Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Ms 59, 1899

The Perfect Standard


April 13, 1899

Previously unpublished. +Note

There are many who inquire, What is the standard I must reach? I answer, The law of God is the only true standard of moral perfection. In the life of Christ you have the law practically carried into action, and this is your example. Nothing short of this will meet the requirement of the Word of God. Christ could say, “I have kept my Father’s commandments,” and the disciple John declares, “He that abideth in him ought himself also so to walk even as he walked.” [John 15:10; 1 John 2:6.] 14LtMs, Ms 59, 1899, par. 1

We may plead our inability to keep this law, but this will not excuse us. Such a plea is the language of the carnal heart, which is not willing to put forth determined effort in self-conquest. There must be an earnest desire for higher and still higher attainments in the Christian life. Paul [Peter] speaks of growing in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This means a spiritual connection with God which will give us trust and confidence in Him, leading us to meditate upon Him, to talk of Him, and to Him, until we have an experimental knowledge of His divine nature and are changed into His image. Then we can glorify God by revealing to those with whom we associate the results of the transforming influence of the grace of Christ. 14LtMs, Ms 59, 1899, par. 2

We read the biographies of Christians, and think their experience and attainments entirely out of our reach. These, we say, are the histories of a few who are specially favored by grace. But these high attainments are for all. Christ died for every soul, and we are assured by God’s Word 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. We may be engaged in the common duties of every day life, but we can make them sacred by simple, earnest faith and persevering, trusting prayer. However humble the duty, it is a part of the service of God. Religion must be made the first great business of life. Christ enjoins us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” [Matthew 6:33.] God is honored by the steadfast integrity, the holy walk and conversation, of His people, even in the humblest walks of life. 14LtMs, Ms 59, 1899, par. 3

The apostles and prophets and holy men of old did not perfect their characters by a miracle. They used the ability given them by God trusting alone in the righteousness of Christ; and all who will use the same means may secure the same result. It is our privilege to have high spiritual attainments, for God’s Word has declared it. But these call for labor and faith on our part. The reason why professed Christians do so little in winning souls to Christ is because they have so little of Christ in themselves. The usefulness of the Christian will depend upon the measure of the grace he has received, and the measure of grace he receives will be proportionate to the use he makes of the blessings God gives him. 14LtMs, Ms 59, 1899, par. 4

Those who gain the mastery over temptation and sin will have conflict and trials to meet, for the powers of darkness are determined to oppose their advance, lest they become channels of light to the world. All the powers of the being must engage in this warfare, and while they look to the cross of Christ for grace and strength, they will surely conquer. For every soul who is growing up into Christ there will be times of earnest and long continued struggle against the enemy. But if we work the works of Christ, the mind will gather strength and firmness to resist the adversary of souls. The apostle says, “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial that is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” [1 Peter 4:12.] 14LtMs, Ms 59, 1899, par. 5

“Ye are in [heaviness through] manifold temptations, that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold which perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour; whom resist, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” [1 Peter 1:6, 7; 4:19; 5:6-9.] 14LtMs, Ms 59, 1899, par. 6

There are many who teach the people the theory of the truth, but they do not impress upon them the necessity of godliness, of bringing the truth into the daily life. Those who are resting in the fact that they have the truth, while personal piety is not revealed in their lives, are misrepresenting Christ. They do not practice His virtues. They do not manifest His humility and forbearance and love. Christ says of them, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would thou wert cold or hot. So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.” [Revelation 3:15, 16.] 14LtMs, Ms 59, 1899, par. 7

Christ presented before John a class of people who in their self-satisfaction say, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and in need of nothing.” These know not that they are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. Christ counsels all such, “Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear, and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” [Verses 17, 18.] This state of things must be watched and guarded against. We are to be clothed with the garment of Christ’s righteousness. Faith and love are the precious treasures presented as gold, and these graces, which characterized the life of Christ, should dwell in our hearts. 14LtMs, Ms 59, 1899, par. 8

There is another class whose religion consists in feeling. To them a happy emotion is godliness. They say, to sinners, Come to Jesus and believe in Him. It makes no difference what you believe, so long as you are honest in your belief. They do not make the sinner understand what sin is. He is not urged to search the Scriptures on bended knees to know what is truth, to pray that his eyes be anointed with eyesalve, that he may see the grace of Christ. When the lawyer came to Christ saying, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” he did not say, Believe, only believe, and you will be saved. He said, “What is written in the law? how readest thou? He answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy mind and with all thy soul and with all thy strength; and thy neighbor as thyself.” Christ answered, “Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live.” [Luke 10:25-28.] Here the false doctrine that man has nothing to do but believe is swept away. Eternal life is given to us on condition that we obey the commandments of God. 14LtMs, Ms 59, 1899, par. 9

Christ warns His followers, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing; but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” [Matthew 7:15.] He exhorts them not to be deceived when false shepherds press in their doctrines. These false shepherds tell us that the Ten Commandments were done away at the death of Christ. Shall we believe them, these men who claim to be sanctified while they refuse to obey God? They say the Lord has told them they need not keep the Ten Commandments, but has the Lord told them this? No; God does not lie. Satan, who is the father of lies, deceived Adam in a similar way, telling him he need not obey God, that he would not die if he transgressed the law. But Adam fell, and by his sin he opened the floodgates of woe upon our world. 14LtMs, Ms 59, 1899, par. 10

Again Satan claimed that he [man] need not follow expressly the command of God in presenting the slain lamb as an offering. Cain obeyed the voice of the deceiver, and because God did not accept his offering, while He showed His approval of the sacrifice of Abel, he rose up in anger and slew his brother. Let us each know for ourselves what voice we are heeding, whether it is the voice of the true and living God, or the voice of the great apostate. Eternal life is of value to each of us, and we must take heed how we hear. We want to know what to believe. We want sound doctrine, pure faith. We cannot afford to receive the sayings of men for the commandments of God, for if we do this, we shall make void God’s law. The Lord has said, “If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments, then will I visit their transgression with a rod, and their iniquity with stripes.” [Psalm 89:30-32.] 14LtMs, Ms 59, 1899, par. 11

John has given us the definition of sin: “Whosoever committeth sin,” he declares, “transgresseth also the law.” [1 John 3:4.] And this was after the crucifixion of Christ, when, we are told, the law was abolished. When type met antitype in the death of Christ, sacrificial offerings ceased; the ceremonial law was done away. But by the crucifixion of Christ the law of ten commandments was established. Let us compare our lives and characters with this great moral standard, God’s just and holy law; for it is the standard by which we shall be judged in the last great day. Looking into this great mirror we should carefully examine our thoughts and works. 14LtMs, Ms 59, 1899, par. 12

The law has no power to pardon transgressors. Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ must be exercised. As the sinner looks into this divine mirror, he will see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and will be driven to Christ. Our question should be, Are we making void the law of God, or are we standing in vindication of that law? Where shall we wish to stand when Christ shall appear? 14LtMs, Ms 59, 1899, par. 13

Satan is willing that every transgressor of God’s law shall claim to be holy. This is what he himself is doing. He is satisfied when men rest their faith on spurious doctrines and religious enthusiasm, for he can use such persons to good purpose in deceiving souls. There are many professedly sanctified ones who are aiding Satan in his work, helping on the work of apostasy. They talk much of feeling, of the exercise of their mind. They speak of their love for God, but God does not recognize this love, for it is a delusion of the enemy. The light God gives them they refuse to accept, and it becomes darkness to them. With the father of lies, these souls will receive the reward of disobedience. It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than after they had known it to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 14LtMs, Ms 59, 1899, par. 14

Listen to the testimony of John: “By this we know we love the children of God, if we love God and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God that ye keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous.” “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected. ... Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment, which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye heard from the beginning.” [1 John 5:2, 3; 2:4, 5, 7.] 14LtMs, Ms 59, 1899, par. 15

Let us earnestly inquire, What is truth? We cannot afford to build on a sandy foundation. The doctrines revealed in the Word of God are to be the foundation of our faith. It is a matter of utmost importance that we understand as far as God has given us capacity for understanding, the principles upon which God’s government rests, for the principles which we believe and receive into the heart will govern and control the actions. The more clear the understanding of the truth as it is in Jesus, the more spiritual will be the religious life, the more holy the affections. 14LtMs, Ms 59, 1899, par. 16

Godly sorrow will always be the result of a realization of our frailties and depravities. Our faith in the atoning sacrifice will be based on the sacred promise of full and complete pardon from Christ. The message of mercy which Christ brought from the Father to man was meant for the ears of the world: “I, if I be lifted up,” Christ said, “will draw all men unto me.” [John 12:32.] Everlasting life has been purchased for man at an infinite cost. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16.] In this matchless gift Christ embraces the world with an atmosphere of grace. All who choose to inhale this life-giving atmosphere will have eternal life. The sinner who consents to be drawn can say, “Herein is love.” [1 John 4:10.] 14LtMs, Ms 59, 1899, par. 17

That Christ should take the nature of man, and by a life of humiliation elevate man in the scale of moral worth with God, that He should carry this adopted nature to the throne of God, and there present His children to the Father, to have conferred upon them an honor exceeding that bestowed upon the angels—this is love that melts the sinner’s heart. It is too much for the human mind to grasp, that God, having collected all the riches of the universe, laid open all the resources of His power, should place them in the hand of His Son, saying, All these I give to You for man. These are My gifts to him. Confer them upon him, that he may be convinced that there is no love like Mine, and that his eternal happiness consists in his giving Me his love in return. As the sinner contemplates this love, it broadens and widens into infinitude, and passes beyond his comprehension. 14LtMs, Ms 59, 1899, par. 18