all things to Himself. Then the law of God is written in the mind and heart, and we can say with Christ, ‘I delight to do Thy will, O my God.’ Psalm 40:8.”—Ibid., p. 176.
d. Since the work of the Holy Spirit is so important, what warning is given us regarding His reception? Matthew 12:31, 32; Ephesians 4:30.
“We often sorrow because our evil deeds bring unpleasant consequences to ourselves; but this is not repentance. Real sorrow for sin is the result of the working of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit reveals the ingratitude of the heart that has slighted and grieved the Saviour, and brings us in contrition to the foot of the cross. By every sin Jesus is wounded afresh; and as we look upon Him whom we have pierced, we mourn for the sins that have brought anguish upon Him. Such mourning will lead to the renunciation of sin.”—Ibid., p. 300.
3. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO GRIEVE HIM?
a. What specific action causes the Holy Spirit to be grieved? Hebrews 10:26, 27; 2 Thessalonians 2:10, 11.
“What constitutes the sin against the Holy Ghost? It is willfully attributing to Satan the work of the Holy Spirit. For example, suppose that one is a witness of the special work of the Spirit of God. He has convincing evidence that the work is in harmony with the Scriptures, and the Spirit witnesses with his spirit that it is of God. Afterward, however, he falls under temptation; pride, self-sufficiency, or some other evil trait, controls him; and rejecting all the evidence of its divine character, he declares that that which he had before acknowledged to be the power of the Holy Spirit was the power of Satan. It is through the medium of His Spirit that God works upon the human heart; and when men willfully reject the Spirit and declare it to be from Satan, they cut off the channel by which God can communicate with them. By denying the evidence which God has been pleased to give them, they shut out the light which had been shining in their hearts, and as the result they are left in darkness. Thus the words of Christ are verified: ‘If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!’ (Matthew 6:25). For a time, persons who have committed this sin may appear to be children of God; but when circumstances arise to develop character and show what manner of spirit they are of, it will be found that they are on the enemy’s ground, standing under his black banner.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 634.
b. How does one willfully commit a sin—and is it possible to prevent this? Proverbs 28:13; Hebrews 3:15.
c. What are the results of this condition? Proverbs 28:9; Matthew 12:45; 2 Peter 2:20–22.
“Sanctification is a daily work. Let none deceive themselves with the belief that God will pardon and bless them while they are trampling upon one of His requirements. The willful commission of a known sin silences the witnessing voice of the Spirit, and separates the soul from God. Whatever may be the ecstasies of religious feeling, Jesus cannot abide in the heart that disregards the divine law. God will honor those only who honor Him.”—Messages to Young People, p. 114.
4. THE POINT OF NO RETURN
a. Is the sin against the Holy Spirit something that happens instantaneously—or does it occur gradually? 2 Chronicles 36:16.
“There are none so hardened as those who have slighted the invitation of mercy, and done despite to the Spirit of grace. The most common manifestation of the sin against the Holy Spirit is in persistently slighting Heaven’s invitation to repent. Every step in the rejection of Christ is a step toward the rejection of salvation, and toward the sin against the Holy Spirit.
“In rejecting Christ the Jewish people committed the unpardonable sin; and by refusing the invitation of mercy, we may commit the same error. We offer insult to the Prince of life, and put Him to shame before the synagogue of Satan and before the heavenly universe when we refuse to listen to His delegated messengers, and instead listen to the agents of Satan, who would draw the soul away from Christ. So long as one does this, he can find no hope or pardon, and he will finally lose all desire to be reconciled to God.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 324, 325.
b. Is it possible to reclaim someone after they have reached the last stages of this process? Jeremiah 8:20; Hosea 4:17; Amos 8:11, 12; Hebrews 6:4–6.
“For more than a thousand years the Jewish nation had abused God’s mercy and invited His judgments. They had rejected His warnings and slain His prophets. . . .
“In every age there is given to men their day of light and privilege, a probationary time in which they may become reconciled to God. But there is a limit to this grace. Mercy may plead for years and be slighted and rejected; but there comes a time when mercy makes her last plea. The heart becomes so hardened that it ceases to respond to the Spirit of God. Then the sweet, winning voice entreats the sinner no longer, and reproofs and warnings cease.
“That day had come to Jerusalem. Jesus wept in anguish over the doomed city, but He could not deliver her. He had exhausted every resource. In rejecting the warnings of God’s Spirit, Israel had rejected the only means of help. There was no other power by which they could be delivered.
“The Jewish nation was a symbol of the people of all ages who scorn the pleadings of Infinite Love. The tears of Christ when He wept over Jerusalem were for the sins of all time. In the judgments pronounced upon Israel, those who reject the reproofs and warnings of God’s Holy Spirit may read their own condemnation.”—Ibid., pp. 584–587.
a. How do we know if we have gone too far in grieving God? Isaiah 30:21.
“In this generation there are many who are treading on the same ground as were the unbelieving Jews. They have witnessed the manifestation of the power of God; the Holy Spirit has spoken to their hearts; but they cling to their unbelief and resistance. God sends them warnings and reproof, but they are not willing to confess their errors, and they reject His message and His messenger. The very means He uses for their recovery becomes to them a stone of stumbling.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 587.
b. As we look at the plan of salvation, what do we need to realize—and for what should we plead with our Saviour? Psalm 51:11, 12; Hebrews 3:7, 8.
“The rebuke of the Lord is upon His people for their pride and unbelief. He will not restore unto them the joys of His salvation while they are departing from the instructions of His word and His Spirit. He will give grace to those who fear Him and walk in the truth, and He will withdraw His blessing from all that assimilate to the world. Mercy and truth are promised to the humble and penitent, and judgments are denounced against the rebellious.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 190.
“Transformation of character is to be the testimony to the world of the indwelling love of Christ. The Lord expects His people to show that the redeeming power of grace can work upon the faulty character and cause it to develop in symmetry and abundant fruitfulness.
“But in order for us to fulfill God’s purpose, there is a preparatory work to be done. The Lord bids us empty our hearts of the selfishness which is the root of alienation. He longs to pour upon us His Holy Spirit in rich measure, and He bids us clear the way by self-renunciation.”—Ibid., vol. 6, p. 43.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What is the specific way in which God invites the sinner to repentance?
2. Because of the important role of the Holy Spirit, what warning is given us?
3. How is it possible for us to grieve the Holy Spirit today?
4. What is involved in sinning against the Holy Ghost?
5. What should we be continually evaluating about our personal life?