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How to Be Perfect Before Jesus Comes — 27 Comments

  1. Great article! The writer makes so many excellent points, especially that God is not holding us over the fire to produce "absolute perfection," that the Christ-like character to be supernaturally produced in us does not imply that we are somehow Jesus' equal.

    I do have one question. The writer correctly cites Scripture to the effect that, before our probation closes (either by death or at the end-time), God will make us "blameless." On the other hand, he seems to suggest that we might not necessarily be "sinless." Yet I'd be hard-pressed to define any difference between the two. Either word could be applied to our outward behaviour, although I think it has much more to do with the condition of the heart.

    So, am I making an argument in favour of "sinless perfection?" I could probably do that, but the controversy that this would likely provoke might only serve to illustrate how difficult it seems to be for us Seventh-day Adventists to get past a legalistic approach that would define "perfection" primarily in negative terms. If the essence of sin is selfishness, as I believe it is, then its opposite would be love. Since the main point of this article seems to be to counter the misunderstanding and misuse of Ellen White's writings, perhaps I may quote her in support of what I believe God wants to do for us, in positive terms.

    "What is needed is the love of Christ in the heart. When self is merged in Christ, love springs forth spontaneously. The completeness of Christian character is attained when the impulse to help and bless others springs constantly from within — when the sunshine of heaven fills the heart and is revealed in the countenance." Christ's Object Lessons, page 384

    Someone has suggested that it might be better to let Jesus decide how "perfect" He can make us, rather than try to determine that for ourselves, and especially for others.

    "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 1 John 3:2 NKJV

    • Hi RG. Thanks for your comments. Wonderful addition with the verse from 1 John 3:2 "We are already God's children, but it does not yet appear what we shall be but when He appears we shall be like Him for we shall see him as He is." Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face. 1 Corinthians 13:12 So, perhaps when we talk about perfection, we really aren't sure what it is to be completely like Jesus...John seems to say that happens when we see him at the second coming.

      Appreciate you question about sinless compared to perfect. Could it be said we are sinless in Christ? Makes sense if we are perfect in Christ we are also sinless in him. Paul says, "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" Romans 8:1

      • Thank you David and R.G. I also love how John’s emphasis in First John is on love instead of legalism. In 1 John 3:1-3 it is by beholding his love that we are transformed. It seems to me, as if the love is more spectacular than the transformation. But yet the transformation seems to be a byproduct of beholding what love the father has for us. But John never told us to behold ourselves or to compare ourselves to Jesus, or to others. We are simply to behold what manner of love the Father has given to us. It gives me the idea that regardless of our theology, regarding perfection, that we become legalistic just by focusing on perfection instead of the love of God. Even Matthew 5:48 that says be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect, is translated in Luke six as be merciful as your father is merciful. Again, the focus is not perfectionism, but the mercy and the love of God. Over the years of being a Seventh-day Adventist I have watched too many people debate perfection when they should have just been beholding and talking about the love of God instead. I also love this passage from first John telling us how love saves us from fear in the judgment and why.

        “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.” I John‬ ‭4‬:‭17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

        We are merciful because we have beheld His mercy.

        • Right on, William!
          You wrote

          It gives me the idea that regardless of our theology, regarding perfection, that we become legalistic just by focusing on perfection instead of the love of God.

          By focusing on our own perfection, rather than on Christ's perfection, we are necessarily focusing on self - the direct antithesis of Christ's teaching. It was focus on self that turned the covering cherub into the adversary aka Satan.

          And that's the problem with the teaching of human perfection - it causes a focus on self. What usually follows is looking for "perfection" in others, with the result that people focusing on human perfection become highly critical and judgmental - again the opposite effect of Christ's teaching that happiness is to be found in service.

          What is so heart-breaking is that many people who have been led to focus on human perfection are conscientious Christians and really want to be right with the Lord. Nevertheless, the law of being changed by what we behold will inevitably change these honest souls into conscientious critics who tend to turn people away from Jesus. Unfortunately I've seen whole websites devoted to such a focus on perfection, with the main thrust of the sites being criticism and condemnation of various people and organizations.

          I really appreciate David's post because it sheds light on some quotations that seem to persuade honest people to focus on perfection, rather than on Jesus and His self-renouncing love.

          Focusing on perfecting myself has not worked for me at all, and I seriously doubt that it works for anyone. What has brought me freedom and joy is focusing on Christ and His love. That focus enables me to trust and obey.

          • Amen! I too have found that focusing on my perfection leads me away from Jesus. I am reminded of a statement in Steps to Christ...one of my favorites...this is particularly true of those who are conscientious.

            "Many who are really conscientious, and who desire to live for God, he too often leads to dwell upon their own faults and weaknesses, and thus by separating them from Christ he hopes to gain the victory. We should not make self the center and indulge anxiety and fear as to whether we shall be saved. All this turns the soul away from the Source of our strength. Commit the keeping of your soul to God, and trust in Him. Talk and think of Jesus. Let self be lost in Him. Put away all doubt; dismiss your fears. Say with the apostle Paul, “I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20. Rest in God. He is able to keep that which you have committed to Him. If you will leave yourself in His hands, He will bring you off more than conqueror through Him that has loved you."

  2. Thank you David for sharing these encouraging promises. I am sorry that you had a pastor who focused so much on self and trying to save ourselves by our own works. That is so discouraging but I see that God's grace encouraged you to get past the legalism. In John 16:9 Jesus tells us about the sin of unbelief. When I believe in God's grace I have overcome the sin of unbelief and I am reconciled to God. I believe that the overcomers will live after the close of probation without a mediator because we will be at peace with God and will no longer need a mediator. Once a mediator has done his or her job in reconciling two parties he or she no longer needs to mediate. I don't see living without a mediator as a warning as your pastor put it, but as a promise that Jesus will have finished His job of mediating and we will be at peace with God and reconciled to Him. Once our relationship with God is perfectly restored and we trust Him totally Jesus will no longer need to mediate.

    Thank you for reminding us about the fact that we are saved by grace! We don't overcome by trying harder. That is legalism. We overcome by resting in God's grace.

    It is not legalism but grace that gives me good works.
    "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10

    It is not legalism but grace that gives us obedience.
    "Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name," Romans 1:5

    It is not legalism but grace that helps us to live righteously and godly lives right here on earth.
    "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age," Titus 2:11-12

    Thank you for sharing those encouraging passages in Great Controversy. I am also encouraged by a passage In Great Controversy page 560, "He [God] would sooner send every angel out of heaven to protect His people than leave one soul that trusts in Him to be overcome by Satan."

    Thank you for sharing with us that Ellen White never endorsed legalism but encouraged us that Jesus is the friend of sinners. I am also comforted by these encouraging and promising words of inspiration.

    "The prince of this world cometh," said Jesus, "and hath nothing in Me." John 14:30. There was in Him nothing that responded to Satan's sophistry. He did not consent to sin. Not even by a thought did He yield to temptation. So it may be with us. Christ's humanity was united with divinity; He was fitted for the conflict by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And He came to make us partakers of the divine nature. So long as we are united to Him by faith, sin has no more dominion over us. God reaches for the hand of faith in us to direct it to lay fast hold upon the divinity of Christ, that we may attain to perfection of character." -Desire of Ages, Page 123.

    Again I am sorry about the legalistic pastor that tried to teach you that you had to overcome by trying harder instead of resting in God's grace. Life is a free gift and the fact is even in heaven life will be a free gift we have never earned, and even in all eternity we will never earn it. We will be eating from the tree of life as a constant reminder of our dependance on Jesus throughout all eternity. Even after 5 million years on the new earth we will never feel self sufficient. Our perfect characters will be a gift of God's grace and we will always be casting our crowns at the feet of Jesus throughout all eternity.

    Meanwhile here on earth I don't think any of us wants to be overcomers in order to work our way to heaven. We simply love Jesus and we don't want to break His heart anymore. We love sinners who Jesus died for and we want them to see His love in us so they can be drawn to Him. When we are tempted Paul encourages us in Hebrews 4:16 to come boldly before the throne of grace and receive the grace to overcome, but if for whatever reason we fall and sin, Paul also encourages us to find mercy and forgiveness.

    I am so glad that through your personal study of Scripture and Spirit of prophecy you have found a friend in Jesus! I am so glad Jesus is my friend too. I know He is my friend because I am a sinner and Jesus is the friend of sinners. As Romans says we have all sinned, (Romans 3:23) but I am so glad Romans shows us the progression of the gospel so I don't have to continue in sin. (Romans 6:3-7). I love Jesus and I am not going to put limits on His amazing grace because I know He can do way more for me than I can even imagine. (Ephesians 3:20). God has reconciled and is reconciling me to the Father. I look forward to that day when Jesus will have perfectly reconciled me and will no longer need to mediate. In the meantime I rest in His amazing grace and grow in Him, not so I can earn a gift that has already been freely given, but because I love Him Who first loved me.

    Thank you again David for sharing your journey of grace. Your message is refreshing and encouraging. I hope we will be hearing more from you again soon.

  3. Thank you William...glad it was a blessing. I will look forward to reading your articles as well. I have not been on Sabbath School Net for quite some time.

    Appreciate your emphasis on victory. I do not want to give the impression that we must wallow in sin. Just want to help us know that our hope is in Christ and that we are not expected to equal His perfection. We can be victorious and perfect in Him. This is true for all time, even after probation closes. I realize one cannot say everything in an article.

    So much appreciate your quote from Great Controversy page 560, "He [God] would sooner send every angel out of heaven to protect His people than leave one soul that trusts in Him to be overcome by Satan."

    Have an Awesome New Year

  4. Thank you David, Yes! As a writer and a pastor I totally understand that you cannot exhaust a subject in just one presentation nor should you. And depending upon who your audience is, there are certain things that need to be emphasized more than others. I personally hope that you will be sharing more of your articles with us in the future. I also have family in the Chattanooga area and would enjoy getting to meet you personally sometime. I hope you have a splendid new year as well!

  5. Hi David - I am glad to read your post and follow-up comments about the importance for the believer to dwell on God’s Love and Righteousness, and not on trying to establish their own as they become their own judge and jury. I am very happy to find that you have kept your faith in our Lord and Savior.

    Jesus' word recorded in Matt.22:37-39 has become the ‘mainstay’ of my faith in the Word of God. It has ordered my relationship with my heavenly Father and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
    “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and will all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself..”

    By living this truth, we allow God to be our judge and jury. He will ‘perfect us before Jesus comes’; 'He will never leave us or forsake us'. Our experience of becoming aware of – “being deeply flawed”, is the beginning of our walk by faith, the desire to be made right in God’s eyes. 'We all fall short of the Glory of God', but we have placed our 'self' into Jesus Christ, under His Righteousness; He is the shield and cover for all who seek forgiveness.

    How do we overcome, where does our strength come from to overcome adversities trying to weaken our faith, but from "loving God with all our heart and not leaning on our own understanding". I see this to be the path the believer walks by faith.

    • Hi Brigette. How true, if we place ourselves in Christ, under His righteousness, He covers us and continues to cover us until He comes.

      Loving Jesus with all our hearts and not leaning on our own understanding is certainly key. In His power we can overcome. But, sometimes this passage has tripped me up because when I am honest with myself, I have to confess that I have not loved Jesus all the time with all my heart, soul and mind.

      This is his command and a goal for us to reach for every day by His grace. Yet, when I get to heaven and I am asked, "Why should I let you into heaven?", I will not say, "It's because I loved you perfectly with all my heart at all times." When I look at myself, I don't see how I can be saved but when I look at Jesus, I don't see how I can be lost. The devil's big game is for me to look to myself and think that it is my doing or my loving that makes me worthy...blessings my sister.

  6. Jesus said " Learn from Me". Our goal is to learn from what Jesus did and live. Sin is a disease that can only be cured by living what Jesus did and lived. As Christians we tend to have an excuse to sin, and later we find a way to justify ourselves for our mistakes. We also tend to abuse God's character by thinking as we do or putting our own words in His mouth. God does not think, talk or judge as we do. It's time we take responsibility as Christians and to recognize that we don't have an excuse to sin, but to avoid sin with the help of The Holy Spirit. Because excuses make us weak to reach God's character. Every day that we live, we are new creatures and we need to learn from yesterday's mistakes, and there are no excuses. When God's Holy Spirit lives in our minds, then our minds and bodies are strong in spirit. Our spiritual way of thinking transforms our behavior, and our good behavior transforms our character. When we trust in God's words nothing is impossible but possible. God bless you...

    • Amen, Rudy - we know too much truth regarding the Word of God that we could claim our sins to be just ‘mistakes’.

    • Amen, Rudy...It is only through the Holy Spirit and surrender to Him that we can live a life without excuses. Sin is an evil to be avoided at all cost. Why would we want to sin? It is so destructive.

      As we trust God, we keep growing... The closer we come to Him, the more we realize the distance between us and Him in righteousness. We are awestruck by his character and driven to see our need of Him.

      Yes, nothing is impossible for those who trust him if we keep this in perspective. On the other hand it is impossible for us to be God or to perfectly duplicate the record of Jesus' perfection. Praise God, we are not asked to do that. We are to reflect His character. We are a reflection, not the Son himself.

  7. There are two types of sinning: 1. Intentional and planned sinning (Sins of lifestyle.) This type of sinning is mainly found among the unconverted (though sometimes the converted are guilty of it too.) And then there is 2. Unintentional and unplanned sinning (Sins of Character Defects.) This type of sinning is an unavoidable type of sinning among the converted people. The sins of "Character Defects," are unavoidable to the converted because they have to do with Genetics, Culture, and Habits, and also just simply "Our Sinful Natures," that just giving ourselves to the Gospel Message and Jesus to be our Savior just does not take this away from one day to the next, or even one year to the next either. That is why becoming like Jesus in Character takes "A Lifetime" to accomplish and it is referred to as "Sanctification." But in Jesus we are seen by God the Father as never having sinned at all when we first give ourselves to the Gospel Message. And then, when we claim 1 John 1:9 every time the Holy Spirit shows us our sin or sins, God again then sees us as never having sinned at all.

    • Hi, Pete. I appreciate your analysis very much. Even in the Old Testament sanctuary system, this distinction was made. The presumptuous, high-handed sinner was to be executed -- cut off from Israel. Thank God that even this kind of sin can be forgiven through the blood of Jesus, provided the person is still able to receive the gift of repentance.

      That said, I could never call the unintentional/unplanned sinning "unavoidable." To my mind, that would excuse the sin and make repentance unnecessary. I believe that God's grace is available to us to eliminate all sin from our hearts and lives.

      Have a great new year!

      • Thanks, R.G. White, Even EGW indicated that sins of character are sometimes not seen at all by us and requires the Holy Spirit to reveal them to us. And notice what 1 John 1:8 (Skipping 9 the one that promises forgiveness and also cleansing when we "confess them") on to 10 says that if we say that "we have no sin, we deceive ourselves,..." then 10 says that if we say that "we have not sinned, we make God and Jesus to be liars and His word is not in us." So you see that these are sins of Character Defects are only when the Holy Spirit reveals them to us we then need to "Confess" them for forgiveness and cleansing etc. So only when the Holy Spirit reveals them are they then not unavoidable for taking them to Jesus for forgiveness. But until then they are unavoidable and God sees Jesus as taking them in our place and sees us as "Never having sinned at all too."

  8. Also, sins of "Character Defects" are not necessarily sins like "Stealing, lying, or even sexual sinning either," but just simply sins that come short of experiencing "Peace, patience, love, joy," etc. in our own hearts and lives and towards others and even towards God 24/7/365 every moment, hour, and day of every year without ever failing at all. These types of sins are anavoidable to each and every one of those who claim to love, obey, and serve God period! And Jesus has to cover us with His Prefect demonstration of them and also in our behalf whenever we come to Him to do so and sometimes He has to do so when we go on thinking that we are there already when we are not.

    • It sounds to me, Pete, that these “sins” you are talking about that are unavoidable or not really sins, but Temptations? In Luke 17:1 Jesus says Temptations are unavoidable. But the Bible is quite clear like in 1 Corinthians 10:31 that we do not have to sin. It’s very important that we do not confuse weaknesses and temptations with actual sin. Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us Jesus was tempted and touched by our weakness but never sinned. It is not a sin to be weak and tempted. It is a sin to willingly and knowingly break God’s law. John 9:41, 1 John 3:4.

  9. [Moderator's Note: Just a reminder to respondents to watch the length of your comments and limit the use of quotations. Succinctness is a blessing.]

    Thank you Pastor Bissil for your post, and Pastor William on your beautiful response on this subject. It’s so true how we can get caught up in legalism and self focus and fear on this subject. But at the same time Pastor BissiI, I feel and see a hint of fear and a lack of faith of what God can bring about in our sinful natures through the power of His Word, which was made flesh, and which we are sanctified by, in which we find in His prayer in
    Jn 17: 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

    And thank goodness it’s not all our work but God’s promise to accomplish His purpose of making the the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ, and here is the key to having Jesus in us,

    “By beholding the character of Christ you will become changed into His likeness. The grace of Christ alone can change your heart, and then you will reflect the image of the Lord Jesus. God calls upon us to be like Him—pure, holy, and undefiled. We are to bear the divine image.—Lt 84, 1899. (The S.D.A. Bible Commentary 3:1164.) – {2MCP 578.3}

    Heb 8: 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

    1Jn 2:14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

    And here we see how it’s God’s work in us to overcome as well
    Rev 3: 10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
    11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
    12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

    So here is insight given on sanctification of which will bring about this in those who live in the end,
    Rev 14: 5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.

    “Our Saviour claims all there is of us; He asks our first and holiest thoughts, our purest and most intense affection. If we are indeed partakers of the divine nature, His praise will be continually in our hearts and upon our lips. Our only safety is to surrender our all to Him and to be constantly growing in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. [12] The sanctification set forth in the Sacred Scriptures has to do with the entire being—spirit, soul, and body. Here is the true idea of entire consecration. Paul prays that the church at Thessalonica may enjoy this great blessing. “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23. – {CCh 50.1}

    Sanctification is a progressive work. The successive steps are set before us in the words of Peter: “Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8. “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” verses 10, 11. – {CCh 50.4}
    Here is a course by which we may be assured that we shall never fall. Those who are thus working upon the plan of addition in obtaining the Christian graces have the assurance that God will work upon the plan of multiplication in granting them the gifts of His Spirit. [14] – {CCh 51.1}
    Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, or a day. It is a continual growth in grace. We know not one day how strong will be our conflict the next. Satan lives, and is active, and every day we need to cry earnestly to God for help and strength to resist him. As long as Satan reigns we shall have self to subdue, besetments to overcome, and there is no stopping place, there is no point to which we can come and say we have fully attained. – {CCh 51.2}
    The Christian life is constantly an onward march. Jesus sits as a refiner and purifier of His people; and when His image is perfectly reflected in them, they are perfect and holy, and prepared for translation. A great work is required of the Christian. We are exhorted to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Here we see where the great labor rests. There is a constant work for the Christian. Every branch in the parent vine must derive life and strength from that vine, in order to yield fruit. [15] – {CCh 51.3}
    Let none deceive themselves with the belief that God will pardon and bless them while they are trampling upon one of His requirements. The willful commission of a known sin silences the witnessing voice of the Spirit and separates the soul from God. Whatever may be the ecstasies of religious feeling, Jesus cannot abide in the heart that disregards the divine law. God will honor those only who honor Him. [16] – {CCh 51.4}
    When Paul wrote, “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly,” 1 Thessalonians 5:23, he did not exhort his brethren to aim at a standard which it was impossible for them to reach; he did not pray that they might have blessings which it was not the will of God to give. He knew that all who would be fitted to meet Christ in peace must possess a pure and holy character. Read 1 Corinthians 9:25-27; 6:19, 20. – {CCh 51.5}
    True Christian principle will not stop to weigh consequences. It does not ask, What will people think of me if I do this? or, How will it affect my worldly prospects if I do that? With the most intense longing the children of God desire to know what He would have them do, that their works may glorify Him. The Lord has made ample provision that the hearts and lives of all His followers may be controlled by divine grace, that they may be as burning and shining lights in the world. [17] – {CCh 51.6}

  10. Thank you for sharing such beautiful light. I just scrolled back and found it. Many blessings this new year.

  11. Hi Richard, thank you for your response to the article. Appreciate the input. I can understand your perception that fear may lead to detracting from the power of Jesus. Please let me clarify:

    1) Love the verses you quoted and the thoughts from Ellen White. As one reads them through they speak of a continued growth in grace and victory over known, willful sin. As I pointed out in the article, we can be experiencing this victory here and now - no need to wait until after the close of probation. This is a process that continues through a lifetime and does not stop when probation closes. If we come to the place where we think we have arrived, with no need for improvement, we are on dangerous ground. If we come to believe we have become so perfect that we do not need grace or forgiveness for what Ellen White calls "earthliness" we no longer progress. There is no stopping place in this progress, even after probation closes.

    2) We do not have holy flesh until Jesus transforms our bodies into glorious bodies. We will still need to die to the flesh and temptations will still present themselves. In Christ there is always hope and victory and continued progress.

    3) Contrary to fear, I believe that Jesus' perfection and righteousness completely cover us at all times. The Bible teaches that Jesus "ever lives" to provide help and answers to prayer. The angels are there to help us and God's love for us is as strong then as it is in our sunniest times, even after the close of probation. Praise God, grace is still available and God hears us then. Christ's perfection is adequate all time.

    4) We are not expected to equal Jesus' record of perfection. As Ellen White states in the article "we are not expected to equal the pattern, but we will not be blessed if we do not seek to copy it". I do not want to set people up for a low view of Jesus' perfection, or a sense they can never make it. Nor do I want to encourage people to compare themselves with one another or think of themselves as having arrived so they can judge those who may not be at the same stage of growth as they are.
    No...fear is not the motive, Richard. Belief in the adequacy of Jesus is. We are not asked to be the light in the same sense as He is the light - we are to be reflections not the Son himself.

    • Thank you David for sharing more about God's love and grace. I am not wanting to put words in your mouth, but I think you are talking about what Ellen White was saying when she mentioned our sphere of perfection and Christ's sphere of perfection. I imagine that, even in his perfection and innocence, Adam had some growing to do even before he fell. After all, what fun is life if we do not learn and progress? First graders who get 100% right on their math papers get a perfect score. But even though they are perfect in their sphere of first grade, it does not mean they are ready for 12th grade math or that their work would be considered perfect in 12th grade. But that's oaky! They are not in 12th grade. They are in their own sphere of first grade, so they are perfect where they are.

      "We have nothing of ourselves, but the light of His love shines upon us, and we are to reflect its brightness. "In His borrowed goodness good," we may be perfect in our sphere, even as God is perfect in His.
      Jesus said, Be perfect as your Father is perfect. If you are the children of God you are partakers of His nature, and you cannot but be like Him. Every child lives by the life of his father. If you are God's children, begotten by His Spirit, you live by the life of God. In Christ dwells "all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9); and the life of Jesus is made manifest "in our mortal flesh" (2 Corinthians 4:11). That life in you will produce the same character and manifest the same works as it did in Him. Thus you will be in harmony with every precept of His law; for "the law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul." Psalm 19:7, margin. Through love "the righteousness of the law" will be "fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Romans 8:4." Ellen White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessings Pages 77-78.

    • Thank you, David, for your thoughts, and William, for adding yours.

      In regard to David's point #1, I might like to distinguish between how the Christian perceives his or her progress, on the one hand, and what it may actually be, on the other. Perhaps this is best expressed in the words of Seventh-day Adventist pioneer Ellen White.

      "The closer we come to Jesus, the more faults we will see in our own lives. We will see our faults more clearly as we compare our sinful selves with the perfect Saviour." Steps to Jesus, page 63

      This is clearly the case, but does it mean that we are actually becoming more faulty? Obviously not. By beholding Jesus, we are doubtless becoming more like Him. So, when probation has closed, and we are sealed for eternal life, are we suddenly going to see anything to praise in ourselves? I don't think so. Although we have reached the completion of Christian character, by God's grace (Jude 24), I expect that our past sins, and our closeness to Christ, will be sufficient to keep us from feeling that we have "arrived." Although, by the gift of God, Christ's righteousness has now become our own, it seems we are most unlikely to be aware of this fact, much less inclined to boast!

      As to David's point #2, I don't believe that the receipt of "holy flesh" will change our character in any way. We shall have become like Jesus through the process of sanctification that has taken place during this earthly life. Now the righteous shall be righteous still. Revelation 22:11

  12. The concept of what constitutes perfection has long been debated in Adventism. What does it mean? It's clear from scripture that perfection is necessary in order to be a citizen of the perfect world to come. Thus the question of this thread is of vital importance -- How to be perfect?

    First -- all our goodness falls far short. Both Scripture and Ellen G. White confirm that as fact. So is that the end?
    We need Christ's righteousness to stand in our place, but that doesn't give license to continue in sin. Revelation makes it plain: It's the overcomers who receive eternal rewards.

    It has been strongly stated in the above dialogs that we need Jesus; we need to focus on Him and His goodness, self denying love, and grace, etc. Which is absolutely true and vital! Without Him there is no hope. Without Him we don't even recognize the extent of our imperfection, or what righteousness looks like.

    But I don't see too much dialogue on repentance. And it seems repentance plays a very big role in our journey to being overcomers. There is some dialogue on confession, but confession is just acknowledging we have sinned. Repentance is something different. It's even more than sorrow we sinned, if that only involves being sorry that we suffer the consequences.

    Our mission is to "proclaim the gospel of peace and salvation through repentance and the power of the Saviour." Acts of the Apostles, page 26

    So, what exactly is repentance? What causes the power of sin to be broken?

    We read about the "baptism of repentance" and the "remission of sins". Seems this means more than forgiveness, it's more like being freed from sins -- being freed from sins, justified, (just as if one had never sinned), and then to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and walk in newness of life. (See Romans 6)

    Yet repentance is not a one-time thing.

    "The nearer we come to Jesus, and the more clearly we discern the purity of His character, the more clearly shall we see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the less shall we feel like exalting ourselves. There will be a continual reaching out of the soul after God, a continual, earnest, heartbreaking confession of sin and humbling of the heart before Him. At every advance step in our Christian experience our repentance will deepen. We shall know that our sufficiency is in Christ alone" Acts of the Apostles, page 561

    • Amen!

      "Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God’s ideal for His children. Godliness—godlikeness—is the goal to be reached. Before the student there is opened a path of continual progress, an object to achieve, a standard to attain that includes everything good, pure, and noble. Students will advance as fast and as far as possible in every branch of true knowledge. But their efforts will be directed to objects as much higher than mere selfish and temporal interests as the heavens are higher than the earth." True Education pg 12

  13. Hi Ulrike. Thank you for your thoughtful contribution to this discussion. I appreciate your emphasis on the notion that repentance is not a one time experience but a daily turning away from sin and turning toward the one who can help us overcome.

    Here is a question that I would like to address to you and others that have responded. Is repentance something that occurs in the lives of those who are faithful to Jesus "after probation closes?" Because of some of our leanings toward sinless perfection, I am curious to find out what others think?

    • Great question, David! My take on this is that, on the basis of the Old Testament types and sacrifices, as well as personal experience, repentance is not just feeling sorry for, and turning away from, specific wrongs that we have done. It is a sorrow for, and a turning away from, what we are. And what we are, in and of ourselves at least, is reflected in sins of both commission and omission long past, no matter how thoroughly we may already have confessed them. To my mind, continual penitence over our very unlikeness to Christ is an essential part of being a Christian.

      With that in mind, I am certain that our repentance will continue after the close of probation, no matter how well the Holy Spirit may be enabling us to live in love and above sin, and no matter how habitual the ways of righteousness may have become for us.


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