Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

July 1, 1890

Spiritual Weakness Inexcusable

By Mrs. E. G. White

Jesus said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do.” Is this promise true, or is it false? If it is false, then our lack of spiritual strength is excusable. But is it not true? Is it not the word of God? And is not our present condition wholly without reason? If there were greater humility, greater simplicity, and unfaltering confidence in the name that is above every name, if we imitated the divine Pattern that has been given us, would we not receive the blessings promised? It is our privilege to tell the Lord, with the simplicity of a little child, exactly what we want. We may state to him our temporal matters, asking him for bread and raiment, as well as for the bread of life and the robe of Christ's righteousness. Your Heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things; and you are invited to ask him concerning them. It is through the name of Jesus that every favor is received. God will honor that name, and will supply your necessities from the riches of his liberality.

The Lord is our helper. It is not his good pleasure that any should perish, but rather that all should come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved. God will not withhold from man the fulfillment of the only real hope he can have in the world. Jesus says, “Without me, ye can do nothing;” but in him, and through his righteousness imputed unto us, we may do all things. The work of the Spirit of God will stand forever, but the works of men will perish. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. To the worldly-wise the workings of the Spirit of God that leads to confession and acknowledgement of sin and to the acceptance of the truth as it is in Jesus, appear as foolishness. They cannot reason out the “whys” and “wherefores” of its operation any better than did Nicodemus, and they ridicule and denounce the work of God; their human wisdom cannot interpret it. “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”

Those who trust wholly in the righteousness of Christ, looking to him in living faith, know the Spirit of Christ, and are known of Christ. Simple faith enables the believer to reckon himself dead indeed unto sin, and alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. We are saved by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God. Should we try to unfold these precious promises to the worldly wise, they would but ridicule us; for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

When Jesus was about to ascend on high, he said to his disciples, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” Again he said, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him.” There are many who find satisfaction in identifying themselves with false doctrines, that there may be no disturbance or difference between themselves and the world; but the children of God must bear testimony to the truth, not only by pen and voice, but by spirit and character. Our Saviour declares that the world cannot receive the spirit of truth. They cannot discern the truth, for they discern not Christ, the author of truth. Lukewarm disciples, cold-hearted professors, who are not imbued with the Spirit of Christ, are not able to discern the preciousness of his righteousness; but they go about to establish their own righteousness. The world seeks the things of the world,—business, worldly honor, display, selfish gratification. Christ seeks to break this spell which holds men away from him. He seeks to call men's attention to the world to come, that Satan has managed to eclipse by his own shadow. Christ brings the eternal world within the range of men's vision, he presents its attractions before them, tells them that he will prepare mansions for them, and will come again and receive them unto himself. It is the design of Satan so to fill the mind with inordinate love of sensual things, that the love of God and the desire for heaven shall be expelled from the heart.

At the Saviour's advent, men had become thoroughly absorbed in earthly things. They did not with spiritual vision penetrate to the glories of the world to come. A view of heavenly things would have balanced the mind and engrossed the affections, so that they would have borne the image of the heavenly instead of the image of the earthly. Jesus sought to correct this evil. He gave lesson upon lesson to break the spell of infatuation that bound men to the earth. He asked, “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Christ presented the momentous claims of eternity to inspire the efforts of man to reach heavenly things. He presented before them the grandeur of the future in contrast with the insignificance of the present. He assigned to worldly enterprises a place subordinate to the interests of spiritual things. He opened before the minds of men the fact that every moment of life is weighty with eternal consequences. He showed them that the vanities of the world that bind men in a tyrannical bondage are superfluous and worthless.

The Master has engaged us in his service, and has pointed out our duty, and opened before us the reward that will attend patient continuance in well-doing. He who came down from heaven can speak of heaven, and rightly present the things which form the currency of heaven, on which he has stamped his image and superscription. He knows the danger in which those are placed whom he came to uplift from degradation, and to exalt to a place beside himself upon his throne. He points out their peril in lavishing affection upon useless and dangerous objects. He seeks to draw the mind away from the earthly to the heavenly, that we may not waste time, talent, and opportunity, upon things that are altogether vanity. He exhorts men, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Our Saviour is constantly working to save men from the devices of Satan, that they may not cheat themselves out of eternal happiness by setting their hearts upon earthly gain. He whose heart is centered upon the treasures of eternal interest, will have a right hold from above, and will appreciate every earthly good as a gift from God, and will enjoy earthly blessings with a superior relish. The only safe place to deposit our treasures is in the bank of heaven. Every deposit made in this bank will accumulate abundant interest; you will be laying up in store for yourselves against the time to come.

God calls upon those to whom he has intrusted his goods to acquit themselves as faithful stewards. The Lord would have all things of temporal interest occupy a secondary place in the heart and thoughts; but Satan would have the matters of the earth take the first place in our lives. The Lord would have us approve the things that are excellent. He shows us the conflict in which we must engage, reveals the character and plan of redemption. He lays open before you the perils you will meet, the self-denial that will be required, and he bids you count the cost, assuring you that if you zealously engage in the conflict, divine power will combine with human effort. The Christian's warfare is not a warfare waged against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against spiritual wickedness in high places. The Christian must contend with supernatural forces, but he is not to be left alone to engage in the conflict. The Saviour is the captain of his salvation, and with him man may be more than conqueror.

The world's Redeemer would not have man in ignorance of Satan's devices. The vast confederacy of evil is arrayed against those who would overcome; but Christ would have us look to the things that are not seen, to the armies of heaven that encamp round about those who love God, to deliver them. The angels of heaven are interested in behalf of men. The power of Omnipotence is at the service of those who trust in God. The Father accepts the righteousness of Christ in behalf of his followers, and they are surrounded with light and holiness which Satan cannot penetrate. The voice of the Captain of our salvation speaks to his followers, saying, “‘Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ I am your defense; advance to victory.”

Through Christ, restoration as well as reconciliation is provided for man. The gulf that was made by sin has been spanned by the cross of Calvary. A full, complete ransom has been paid by Jesus, by virtue of which the sinner is pardoned, and the justice of the law is maintained. All who believe that Christ is the atoning sacrifice may come and receive pardon for their sins; for through the merit of Christ, communication has been opened between God and man. God can accept me as his child, and I can claim him and rejoice in him as my loving Father. We must center our hopes of heaven upon Christ alone, because he is our substitute and surety. We have transgressed the law of God, and by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified. The best efforts that man in his own strength can make, are valueless to meet the holy and just law that he has transgressed; but through faith in Christ he may claim the righteousness of the Son of God as all-sufficient. Christ satisfied the demands of the law in his human nature. He bore the curse of the law for the sinner, made an atonement for him, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Genuine faith appropriates the righteousness of Christ, and the sinner is made an overcomer with Christ; for he is made a partaker of the divine nature, and thus divinity and humanity are combined.

He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law, is attempting an impossibility. Man cannot be saved without obedience, but his works should not be of himself; Christ should work in him to will and to do of his good pleasure. If a man could save himself by his own works, he might have something in himself in which to rejoice. The effort that man makes in his own strength to obtain salvation, is represented by the offering of Cain. All that man can do without Christ is polluted with selfishness and sin; but that which is wrought through faith is acceptable to God. When we seek to gain heaven through the merits of Christ, the soul makes progress. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, we may go on from strength, from victory to victory; for through Christ the grace of God has worked out our complete salvation.

Without faith it is impossible to please God. Living faith enables its possessor to lay hold on the merits of Christ, enables him to derive great comfort and satisfaction from the plan of salvation. The true Christian will have an earnest desire to bring others to Christ. When Philip was assured that he had found the Messiah, he went to Nathanael, and said unto him, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

What are we doing for Christ? Are we telling of his goodness and his excellency, and seeking to win souls for the Master? If Jesus is precious to your soul, you will feel it your duty to make him known to others. Jesus has said to his people, “Ye are the light of the world.” “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” The gospel of Christ is not a dry theory; it is good tidings of great joy that reveal to us a personal Saviour, and we are to tell men and women and youth what they must do in order to be saved.

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