The Signs of the Times


May 15, 1893

Transformation of Character Noted by the World


“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost; so that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to Godward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak anything. For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” ST May 15, 1893, par. 1

The apostle wrote these words of encouragement in order that we upon whom the ends of the world have come, might receive benefit. Through the grace of Christ such a transformation of character is to take place in us that the word of the Lord may leave an impression upon many minds, that “in every place your faith Godward is spread abroad.” When the people of God yield themselves to be controlled entirely by the Holy Spirit, in them will appear that Christlikeness which is in accordance with the richness and grandeur of the truth. But in order that Christ shall be revealed in the human agent, self must die. The believer is to study the life and character of Christ, that by beholding he may become changed into his divine image in life and character. ST May 15, 1893, par. 2

How cautious should each one be lest he cultivate an unsanctified independence! The enemy is vigilant, working with tremendous power to subvert souls who have had presented before them the light of truth. Satan watches that he may take advantage of every unconsecrated element of character in the human agent, in order that he may use him who professes to be a servant of Christ to further his Satanic designs. He will take advantage of prejudice, of preconceived opinion, of side issues, that he may make of no effect the words of God's messenger to the church. Contention and strife will be aroused, and the message of heaven will be rendered of no effect through the working of this evil leaven. ST May 15, 1893, par. 3

In the days of Paul there was need of warning the churches against bringing in their own ideas and opinions, of setting their stakes, and of holding the measuring tape in their hands, so that if the message or the messenger differed in some little degree from their preconceived ideas, they closed the door firmly against the light and the lightbearer. In the words of Paul, the Lord warns every man to take heed as to entertaining this spirit of jangling and strife. He says: “As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. Now the end of the commandment is charity [love] out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned; from which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” “And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness; from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain.” ST May 15, 1893, par. 4

From the words of Paul we can see that he had the same difficulties to deal with in his day that we have to deal with in our day. There were in the early church those who made much of matters of minor importance, and wrought mischief among the believers in creating strife and contention. Through pride men and women are led to take the position that rendering service to a brother or sister in certain ways has a degrading tendency; but it is just as commendable to serve in what are called menial positions as to minister from the pulpit. There is no degradation in doing the duties that must be done in the house, and there is no humiliation in being able to do well and thoroughly the duties that devolve on a housemaid or a man of all work. It will never injure self-respect to be a good servant if the right view is taken of the subject. ST May 15, 1893, par. 5

But in whatever branch of the Lord's work you are, you should study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, willing to be taught, ready to learn, faithful in your work, and ever growing in power and efficiency. ST May 15, 1893, par. 6

There is no safety for any of us unless we trust fully in God, and take a decided stand, guarding the avenues of the will, resisting the first insinuations of Satan, rejecting his counsel to yield to questionable impulses. This requires watchfulness, perseverance, and continual adherence to the word of God under all circumstances. We are here as probationers, and are deciding our own eternal destiny. Then how important it is that we daily educate and train the will power to render obedience to God in the least as well as in the greatest tests. How important to ever remember the fact, “Thou God seest me. Thou knowest every thought, and art acquainted with every action”! How important that we regard ourselves as pupils in the school of Christ, that we learn to repress every vain, trifling word! Jesus has been tempted in all points like as we are, and it is our Saviour who admonishes and warns us concerning evil. He has identified his interest with that of suffering humanity, and he bids us “watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” We should esteem his counsel as of the highest value. You are not to be off guard for an instant, but as a faithful sentinel to stand at your post of duty, and having done all to stand. But with all our watchfulness we are to remember that “except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” Man must cooperate with the heavenly agencies; he must use his God-given abilities to their utmost in earnest endeavor to keep his own soul from being degraded by sin; but he must not trust in his own finite strength, for it will be as a broken staff, a bruised reed. With his human endeavor he must mingle faith in a divine Deliverer, and express his dependence upon God in prayer. The promise is given, “Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me, and he shall make peace with Me.” There is no safety for us outside of entire dependence on Jesus Christ. His wisdom, his power, his grace, his love must be our only support. We are to unite prayer with watchfulness, and thus lay hold upon his mighty power, feeling our insufficiency to cope with self and the powers of darkness. ST May 15, 1893, par. 7

Then looking unto Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith, with perfect assurance we may commit the keeping of our souls unto him, while we cooperate with divine agencies. Every soul may say: “Lord, without thee I can do nothing in saving or keeping my soul from sinning against thee; but thou art able to keep me from falling, and to present me faultless before the presence of thy glory with exceeding joy. To thee I commit the keeping of my soul as unto a faithful guardian, and I leave all in thy hands, knowing that thou doest all things well.” ST May 15, 1893, par. 8