Steps to Christ
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 7: The Test of Discipleship
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That so-called faith in Christ which professes to
release men from the obligation of obedience to God,
is not faith, but presumption. "By grace are ye saved
through faith." But "faith, if it hath not works, is
dead." Ephesians 2:8; James 2:17. Jesus said of
Himself before He came to earth, "I delight to do Thy
will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart."
Psalm 40:8. And just before He ascended again to
heaven He declared, "I have kept My Father's
commandments, and abide in His love." John 15:10. The
Scripture says, "Hereby we do know that we know
Him, if we keep His commandments. . . . He that
saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk
even as He walked." 1 John 2:3-6. "Because Christ also [p. 62] suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should
follow His steps." 1 Peter 2:21.
The condition of eternal life is now just what it
always has been,—just what it was in Paradise
before the fall of our first parents,—perfect obedience
to the law of God, perfect righteousness. If eternal
life were granted on any condition short of this, then
the happiness of the whole universe would be
imperiled. The way would be open for sin, with all its
train of woe and misery, to be immortalized.
It was possible for Adam, before the fall, to form
a righteous character by obedience to God's law.
But he failed to do this, and because of his sin our
natures are fallen and we cannot make ourselves
righteous. Since we are sinful, unholy, we cannot
perfectly obey the holy law. We have no righteousness
of our own with which to meet the claims of
the law of God. But Christ has made a way of
escape for us. He lived on earth amid trials and
temptations such as we have to meet. He lived a
sinless life. He died for us, and now He offers to
take our sins and give us His righteousness. If you
give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your
Saviour, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His
sake you are accounted righteous. Christ's character
stands in place of your character, and you are
accepted before God just as if you had not sinned.
More than this, Christ changes the heart. He
abides in your heart by faith. You are to maintain
this connection with Christ by faith and the
continual surrender of your will to Him; and so long as
you do this, He will work in you to will and to do [p. 63] according to His good pleasure. So you may say,
"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. So Jesus said to
His disciples, "It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit
of your Father which speaketh in you." Matthew
10:20. Then with Christ working in you, you will
manifest the same spirit and do the same good works
—works of righteousness, obedience.
So we have nothing in ourselves of which to boast.
We have no ground for self-exaltation. Our only
ground of hope is in the righteousness of Christ
imputed to us, and in that wrought by His Spirit
working in and through us.
When we speak of faith, there is a distinction
that should be borne in mind. There is a kind of
belief that is wholly distinct from faith. The
existence and power of God, the truth of His word, are
facts that even Satan and his hosts cannot at heart
deny. The Bible says that "the devils also believe,
and tremble;" but this is not faith. James 2:19.
Where there is not only a belief in God's word, but
a submission of the will to Him; where the heart is
yielded to Him, the affections fixed upon Him, there
is faith—faith that works by love and purifies the
soul. Through this faith the heart is renewed in the
image of God. And the heart that in its unrenewed
state is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed
can be, now delights in its holy precepts, exclaiming
with the psalmist, "O how love I Thy law! it
is my meditation all the day." Psalm 119:97. And
the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, "who [p. 64] walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
There are those who have known the pardoning
love of Christ and who really desire to be children
of God, yet they realize that their character is
imperfect, their life faulty, and they are ready to doubt
whether their hearts have been renewed by the Holy
Spirit. To such I would say, Do not draw back in
despair. We shall often have to bow down and weep
at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings
and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged.
Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not
cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God. No; Christ
is at the right hand of God, who also maketh
intercession for us. Said the beloved John, "These things
write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin,
we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ
the righteous." 1 John 2:1. And do not forget the
words of Christ, "The Father Himself loveth you."
John 16:27. He desires to restore you to Himself, to
see His own purity and holiness reflected in you. And
if you will but yield yourself to Him, He that hath
begun a good work in you will carry it forward to
the day of Jesus Christ. Pray more fervently; believe
more fully. As we come to distrust our own power,
let us trust the power of our Redeemer, and we shall
praise Him who is the health of our countenance.
The closer you come to Jesus, the more faulty
you will appear in your own eyes; for your vision
will be clearer, and your imperfections will be seen
in broad and distinct contrast to His perfect nature.
This is evidence that Satan's delusions have lost their [p. 65] power; that the vivifying influence of the Spirit of
God is arousing you.
No deep-seated love for Jesus can dwell in the
heart that does not realize its own sinfulness. The
soul that is transformed by the grace of Christ will
admire His divine character; but if we do not see
our own moral deformity, it is unmistakable evidence
that we have not had a view of the beauty and
excellence of Christ.
The less we see to esteem in ourselves, the more
we shall see to esteem in the infinite purity and
loveliness of our Saviour. A view of our sinfulness drives
us to Him who can pardon; and when the soul, realizing
its helplessness, reaches out after Christ, He will
reveal Himself in power. The more our sense of need
drives us to Him and to the word of God, the more
exalted views we shall have of His character, and the
more fully we shall reflect His image.
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