Ellen G. White Writings

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Bible Echo and Signs of the Times

June 1, 1887

The Character Acceptable to God

By Mrs. E. G. White

“Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.”

No man can gain eternal life without holiness; hence the question of deepest interest with each of us should be, “Am I meeting the requirements of God? Am I doing his will? Am I forming a character that he can approve?” And where shall we find the will of God expressed, except in the moral law, that law which has been given to us as the standard of righteousness, to reveal to us the defects in our moral character; that law which Paul declares to be holy, just, and good? Of this law the psalmist says: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

“The fear of the Lord is clean.” It uproots evil from the soul, and leads to holy watchfulness and diligence. The commandments of the Lord are exceeding broad; their principles extends to our words, our actions, and our most secret thoughts, and we should examine our lives in the light of the divine law.

The more closely the Scriptures are studied, the more clearly will men understand their true character. This book tells us in what various forms the malignant passions of the human heart break forth on various occasions. Ahab, the wicked king of Israel, hated Micaiah, because, said he, “he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.” And thousands dislike the Bible for the same reason. The Lord is a witness to all our works; he is acquainted with our motives and purposes. His word “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” It reproves sin, and denounces judgments against the sinner.

Men who love sin are very willing to claim that they find contradictions in the Scriptures, the word that condemns their practices. These men often pretend to great liberality. They profess to be open to conviction, when they are completely encased in prejudice, and will not receive plain evidence. They see no beauty in the character of God, and will not accept the truths plainly revealed in his word.

Some are deluded, deceived in themselves. They imagined themselves dressed in the garments of Christ's righteousness, while their hearts are in no way inclined to yield obedience to his requirements. Jesus referred to this class when he said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” He calls attention to that great day when all shall be judged, not according to their profession, but according to their works: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

“Ye shall know them by their fruits,” said the Saviour. “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.” To be a Christian is to possess and cherish the various graces of the soul, and the adornments of character recommended and enforced by Christ. A cold assent to the truth is not enough; we must go farther. Storm and tempest will not move the souls that are grounded on Christ, the eternal Rock. But it is the doers of his word, and not the hearers only, who will stand secure in the evil time.

Faith in Christ is something more than belief in him as the world's Redeemer; it accepts him as our Redeemer, our Saviour. Our will is to be governed by his will. We are to purify the affections, and regulate the temper, and shape the life, after the model given us in the life and character of Christ. This is an intelligent confession of Christ. This is a faith that is shown by works, and it is the only genuine, saving faith.

Religion is not designed merely to prepare us for admission into heaven; one object is to fit us for the proper discharge of the duties of daily life. It will make us better in all the relations of life, whether at home or as members of society; for it requires faithfulness in the discharge of every duty. If our wills are strong, it will lead us to see that they are not overbearing, self-serving wills.

The cross of Christ is not designed to make us uncomfortable, but happy and contented. Confiding in Jesus, at peace with him, we shall find the truest rest and joy. But a selfish, self-sufficient, self-serving disposition will make a man thoroughly unhappy. We may reasonably be suspicious of those who are always complaining that they are not treated well. There are some who are always looking out for slights. In the family they seize upon some unfortunate word that has been spoken, and take offense at it; they are sure it was designed to hurt and disparage them. They meet a friend or acquaintance who is so occupied with other matters that he does not have time to visit as they desire, and they take this as a personal affront. But the unrestful, unhappy spirit was in them, waiting for an excuse to manifest itself.

These persons often flatter themselves that they are superior to others; that they have talent and education, and should be respected accordingly. In many cases a power of will is manifested that if exercised in a right direction would make the life good and useful. But whatever their gifts and graces, while their hearts are destitute of the principle of unselfish love, they are at best like a beautiful flower possessing no fragrance. The fragrant flower, though simple and unpretending, is much to be preferred.

Christian love is not fitful. If we have this divine love, it will kill selfishness out of the heart. It does not say, “I will love my brethren if they love me; but I will not love those who do not love me;” for “charity suffereth long, and is kind.”

On the part of some there is a desire to be thought highest. This feeling must be put away. The heart must be meek and lowly, not ambitious and aspiring. If we would follow Christ, we must cast “down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God,” and bring into “captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Outward forms of worship, or activity in religious work, cannot be substituted for inward piety, and a conformity of the will to the will of Christ. This is a subject that requires careful and prayerful meditation. In no other way can we honor our Redeemer, and render to him the service that is his due.

Christianity is an active principle. It subdues evil tempers and propensities. It requires us to exercise the same spirit that Christ possessed, and to do as he would have done under our circumstances; for a life of piety is simply a self-denying following of Christ, obeying his requirements even against our natural inclinations. The heart, while reaching up to God in its ardent desires, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, must be actuated by a pure benevolence, and enlarged and elevated by a true and holy principle. The senses will thus become so refined, a reverence for divine things will be so inwrought into the whole being, that the heart will love that which God loves, and eternal and heavenly truths will be appreciated.

The Lord understands our secret faults. It is impossible to deceive him, or to hide our ways from him; for an accurate account is kept of the conduct of every person, in his relations both to God and his fellow-men. Every act of our lives is before him, and will be brought into judgment. We are each of us building a structure which will be subjected to the scrutiny of the Judge of the whole earth. This structure which is going up daily, is our individual character; and every act—yes, every thought and word of our lives—is a stone in the building. If day by day we are carefully building into our lives noble, upright deeds, pure thoughts, and kind words, we shall not be ashamed when the structure is criticised by the Lord Jehovah; for it will be as a fair temple which will stand fast forever.

Basel, Switzerland.

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