Those who serve God should aim at perfection. Wrong habits must be overcome. Right habits must be formed. Under the discipline of the greatest Teacher the world has ever known, Christians must move onward and upward toward perfection. This is God’s command, and no one should say, I can not do it. He should say instead, God requires me to be perfect, and He will give me strength to overcome all that stands in the way of perfection. He is the Source of all wisdom, all power.
Individually we are to be loyal to the laws that govern God’s kingdom. Christians are to be light-bearers, saying to all with whom they come in contact, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” They are to be examples of piety, representing Christ in word, in spirit, in action. Their actions are to be a copy of the actions of the Saviour. Thus they are to show the superiority of Christ’s principles over the principles of the world. They are to work upon a higher plane of action than do those who are not Christians. They are to bring the ennobling influence of the Gospel into every phase of life. Their purity and usefulness are to be a source of illumination to others.
The world has set up a standard to suit the inclinations of unsanctified hearts, but this is not the standard for those who love Christ. The Redeemer has chosen them out of the world, and has left them His sinless life as a standard. He wants them to rise above all cheapness of word or action. “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children, and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice for a sweet-smelling savor.” “Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. . . . As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy.”
These words are to be believed and practiced. Christians are to be superior in wisdom, in knowledge, in skill, because they believe in God and His power. The Lord desires them to reach the highest round of the ladder, that they may glorify Him. He has a treasure-house of wisdom from which they may draw. The religion of Christ never degrades; it never makes men and women coarse and rough. God wants His children to be correct in speech and correct in habits. He desires them to possess knowledge that will give them a standing-place among men.
Overcoming means much more than we realize. It means resisting the enemy and drawing nigh to God. It means taking up the cross and following Christ, doing cheerfully those things that are contrary to natural inclination. Christ came from heaven to show us how to live a life of self-sacrifice. In His strength we are to gain perfection. He has made it possible for us to do this, and when He comes the second time, He will ask us why we have not fulfilled His purpose for us. Day by day, hour by hour, we are preparing for the judgment, deciding our eternal destiny. We are trading on our Lord’s goods. When He comes, He will reckon with us, to see how we have improved His goods. Results proportionate to the talents entrusted will be required, and to every faithful, self-denying Christian will be given a reward proportionate to his work. Nothing that is done in sincerity is in vain. Everything is accurately weighed in the golden scales of the sanctuary.
Christianity means perfect conformity to the Christ-life. Those who possess this Christianity will show sound spiritual growth, because they are partakers of the divine nature. Heaven is full of light, and provision has been made that this light shall shine in clear rays upon those who accept Christ, and from them be reflected to those who are dead in trespasses and sins, that by the Holy Spirit’s power they may be raised to newness of life. Christians must be laborers together with God, or they will fail of overcoming, and their influence will cause others to fail. No one is lost who does not also draw others down. Let those who name the name of Christ depart from all iniquity, that Christ may not be ashamed of His professed followers.
The eye of the Lord is in every place, beholding the evil and the good. He knows all our temptations, and He expects us to resist them as Christ resisted them. Jesus died for us that we might live His life of purity. Our prayer should be, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” The heart must be purified; for out of it are the issues of life. The will must yield its helm to the command of Christ. Paul describes this as putting on the new man, “which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
No compromise with sin can ever be accepted by a pure and holy God. No conversion is genuine that does not radically change the heart, the character, every line of conduct. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” Not a moment should be wasted on a patchwork religion. Our citizenship is above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God. This present life is only our training school. Here we are to be purified, that at Christ’s coming we may be without spot or wrinkle or any such thing—prepared to receive the inheritance of the saints in light.
The true Christian obtains an experience that brings holiness. The light of truth irradiates his understanding. A glow of love for the Redeemer clears away the cloud that has interposed between his soul and God. The will of God, pure, elevated, and sanctified, becomes his will. His countenance reveals the light of heaven. His body is a fit temple for the Holy Spirit. Holiness adorns his character. God can commune with him; for soul and body are in harmony with the principles of heaven (1).
1. Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, July 17, 1901.
Ellen G. White (1827-1915) was probably the most prolific female writer of all time, having written a total of 25 million words for publication. In December of 1844, at the age of 17, she received her first prophetic vision, and for the following 70 years gave divinely-imparted clarity, comfort, and correction to the fledgling Seventh-day Adventist Church. Her ministry fulfills all the requirements set down in Scripture for a true prophet. Her writings have been translated into numerous languages, and have blessed millions with their call to Biblical integrity and Christ-centered focus.