..To ancient SDA's ............ To "What's New?"

 

The everlasting gospel

in the light of our personal experience

by

Ron Parsons


It all begins when we are born and take our first breath, thereby inhaling the breath of life from God. In this we follow our ancestor Adam. "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul". Genesis 2:7. It ends when the essence of life goes back to the God who gave it. "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit (the breath of life) shall return to God who gave it". Ecclesiastes 12:7.

In between is the opportunity.

When speaking to some unbelievers, the apostle Paul said,

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Acts 17:

26 [God] has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 that they should seek the LORD, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: 28 for in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, "For we are also His offspring [children]".

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Another translation puts it this way:

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Acts 17: (MSG)

26 Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living 27 so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. 28 We live and move in him, can't get away from him! One of your poets said it well: 'We're the God-created.'

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However, because we are now born with the rebellious nature that Adam established when he chose to exercise his right to free choice independent of God, once we exist we, like him, should die (physically and spiritually) "in the day [24 hour period] that you eat thereof". Genesis 2:17.

Of course, we won’t make the exact choice that he did, which was to join his wife in her transgression, an act of self-destruction on his part, for when she offered him the fruit, he accepted. Genesis 3:6. It is also written, "For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived [therefore he chose deliberately], but the woman being deceived was in the transgression". 1 Timothy 2:13-14.

What we do at birth is just exist in that rebellious nature which causes death, both physical and spiritual. What does that mean to us? And why didn’t Adam and Eve die as God had said they would?

When Adam and Eve repented of their disobedience we can be sure that they wanted to be reinstated, and promised to be good from then on. But when the Son of God cried and told them that it was impossible because a major change had taken place in them, they thought it was hopeless. He explained to them that by their choice to disobey they had "mutated" their hearts of love and obedience into hearts of lust and disobedience, and this could not be reversed. He carried on to tell them that they now had a power within them which was much stronger than their desire to be good. It was giving them no choice, and they were its slaves.

No matter how hard they tried to resist temptation, eventually they would succumb to the desire to do bad things. In the end they would love only those bad things.

Then He gave them the same advice He gave to their son later.

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Genesis 4:

6 And the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you wroth [angry and rebellious]? And why is your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, shall you not be accepted? And if you do not well, sin lies at the door [of your heart]. And to [control] you shall be his [its] desire, and [yet] you shall rule over him [if you join with Me]".

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The remedy He now suggested was a "heart transplant" which would give them back the ability to choose the right. A side effect of the "operation" would be that they would have to depend on Him for the "power" to fulfil their choice. They would have to agree to become "dependents" and be obedient for the rest of their lives. He said this because it is NOT actions of sin that kill humans spiritually, but the "iniquity (or principle) of sin" with which we are born, passed on from Adam. As David wrote, "Behold, I was shaped in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me". Psalm 51:5. By this he did not mean to accuse his mother of immorality, but was just stating the situation as it occurs for all of us. So it’s not that we have ACTED on our sinful nature, but that we POSSESS it, which is the problem.

It is not what we do, but what we are, which causes spiritual death.

What we do causes physical death.

If it were not for the intervention of our loving Father in heaven we would not exist for very long at all after birth. After Adam and Eve’s choice to be disobedient, which led to the sad state our world is in today, He granted permission for His Son to take from them the result which normally would have been the consequences of that rebellious nature. ("The wages of sin is death". Romans 6:23.) This gift of grace by the Son brought about a change in them into what we now call the "Christian" state, but which in the Bible is simply called "the righteous man or woman" as opposed to the "sinner".

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Genesis 7:

1 And the LORD said to Noah, "Come you and all your house into the ark; for you [only] have I seen righteous before Me in this generation".

 [At that moment Noah was the only obedient one while all the rest of the world ignored God’s plea. Noah’s family followed him, not God.]

[and]

Proverbs 11:

31 Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner".

           [There is to be a RESULT on earth for both groups.]

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We should note that nothing was said about Adam and Eve trying to "be good" before they had the exchange, because that is impossible. They, like us, had to recognise the problem and come to the Master Physician to fix it. And the only way to SEE the problem was to respond to the "enmity" against sin which He gave them then, and which He gives us at birth. Genesis 3:15 and John 3:3. The only way to overcome it is to accept God’s offer and ENTER His kingdom. Verse 5.

To show this internal exchange in a physical way the Son of God took away their attempt at self-righteousness (the fig leaves), and clothed them each with the skin of a lamb. They originally had on robes of light such as angels wear, so now they were completely different, outwardly as well as inwardly.

They had been, as their Creator had said, "very good". Genesis 1:31. Then they became "very bad"; physically, mentally and morally, that is, in their "body, soul and spirit". 1 Thessalonians 5:23. After their transgression they were aware of their nakedness (Genesis 3:7); they became fools who thought they could hide from God behind a tree (verse 8); and were so morally corrupt that they blamed each other, and even God, for their problem (verses 12 and 13)!

They were spiritually "dead" in "trespasses and sins" as are we all till we become born again.

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Ephesians 2:

1 And you has He quickened [made alive and moving], who were dead in trespasses and sins: 2 wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience: 3 among whom also we all had our conversation [conduct] in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;) 6 and has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 that in the ages to come [for eternity] He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

8 For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:

                       it is the gift of God.

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But, coming back to our ancestors:

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Genesis 3:

7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons . . . 21 To Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

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In an attempt to show them (and the others who were to come), the enormity of what they had done, each was told to take one of the lambs they normally frolicked with and kill and burn it, saving only the skin! The innocent must suffer for the guilty in the only way God could make it right, and the purpose of the sacrificial system instituted then was to show them what had happened to them, what they would have to do to the Son of God, and to prefigure what was to happen to the Son of man at Calvary. (God intended it to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but the reason this changed is not something we need to deal with here.)

When they saw what it was going to mean to the Son of God to repair them by taking out of them the principle (the law) of sin and death (the "lusting" heart) which they had created in themselves, and replacing it with the gift of a portion of His life, they were at first horrified, but then accepted when He explained there was no other way to remedy their condition. Ever since then, this removal and replacement has been the basis of the "everlasting" gospel. Revelation 14:6.

In this scenario was the first clear indication that God and His Son did not want their new creatures to die, either physically or spiritually. He would rather die in their place. And this is what He did. Because He had to take their "law of sin and death" onto Himself in the place of His own life, He began "dying" from that moment on. The "death" of the Son of God is not a definitive event, unlike that of the Son of man, who died in six hours.

So, it is written:

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2 Corinthians 5:

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [beg] you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be you reconciled to God. 21 For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him [if we will accept it].

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Recognising this principle, the great evangelist in the New Testament wrote: "For the [infilling of the] law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from [by the removal of] the law of sin and death" for he, like John the beloved, knew that the Son of God had offered to become "the LAMB slain from the foundation of the world" and that Adam and Eve were the first to respond to His offer. Romans 8:2 and Revelation 13:8.

That solved their immediate problem and allowed Adam to live on for another 930 years before he wore out! Genesis 5:5. (We are not told when Eve died.) But their personal salvation didn’t affect their children (of whom Jewish tradition says there were 97 altogether), for righteousness requires very much an individual acceptance. It cannot be transferred from one human to another. We all need a heart transplant!

So what God did was to allow His Son to TEMPORARILY cover each and every child as it was born, and He has repeated this grace ever since. This is no more and no less than what He has done since sin first came into existence in heaven. Lucifer and his rebellious angels exist under the same condition. It is a state of universal grace in which all rebels are given an opportunity to accept the gift of salvation and be set free from their rebellious nature. This period is often called a "probationary time". Of course, God had to careful, for everything He does must be seen to be right and proper (just), and with no favouritism.

How well He has done this is reflected in the following words;

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Psalm 119:

160 Your word is true from the beginning: and every one of Your righteous judgments endures for ever.

Revelation 16:

7 And I heard another [angel] out of the altar say, "Even so, LORD God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments".

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What is not recognised by many is that this temporary covering has a finite limit!

So now we have a situation!

Right from birth the Son of God starts a battle with us. Can He get us to accept His offer before we cause our own physical death? The devil (and many of us) like to think that he takes a hand in the matter of death, but that is only indirectly, for death is "the wages [result] of [internal] sin". All Satan can do is influence our choices to make physical death come quicker. For instance, if he can get us to drink and then drive, the odds on an early death shorten dramatically. Or, if we are born to sick parents or other ancestors, we are likely to inherit their illness and die sooner than others. If we eat lots of fat then we will cut ourselves off before our "normal" time. And so on. So it’s a "race" – can He get us to accept justification before we die physically.

This is why the world is in the mess we see it in.

So we can see that we must all die because of sin – the difference is that some of us CHOOSE to "die" spiritually BEFORE our physical death.

This is what it looks like in a diagram.

Every man and woman born into a society is expected to accept its standard of right and wrong. If he or she does this, they are considered by their families and neighbours to be "morally" good.

However, one society may consider one wife per man is correct, while another nation believes that he can have as many as he can support. One believes that all have the right to carry a weapon and defend themselves (under certain rules sometimes, such as no shooting in the back), while another abhors all forms of physical violence by its citizens and reserves this for a police force. And so on with stealing, lying and coveting. Those with one kind of a standard tend to congregate together, while wanting a separation from the other kinds. These are all counterfeits of Christianity which has its standard in all of the Ten Commandments.

When two societies consider a certain "value" in a different way, then we can get what men often call a "justifiable" war between them. Secession from the Union, and the desire to hold other men and women in slavery caused the Civil War in the United States. "Freedom" for ourselves and for others is a universal desire implanted by the Son of God at physical birth as part of His temporary grace.

While the "sinner" abides within the rules of his or her society, they can have a certain "peace" which the world gives them. They think of themselves as "alive without [outside of] the law". Romans 7:9. Jesus knew this "peace" and recognised its lower value than the heavenly one. He said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid". John 14:27. He knew that His Companion, the Holy Spirit, is at work in a special way on every person in this world who has not surrendered to the call to repent. (With the exception of a special few, of course, who have sinned against the Holy Ghost by refusing to listen to Him any more, or worse, believe that His voice proceeds from the devil. Matthew 12:31.)

This former group includes the arch rebel Lucifer and his followers, for they have adamantly refused to listen any more, and are in active rebellion. But, even after being totally rejected, the Son of God does not remove His protecting grace. He keeps that over us until we wear out, or are killed by violence or sickness, for He has no hand in separation from life. As the Son of man, Jesus healed many and even raised some from the dead, but they all died again later.

He says,

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Ezekiel 18:

30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the LORD GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby you have transgressed; and make [receive] you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, says the LORD GOD: wherefore turn yourselves [repent], and live you.

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Our God is a very courteous Person and He will not force even the appeal for salvation where it is lightly regarded, so He waits and waits, trying gently now and then.

So life for the normal sinner goes on with only a few natural ups and downs within his or her society. While many are in this condition Satan gets their minds absorbed in entertainment and pleasure (or work), often highlighting national sports and rivalries, while the voice of the Spirit is relegated to the background. If these diversions are not enough, he also works from the other angle, and brings about wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes and floods in an endeavour to kill off as many as he can to spite the Son of God.

But the Spirit of God has many strings to His bow and He eventually gets through to each one with the offer of the "peace" that only He can give; not an external feeling, but an internal one, for He uses the Light that "lights every man that comes into the world". John 1:9. However, this is mostly received with shock, for He concentrates the sinner’s mind on the moral law of God, which goes far deeper than that of man.

One day Jesus tried to make this distinction clear to His followers, for one of His jobs was to "magnify the law and make it honourable". Isaiah 42:21.

He said,

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Matthew 5:

27 You have heard that it was said by them of old time, "You shall not commit adultery": 28 but I say to you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.

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Because mankind concentrates only on outward actions while God looks at the intent or condition of the heart as well, they can never harmonise.

What happens when the law enters into the sinner’s conscience? There is normally revived a desire to "do good" in God’s eyes, and an attempt is made to do so. Now a formula comes into action. So many steps towards righteousness – so many slides away from it! The problem, for the Son of God as well as the sinner, is that the progress is all downhill. For every three steps taken on a level plane there are five falling downward. The inevitable result is that the sinner becomes more and more aware of how far shorter of the ideal he or she is coming. This has two options – either give up and go back to the "peace" of the world – or, struggle harder. The latter has the effect of being in a quicksand – it will only hasten the end result, which is sinking to the bottom.

When the deeper aspect of the law of life is finally revealed to the sinner, it usually comes with an invitation to join a religious group. If accepted, the struggles then take place within a church system and are often considered normal Christian behaviour. I say, "Christian" because Christianity is the only religion which teaches that salvation from sin is required. Heathen religions teach that all that is needed is to develop the "good" that is already within, which will then beget suitable rewards. Backsliding merely defers the rewards or brings a punishment. (You will recognise that some heathen principles are already established in some professed Christian systems.)

But as sinners sink lower and lower into the morass, the Spirit also continually reminds them to "try harder", for it is only as they reach helplessness that they might consider an alternative. However, when they have sunk to that level many reject God’s offer, because they think they are looking at "a snake on a brass pole" and it requires great trust in God’s word. (Numbers 21:8-9.) All their training in life, and the advice of their friends, is to "try harder" even though it obviously doesn’t work! At this point many decide that the religion they are in is right, and they settle down into a round of ceremonials which helps to quieten their conscience. They will even argue that, "It’s impossible to be perfect" and say, "God accepts our best endeavours", so that they can give up the struggle.

Their experience looks like this:

The "ideal" would be for us to be to be convinced immediately that we need a Saviour (as Adam was), but our pride and independence usually cause us to struggle against such a revelation and we inevitably take time to accept. It can range from Matthew accepting at his money table (Matthew 9:9) to Nicodemus waiting three years (John 19:39). But, if successful, this is what happens.

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Romans 6:

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

3 Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: 6 knowing this, that our "old man" is crucified with Him, that the body [or power] of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is "dead" is freed from sin . . .

11 Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed to [the power of] sin, but alive to God [and His power] through Jesus Christ our LORD.

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So what can God do if we refuse the experience which underlies baptism?

He has only one weapon – His love as exemplified by Jesus on the cross at Calvary. If this doesn’t work then He is left without a righteous weapon, and can only use the fear that is in the person.

But He never gives up! So the Spirit keeps trying till the person dies, either physically, or spiritually by accepting the offer of justification.

If such a one dies physically without accepting the gift, then their fate is sealed. They will come up in the second resurrection and prove by a direct act of rebellion that God’s assessment that they do not want to live His way is correct. This final act of rebellion is described below.

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Revelation 20:

7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison [by the second resurrection], 8 and shall go out to deceive the nations which are [now] in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city [to attack it and God]: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

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By entering into His presence without protection they cause a reaction of holiness against sinfulness similar to a nuclear reaction. Their structures begin to dissolve in a chain reaction.

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Zechariah 14:

12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.

13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour. [Even while disintegrating they will endeavour to kill each other!]

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Against such determination God is helpless, and He and His Christians can only stand by as the sinners commit suicide and murder. Out of that "lake of fire" the Son of God will format a new world. Revelation 20:14. "For, behold, the day comes, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that comes shall burn them up, says the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch [Satan and his followers, angelic and human.] But to you that fear [respect] My name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall [well protected]. And you shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, says the LORD of hosts." Malachi 4:1-3.

BUT . . .

If they accept salvation FROM sin (see Matthew 1:21) before physical death, then great things BEGIN to happen.

Immediately another "robe" is placed over them and they are accepted in the righteousness of the Son of God, and they are as described below.

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Isaiah 61:

10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels [we are prepared for a wedding].

11 For as the earth brings forth her bud, and as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the LORD GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

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This is what it looks like now.

Having "died" with Christ, they are "resurrected" with Him to a new life. Romans 6:5. Physically they appear to be the same, yet they are not! There is a light in their eyes, a spring in their step, and a consciousness of happiness which is not normally in the ordinary human. Mentally they still require much training, but now it is being angled in a different direction, for the things of this world have grown "strangely dim" in the light which streams from heaven. Now they are ready and anxious to use their lives in honouring God and His ways. Thus it is written:

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Romans 12:

1 I beseech you therefore, brothers [and sisters], by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a LIVING sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world [or its ways]: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

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Now the one-time "sinner" is a "saint" in the school of Christ.

So what has changed?

The body is much the same, growing older and weaker; the mind is expanding in the knowledge of God and His ways, and will continue to do so while it exists: it is the "spirit" or "character" of the person that has changed. Their "heart" is different. Speaking to His scattered people in Babylon in a physical way to illustrate the spiritual, the Son of God said:

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Ezekiel 11:

16 Therefore say, Thus says the LORD GOD; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.

[Because His kingdom is not of this world, the Son of God calls us to leave the world and join Him. John 18:36.]

17 Therefore say, Thus says the LORD GOD; "I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of [spiritual] Israel".

18 And they shall come there, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from there. 19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh: 20 that they may walk in My statutes, and keep My ordinances, and do them: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.

21 But as for them whose heart [still] walks after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads [they will reap what they have sown], says the LORD GOD.

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This "new heart" is one after the likeness of God’s heart. It is a willing and anxious heart to love and obey His rule of love.

Because God sees in a different way than we do, He could say of king David, when speaking to Solomon his son,

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1 Kings 9:

4 And if you will walk before Me, as David your father walked, IN INTEGRITY OF HEART, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and will keep My statutes and My judgments: 5 then I will establish the throne of your kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David your father, saying, "There shall not fail you a man upon the throne of Israel" . . .

1 Kings 11:

4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father . . . [so steadfastness of purpose is what God is looking for.]

[Speaking to Jeroboam, Solomon’s successor in Israel when the kingdoms split, God said,]

1 Kings 14:

8 And [I] rent the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it you: and yet you have not been as My servant David, who kept My commandments, and who followed Me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in My eyes . . .

[To show what God meant by that statement, we are told;]

1 Kings 15:

5 Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that He commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. [He never turned from the true God, sinning only in the way of the flesh.]

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Now we have come to a very important point in the life of a Christian, and one that is so often not comprehended by him or her.

The "ideal" would be for us to accept His power at each temptation and rise steadily in His grace until we are using all of His righteousness (imparted) and living sinlessly (imputed righteousness covers unknown sins). And we could! But our pride and self-will are still with us and so at first we learn by slow increments – two up and three level. The "race" is still on! Thus it is written; "He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8. The margin has: "humble yourself to walk with your God" (i.e. get off your high horse and come down to His level) and the reluctance to do this is what makes the Christian walk so difficult.

We are changed in a moment from "sinner" to "Christian"; and are progressing in Christian thoughts while we continue to live in this world. We expect to be changed physically in a moment again at the second coming, as it is written; "Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [die], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

WE ARE NOT NECESSARILY SINLESS WHILE LIVING IN CHRIST’S RIGHTEOUSNESS, but we are learning to be! It’s called "sanctification" which means the process of becoming holy.

What He has given us is the ability to choose the right because it is right. He is ever seeking to impress our hearts by His Holy Spirit that we shall be convinced of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come, but now He is working from the fact that we are on His side – we are reborn.

In this new situation we may place our will on the side of God's will, and in His strength and grace resist the temptations of the enemy. As we yield to the influence of the Spirit of God, our conscience will become tender and sensitive, and sins that we have passed by with little thought in the past, will become exceeding sinful in our sight.

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Romans 7:

9 For I was "alive" without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I "died". 10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be to "death". 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it "slew" me.

12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

13 Was then that which is good made death to me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

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God calls upon us as Christians (i.e. His children) to oppose the powers of evil which are now outside of us. He says: "Let not sin therefore reign [again] in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield you your members [bodily parts] as instruments of unrighteousness to sin; but yield yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God". Romans 6:13-14.

The difference is that NOW when we are tempted we can CHOOSE to yield or not!

As a sinner we could not win – as a Christian we can, IF WE WANT TO.

Not in our own strength of course, but in His. (If we don’t choose to overcome then we are rejecting His power.)

How does it work? When we are faced with a temptation all we need to do is call out for our Saviour to save us, and He will move in between us and the temptation, and its lure will fade away. The temptation is NOT a sin; it is what leads to a sin. Jesus was tempted strongly after His baptism (Matthew 4) and He looked at them for a moment, but then called out to be saved, and was. "In the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears to Him that was able to save Him from death [sin], and was heard in that He feared; though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered". Hebrews 5:7-8.

When we do this we are "Sabbath-keeping" because Sabbath means "rest" and it is only be "resting" in Him that we can overcome.

Thus it is written:

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Hebrews 3:

14 We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast to the end; 15 while it is said, "Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation [in the wilderness wandering]". [Psalm 95:7-8.] 16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. 17 But with whom was He grieved forty years? [Psalm 95:10] Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom swore He that they should not enter into His "rest", but to them that believed not?

19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Chapter 4:

1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His "rest", any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For to us [in the New Testament] was the gospel preached, as well as to them [in the Old Testament]: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

3 For we which have believed do enter into "rest", as He said, "As I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall [would only] enter into My rest" [Psalm 95:11]: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He spoke in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, "And God did rest the seventh day from all His works". [Genesis 2:2.]

5 And in this place again, "If they shall [would only] enter into My rest".

6 Seeing therefore it remains that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7 again, He limits a "certain" day [of opportunity], saying in David [in the Psalms], "Today", after so long a time [about 500 years]; as it is said, "Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts [don’t reject Me]." 8 For if Jesus [Joshua] had given them "rest", then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. [It took that long to get the people to understand what a Sabbath rest really is!]

9 There remains therefore a "rest" [the keeping of a Sabbath] to the people of God [today].

10 For he that is entered into His "rest", he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from His. 11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that "rest", lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

***************(End Quote)

Anything else than this is an attempt at righteousness by works!

I repeat, in this conflict of righteousness against unrighteousness, we can be successful only by divine aid. In every temptation our finite will must be brought into submission to the will of the Infinite; the human will must be blended with the divine. This will bring the Saviour to our aid; and every conquest will tend to the recovery of God's purchased possession, to the restoration of His image in our lives. Like the man Christ Jesus, we can say, "I can of My own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge [do]: and My judgment is just; because I seek not My own will, but the will of the Father which has sent Me". John 5:30.

And again, "When you have lifted up the Son of man [as your personal Saviour], then shall you know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father has taught Me, I speak these things. And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father has not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him". John 8:28-29.

Here it is again:

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Hebrews 5:

7 Who in the days of His flesh [as the Son of man], when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears to Him that was able to save Him from death [through sin], and was heard in that He feared [listened]; 8 though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; 9 and being made perfect [as a man], He became the author [example] of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him; 10 called of God a high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

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While here on earth as the Son of man (not operating as the Son of God) Jesus lived, as all Christians should do, using the power of Another outside of Him which gave Him the victory. Thus the standard He lived on earth is the standard He expects from all of His Christians. The temptations that Christ withstood were as much stronger than ours as His nobility and majesty are greater than ours. But, having been tempted so strongly on every point, He is able to succour every one whom Satan is now tempting. And today it is our privilege to gain the victory over temptation through the merits of the crucified and risen Saviour, who is familiar with every trial of humanity.

The Son of man was assaulted at every step by the powers of darkness. After His baptism He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, and suffered temptations for forty days. Some have thought that Christ could not have had the same nature as us, for if He had, He would have fallen under similar temptations. But here they err, lowering Him to the level of an ordinary man’s nature who cannot help but fall. Christ came in the nature of a Christian, who has been raised above ordinary human nature by partaking of the divine nature.

Unless there is a possibility of yielding, temptation is no temptation. Temptation is resisted when a Christian is powerfully influenced to do a wrong action and, knowing that he can do it, resists, by faith, with a firm hold upon divine power. This was the ordeal through which Christ passed. He could not have been tempted in all points as we are tempted, had there been no possibility of His failing. Hebrews 4:15. He was a free agent, placed on probation, as was Adam, and as is every Christian man and woman. In His closing hours, while hanging upon the cross, He experienced to the fullest extent what we must experience when striving against sin. Without sinning Himself, He realized how bad a man may become by yielding to sin. He realized the terrible consequences of the transgression of God's law; for the iniquity of the whole world was upon Him. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all". Isaiah 53:6. "For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him".  2 Corinthians 5:21. The Son of God part of Him allowed the Son of man part to feel some of the weight of the accumulated sinful natures He had taken from sinners, and this killed Him.

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2 Peter 1:

2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our LORD, 3 according as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that has called us to glory and virtue: 4 whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

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If He did not have the Christian's nature, He could not be our example. If He was not a partaker of our human nature, He could not have been tempted as Christians have been. If it were not possible for Him to yield to temptation, He could not be our helper. It is a solemn reality that Christ came to fight the battles as a Christian man, in our behalf. His temptation and victory tell us that Christian humanity copies the Pattern; and is a partaker of the divine nature.

Now we have a new diagram:

The ladder, which is the entrance way to and from heaven, reaches from heaven to the lowest part of the earth. Christ descends to that point for us, and then lifts us to a midway point, the Rock, where He looks after us as we allow.

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Psalm 40:

1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a Rock, and established my goings. 3 And He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

Genesis 28:

12 And he [Jacob] dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, "I am the LORD God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac . . . for I will not leave you, until I have done that which I have spoken to you of.

16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, "Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not". 17 And he was afraid, and said, "How dreadful [awesome] is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven".

***************(End Quote)

In Christ, divinity and humanity were combined. Divinity was not degraded to humanity; divinity held its place, but humanity, by being united to divinity, withstood the fiercest test of temptation in the wilderness. The prince of this world came to Christ after His long fast, when He was very hungry, and suggested to Him to command the stones to become bread. But the plan of God, devised for the salvation of man, provided that Christ should know hunger, and poverty, and every phase of Christian man's experience. He withstood the temptation, through the power that a Christian man or woman may command. He laid hold on the throne of God, and there is not a man or woman who may not have access to the same help through faith in God. Any man or woman may become a partaker of the divine nature; not a soul lives who may not summon the aid of Heaven in temptation and trial. Christ came to reveal the source of His power, that man might never rely on his unaided human capabilities. As our "Husband" He has the right and the ability to overcome temptation for us.

But it’s not easy for us! If we would overcome we must put to the tax every power of our being. We must agonize on our knees before God for divine power, for the power of "self" is very strong. To keep His glory veiled as the child of a fallen race; this was Christ’s severe discipline, for He could not use His own God power to save Himself from temptation. To keep our humanity subject to the guidance of the Saviour, to stop doing our own thing and to listen and obey is our discipline, for we cannot save ourselves. To stay down at our level was not easy for Him – to stay up at His level is not easy for us. It is not temptation that we have to fight, but our own inclination to try and save ourselves – righteousness by works. (Like the independent women at Corinth we have to learn to be a "wife" and let our "Husband" lead. See 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.)

Christ came to be our example, and to make known to us that we may be partakers of the divine nature having escaped the corruptions that are in the world through lust. This is the gift of God. Satan did not gain the victory over Christ. He did not put his foot upon the soul of the Redeemer. He did not touch His head [stop Him] though he bruised His heel [made it difficult]. (Genesis 3:15.) Christ, by His own example, made it evident that a Christian may stand in integrity. We may have a power to resist evil – a power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master; a power that will place us where we may overcome as Christ overcame. Divinity and humanity may be combined in us.

That’s the "gift" we get when we are "justified".

"Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin has reigned to death [in the past], even so might grace reign through righteousness to eternal life [now] by Jesus Christ our LORD." Romans 5:20-21.

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

God forbid. How shall we, that are ‘dead’ to sin, live any longer therein?" Romans 6:1-2.

While in this condition, we are being taught the "manners" of heaven, for we are going to a wedding.

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Matthew 22:

1 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables, and said, 2 The kingdom of heaven is like to a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,

3 and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.

4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, "Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come to the marriage." 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6 and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.

7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. [There are only two public calls, although there are innumerable private ones.]

8 Then says he to his servants, "The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9 Go you therefore into the highways, and as many as you shall find, bid to the marriage." 10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment [which was sent out with the invitation]. 12 And he says to him, "Friend, how came you in here not having a wedding garment?" And he was speechless [had no excuse]. 13 Then said the king to the servants, "Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness".

There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen [only those who wear their garment].

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Remember Isaiah 61:10 on page 13?

He has promised, "There has 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 you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it". 1 Corinthians 10:13. If we trust Him, then we should look for the "way to escape" and be victors.

If we are willing to live "by faith" in His word, then we too may overcome as He overcame, and receive His reward. He says:

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Revelation 3:

20 Behold, I stand at the door [of your heart], and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup [live] with him, and he with Me. 21 To him that overcomes [himself and chooses My way] will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne [right now]. 22 He that has a [spiritual] ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches.

***************(End Quote)

Once we have accepted the gift of the wedding garment, we ARE going upwards on our way to the wedding, and we ARE Christians, but sometimes we allow the call of the world to flatten out our endeavours and we stagnate for a while. "While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept". Matthew 25:5.

Unlike the Son of man, who, when tempted after His baptism replied with promises from God’s word, we tend to dally and even enjoy "the forbidden fruit" of this world’s "bread", the "presumption" that all will be well with us no matter what we do, or the adulation of those around us. See Matthew 4:1-11.

All this slows our progress down and could result in our Saviour losing the "race", which means that we will die and need to be resurrected.

We are NOT "lost sinners" in this condition, but are sinning Christians whose choices are leading to physical death, and who are spoiling God’s plan for the wedding.

Now our diagram looks like this:

The wisest man who ever lived made a wrong choice. He allowed his heathen wives to influence him so much that he built a rival place of worship for them.

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1 Kings 11:

4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not [always] perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians [sometimes known as the mother of God], and after Milcom [aka Molech] the abomination of the Ammonites [he liked young people being given to him].

6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. 7 Then did Solomon build a high place [of worship] for Chemosh [the power god], the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before [in front of] Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.

8 And likewise did he for all his strange [foreign] wives, which burnt incense [prayed] and sacrificed to their gods.

[These gods are all personifications of Satan, the Baal (boss) god and his female counterpart. This change of worship is obviously very easy to do, and yet not easily recognised by the doer! Over and over again it is written that Israel "forsook the LORD and served Baal". e.g. Judges 2:13. And many professed Christians still serve a god of force today.]

9 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared to him twice, 10 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded.

["Anger" is the word used when God cannot stop what is happening. The Bible is written as though He initiates punishment when angry, but it is really the result of what we have done, for we reap what we have sown.]

11 Wherefore the LORD said to Solomon, "Forasmuch as this is done of you, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you,

"I will surely rend the kingdom from you [I will not be able to protect it], and will give it to your servant [Jeroboam chose to rebel against Solomon’s son]. 12 Notwithstanding in your days I will not do it for David your father's sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of your son.

13 "Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to your son for David My servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen. [This is when Jeroboam split ten tribes away from Rehoboam, who was then left with his own tribe Judah, and Benjamin. 1 Kings 12.]

***************(End Quote)

In the ceremonial law it is written that when a Christian steals, lies, swindles someone in a business deal, or even hits another person over the head with a weapon, they can be forgiven when they repent!! (Remember, Jesus said there is no sin which cannot be forgiven. Matthew 12:31.)

But it costs God. He needs a ram to show this, not a lamb!

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Leviticus 6:

1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie to his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship [business], or in a thing taken away by violence, or has deceived his neighbour; 3 or have found that which was lost, and lies concerning it, and swears falsely; in any of all these [types of things] that a man does, sinning therein: 4 then it shall be, because he has sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he has deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found, 5 or all that about which he has sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part [20% interest] more thereto, and give it to him to whom it appertains, in the day of his trespass offering.

6 And he shall bring his trespass offering to the LORD, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with your estimation [a fine], for a trespass offering, to the priest: 7 and the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he has done in trespassing therein.

***************(End Quote)

Yes, sometimes real Christians do these things.

Some examples:

Jacob swindled his brother out of his inheritance, Genesis 25; Samson killed thirty men for their clothes, Judges 14; Abraham lied about his wife’s status to save his life, Genesis 20; and David committed adultery and murder as a result of passion, 2 Samuel 11. Noah, the only righteous man at the Flood, grew a vineyard afterward and got drunk, Genesis 9; Peter lied about his relationship with Christ, Mark 14:69-72; all the disciples ran away when Jesus was arrested. Mark 14:50.

We have the word of God that each of these men had experienced the change from "sinner" to "Christian". So why did they do these things? Because they chose to. It is regrettable, and they repented bitterly afterward, but they did them, and real Christians still do similar things today.

Many Christians of today have mistakenly believed that when they became reborn, they would then live a perfect life. They have been horrified and not a little ashamed to find out that although there was a "honeymoon" period at the beginning, and many besetting sins were put away, the settling into the Christian "way" soon revealed many other areas where they sinned. Some they knew about from the old life, while many were new ones revealed as new temptations came to them. But it is the old ones that cause a problem, for the tendency is to believe that we should be perfect when we first come to Christ. Yet Abraham told the same lie about his wife to the Philistine king that he had already told to the pharaoh of Egypt. Genesis 12:10-20; 20:1-18. Admittedly, there was about 25 years between the incidents, but they are identical. We should note that God said that Abraham the man of God would be able to pray for Abimelech the man of the world. Genesis 20:7 and 17.

Then, to cap it all off, Abraham’s son Isaac did the same thing to another Abimelech (the word is a title like pharaoh, I’m told), about 60 years after that! Genesis 26:1-11. I don’t need to go on with any other tales, I’m sure you’ve got the picture and you know from experience what I am talking about.

So our diagram gets to look like this:

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to excuse these men, and neither did they excuse themselves – when confronted with their sins by the Spirit they repented and confessed their choices. They admitted to doing their own thing. They did NOT claim to have "fallen", or blame anyone else, or the circumstances. They owned up that they had CHOSEN to disobey "in that thing"! Leviticus 5:5.

Here are some typical prayers:

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1 Samuel 12:

10 And they cried to the LORD, and said, "We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD, and have served Baalim [many bossy gods] and Ashtaroth [the female principle of the Da Vinci code]: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve You".

11 And [Samuel said] "The LORD sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you dwelled safe".

2 Chronicles 6:

38 [Solomon prayed] If [Your people turn away from You, and then repent, and] they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, where they [their enemies] have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which You gave to their fathers, and toward the city which You have chosen, and toward the house [temple] which I have built for Your name: 39 then hear You from the heavens, even from Your dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive Your people which have sinned against You.

Daniel 9:

7 O LORD, righteousness belongs to You, but to us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries where You have driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against You.

8 O LORD, to us belongs confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against You [this is repeated for emphasis].

9 To the LORD our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against Him; 10 neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.

11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed Your law, even by departing [from You], that they might not obey Your voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against Him. [It is our fault.] 12 And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us, and against our judges [leaders] that judged [led] us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven has not been done as has been done upon Jerusalem.

13 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand Your truth. 14 Therefore has the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all His works which He does: for we obeyed not His voice [and therefore rejected His protection, for that comes from obedience].

15 And now, O LORD our God, that have brought Your people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have gotten You renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly. 16 O LORD, according to all Your righteousness,

I beseech You, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain. Because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are become a reproach to all that are about us.

17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and cause Your face to shine upon Your sanctuary that is desolate, for the LORD's sake. 18 O my God, incline Your ear, and hear; open Your eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name: for we do not present our supplications before You for our righteousnesses, but for Your great mercies.

19 O LORD, hear; O LORD, forgive; O LORD, hearken and do; defer not, for Your own sake, O my God: for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.

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Notice that the emphasis in the prayers is that God will forgive, for that is His nature. I repeat what I said near the beginning of the article: it is not our acts of sin which are critical in God’s sight – it is whether we have the change of heart or not; do we have on the wedding garment which He has supplied. While ever we cling to our belief in the creative power of the Son of God we can hear the voice of God saying from heaven at our baptism as He did for Jesus, "This is My beloved son [or daughter], in whom I am well pleased". Matthew 3:17. It is we who need to be ashamed, not God, for we have let Him down.

Of course, Satan will try to convince us that we are not Christians if we do these things, but so long as we do not give up and walk out of the square of righteousness (even when it becomes an oblong as in diagram 6) we are safe. We will die, of course, before reaching the top, because all these acts of sin have slowed down our progress, but we will be in the first resurrection. We have the Son of God’s word on that. He said to the criminal on the cross beside Him who had done nothing but sin, "You shall be with Me in Paradise". Luke 23:43. And He says it to us, for He "remembers that we are dust". Psalm 103:14.

But we have let our Saviour down! We have not lived up to the destiny He had desired for us. Temptations possess a power which can be overcome only by the help that God can impart. But with every temptation we have the promise of God that there shall be a way of escape. Why, then, are so many overcome? It is because we do not put our trust in God. We do not avail ourselves of the means provided for our safety.

Each one has his or her own battles to fight, his or her own Christian experience to gain, independent in some respects from any other person; and God has lessons for each to gain that no other can gain for him. Our heavenly Father measures and weighs every trial before He permits it to come upon us. He considers the circumstances and the strength of the one who is to stand under His proving and testing, and He never permits the temptations to be greater than the capacity of resistance. If the soul is overborne, the person overpowered, this can never be charged to God, but the one tempted was not vigilant and prayerful and did not appropriate by faith the provisions God had abundantly in store for him. Christ never failed a believer in His hour of combat. The believer must claim the promise and meet the foe in the name of the LORD.

Fortunately, these words are written for those of us who choose wrongly, to comfort us:

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1 John 2:

1 My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not [that’s the standard].

And [however] if any [Christian] man [or woman] sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 and He is the propitiation for our sins [when we confess them]: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world [if they would let Him].

3 And hereby we do know that we know [experience] Him, if we keep His commandments.

4 He that says, "I know him", and keeps not His commandments, is a liar [to himself], and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keeps His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we [by this we know] that we are in Him.

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Sometimes there seems to be no difference in actions between saint and sinner. Of course there is, for those mentioned above are isolated cases, and the daily life can be quite different. In the Christian the countenance is changed. Christ abiding in the heart shines out in the faces of those who love Him and keep His commandments. Truth is written there. The sweet peace of heaven is revealed. There is expressed a habitual gentleness, a more than human love. The essence of it all is that the sinner has no choice in what he or she does, while the saint is deliberately choosing to disobey, like Adam!

The plight of the unregenerate sinner is clearly explained below.

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Romans 7:

15 For that which I do I allow not:

for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

16 If then I do that which I would not,

I consent to the law that it is good [but I am not].

17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.

18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing [it is an evil thing]: for to will is present with me; but HOW to perform that which is good I find not [I don’t have the power].

19 For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.

***************(End Quote)

We can thank God that because of His wonderful Gift, we are no longer in that hopeless condition.

So why not be good? Why not keep His commandments?

Here are some reasons to be obedient – not necessarily in order of importance.

By living that way we give some evidence of the change within which even angels cannot see. It feels good to be good, and it slows down sickness and death. And it proves that God is right when He says that righteousness leads to right-doing. It produces people who can live together, as the redeemed will in the new world. And pure religion is, "To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world". James 1:27.

But the main reason should be to verify the Son of God’s word and prove Him right to the universe. It is He who is on trial – it is He who is being judged – and we are His witnesses. In the communication for this time an angel with the everlasting gospel is pictured as a representative of God’s people, and they are teaching the message of God’s own judgment.

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Revelation 14:

6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 saying with a loud voice, "Fear [respect] God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

Isaiah 43:

10 You are My witnesses, says the LORD, and My servant whom I have chosen: that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He: before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me. 11 I, even I, am the LORD; and beside Me there is no Saviour. 12 I have declared, and have saved, and I have showed [this] WHEN there was no strange god among you: therefore you are My witnesses, says the LORD, that I am God [the Saviour].

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Since the beginning nearly all those who have been born-again have let God down!

He who has given us all things has not been repaid, except by two out of a multitude.

He needs us to show that sickness and death come from our choices and are not punishments inflicted by Him.

He needs some Christians who so love Him that they choose not to be separated from Him at all.

He needs some who will continue to walk with Him to the top of the "square of righteousness" and step off into heaven without dying.

He needs some who will love Him so much that they will remain constant no matter what happens around them.

He needs some who will remain "virgin" in the matter of loyalty until the time of the consummation of the "marriage".

These He will present to the universe as His "bride". Isaiah 62:5.

This is the purpose of the gospel.

"Thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ."   1 Corinthians 15:57.

 

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Lateral thought:

Saddest words on Christian lips are "I think . . ." instead of "Thus says the LORD . . ." because the former is based on our opinion, while the latter is the word of God.

Some of the comments in this article are adapted from books in my library. No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly. All the ideas expressed here, right or wrong, are my own.

 

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To ancient SDA's ............ To "What's New?"