Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

December 17, 1894

Object of Christian Living

By Mrs. E. G. White

Christ ever rebuked the Pharisees for their self-righteousness. They extolled themselves. They came forth from their religious services, not humbled with a sense of their own weakness, not feeling gratitude for the great privileges that God had given them. They were exalted to heaven in point of opportunity, in having the Scriptures, in knowing the true God, but their hearts were not filled with thankfulness to God for his great goodness toward them. They came forth filled with spiritual pride, and their theme was self—“myself, my feelings, my knowledge, my ways.” Their own attainments became the standard by which they measured others. Putting on the robes of self-dignity, they mounted the judgment seat to criticise and to condemn. But no human being has been authorized of God to do this work. It is the very essence of Phariseeism. It is gathering about the soul the very shadows of darkness so that the light of life cannot penetrate the darkness. Satan deluded the Jews with a natural or legal religion, which was full of selfishness and hypocrisy, and thus were light and knowledge perverted; but this exalting of self, this self-righteousness, is nothing short of deception and self-destruction. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again.”

The soil of the hearts of the Pharisees is a hopeless and profitless soil, where the seeds of heavenly truth cannot take root. Oh, how self-deluding is this feeling of superiority that all Pharisees cherish! They suppose that others are at fault, and speak words of reproof and condemnation, and their words are strong and hard as nether millstones, and crush all hope and courage out of the soul. The goodness of heart manifested in the works of true Christians, puts into the heart of Pharisees roots of bitterness whereby many are defiled. They are full of evil thoughts, and suspect the purest. They make a man an offender for a word. Exalted self claims all their faith, honor, and love.

As Christ redoubled his efforts, manifesting his love in works of mercy, in pouring a flood of light upon a sin-stricken world, because the Pharisees could not controvert his doctrine, they threatened, hunted, and persecuted the Son of God. The people rejoiced in the wonderful works that Christ was doing; but the Pharisees, under the training and discipline of Satan, were so blinded that they charged Christ with casting out devils through the prince of devils. What a terrible pass for men to come to who profess to be the children of God! Those who begin to criticise and judge others know not to what lengths they will be led.

Jesus “spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.” Let every disciple of Christ inquire in all humility of mind, What must I do to be saved? If we sincerely desire to understand, we shall know. It is not because of our riches, our knowledge, our superiority of position, that Jesus loves us and blesses us, but because we believe in him as our personal Saviour. Jesus loved us while we were yet sinners, but having chosen us he says he has ordained us to go and bring forth fruit. Has each one something to do?—Certainly, everyone that is yoked up with Christ must bear his burden, work in his lines. Christians are not to be strengthless and indolent. No. “Ye are laborers together with God.” The life of Christ's pardoning love in the soul is as a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. If the well of water is in the heart, then the entire life will reveal the fact, and the refreshing grace of God will be made manifest. Religion is not simply to have joyous feelings, to be conscious of having privileges and light, to have rapturous emotions, while expending all the energies to keep a balance in the Christian life, while doing nothing for the salvation of souls. Religion is doing the words of Christ; it is standing as faithful sentinels, not doing to earn salvation, but doing because, all undeserving, you have received the heavenly gift. Religion is to work out God's plans, to cooperate with the intelligences of heaven. In this way you fulfill the words of Christ, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.”

It is the high privilege of the sons and daughters of God to go forth and present to others the truth as it is in Jesus; for we are to watch and to seek for souls as they that must give an account. We are to feel a constant sense of our indebtedness to God for the gift of his Son, and be ever watching for opportunities to enlist others in the army of the Lord. It is not he that enjoyeth righteousness, but he that doeth righteousness, that is righteous. Jesus said, “Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” The doing of the will of God is a result of possessing the faith that works by love and purifies the soul.

“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledging of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” If we will follow on to know the Lord, our views will broaden. They will not be bound about by self. We should pray the Lord to enlarge our understanding, so that we may not only understand that Jesus Christ is our substitute and surety, but that we belong to Christ as his purchased possession. Paul says, “Ye are bought with a price,” and draws this conclusion, “Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.”

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