Not Ashamed to Call Them Brethren

“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.”

Hebrews 2:14–18

We want to learn the answers to three questions found in these scriptures.

  1. Who are the children?
  2. What did Jesus mean when He said we would not have eternal life unless we eat His flesh and drink His blood?
  3. What enabled Jesus to experience suffering while being tempted?

Who are the Children?

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of One, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” Verses 9–11

Human beings who have the same father are called brothers. Paul is very specific that those Jesus has sanctified and given His character are the children of His Father, adopted into the family of God. He calls them His brethren because He and they now have the same Father. That is why Paul describes them as being “all of One.”

However, there is a restriction regarding those whom Jesus calls His brothers. Just before He went into the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed for those whom His Father had given Him saying, “I pray for them. I pray not for the world but for them whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.” John 17:9. Not for the world, but for those whom God had given to Him—two completely different groups of people. If you miss that point or misunderstand this vital truth, then you will fall prey to Satan’s constant efforts to misrepresent the character of God. (See The Great Controversy, 568.) You also will not understand the true nature of sin nor the real issues of the great controversy. Paul assures us that Jesus tasted death for every man, but only those He has sanctified—reproduced in them His own character—will He call His brethren, and bring to glory.

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” Verse 14. “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” Verse 17

“The truths of the Bible, received, will uplift the mind from its earthliness and debasement. If the word of God were appreciated as it should be, both young and old would possess an inward rectitude, a strength of principle, that would enable them to resist temptation.” Testimonies, Vol. 8, 319. This is the result of sanctification. But what is this rectitude that Mrs. White speaks of?

“Rectitude of mind is the disposition to act in conformity to any known standard of right, truth, or justice. Rectitude of conduct is the actual conformity to such a standard.” Webster’s Dictionary 1828. Inward rectitude is the disposition or natural tendency to do what is right.

“All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. 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 Ages, 668. This rectitude is a hatred for sin. Thus if I do not understand what sin is, and if it is not hateful to me, then I am not sanctified.

The very essence of the gospel is forgiveness of sin, but it also involves restoration. “By looking constantly to Jesus with the eye of faith we shall be strengthened. God will make the most precious revelations to His hungering, thirsting people. They will find that Christ is a personal Saviour. As they feed upon His word, they find that it is spirit and life. The word destroys the natural, earthly nature, and imparts a new life in Christ Jesus. … By the transforming agency of His grace, the image of God is reproduced in the disciple.” Ibid., 391

“The mind gradually adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is allowed to dwell. It becomes assimilated to that which it is accustomed to love and reverence.” The Great Controversy, 555

By beholding Jesus, studying His life, and relying solely upon Him, “the believer advances from grace to grace, from strength to strength, from character to character. He conforms to the image of Christ, until in spiritual growth he attains unto the measure of the full stature in Christ Jesus. Thus Christ makes an end of the curse of sin, and sets the believing soul free from its action and effect.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 395

“Christ became a man that He might mediate between man and God. He clothed His divinity with humanity, He associated with the human race, that with His human arm He might encircle humanity, and with His divine arm grasp the throne of Divinity. And this humiliation on His part was that He might restore to man the original mind, the image of God … .” The Signs of the Times, October 14, 1897

Let us consider for a moment this love that would condescend to leave glory and come to this world as one of us. “Love is power. Intellectual and moral strength are involved in this principle, and cannot be separated from it. … The excellence and value of pure love consist in its efficiency to do good, and to do nothing else than good. Whatsoever is done out of pure love, be it ever so little or contemptible in the sight of men, is wholly fruitful; for God regards more with how much love one worketh, than the amount he doeth. Love is of God.” Gospel Workers (1892), 311, 312

Christ prayed for those whom His Father had given Him. He gave them His word and promised them His Holy Spirit. Why? Because

  1. it would destroy the natural, carnal nature;
  2. it would impart strength and inward rectitude (the disposition of the mind);
  3. it would reproduce the image, the character of God in His disciples by imparting to the heart the divine similitude;
  4. it would implant divine love in the heart, the principle that empowers the sinner to overcome sin;
  5. it would impart new life, spiritual life in Christ. “God is love, and love is light.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 258

Genuine sanctification is, “nothing less than a daily dying to self, and daily conformity to the will of God.” The Signs of the Times, September 12, 1878

Paul was in constant conflict with self. He said, “I die daily.” His own will and desires conflicted with duty and the will of God every day (Romans 7:18), but instead of following his own inclinations, he strove to do the will of God (2 Timothy 4:7, 8).

“The will is the governing power in the nature of man, bringing all the other faculties under its sway. The will is not the taste or the inclination, but it is the deciding power, which works in the children of men unto obedience to God, or unto disobedience. …

“The will is … the power of decision, or choice.

“Every human being possessed of reason has power to choose the right. … Everyone may place his will on the side of the will of God, may choose to obey Him, and by thus linking himself with divine agencies, he may stand where nothing can force him to do evil.” Child Guidance, 209

“The tempted 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. …

“Your will is the spring of all your actions. This will, that forms so important a factor in the character of man, was at the Fall given into the control of Satan; and he has ever since been working in man to will and to do of his own pleasure, but to the utter ruin and misery of man.” Mind, Character, and Personality, Vol. 2, 685

We must understand just how hopelessly helpless we are to make any decided change in our hearts, but God has guaranteed us the power of choice. And when we choose to give our wills to Christ, He will then perform an act of restoration.

“Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections. The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence …, and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you; but you need not despair. What you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose.” Steps to Christ, 47

But we must be cautious for many Christians have been snared in a terrible trap. “Desires for goodness and holiness are right as far as they go; but if you stop here, they will avail nothing. Many will be lost while hoping and desiring to be Christians. They do not come to the point of yielding the will to God. They do not now choose.” Ibid., 47, 48

“The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought. The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God, requires a struggle; but the soul must submit to God before it can be renewed in holiness.” The Faith I Live By, 87

We are sanctified through the truth and by the Holy Spirit. “The law of God is ‘holy, and just, and good,’ a transcript of the divine perfection, it follows that a character formed by obedience to that law will be holy. Christ is a perfect example of such a character. … The followers of Christ are to become like Him—by the grace of God to form characters in harmony with the principles of His holy law. This is Bible sanctification.” The Great Controversy, 469

“The only correct standard of sanctification is the law of God.” The Review and Herald, December 1, 1895

Our thoughts and feelings combined make up our moral character (Testimonies, Vol. 5, 310). So we have to ask ourselves, “Are my mind, my thoughts, my feelings, my words, my actions all in harmony with the law of God?” If not, don’t be discouraged. We can be sanctified if we surrender our wills to Him who has promised to sanctify us.

“God sent His Son into the world … to make known in His life and character the attributes of the Father, that men might bear the image of the invisible God. He was the embodiment of the law of God … .” The Signs of the Times, November 15, 1899

“We have only one perfect photograph of God, and this is Jesus Christ.” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, 906

God’s law is the standard of sanctification; not just the law of God as it was written in tables of stone, but the law of God as exemplified in the humanity of Christ.

There is no such thing as instant sanctification. Justification may happen in an instant, but “There is no such thing as instantaneous sanctification. True sanctification is a daily work. … Continuing as long as life shall last.” The Faith I Live By, 116

“True sanctification is progressive. … [improving] every privilege and opportunity to gain more knowledge of the life and character of Christ.” The Youth’s Instructor, September 1, 1886

“But this work cannot go on in the heart while the light on any part of the truth is rejected or neglected.” The Review and Herald, June 17, 1890

“The formation of a noble character is the work of a lifetime and must be the result of diligent and persevering effort.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 223

Sadly, seeking for sanctification is not a popular subject because if religion requires too much, people today, even those who call themselves Christians, want a smooth and easy path to heaven. The formation of a noble character requires surrender, diligent and persevering effort, and is a lifelong struggle against self. We will never be sanctified if Satan is allowed to reign in our lives. “God gives opportunities; success depends upon the use made of them.” Ibid.

“The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God and being clothed with humility, possessing that love that is pure, peaceable, and easy to be entreated, full of gentleness and good fruits, is not an easy attainment. And yet it is his privilege and his duty to be a perfect overcomer here. The soul must submit to God before it can be renewed in knowledge and true holiness.” Testimonies, Vol. 3, 106, 107

If I believe in Jesus, deny Satan’s influence in my life, if I daily die to self (1 Corinthians 15:31) and abide in Him, growing in grace, and progressing in sanctification, then Jesus will implant in my heart the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is then that He can and will call me His brother for He sees what the finished product will be.

“Christ is coming to establish His kingdom in the earth. Let our tongues be sanctified, and used to glorify Him. As a people we need to be reconverted, and our lives sanctified to declare the truth as it is in Jesus.” The New York Indicator (1900), June 12, 1907

Christ is coming to establish His kingdom—His robe of righteousness implanted in the hearts of all His children, making them spotless and unblemished. “When the heart is cleansed from sin, Christ is placed on the throne that self-indulgence and love of earthly treasure once occupied. The image of Christ is seen in the expression of the countenance. The work of sanctification is carried forward in the soul. Self-righteousness is banished. There is seen the putting on of the new man, which after Christ is created in righteousness and true holiness.” The Review and Herald, September 11, 1900

Thus the new man becomes the seed of Abraham.

What did Jesus mean when He said that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood?

“In giving us the privilege of studying His word, the Lord has set before us a rich banquet. Many are the benefits derived from feasting on His word, which is represented by Him as His flesh and blood, His spirit and life. By partaking of this word, our spiritual strength is increased; we grow in grace and in a knowledge of the truth.” Child Guidance, 505, 506

When Jesus said a person must eat His flesh and drink His blood or he would lose out on eternal life, He had a specific message in mind. The term flesh and blood, especially in the New Testament, has both a spiritual and a literal physical meaning.

“All believers who pass through a natural death, have, through eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God, eternal life in them, which is the life of Jesus Christ. In dying, Jesus has made it impossible for those who believe on Him to die eternally. …” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, 926

“For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” John 17:19. Jesus sanctified Himself that we might be sanctified. He partook of the same flesh and blood we have. He learned from His parents just as we do.

“The child Jesus did not receive instruction in the synagogue schools. His mother was His first human teacher. From her lips and from the scrolls of the prophets, He learned of heavenly things. The very words which He Himself had spoken to Moses for Israel He was now taught at His mother’s knee. …

“Since He gained knowledge as we may do, His intimate acquaintance with the Scriptures shows how diligently His early years were given to the study of God’s word. …

“From the first dawning of intelligence He was constantly growing in spiritual grace and knowledge of truth.

“Every child may gain knowledge as Jesus did. As we try to become acquainted with our heavenly Father through His word, angels will draw near, our minds will be strengthened, our characters will be elevated and refined. We shall become more like our Saviour.” The Desire of Ages, 70

Amos 3:3 says, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?”

“Holiness is not rapture: it is an entire surrender of the will to God.” The Acts of the Apostles, 51. The crucifixion of self, of the old man, is the entire surrender of the will to God.

“It is living by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; it is doing the will of our heavenly Father; it is trusting God in trial, in darkness as well as in the light; it is walking by faith and not by sight; it is relying on God with unquestioning confidence, and resting in His love.” Ibid.

“Holiness is wholeness for God; it is the entire surrender of heart and life to the indwelling of the principles of heaven.” The Desire of Ages, 556

“Holiness is constant agreement with God.” In Heavenly Places, 33

If God and I do not agree, who do you think should change their mind? (W. D. Frazee)

How was Jesus able to experience suffering while being tempted?

“He [Jesus] began life, passed through its experiences, and ended its record, with a sanctified human will.” The Signs of the Times, October 29, 1894

You and I are not born with a sanctified human will, and it is necessary for us to daily die to self so that our will can be sanctified. When Jesus became a man, He voluntarily laid aside the outward manifestation of His divinity and condescended to take the humiliating form of deteriorated, mortal humanity. This was just the beginning of a far greater dying to self than you and I will ever be required to undergo.

“The humanity of the Son of God is everything to us. It is the golden chain that binds our souls to Christ, and through Christ to God. This is to be our study. Christ was a real man; He gave proof of His humility in becoming a man. Yet He was God in the flesh.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 244

“Yet this was but the beginning of His wonderful condescension. It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man’s nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin.” The Desire of Ages, 49

“He was not only made flesh, but He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh. His divine attributes were withheld from relieving His soul anguish or His bodily pains.” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, 1124. In this humiliating, external condition, He still possessed the omnipotent powers of His divinity; He was still God.

When Satan said to Jesus, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” (Matthew 4:3), He could have commanded it, and instantly the stones would have become bread. But He had agreed with His Father that He would not use the powers of His divinity for His own benefit; He would come and live in this world only as a man. These statements reveal that Christ was born in the likeness or physical form of sinful flesh, but He was still God. This was Jesus’ greatest temptation, not using His divine power to outwardly prove who He was. You and I will never experience this, and we cannot understand it.

“It was a difficult task for the Prince of Life to carry out the plan which He had undertaken for the salvation of man, in clothing His divinity with humanity. He had received honor in the heavenly courts, and was familiar with absolute power. It was as difficult for Him to keep the level of humanity as it is for men to rise above the low level of their depraved natures, and be partakers of the divine nature.” The Review and Herald, April 1, 1875

Read that again, “It was as difficult for Him to keep the level of humanity as it is for us with our depraved natures to be partakers of the divine nature.” It was as difficult for Him to be like us, as it is for us to be like Him.

Man can only resist temptation when his humanity is united with divinity. That is the example that Christ gave us. His humanity was united with divinity. It is only when, by faith, we unite our humanity with the divine nature of Christ that we are able to resist the efforts of the enemy of man to lead us astray.

“Christ was put to the closest test, requiring the strength of all his faculties to resist the inclination when in danger, to use His power to deliver Himself from peril and triumph over the power of the prince of darkness.” Ibid.

Jesus fought this temptation constantly His whole life; He suffered with temptations to a degree that man cannot comprehend so that you and I could be saved. His greatest tests were in the wilderness of temptation and in Gethsemane.

In Gethsemane, Jesus could have stood up, wiped the blood from His brow and left man to his own devices and ultimate death. Again and again, Satan attempted to cause Him to walk away from the plan of redemption and let man suffer his own fate.

On the cross, they jeered, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” And Jesus could have done that. But had He come down, you and I would have been lost.

He could have used His divine power at any time and instantly triumphed over the devil. But every day of His life He died to that inclination. Jesus is our example in sanctification.

His sanctified will was unperverted by selfishness, unlike the natural, selfish nature that we possess. Every day, partaking of the physical flesh and blood of man, growing in stature and intelligence, He also constantly grew in spiritual grace and the knowledge of the truth. As we surrender our will to Him, consume His spiritual flesh and blood, and receive His righteousness, we become partakers of His righteous and holy nature, and become, by adoption, His brethren, sons and daughters of God.

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at, or by telephone at 316-788-5559.