November 8, 2003 – November 14, 2003
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.
Suggested Reading: Steps to Christ, 49–55.
“None of the apostles and prophets ever claimed to be without sin. Men who have lived the nearest to God, men who would sacrifice life itself rather than knowingly commit a wrong act, men whom God has honored with divine light and power, have confessed the sinfulness of their nature. They have put no confidence in the flesh, have claimed no righteousness of their own, but have trusted wholly in the righteousness of Christ.
“So will it be with all who behold Christ. The nearer we come to Jesus, and the more clearly we discern the purity of His character, the more clearly shall we see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the less shall we feel like exalting ourselves. There will be a continual reaching out of the soul after God, a continual, earnest, heartbreaking confession of sin and humbling of the heart before Him. At every advance step in our Christian experience our repentance will deepen.” The Acts of the Apostles, 561.
1 What did Jesus teach concerning the importance of conversion? Matthew 18:2, 3.
note: “It is impossible for us, of ourselves, to escape from the pit of sin in which we are sunken. Our hearts are evil, and we cannot change them. . . . Education, culture, the exercise of the will, human effort, all have their proper sphere, but here they are powerless. They may produce an outward correctness of behavior, but they cannot change the heart; they cannot purify the springs of life. There must be a power working from within, a new life from above, before men can be changed from sin to holiness. That power is Christ. His grace alone can quicken the lifeless faculties of the soul, and attract it to God, to holiness.” Steps to Christ, 18.
2 In what circumstance is all humanity involved? Romans 3:10, 23.
note: “If the transgressor is to be treated according to the letter of this covenant [the law of God], then there is no hope for the fallen race; for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. The fallen race of Adam can behold nothing else in the letter of this covenant than the ministration of death; and death will be the reward of everyone who is seeking vainly to fashion a righteousness of his own that will fulfill the claims of the law. By His word God has bound Himself to execute the penalty of the law on all transgressors. Again and again men commit sin, and yet they do not seem to believe that they must suffer the penalty for breaking the law.” The Signs of the Times, September 5, 1892.
3 What is sin? 1 John 3:4.
note: “Ministers who exhort sinners to be converted should distinctly define what sin is and what conversion from sin is. Sin is the transgression of the law. [1 John 3:4.] The convicted sinner must exercise repentance toward God for the transgression of His law, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Confrontation, 75.
“The desire for an easy religion that requires no striving, no self-denial, no divorce from the follies of the world, has made the doctrine of faith, and faith only, a popular doctrine . . . .
“Let none deceive themselves with the belief that they can become holy while willfully violating one of God’s requirements. The commission of a known sin silences the witnessing voice of the Spirit and separates the soul from God.” The Great Controversy, 472.
4 By what agency is the sinner convicted of sin? John 16:7, 8. What tool does this agency use to convince the sinner of transgression? Romans 7:9, 13.
note: “The office of the Holy Spirit is distinctly specified in the words of Christ: ‘When He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.’ John 16:8. It is the Holy Spirit that convicts of sin. If the sinner responds to the quickening influence of the Spirit, he will be brought to repentance and aroused to the importance of obeying the divine requirements.” The Acts of the Apostles, 52.
“There is no safety nor repose nor justification in transgression of the law. Man cannot hope to stand innocent before God, and at peace with Him through the merits of Christ, while he continues in sin. He must cease to transgress, and become loyal and true. As the sinner looks into the great moral looking glass, he sees his defects of character. He sees himself just as he is, spotted, defiled, and condemned. But he knows that the law cannot in any way remove the guilt or pardon the transgressor. He must go farther than this. The law is but the schoolmaster to bring him to Christ. He must look to his sin-bearing Saviour. And as Christ is revealed to him upon the cross of Calvary, dying beneath the weight of the sins of the whole world, the Holy Spirit shows him the attitude of God to all who repent of their transgressions.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 213.
5 When the sinner is under conviction of wrong has he power himself to turn to obedience? Romans 7:18; 8:7, 8. How does the deliverance come? Romans 5:8; 8:3, 4.
note: “Man cannot transform himself by the exercise of his will. He possesses no power by which this change can be effected. The leaven—something wholly from without—must be put into the meal before the desired change can be wrought in it. So the grace of God must be received by the sinner before he can be fitted for the kingdom of glory. All the culture and education which the world can give will fail of making a degraded child of sin a child of heaven. The renewing energy must come from God. The change can be made only by the Holy Spirit. All who would be saved, high or low, rich or poor, must submit to the working of this power.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 96, 97.
6 What is the first step away from sin? Acts 2:37, 38.
note: “How shall a man be just with God? How shall the sinner be made righteous? It is only through Christ that we can be brought into harmony with God, with holiness; but how are we to come to Christ? Many are asking the same question as did the multitude on the Day of Pentecost, when, convicted of sin, they cried out, ‘What shall we do?’ The first word of Peter’s answer was, ‘Repent.’ Acts 2:37, 38. At another time, shortly after, he said, ‘Repent, . . . and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.’ Acts 3:19.
“Repentance includes sorrow for sin and a turning away from it. We shall not renounce sin unless we see its sinfulness; until we turn away from it in heart, there will be no real change in the life.” Steps to Christ, 23.
7 What is our part in securing pardon? What is Christ’s part? Who does the cleansing? 1 John 1:9. Compare Psalm 32:5; 51:2.
note: “The only reason that we have not remission of sin is that we have not acknowledged to Him whom we have wounded by our transgressions, whom we have pierced by our sins, that we are at fault, and in need of mercy. The confession that is the outpouring of the inmost soul will find its way to the heart of infinite pity; for the Lord is nigh unto him that is of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
“How mistaken are those who imagine that confession of sin will detract from their dignity, and lessen their influence among their fellow men. Clinging to this erroneous idea, though seeing their faults, many fail to confess them, but rather pass by the wrongs they have done others, so embittering their own lives, and shadowing the lives of others. It will not hurt your dignity to confess your sins. Away with this false dignity. Fall on the Rock and be broken, and Christ will give you the true and heavenly dignity. Let not pride, self-esteem, or self-righteousness keep anyone from confessing his sin, that he may claim the promise. ‘He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy’ (Proverbs 28:13).” Selected Messages, Book 1, 326, 327.
8 What change is involved in conversion? Ezekiel 36:26. Compare Jeremiah 32:39; Ezekiel 11:19.
note: “When Jesus speaks of the new heart, He means the mind, the life, the whole being. To have a change of heart is to withdraw the affections from the world, and fasten them upon Christ. To have a new heart is to have a new mind, new purposes, new motives. What is the sign of a new heart?—a changed life. There is a daily, hourly dying to selfishness and pride.
“Then a spirit of kindness will be manifested, not by fits and starts, but continually. There will be a decided change in attitude, in deportment, in words and actions toward all with whom you are in any way connected. You will not magnify their infirmities, you will not place them in an unfavorable light. You will work in Christ’s lines. . . .
“The religion of Christ is to take possession of the whole being, and give force and power to all our faculties, renovating, cleansing, and refining. It manifests itself without parade, and high-sounding words, but is shown in an upright and unselfish life.
“God’s power alone can change a heart of stone to a heart of flesh.” Sons and Daughters of God, 100.
9 How did Jesus describe this divine transformation? John 3:3. Compare John 1:12, 13; 1 Peter 1:23.
note: “The Christian’s life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit. . . .
“When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. . . . The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God. . . .” God’s Amazing Grace, 22.
10 Who may receive this new birth? John 3:16.
note: “The whole universe is under the control of the Prince of Life. Fallen man is subject to him. He calls upon them to obey, believe, receive, and live. He has paid the ransom money for the whole world. All may be saved through him. He will present those who believe on him to God as loyal subjects of his kingdom. He will be their Mediator as well as their Redeemer. He would gather together a church embracing the whole human family, if all would leave the black banner of rebellion and apostasy, and place themselves under his banner. He will defend his chosen followers against Satan’s power, and will subdue all their enemies. Through him they will be conquerors, and more than conquerors.” The Home Missionary, July 1, 1897.
11 What change will be seen in the converted life? Matthew 3:8; Galatians 5:22, 23.
note: “As the sinner, drawn by the power of Christ, approaches the uplifted cross, and prostrates himself before it, there is a new creation. A new heart is given him. He becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus. Holiness finds that it has nothing more to require. God Himself is ‘the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.’ Romans 3:26. And ‘whom He justified, them He also glorified.’ Romans 8:30. Great as is the shame and degradation through sin, even greater will be the honor and exaltation through redeeming love. To human beings striving for conformity to the divine image there is imparted an outlay of heaven’s treasure, an excellency of power, that will place them higher than even the angels who have never fallen.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 162.
12 What invitation does Jesus still give to those who have tried to work righteousness in their own strength? Matthew 11:28–30.
note: “The natural excellencies that men may imagine they possess are not to be considered. Natural religion, so-called, does not weigh in the scales with God, because all have sinned and come short of his glory. Those who are wise in their own estimation must see their need of heavenly wisdom. This fact is to stand out in clear lines: Man is a lost sheep, and can never, without divine aid, recover himself, or come back to the fold. There is only One who can reclaim him, and restore him to holiness and divine favor,—Jesus Christ our Redeemer. But, degraded by sin as he is, blind and wretched, man may be redeemed if he will accept Christ as his personal Saviour, and come back to his loyalty to God.” The Youth’s Instructor, August 27, 1896.
These lessons are adapted from the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly, Pacific Press Publishing Association, Mountain View, California, April 1912.