We are trying to prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus, to go to heaven, and to have eternal life. The standard that we must reach is high; it is perfection; it is likeness to God, our Father. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48
What makes our character development difficult is Satan, who is constantly trying to deceive us and lead us into sin. Therefore, Jesus said, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:14. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Daily we must fight against Satan’s temptations; he is like Goliath on our way, and we must overcome him .
In the time of Noah, only eight persons were saved out of millions living at that time. In the time of Ancient Israel, when they left Egypt there were over 600,000 men, twenty years and older. Only two of them entered Canaan’s land. And today, from over two billion Christians only a small number of them will make it to heaven.
“Those who come up to the Bible standard, the Bible description of Christ’s followers, will be found rare indeed. Having forsaken God, the fountain of living water, they have hewn them out cisterns, ‘broken cisterns that hold no water.’ Said the angel: ‘Lack of love and of faith are the great sins of which God’s people are now guilty.’ Lack of faith leads to carelessness and to love of self and the world. Those who separate themselves from God and fall under temptation indulge in gross vices, for the carnal heart leads to great wickedness. And this state of things is found among many of God’s professed people. While they are professedly serving God they are to all intents and purposes corrupting their ways before Him. Appetite and passion are indulged by many, notwithstanding the clear light of truth points out the danger and lifts its warning voice: Beware, restrain, deny. ‘The wages of sin is death.’ Although the example of those who have made shipwreck of faith stands as a beacon to warn others from pursuing the same course, yet many rush madly on. Satan has control of their minds and seems to have power over their bodies.
“Oh, how many flatter themselves that they have goodness and righteousness, when the true light of God reveals that all their lives they have only lived to please themselves! Their whole conduct is abhorred of God.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 474–475
The above testimony was written by Sister White in 1875, and God only knows what the condition of His church is like today.
God requires a higher standard than many realize. If we are not faithful to God, then Satan leaves us alone. We have no persecutions or trials because we belong to him. Let someone try to put the last idol away and make a full surrender to God, then Satan becomes angry and brings trials and temptations against this person, fiercely attacking their soul.
We must reflect the image of Jesus fully; anything short of it is not accepted by God. A formal, half-hearted religion is an abomination to Him. He wishes that we were hot or cold, but not lukewarm.
The work of the prophets, since the earliest times, was to waken and arouse the people of God from their spiritual sleep or of their spiritual death, as Paul calls it.
Isaiah writes, “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” Isaiah 1:4–6
Jeremiah writes, “For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13
When God tried to arouse His people to see their danger, and to work out a revival and reformation, what kind of response did He get? “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof.” Proverbs 1:24–25
Finally God said, “What could have been done more to My vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?” Isaiah 5:4
Instead of love, meekness, kindness, and faithfulness, He sees selfishness, pride, and love of the world.
Sister White wrote over 100,000 pages of testimonies, including warnings, counsels, and reproofs to the members of the church. Then she writes, the testimonies have been neglected or even rejected (Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, p. 129). She trembled for the members of the church.
“Many now despise the faithful reproof given of God in testimony. I have been shown that some in these days have even gone so far as to burn the written words of rebuke and warning, as did the wicked king of Israel. But opposition to God’s threatenings will not hinder their execution. To defy the words of the Lord, spoken through His chosen instruments, will only provoke His anger and eventually bring certain ruin upon the offender.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 678
“I seldom weep, but now I find my eyes blinded with tears; they are falling upon my paper as I write. It may be that erelong all prophesyings among us will be at an end, and the voice which has stirred the people may no longer disturb their carnal slumbers.” –Ibid., p. 77
Our great danger is to fall into a Laodicean condition, to have complacent, self-satisfied feelings, and to start looking for pleasure and a comfortable life, while our destiny is being decided in the investigative judgment. It is a time when we should be working out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
Many lose sight of the goal. The goal is a perfect, God-like character, and our work is to arouse others to seek eternal life.
“Many are ruined by their desire for a life of ease and pleasure. Self-denial is disagreeable to them. They are constantly seeking to escape trials that are inseparable from a course of fidelity to God. They set their hearts upon having the good things of this life. This is human success, but is it not won at the expense of future, eternal interests? The great business of life is to show ourselves to be true servants of God, loving righteousness and hating iniquity.” –Ibid., p. 70
Jesus was made perfect through sufferings, and this is the only way that we can reach perfection. “He ‘that forsaketh not all that he hath, says Jesus, ‘cannot be My disciple.’ Whatever shall divert the affections from God must be given up. Mammon is the idol of many. Its golden chain binds them to Satan. Reputation and worldly honor are worshiped by another class. The life of selfish ease and freedom from responsibility is the idol of others. These are Satan’s snares, set for unwary feet.” –Ibid., p. 83
“Many are looking with self-complacency upon the long years during which they have advocated the truth. They now feel that they are entitled to a reward for their past trials and obedience. But this genuine experience in the things of God in the past makes them more guilty before Him for not preserving their integrity and going forward to perfection. The faithfulness for the past year will never atone for the neglect of the present year. A man’s truthfulness yesterday will not atone for his falsehood today.” –Ibid., p. 63
The voice of God is heard in warnings, in counsels, and in reproofs. If we continue to neglect and ignore God’s warning or counsel, and refuse to give up just one sin, it can ruin our salvation.
We sing in the gospel song, “I’m pressing on the upward way, New heights I’m gaining every day; Still praying as I onward bound, Lord, plant my feet on higher ground. Lord lift me up, and I shall stand, By faith, on heaven’s tableland; A higher plane than I have found, Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
Every day we must grow in our faithfulness and obedience to God. Today we are more faithful than yesterday, and tomorrow we will be closer to perfection than today. So, daily we are striving with all our strength and with God’s power added, to reach the required perfection. It is a great opportunity for each person to secure heaven and eternal life for themselves. If we delay and linger until the sun of righteousness shall set, the blackness of eternal night will be our portion, and salvation for us is too late.
Adam and Eve were cast out of paradise for one little sin, and they had to die; if we have one neglected duty, one small sin, we cannot enter into paradise. The standard is high that we must reach, but if we put all our strength, our time, and add God’s power to it, we all can be overcomers.
We all have made a partial surrender, but it is not enough. We must make a full surrender; we must say to God, “not our will, but Thine be done.” Then we will have fullness of joy, and happiness that the world has never felt, and our Father in heaven will rejoice, and write our names in the book of life. Amen.