Those who yield to the temptations of Satan have a hungering and thirsting for the pleasures of the world. They crave earthly excitement, and many have their minds so thoroughly occupied with amusements, with feverish desires for earthly pleasure, with ambitions that are tainted and corrupted, that they drop into their graves not having an experimental knowledge of God. They listen to the great deceiver as he lays out his plans to them line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, until they devote their whole life to doing the service of the great apostate. They hunger and thirst for selfish indulgences until all their powers are perverted. But “blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.”
How carefully should every soul for whom Christ has died, watch and pray lest the moral taste should become perverted, lest by feeding the thoughts upon earthly, common things they come at last to desire nothing better! It is necessary that we follow out the command of Christ, and search the Scriptures; for in them “ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me.” That which Jesus accomplished for the people when he was upon the earth, he accomplished by opening the Scriptures to their understanding. Those who followed him became familiar with the Old Testament Scriptures, and thus fed upon the bread of life, and found strength to walk in the way of God‘s commandments. Those who continually feed upon the word of God will not turn aside, as did Adam and Eve, and disobey God‘s law. The word of God will give them grace and strength to work out the righteousness of Christ through the abundance of grace given unto them. The life of Christ was in fulfillment of the prophecies of the Holy Scriptures. He was himself the living word. “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
We ourselves may corrupt and pervert the moral taste so that there will be no hungering and thirsting after righteousness. If ever there was one who could live upon the earth and have no necessity for the written word, it was the Author of the word of God. Christ had the Spirit without measure, yet he used the Scriptures to prove the certainty and necessity of his sufferings, death, and resurrection. While in the wilderness of temptation he met and conquered Satan with the word of God, defeating his temptations by, “It is written.” In his conflict with the Pharisees he continually presented the Scriptures, and revealed to them their true meaning. He said to them, ‘How readest thou?’ The life of God was manifested in the flesh, and was the living word, and the life of God was manifested in human speech. The human agent who becomes familiar with the Scriptures and who is a doer of the word, will find that the word is interwoven with the life of the soul; for he will have a personal experience in the things of God. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Obedience is doing the word of Christ. The word of God is a channel of communication with the living God. He who feeds upon the word will become fruitful in all good works. He who labors together with God will be the discoverer of rich mines of truth which he must work to find the hidden treasure. When surrounded with temptations, the Holy Spirit will bring to his mind the very words with which to meet the temptation at the very moment when they are most needed, and he can use them effectually with commanding power. The apostle says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
Our hungering and thirsting after righteousness will be in proportion to the food upon which we feed the soul. We shall hunger and thirst after righteousness more and more as we separate from the world, its customs, its practices, and conform our lives to the standard of righteousness. Jesus clothed his divinity with humanity that through faith humanity might lay hold upon divinity, and through hungering and thirsting after righteousness, come into close union with the divine. The privileges of the human agent are very great. We cannot be satisfied without God, neither is the Lord satisfied without the love which he has purchased at an infinite price. God has given us Christ, and with him all heaven, in order that he might reclaim our lost race, and attach us to himself, that we also might be filled with all the fullness of God.
“Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.” The words of God are wellsprings of the water of life. When we receive the word, obeying it in sincerity, it has power to reproduce itself and to multiply itself in the minds of men. Christ declared, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” The words which he spoke from the pillar of cloud in the wilderness were the same as he spoke in his sermon on the mount. Through his human life he lived by faith, exercising a continual dependence upon the word. “The word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”
Would you become assimilated to the divine image? Would you be one who is hungering and thirsting after righteousness? Would you drink of the water which Christ shall give you, which shall be in you a well of water springing up into everlasting life? Would you bear fruit to the glory of God? Would you refresh others? Then with heart hungering for the bread of life, the word of God, search the Scriptures, and live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Your soul’s sanctification and righteousness will result from faith in the word of God, which leads to obedience of its commands. Let the word of God be to you as the voice of God instructing you, and saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it.” Christ prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.”
Christ found himself in fashion as a man, that he might represent to man in human life and character that which was expressed in his holy word. He was one with the Father; his life corresponded with the life of God, and his character was like unto that which was represented in the standard of righteousness, the ten moral precepts. Righteousness is living the law of God as Christ lived it; it is the health, the activity of every spiritual energy in the service of God. It is the uplifting of the soul to God in prayer, the turning of the soul to God, even as the flower turns to the light. There is health and heaven for the soul in abiding under the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness; for thus shall we be uplifted from the low, dark cares of the earth, which bring depression and gloom, to dwell in the light that is above and beyond them. Righteousness is the possession of increasing usefulness. It is the hiding of the soul in Christ with God. It is experiencing fellowship with God. It is exemplifying to the world the fact that God has vindicated his word to the world, and has fulfilled his promise in saying, “We will come and make our abode with him.” Righteousness prepares the human agent for the mansions which Christ has gone to prepare for those who love him.
It is the opposite of righteousness, the transgression of the law of God, to seek so earnestly and persistently for temporal advantages as to exclude things of eternal interest. How languid, how feeble are the efforts of the professed people of God to attain unto the likeness of Christ in character! How few seem to realize that life eternal depends upon our course of action in probationary time! But those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will purify their souls through obeying the truth. It is by beholding that we become changed into the likeness of Christ. By looking unto Jesus, by talking with Jesus, by fashioning the life after Christ‘s example, we become meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, for our taste is perfected for the purity of heaven.
Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness become fitted for ministering upon the earth. We have no need for those who are weak and unchristlike in character. We are to look unto Jesus and live. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.” By beholding the perfection of Christ, hunger and thirst for righteousness are to be created in the heart. The Lord alone can give us the bread and water of life, that we may be filled. This fullness is the glory which Christ declares he has given to his disciples,–the character which is to fashion them after the divine similitude. Those who experience soul hunger are to be blessed with satisfaction. Their earnest, prayerful struggles will not be in vain; for there is no failure with God. For all our imperfections there is forgiveness with God. We are to believe that a rich satisfaction awaits us. He who is truth says that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled. It is for us to comply with the condition upon which the promise is to be fulfilled. We are to come to God with a contrite spirit, and as soon as we seek him in earnest he will fill us.
Christ is standing at the door, knocking, and inviting us to accept his presence. He says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” With Christ abiding in the soul, the human agent becomes a partaker of the divine nature, and is a coworker with Jesus Christ. He manifests ardor and earnestness, and possesses that perseverance, so that, like his Master, he will not fail nor be discouraged. Let all turn away from the heart cravings for selfish gratification; let all empty the soul of self-love, selfish desires and ambitions, and Christ will supply the vacuum; he will reign in the heart that is emptied of self, and from his divine presence will flow forth living streams to revive and refresh the souls of those who are ready to perish. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.”
— E.G. White, Signs of the Times, 9/5/1895