Is Satan happy when Christians resign themselves to a program of continued sin? You can be sure that he is. Does one become more tolerant of a sin that he believes is impossible to overcome? Without question! Is there something especially dangerous about Seventh-day Adventists defending Satan’s accusation that the law cannot be obeyed? Indeed, it borders on spiritual treason and blasphemy.
But let me explain why this doctrine against character perfection is such a deadly menace to the remnant church. We are repeatedly reminded in the Spirit of Prophecy that none will be sealed except those who survive the shaking and take part in the loud cry. BUT THE CONDITION FOR RECEIVING THE LATTER RAIN AND GIVING THE LOUD CRY IS TO OVERCOME EVERY SIN!
What a triumph for Satan to be able to lure Seventh day Adventists into the fatal delusion that sins cannot be completely conquered. By yielding to that monstrous lie, one would be conceding the impossibility of being saved, because, at that point in time, all who do not receive the latter rain will be lost. Consider these significant statements:
“Those who come up to every point, and stand every test, and overcome, be the price what it may, have heeded the counsel of the True Witness, and they will receive the latter rain.” Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 187.
“Today you are to have your vessel purified, that it may be ready for the heavenly dew, ready for the showers of the latter rain; for the latter rain will come, and the blessing of God will fill every soul that is purified from every defilement.” Evangelism, p. 702.
“Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement. Then the latter rain will fall upon us as the early rain fell upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost.” Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 214.
“I was shown that if God’s people make no effort on their part, but wait for the refreshing to come upon them and remove their wrongs and correct their errors; if they depend upon that to cleanse them from filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and fit them to engage in the loud cry of the third angel, they will be found wanting. The refreshing or power of God comes only on those who have prepared themselves for it by doing the work which God bids them, namely, cleansing themselves of all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in thefear of God.” Testimonies, Vol. I, p. 619.
In the light of these explicit declarations, how could any Adventist Christian deny the possibility of overcoming all sin? No one can be sealed who has not experienced this perfect process of sanctification in his life.
Many overlook the fact that there are two distinct aspects of righteousness by faith which must be experienced by every successful overcomer. One of them, justification, provides for deliverance from the death penalty through forgiveness of past sins. This tremendous gift is based solely upon the objective work of Jesus in living a perfect life, assuming our liability of guilt, and dying to satisfy the penalty against us.
As soon as we exercise faith in Jesus as our personal Saviour, He gives us the credit for all those things he did in our behalf. He counts us as having lived a perfect life, and looks upon us as though we have never sinned. He imputes to us the merits of His own death on the cross, relieving us of any condemnation or punishment for our past sins. This transaction of faith lies at the very heart of the great plan of salvation. None can be saved without it, and none can receive it by any other means than faith alone. The Bible says, “To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 4:5.
Notice that the one requirement for receiving justification by faith is to be ungodly. Those who feel that they need to make themselves less ungodly by their good works before seeking justification are destroying their only grounds for receiving it. Furthermore, they hopelessly contradict the Scriptures by seeking to extract some personal merit from a totally undeserved gift. The less ungodly a person feels himself to be, the less inclined he will be to cast himself in simple faith upon the promises of God. In the justification experience, there can be no dividing of credit. It is by faith alone.
But the second, and equally important, aspect of righteousness by faith is sanctification. The dynamic power of the gospel does not deliver us from the guilt of sin without also saving us from the sin itself. Adam’s fall into sin created two terrible problems for himself and all his descendants. First, it brought the sentence of death upon the human race, and second, it weakened man’s moral nature to such a degree that he had no power to stop sinning. Both of these tragic consequences have been reversed by the glorious victory of the second Adam.
The first problem is remedied by the imputed righteousness of Jesus in justification. By it the death sentence is lifted, and past sins are canceled.
But there is still another issue to be resolved. How is the moral nature to be restored so that sin can be resisted and overcome? The plan of salvation does not provide for only a partial deliverance from the effects of sin. Through sanctification, the righteousness of Jesus is imparted to the believer, and total victory is made possible over every inherited or cultivated weakness. Faith in the powerpacked promises of the Bible can break sin’s stranglehold and fit the soul for sealing under the latter rain.
Only those Adventists who have claimed both justification and sanctification will have a part in the loud cry experience. The Seed of the woman has given back to all of Adam’s descendants the power to choose not to sin. There are critics of our church who feel that God’s blessing can no longer rest upon it because of its Laodicean condition. Some have withdrawn their membership in protest of the declining spirituality and loss of standards. I share nothing in common with such an attitude. Recently, I received a letter from a man who was once an ordained pastor of a large Seventh-day Adventist church. He seemed genuinely concerned that I could bring people into a church that had “totally apostasized from the truth,” as he described it,” and had reverted to Babylonian darkness.” He quoted some paragraphs from Sister White to the effect that the church was retreating toward Egypt, that they were drifting away to sea, without chart or compass. I was acquainted with those statements and many others in the same vein. She did portray the sad, Laodicean condition of every level of church organization, rebuking, appealing, and weeping over its compromise with the world. BUT SHE DID NOT LEAVE THE CHURCH, OR SUGGEST THAT IT WAS BABYLON! Even though she spoke shocking words of correction, there was never any intimation that the concerned, faithful ones within the remnant should leave the organization for any reason whatsoever. She did write repeatedly that the weak, worldly, vacillating ones would be shaken out, leaving a pure people to finish the work.
“The searching testimony of the Spirit of God will separate those from Israel who have ever been at war with the means that God has ordained to keep corruptions out of the church. Wrongs must be called wrongs. Grievous sins must be called by their right name.... The plain, straight testimony must live in the church, or the curse of God will rest upon His people as surely as it did upon ancient Israel because of their sins.” Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 676.