The Malignity of Sin, Part II
You do realize, do you not, that the entire universe is watching you
do realize, do you not, that the entire universe is watching you?Do not forget that you have been granted a
probationary period in which to demonstrate your loyalty to the god you serve.“During probationary time the grace of God is
offered to every soul.But if men waste
their opportunities in self-pleasing, they cut themselves
off from everlasting life.No
after-probation will be granted them.By
their own choice they have fixed an impassable gulf between them and their
God.”God’s Amazing Grace, 243.
time is granted us, opportunities and privileges are given us, to make our
calling and election sure.How we should
prize this precious time and improve every talent God has given, that we may be
faithful stewards over ourselves!”In Heavenly Places, 359.
has the privilege of becoming intelligent in regard to the will of God.While probationary time is granted us, we
should put our faculties to the very highest use, that
we may make of ourselves all that it is possible; and while we endeavor to
reach a high standard of intelligence, we should feel our dependence upon God,
for without his grace, our efforts cannot bring lasting benefit.It is through the grace of Christ that we are
to be overcomers; through the merits of his blood we
are to be of that number whose names will not be blotted out of the book of
life.Those who are final overcomers will have the life that runs parallel with the
life of God, and wear the crown of the victor.When such great and eternal reward awaits us, we should run the race
with patience, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”The Signs of the Times, June 15, 1891.
This is a Test
Perhaps Abraham was called to give the
greatest sacrifice ever required by a human being.Imagine being asked to cut the throat of your
son!Do you realize that, because of
Abraham’s earlier demonstration of lack of faith, Satan made accusations
against him before the angels?
sacrifice required of Abraham was not alone for his own good, nor solely for
the benefit of succeeding generations; but it was also for the instruction of
the sinless intelligences of heaven and of other worlds. . . .Because Abraham had shown a lack of faith in
God’s promises, Satan had accused him before the angels and before God of
having failed to comply with the conditions of the covenant, and as unworthy of
its blessings.God desired to prove the
loyalty of His servant before all heaven, to demonstrate that nothing less than
perfect obedience can be accepted, and to open more fully before them the plan
beings were witnesses of the scene as the faith of Abraham and the submission
of Isaac were tested. . . .All heaven beheld with wonder and admiration Abraham’s unfaltering
obedience. All heaven applauded his
and Prophets, 154, 155.
Abraham, because of our lack of faith, the test of loyalty we must go through
(and should strive to excel) will tax our faith to the uttermost.The universe is watching us today.As we face our temptations, tests, and
trials, heavenly beings are watching with great interest.One day soon our probationary time will be
over.We do not know when, but we do
know that the time will surely come.We
will not receive a warning notice in the mail, nor will we be able to make
arrangements for an extended period of grace.The books will be closed.What
will be your final tally?It is up to
you.Only you can make the difference.
The Work of Faith
One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is
Hebrews 11.What an inspiration to read the accounts, “By
faith . . . .”Our Bible heroes accomplished great
things!Why don’t you put this study
aside for a few minutes, get your Bible, and read that motivating chapter right
now!Again and again we read the
accounts where Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and
others feared, trusted, and obeyed the Lord and were blessed.Consistently, they received instruction from
the Lord, acted upon it and received a blessing.Instruction + Action = Blessings!
11 is an historical
account, chapter 12 is for us today.I encourage you to go through this chapter in your personal study time,
but for right now, take a close look at the first four verses: “Wherefore
seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us
lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us
run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author
and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured
the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne
of God.For consider him that endured
such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in
your minds.Ye have not yet resisted
unto blood, striving against sin.”
that are here referred to [Hebrews 12:1] are the evil habits and practices we have formed by
following our own natural dispositions.Who are the witnesses?They are
those spoken of in the previous chapter—those who have breasted the evils and
difficulties in their way, and who in the name of the Lord have braced
themselves successfully against the opposing forces of evil.They were sustained and strengthened and the
Lord held them by His hand.
other witnesses.All about us are those
who are watching us closely, to see how we who profess a belief in the truth
conduct ourselves. At all times and in all places, so far as possible, we must
magnify the truth before the world.”“Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary,
vol. 7, 934.
For the most
part, we do not know what it means to resist unto blood, striving against
sin.Usually, we do not even work up a
good sweat.When one of our “desires” presents
itself to us, we may, at first, put up a little resistance.We may even mentally give a decided No!But before long, we are smitten.We parley with the tempter.Then we begin to negotiate—“Just a little of
this.Maybe just this
once.”We begin to justify what
we are about to do.Before we know it,
we are seduced.We are in the spider’s
“Every man is
tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”James 1:14, 15.
temptation alone is not sin, when it is ignited by the sparks of humanity’s
lustful desires, sin is the result.Sin
is the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4), a departing from Him alone Who
can save us.
one needs to understand the true force of the will.This is the governing power in the nature of
man—the power of decision, of choice.Everything depends on the right action of the will.Desires for goodness and purity are right, so
far as they go; but if they stop here, they avail nothing.Many will go down to ruin while hoping and
desiring to overcome their evil propensities.They do not yield the will to God.They do not choose to serve Him.”The Ministry of Healing, 176.
righteousness of Christ is not a cloak to cover unconfessed
and unforsaken sin; it is a principle of life that
transforms the character and controls the conduct.Holiness is wholeness for God; it is the
entire surrender of heart and life to the indwelling of the principles of
of Ages, 555, 556.
The Way of Escape
“There hath no temptation taken you but such
as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be
tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to
escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].”1 Corinthians 10:13.
“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This [is]
the way, walk ye in it . . . .”Isaiah 30:21.
“I have seen the tender love that God has for
His people, and it is very great.I saw
angels over the saints with their wings spread about them.Each saint had an attending angel.If the saints wept through discouragement, or
were in danger, the angels that ever attended them would fly quickly upward to
carry the tidings, and the angels in the city would cease to sing.Then Jesus would commission another angel to
descend to encourage, watch over, and try to keep them from going out of the
narrow path; but if they did not take heed to the watchful care of these
angels, and would not be comforted by them, but continued to go astray, the
angels would look sad and weep.They
would bear the tidings upward, and all the angels in the city would weep, and
then with a loud voice say, ‘Amen.’But
if the saints fixed their eyes upon the prize before them and glorified God by
praising Him, then the angels would bear the glad tidings to the city, and the
angels in the city would touch their golden harps and sing with a loud voice,
‘Alleluia!’ and the heavenly arches would ring with their lovely songs.”Early Writings, 39.
do not realize the effort expended in heaven to provide us every opportunity to
be successful, because if we did, we would take full advantage of it.When the temptation comes, a way of escape is
made available.The same power available
to Jesus, by which He was victorious, is available to
us today.Right now!
dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily.This is why, although He was tempted in all points like as we are, He
stood before the world, from His first entrance into it, untainted by
corruption, though surrounded by it.Are
we not also to become partakers of that fullness, and is it not thus, and thus
only, that we can overcome as He overcame?” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day
Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 907.
resist this effort—the heavenly power to keep you from falling to
temptation—you demonstrate the true power of your will.If need be, all of heaven would be emptied in
answer to your cry.Jesus is waiting,
and the angels are ever ready and willing to come to your aid.But when the temptation comes, you cry, “I am
weak,” and in your “weakness” (which is more accurately your strength, because
in reality, you desire to partake of the temptation), you resist the power of
the entire Godhead.That is what you and
I do each time we decide to sin.In our
“weakness” we manifest our true strength and desire to sin.But when we choose to do the right thing, and
then do it, all heaven rejoices!
“As soon as
we incline our will to harmonize with God’s will, the grace of Christ stands
ready to cooperate with the human agent.”In Heavenly Places, 27.
“In the whole
Satanic force there is not power to overcome one soul who in simple trust casts
himself on Christ.”Christ’s Object
ever ready to insinuate that prayer is a mere form, and avails us nothing.He cannot bear to have his powerful rival
appealed to.At the sound of fervent
prayer, the hosts of darkness tremble.Fearing that their captive may escape, they form a wall around him, that
Heaven’s light may not reach his soul.But if in his distress and helplessness the sinner looks to Jesus,
pleading the merits of his blood, our compassionate Redeemer listens to the
earnest, persevering prayer of faith, and sends to his deliverance a
re-enforcement of angels that excel in strength.And when these angels,
all-powerful, clothed with the armory of Heaven, come to the help of the
fainting, pursued soul, the angels of darkness fall back, well knowing that
their battle is lost, and that one more soul is escaping from the power of
their influence.”The Signs of
the Times, November 18, 1886.
“We want to
become so sensitive to holy influences, that the lightest whisper of Jesus will
move our souls.”Selected
Messages, Book 3, 355.
Partakers of the Divine Nature
“Those who would overcome must put to the
tax every power of their being.They
must agonize on their knees before God for divine power. . . .Men may have a power to resist evil—a power
that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master; a power that will place
them where they may overcome as Christ overcame.Divinity and humanity may be combined in
and Herald, February 18, 1890.
another formula: Humanity + Divinity = Victory.How does this happen?The first
ten verses of 11 Peter
1 give us a glimpse,
but let us look at verse 4: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and
precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature,
having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”This theme lies at the root of many of Paul’s
writings.(See also Ephesians 2:1–6.)
gives us clear illustrations of how this happens.“We must realize that through belief in him
[Jesus Christ] it is our privilege to be partakers of the divine nature, and so
escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.Then we are cleansed from all sin, all defects
of character.We need not retain one
sinful propensity. . . .
partake of the divine nature, hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong are
cut away from the character, and we are made a living power for good.Ever learning of the divine Teacher, daily
partaking of His nature, we co-operate with God in overcoming Satan’s
temptations.God works, and man works,
that man may be one with Christ as Christ is one with God.Then we sit together with Christ in heavenly
places.”Review and Herald, April 24, 1900.
“It is our
privilege to be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption
that is in the world through lust.God
has plainly stated that He requires us to be perfect; and because He requires
this, He has made provision that we may be partakers of the divine nature.Only thus can we gain success in our striving
for eternal life.The power is given by
Christ.‘As many as received him, to
them gave he power to become the sons of God’ (John).”Selected Messages, Book 3, 203.
purpose for us is that we shall be partakers of the divine nature.Only thus can we overcome the evils that
beset us.It is by beholding Christ that
we are made partakers of his nature.Keeping him ever in view, we are changed into his likeness.Thus we gain strength to overcome as he
overcame.God does not ask us to fight
the battle against sin in our own strength.He has given Christ to be our helper in every time of need.”Review and Herald, September 3, 1903.
pledged himself to co-operate with those who work with him.He has pledged himself to train us to be his colaborers.He will
help us to follow his example, doing good, and
refusing to do evil.By Christ’s
wonderful union of divinity with humanity, we are assured that even in this
world we may be partakers of the divine nature, overcoming the corruption that
is in the world through lust.”Ibid.,May 13, 1909.
agent who yields obedience to God, who becomes a partaker of the divine nature,
finds pleasure in keeping the commandments of God; for he is one with God; he
holds as vital a relation with God as does the Son to the Father.He understands the oneness that Christ prayed
might exist between the Father and the Son.”The Youth’s Instructor, October
“When we know
God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual
obedience.Through an appreciation of
the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to
us.”The Desire of
My friend, you and I suffer from the same
terminal disease—sin.Yours may not
be as far advanced and widespread as mine, but it is, nonetheless, just as
deadly.Just as my neighbor and her
husband are willing to do “whatever it takes” to overcome his cancer [see Part I in the February 2004 LandMarks], so must we be willing to do whatever is necessary
to overcome our sins.The sins, which so
easily beset us, must be resisted unto blood—now!Just as the addict and alcoholic must forsake
their drug of choice, we must turn away from our cherished sins.There is only one type of offering that will
be accepted by the God of Heaven.It has
no blemish.It has no taint of carnal
coming a day—and I believe it is sooner than we would like to
believe—when each of us will have to face our life’s record.On that day, there will be no negotiations,
no explanations, and no exemptions.Our
lives, our words, and our deeds will be measured alongside God’s unchangeable
law—the same law that has governed this universe from the beginning and will
continue throughout eternity.This may
be your last reminder.
safety is in coming to Christ, and ceasing from sin this very moment.The sweet voice of mercy is sounding in your
ears today, but who can tell if it will sound tomorrow?”The Signs of the Times, August 29, 1892.
It is far too
late in this earth’s history to be playing games with your eternal
destiny.“Choose you this day whom ye
will serve . . . .”Joshua 24:15.
“If man will cooperate with God by returning
willingly to his loyalty, and obeying the commandments, God will receive him as
a son.Through the provision Christ has
made by taking the punishment due to man, we may be reinstated in God’s favor,
being made partakers of the divine nature.If we repent of our transgression, and receive Christ as the Life-giver,
our personal Saviour, we become one with him, and our
will is brought into harmony with the divine will.We become partakers of the life of Christ,
which is eternal.We derive immortality
from God by receiving the life of Christ for in Christ dwells all the fullness
of the Godhead bodily.This life is the
mystical union and cooperation of the divine with the human.”The Signs
of the Times, June 17, 1897.
Cathy Summers Timmons, a Steps to Life staff member and a member ofLandMarks’editorial staff, writes from her home in Wichita,
Kansas.She may be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.