“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:11-14.
There is a great work for us to do if we would inherit eternal life. We are to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and live a life of righteousness. Many teach that all that is necessary to salvation is to believe in Jesus; but what saith the word of truth?—“Faith without works is dead.” We are to “fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life,” take up the cross, deny self, war against the flesh, and follow daily in the footsteps of the Redeemer. There is no salvation for us except in Jesus; for it is through faith in him that we receive power to become the sons of God; but it is not merely a passing faith; it is faith that works the works of Christ. Jesus has said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” We have a part to act as well as to believe; for we are to be judged according to our works.
Living faith makes itself manifest by exhibiting a spirit of sacrifice and devotion toward the cause of God. Those who possess it stand under the banner of Prince Emmanuel, and wage a successful warfare against the powers of darkness. They stand ready to do whatsoever their Captain commands. Each one is exhorted to be “an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity;” for we are to “live soberly, righteously, and godly” in this present evil world, representing the character of Christ, and manifesting his Spirit. We are to follow in his footsteps, as dear children. By beholding him, we are to be changed into the same image, reflecting the light of heaven into the moral darkness of the world.
Genuine faith in Jesus leads to denial of self; but however high the profession may be, if self is exalted and indulged, the faith of Jesus is not in the heart. The true Christian manifests by a life of daily consecration that he is bought with a price, and is not his own. He realizes that an infinite sacrifice has been made for him, and that his life is of inestimable value, through the merits of Jesus’ blood, intercession, and righteousness. But while he comprehends the exalted privileges of the sons of God, his soul is filled with humility. There is no boasting of holiness from the lips of those who walk in the shadow of Calvary’s cross. They feel that it was their sin which caused the agony that broke the heart of the Son of God, and their comeliness is turned to corruption. Those who live nearest to Jesus, feel most deeply their own unworthiness, and their only hope is in the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour. Like Moses, they have had a view of the awful majesty of holiness, and they see their own insufficiency in contrast with the purity and exalted loveliness of Jesus.
Is there not occasion for humility? Is there not need of feeling our utter dependence upon Christ every day and hour? Have we not walked in the ways of our own choosing, and have we not found in this path only failure? We have “sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” and in order to save man, Jesus made an infinite sacrifice. Nothing less than the life of God’s beloved Son would suffice to pay the heavy debt that we had incurred by breaking the law of God. He took on him our nature, and became sin for us, that we might have “remission of sins that are past,” and through his divine strength and grace, might fulfill the righteous requirements of the law. Whoever takes the position that it makes no difference whether or not we keep the commandments of God, is not acquainted with Christ. Jesus says, “I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love;” and those who follow Jesus will do as he has done. The beloved disciple writes, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” We cannot abide in the love of our Saviour, if we trample under foot any part of that law which he came to “magnify” and make “honorable,” even to the cost of suffering the humiliation and death of the cross.
It is a fatal mistake to think that there is nothing for you to do in obtaining salvation. You are to cooperate with the agencies of heaven. We are exhorted to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” You want to take hold of the work intelligently; and when you discern spiritual things, you will see that there is a warfare before you. There is a cross to be lifted in the pathway, a wall to be scaled before you enter the eternal city, a ladder to be climbed before the gate of pearl is reached; and as you realize your inability and weakness, and cry for help, a divine voice will come to you from the battlements of heaven, saying, “Take hold of my strength.” “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
Satan will seek to entice you to enter into the paths of sin, promising that some wonderful good will result from the transgression of God’s law; but he is a deceiver. He would only work your ruin, and the dishonor of the name and cause of God; for every step away from the commandments of Jehovah lessens your power to resist evil, and makes you more and more inefficient to fulfill your obligations to God and man. Christ came to break the rule of the evil one, to let the oppressed go free, to undo the heavy burden, and to bring liberty to the captive. Man was so weakened through transgression that he did not possess sufficient moral power to turn from the service of Satan to the service of the only true God; but Jesus, the Prince of life, to whom is committed “all power in heaven and earth,” will impart to every soul who desires salvation the strength necessary to overcome the enemy of all righteousness.
The controversy that was waged between Christ and Satan is renewed over every soul that leaves the black banner of the prince of darkness, to march under the blood stained banner of Prince Emmanuel. The evil one will present the most subtle allurements to draw those away from their allegiance who would be true to Heaven; but we must yield all the powers of our being into the service of God, and then we shall be kept from falling into the snares of the enemy.
Says Paul, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Any course of action that weakens your physical or mental power, unfits you for the service of your Creator. We are to love God with all our hearts, and, if we have an eye single to his glory, we shall eat, drink, and clothe ourselves with reference to his divine will. Every one who has a realizing sense of what it means to be a Christian, will purify himself from everything that weakens and defiles. All the habits of his life will be brought into harmony with the requirements of the word of truth, and he will not only believe, but will work out his own salvation with fear and trembling, while submitting to the molding of the Holy Spirit.
Those who are connected with Jesus are in union with the Maker and Upholder of all things. They have a power that the world cannot give nor take away. But while great and exalted privileges are given to them, they are not simply to rejoice in their blessings. As stewards of the manifold grace of God, they are to become a blessing to others. They are intrusted with great truth, and “unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” There are weighty responsibilities resting upon all who have received the message for this time. They are to exert an influence that will draw others to the light of God’s word. “Even Christ pleased not himself.” He lived for the good of men, and we are to work the works of Christ. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are our brother’s keeper. Christ “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” And that faith which accomplishes this zeal in us is the only genuine faith. If the branch is abiding in the True Vine, its union is made manifest by the fruit that appears, for “by their fruits ye shall know them.”
If we are true believers in Jesus, we shall be gathering rays from glory, and we shall shed light on the darkened pathway of those around us. We shall reveal the gracious character of our Redeemer, and many will be drawn by our influence to “behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” And they will yield themselves to his service; for Jesus will be in them “a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” And those who have honored his name, who have been co-laborers with him in seeking the salvation of souls, shall enter into his joy, and sit down on his throne, to share in his eternal glory.1The Review and Herald, March 6, 1888
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|1.||↑||The Review and Herald, March 6, 1888|