Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
The day of the Lord is at hand, when the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and all the cities of the earth shall be destroyed. Christ, escorted by ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of angels, shall come in the clouds of heaven. The righteous dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and rise from their graves to immortal life, and we that are alive and remain shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and so be forever with the Lord. In view of these great and solemn events we are exhorted to be diligent that we may be “found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”
There are attractions on every hand to draw the mind away from the contemplation of the coming of our Lord and Saviour; but it is absolutely necessary to bear in remembrance that “the great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly.” The God of Heaven has multiplied warnings, entreaties, and instructions, that we may be prepared to stand in the time of the overwhelming destruction. We are not left in darkness. Those who meditate and act upon the instructions that God has given will cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit. They will keep in mind the command to “be diligent,” to be holy in all their conversation and life. An infinite price has been paid for our redemption that we might have an opportunity to turn to God and perfect characters that will meet the approbation of Heaven. And we should inquire as did the lawyer, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Christ answered, “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” The lawyer replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” And Jesus said unto him, “Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live.”
Christ presented the great moral standard or righteousness to the lawyer. Every man’s life must meet this test in the Judgment. Now you are invited to look into the law of God. Take the ten commandments, that grow out of the principles of love to God and love to man, and see if you are in harmony with their requirements. If you are not breaking any one of them, you may ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you; for you are in the favor of God. The only way that you can determine whether you are righteous or not is by examining your heart with the light of the law and the Spirit of God. As the looking-glass reveals the defects in your appearance, so the moral mirror of the law will make plain the imperfections of your character, and the true condition of your heart. Those who are looking into the perfect law of liberty, and seeking a fitness for Heaven, will realize their need of divine help and will often be found before God in prayer.
Only those who are sanctified through the truth will be accepted as heirs of eternal life. The sanctification that God intends his children should have, is not of that character which leads men to boast of their holiness and reject the law of God, which is “holy, and just, and good.” Bible sanctification is implicit obedience to the requirements of God. Christ did not die to save anyone in the pollution of sin. He came to “save his people from their sins,” that “the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled” in his followers. The death of the Son of God on the cross demonstrates the immutable character of the precepts of Jehovah. Then how grieved should we be for every transgression and disobedience. The precious Saviour was bruised for our iniquity. There is enmity against the commandments of God in the hearts of those who claim sanctification and refuse to acknowledge the binding obligation of the law. Hatred arises in their hearts as soon as the law is mentioned. They profess to believe that the law is abolished. But if the law is abolished, what is the standard by which we shall be judged before the judgment-seat of Christ? This work of belittling the law is the work of the great deceiver. If Satan can persuade men that the God of the universe has no law by which he governs them, then he can set up a standard of his own, and turn men into the path of transgression and destruction
Sanctification is not the work of an hour, it is the result of the constant effort of a lifetime. We must fight the good fight of faith, struggle against the powers of darkness, resist evil, subdue the natural tendencies to sin, and by the grace of God perfect holiness, and work out our own salvation. The nearer we come to Jesus and behold the purity and greatness of his character, the less we shall feel like exalting self. The contrast between our character and his will lead to humiliation of soul and deep heart-searching. We shall not desire to boast of our holiness; but the more we love Jesus, the more will self be forgotten and humbled. When our souls are filled with self-esteem and pride we cannot realize the need of divine power; but when we are aware of our own insufficiency our hearts cry out, “Other refuge have I none,” and we hang our helpless souls upon Him who is mighty to save.
Our precious Saviour gave his life that fallen man might be saved. It was impossible for those who had once weakened themselves by transgression to fulfill the requirements of God; the consequence and penalty of sin was upon the race; but the Lamb of God paid the penalty of the past transgressions, and will impart to those who believe on him power to become the sons of God, power to obey the commandments of the law. Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we may be conquerors in the battle with “the world, the flesh, and the devil.” Jesus says, “Without me ye can do nothing;” we are dependent upon him for divine grace and help from day to day. “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” But let no one think that because Christ has died for us we are released from all personal responsibility, that we need not be particular to obey his will, to glorify God or to honor the rule of his government. “Sin is the transgression of the law,” and sin is very offensive in his sight. We must put it away if we would enter the city wherein is nothing that defileth.
A true appreciation of the plan of salvation will fill us with wonder and love. Our hearts will be so melted with the love that Jesus has manifested toward us, that we cannot be taken up with the affairs of this world. When Christ is abiding in the heart and we have a true conception of the sacrifice that he has made, we shall talk about it. We shall understand something of the perfection of the law that he came to magnify and make honorable. The privilege of obedience will seem precious and gracious to our souls. We shall take no delight in the teaching of those who seek to make of no effect the law of God. We want that intelligent faith that has the word of God as its foundation, that leads in the path of righteousness, and makes every step a step Heavenward. Everything that God could do has been done that we might obtain salvation from sin and destruction. Now it depends upon us whether or not we will accept of the conditions of his mercy and co-operate with his divine aid, and gain eternal life.
“What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?” The books of Heaven register everything just as it is. The angels make no mistakes. You cannot afford to speak evil of your brethren; this is not holy conversation. Whenever you are tempted to criticise and condemn others, close your lips, and lift up your heart in prayer to God that you may have power to resist and overcome. We have a great work to do to remove every defect of character and be a constant light to those around us, reflecting the character of Jesus, the light of the world. Those who are heads of families should do as did faithful Abraham. They should erect an altar to the Lord in their homes, and command their households after them, bringing up their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. I have been very careful in the education of my children that there should be no element of unbelief woven into their early teaching. They have never heard one word of questioning or doubt in regard to the word of God, the plan of salvation, or the truth for this time. I have kept the Saviour before them. I have repeated the story of his life, pictured the scenes of his suffering, humiliation, crucifixion, and death. I have sought to impress them with the importance of faith and obedience. I have presented before them the mansions of Heaven, and the future immortal life. We should seek to make these themes attractive to our little ones
You are to be holy in your conversation. Your homes should not be darkened by faultfinding and criticism. You must manifest love and kindness to those who are dependent upon you. You should not hold up the peculiarities of your neighbors and indulge in jealousies, evil surmisings, and evil-speaking. All your bitter speeches are registered in the books of Heaven, and you will have to meet them again, if you do not repent and put away the evil of your doings
Christ identifies his interests with the interests of his brethren on the earth. He said to those on the left hand, “I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.” And they answered, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?” And Christ declares, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” The persons that our Lord condemned were not aware that they had dealt unjustly with their brethren. Satan had so blinded their perceptions that they did not conceive what they owed to their brethren. They might have understood their duty; the word of God was full of instruction on this very point; but instead of searching the Scriptures and doing according to the words of God, they were simply neglectful hearers. When you are tempted to find fault with your brethren, take your Bible and read what that says; for right in the church you are dealing with Christ in the person of his saints. You do not want to be among those who are blinded to the grievousness of their sin, and who when they are rebuked ask, “When saw we thee, thus?” They do not comprehend how they have mistreated their Lord. On the other hand, those who have fulfilled their obligations to their fellow-men are received into the favor of Heaven. Every word of love, every act of kindness–even the cup of cold water that has been given in the name of Christ–is recognized and rewarded
Now let us seek Christ for ourselves, and find him precious to our souls. Let us minister to our brethren both in and out of the church. It is our privilege to be constantly strengthening those around us, and shedding an influence that will bless and elevate. Do not sow the seeds of envy, strife, and doubt. Let your conversation be holy before God. Seek in every way that you may grow up into a fit temple for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. You must be living stones, reflecting and emitting the light of Heaven. The truth of God has quarried you out of the world to be squared and hewed and fitted for the heavenly building. The robe of your character must be washed till it is spotless, in the fountain opened for all uncleanness. Your moral worth will be weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, and if you are found wanting, you will be at an eternal loss. All the coarseness, all the roughness, must be removed from your character before Jesus comes; for when he comes, the preparation for every soul is ended. If you have not laid aside your envy, your jealousies, your hatred one against another, you cannot enter into the kingdom of God. You would only carry the same disposition with you; but there will be nothing of this character in the world to come. Nothing will exist there but love and joy and harmony. Some will have brighter crowns than others, but there will be no jealous thoughts in any heart among the redeemed. Each one will be perfectly satisfied, for all will be rewarded according to their work; for “they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever.” Everyone will know that those who have been instrumental in winning souls to Jesus have engaged in the greatest work that ever employed the powers of man. Oh! shall we not bend every energy to this great and noble work, not seeking to destroy and tear down, but by every word and act, with all the tact and influence at our command, seek to save and build up others in the most holy faith?
“He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.” We are approaching the time when the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and we must make haste to depart from all iniquity, that our calling and election may be made sure. We are looking for new heavens and a new earth wherein the righteous shall dwell throughout eternity. “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”
— E.G. White, Signs of the Times, 2/10/1888