Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 18 (1903)


Ms 31, 1903

Lessons From the Third Chapter of First John


August 22, 1903

Portions of this manuscript are published in RC 28; UL 248. +Note

I awake at half-past eleven, unable to sleep longer. I have been deeply impressed to write to our people who have received such great light. I entreat them to heed the admonition, “Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you.” “He that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.” [John 12:35.] 18LtMs, Ms 31, 1903, par. 1

The third chapter of First John means much to every human being. It contains instruction that all should comprehend. John says, “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not; whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him neither known Him. Little children, let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.” [Verses 1-7.] 18LtMs, Ms 31, 1903, par. 2

In these words the truth is plainly stated. If it were not possible for us to live without sin, these words would not have been written. They are recorded that we may not carelessly allow ourselves to continue in sin. Let us walk in the light of the living God. 18LtMs, Ms 31, 1903, par. 3

“He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer; and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” [Verses 8-15.] 18LtMs, Ms 31, 1903, par. 4

Shall we not receive this instruction, and profit by the statements that it contains? What wonderful love the Lord has revealed in behalf of the sinful race! 18LtMs, Ms 31, 1903, par. 5

“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment. And he that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us.” [Verses 16-24.] 18LtMs, Ms 31, 1903, par. 6

If we should commit these words to memory so that we could always think of them, would it not bring great blessing to us? We shall be without excuse if we continue in sin. It is possible for us to be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Let us think of the greatness of the privilege presented to us, the privilege of being sons and daughters of God. Let us seize the possibility held out before us. In our behalf Christ laid aside His royal robe and kingly crown and stepped down from His high command. He clothed His divinity with humanity, that, standing at the head of humanity, He might reveal what human beings could become by receiving the power that He came to give. John declares, “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, ... full of grace and truth.” [John 1:12-14.] 18LtMs, Ms 31, 1903, par. 7

Christ is the light of the world. Those who do not receive and honor Him, acknowledging Him as their Saviour, their Redeemer, able to save to the uttermost all who come to Him, lose their hope of restoration to God’s favor. They lose the precious advantage which they might have by receiving the knowledge that Christ came to give. He is the light of the world, shining amidst moral darkness. He came to give men a representation of God. He presented to them new motives, laying them under new obligations. 18LtMs, Ms 31, 1903, par. 8


Let our youth, the students in our schools and sanitariums, and the workers in our printing offices study the third chapter of First John. The instructors in our schools and sanitariums and those in charge of our publishing houses need its instruction. I am instructed to present it to them and to say to them, Take heed to yourselves. Show your faith in this chapter. Practice its teachings. Show to the youth in your care the wonderful possibility before them, the possibility of becoming sons and daughters of God, the possibility of walking uprightly in a crooked and perverse generation, showing the contrast between the principles of Christ and the principles of Satan. Remember that the teaching you give these youth has much to do with their present and future happiness. Show them that you are learning of Christ His meekness and lowliness, and that this makes His yoke easy to bear and His burden easy to carry. Thus you can be witnesses for God, testifying in the daily life to the power of His grace, showing that every moment of your life you have the Saviour’s keeping power, because you faithfully perform your service to God, as a pleasure, not as a task. Place in your censers the sacred fire of God’s own kindling. Beware that you use not common fire. Never speak one harsh, passionate word. One rash, ill-advised word may prove the ruin of a soul. By such words the worst passions of the quick-tempered are stirred into resistance. Speak as Christ spoke. This will have a strong influence on the youth, leading them to speak courteously and respectfully. Remember that you have hereditary and cultivated tendencies that must be kept under control. The character must daily be refined, sanctified, purified. 18LtMs, Ms 31, 1903, par. 9

Love for God should lead us to find true enjoyment in learning and doing His will. Thus we become every day better prepared to be overcomers, examples of the power that heavenly grace has to uplift and ennoble human beings. Christ was tempted in all points like as we are, yet He overcome. And today He waits to hear and answer the earnest requests of His children for the grace that will enable them to overcome. 18LtMs, Ms 31, 1903, par. 10

Be polite to those with whom you come in contact. Thus you will be polite to God. Praise Him for His goodness. Thus you are witnesses for Him, and you are preparing for the society of the angels. You are learning <in this world> how to conduct yourselves in the family of Christ in heaven. 18LtMs, Ms 31, 1903, par. 11

Lose no time in becoming acquainted with the principles that the children of God must follow. We are here to copy the character of Christ, to become familiar with His gentleness, His lowliness. This will place us where our record will be, “Ye are complete in Him.” [Colossians 2:10.] By patience, kindness, forbearance, we are to show that we are not of the world, that day by day we are learning the lessons that will fit us to enter the higher school. When God’s redeemed ones are called to heaven, they will not leave behind the advancement they have made in this life by beholding Christ. They will go on, learning more and still more of God. They will carry their spiritual attainments into the courts above, leaving nothing of heavenly origin in this world. As the books of heaven are opened, each overcomer is assigned his lot and place in heaven, in accordance with the advancement he has made in this life. 18LtMs, Ms 31, 1903, par. 12


The sons and daughters of God are led to persevere in the work of overcoming by the daily realization that they need to be taught by the Holy Spirit the good and righteous way. No sham work enters into their service. Every day they realize that they must hold fast the beginning of their confidence firm unto the end. When one deviates from the right way, the Holy Spirit, working on his mind, leads him to confess his error, so that others will be warned against the same mistake. No one is to feel that his position is so exalted that he must not acknowledge his faults, lest others place a low estimate upon him. If a mistake has been made, it must be corrected. The higher the office of trust occupied by him who has made a mistake, the more deeply should he feel his obligation to confess his error, that others may not be led astray. 18LtMs, Ms 31, 1903, par. 13

It is for this reason that the Lord caused the history of patriarchs and prophets—their mistakes and failures, as well as their victories over sin—to be recorded. He would show us that errors and mistakes are not to be passed over as something not to be noticed. The best of men have erred, under great provocation. Provoked by the unbelief of the children of Israel, Moses lost his self-control, and smiting the rock in anger and impatience, said, “Shall we bring you water out of this rock?” [Numbers 20:10.] It was God’s design that Moses should represent His character to the people, that through Moses His name should be glorified. It was a sad departure from right for Moses thus to give way to impatience. He repented, and confessed his sin, and the Lord forgave him; but he was not permitted to enter the promised land. 18LtMs, Ms 31, 1903, par. 14

This sorrowful experience has been recorded for our admonition. Will the leaders of God’s people study the lesson that it contains? Will they realize that God wants them to stand before the world unspotted and unstained by sin, that others may not be led astray by regarding their faults as virtues? 18LtMs, Ms 31, 1903, par. 15

Of all men, those who have been trusted and honored by the Lord, those who have been given special service, should be circumspect in word and deed. Every word, every action, should reveal the purity of truth and equity. When men become lifted up with pride because the Lord has favored them, when they say and do that which is unworthy of their high position, when they pass on without showing repentance, without confessing their wrong, they dishonor God. Never should a man in a position of trust be too proud to make the acknowledgment, “I have erred.” The least he can do, after he has sinned, is to show his sorrow and repentance. Men who do this will be honored by God, even though they make mistakes. 18LtMs, Ms 31, 1903, par. 16