Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 13: Two Worshipers
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In the whole Satanic force there is not power to overcome
one soul who in simple trust casts himself on Christ.
"He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no
might He increaseth strength." Isa. 40:29. [p. 158] "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive
us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
The Lord says, "Only acknowledge thine iniquity,
that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God."
"Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall
be clean; from all your filthiness and from all your idols
will I cleanse you." 1 John 1:9; Jer. 3:13; Eze. 36:25.
But we must have a knowledge of ourselves, a knowledge
that will result in contrition, before we can find pardon
and peace. The Pharisee felt no conviction of sin. The
Holy Spirit could not work with him. His soul was encased
in a self-righteous armor which the arrows of God, barbed
and true-aimed by angel hands, failed to penetrate. It is
only he who knows himself to be a sinner that Christ can
save. He came "to heal the brokenhearted, to preach
deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the
blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." Luke 4:18.
But "they that are whole need not a physician." Luke 5:31.
We must know our real condition, or we shall not feel
our need of Christ's help. We must understand our danger,
or we shall not flee to the refuge. We must feel the pain of
our wounds, or we should not desire healing.
The Lord says, "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and
increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest
not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and
blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried
in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment,
that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy
nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with
eyesalve, that thou mayest see." Rev. 3:17, 18. The gold
tried in the fire is faith that works by love. Only this can
bring us into harmony with God. We may be active, we
may do much work; but without love, such love as dwelt in
the heart of Christ, we can never be numbered with the
family of heaven. [p. 159]
No man can of himself understand his errors. "The
heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;
who can know it?" Jer. 17:9. The lips may express a
poverty of soul that the heart does not acknowledge. While
speaking to God of poverty of spirit, the heart may be
swelling with the conceit of its own superior humility and
exalted righteousness. In one way only can a true knowledge
of self be obtained. We must behold Christ. It is
ignorance of Him that makes men so uplifted in their own
righteousness. When we contemplate His purity and excellence,
we shall see our own weakness and poverty and
defects as they really are. We shall see ourselves lost and
hopeless, clad in garments of self-righteousness, like every
other sinner. We shall see that if we are ever saved, it
will not be through our own goodness, but through God's
The prayer of the publican was heard because it showed
dependence reaching forth to lay hold upon Omnipotence.
Self to the publican appeared nothing but shame. Thus it
must be seen by all who seek God. By faith—faith that
renounces all self-trust—the needy suppliant is to lay hold
upon infinite power.
No outward observances can take the place of simple
faith and entire renunciation of self. But no man can empty
himself of self. We can only consent for Christ to accomplish
the work. Then the language of the soul will be,
Lord, take my heart; for I cannot give it. It is Thy
property. Keep it pure, for I cannot keep it for Thee.
Save me in spite of myself, my weak, unchristlike self.
Mold me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy
atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love can flow through
It is not only at the beginning of the Christian life that
this renunciation of self is to be made. At every advance [p. 160] step heavenward it is to be renewed. All our good works
are dependent on a power outside of ourselves. Therefore
there needs to be a continual reaching out of the heart after
God, a continual, earnest, heartbreaking confession of sin
and humbling of the soul before Him. Only by constant
renunciation of self and dependence on Christ can we walk
The nearer we come to Jesus and the more clearly we
discern the purity of His character, the more clearly we
shall discern the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the less
we shall feel like exalting ourselves. Those whom heaven
recognizes as holy ones are the last to parade their own
goodness. The apostle Peter became a faithful minister of
Christ, and he was greatly honored with divine light and
power; he had an active part in the upbuilding of Christ's
church; but Peter never forgot the fearful experience of his
humiliation; his sin was forgiven; yet well he knew that
for the weakness of character which had caused his fall
only the grace of Christ could avail. He found in himself
nothing in which to glory.
None of the apostles or prophets ever claimed to be
without sin. Men who have lived nearest to God, men
who would sacrifice life itself rather than knowingly commit
a wrong act, men whom God had honored with divine
light and power, have confessed the sinfulness of their own
nature. They have put no confidence in the flesh, have
claimed no righteousness of their own, but have trusted
wholly in the righteousness of Christ. So will it be with
all who behold Christ.
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