The Narrow Way Bible Study Lessons
Character Perfection - Getting Ready For Jesus’ Coming
One of the most popular, and probably the most deadly error that is being taught in our churches today is the teaching that we cannot be perfect in this life, that Christ’s robe of righteousness covers the sins I am still holding on to as well as those I have forsaken, that we will keep sinning until Jesus comes, and that when we sin it’s just because of our human nature, and Christ understands and excuses us. It also teaches that Christ had a different nature than ours and thus did not have the inclination to sin that we do. You may hear such things as, “As long as we’re sincere, we are okay; God’s love is so great it makes up for our sins, as long as we’re living a pretty good life; when we sin, it does not change our relationship with God; We can still be in a ’saving relationship’ with God, even when we sin; Jesus can occupy a part of our heart, while another part may still have hidden or unknown sin in it; inherited personality traits do not need to be overcome, since they’re just a part of who I am; small or occasional sins are not that serious, and God overlooks them.” Have you ever heard things like this? They sound so pleasing, and make the Christian life look so easy - no heart searching, no repenting, no struggling to form new habits and overcome old ones, no resisting temptation. Actually, if we can’t overcome sin anyway, why take the time to study the Bible and know truth for ourselves? We can just do what comes naturally. Do you find yourself doing the things you do because they look, taste, or feel good? Are you following your senses instead of following the Word of God? Maybe you have bought into this lie of Satan that it is impossible to overcome all sin anyway.
Let us study together what the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy have to say about this issue of character perfection.
1) What did Jesus come to do? ______________________________________________
“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall ________ his people ______________________________.” Matthew 1:21
He did not come to save His people in their sins, but from their sins. That is a big difference.
2) How much of our iniquity did Jesus come to save us from? ____________________
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from _________
_______________, and ____________ unto himself a ________________ people, ______________ of ____________________.” Titus 2:13, 14
3) How much of our fleshly human nature does Jesus have the power to give us victory over? __________________________
“As thou hast given him power over __________________, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” John 17:2
“Behold, I [am] the LORD, the God of __________________: is there any thing too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27
4) Is there anything we cannot overcome through the power of God? YES / NO
“I can do __________________________________________________ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13
“Casting down imaginations, and _______________________________ that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the __________________ of Christ;” 2 Corinthians 10:5
“But Jesus beheld [them], and said unto them, With men this is ____________________; but with God ____________________ are ________________.” Matthew 19:26
5) What is God able to do in and for us?
“Now unto him that is able to __________________________________________, and to ____________________________________________ before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,” Jude 24
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you ______
________________________ until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6
6) What kind of church or people is God preparing to save in the end?
“That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having ___________________
_______________________________________________; but that it should be _______ and ______________________________.” Ephesians 5:27
7) Does the person who is born of God continue in sin? YES / NO
“Whosoever ______________ in him ______________________: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him…. Whosoever is ______________________ doth _____________________________; for his seed remaineth in him: and he ___________
________, because he is born of God.” 1 John 3:6, 9
8) What kind of people must we be in order to be saved? __________________________
“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye _________________
_______________________, be ________________ that ye may be found of him in peace, ________________________, and ___________________.” 2 Peter 3:13, 14
“He that _____________________, ________________ shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not __________________________________ out of the ___________
_______________, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” Revelation 3:5
All of these verses plainly teach that victory over all sin in our life is possible in the here and now, and it is necessary if we hope to be saved.
The Bible teaches that we must experience both justification and sanctification. Justification is the free and undeserved gift provided by Christ’s perfect life and death, which offers deliverance from eternal death to those who receive forgiveness of their sins by faith in Jesus. Sanctification is the daily process of growing in Christ and overcoming sin - this is the work of character perfection that we are studying about.
Christ is able and longs to deliver us not only from the guilt of sin, but also from the sin itself. Victory over all sin is made possible, now, in this life, by the power of God. He will not just change your character at the second coming; He wants to do it today.
9) What part do I have to play in this work of character perfection?
“________ out ____________________________________ with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12, 13
You have a responsibility, and all the power of heaven is on your side! Christ never promised us so much power from heaven, that we would have nothing left to do ourselves, and that it would be always perfectly easy and natural to resist evil and do right. He requires us to put in our wholehearted effort, and to call on Him for help, and He will supply the power to overcome, without which we could never obtain the victory no matter how hard we tried on our own.
10) Why is Satan working so hard to convince humanity that they cannot overcome sin? Read the following thoughts and then state the answer in your own words.
When Satan fell, he accused God of being unjust, and said that His law could not be obeyed. Then, when Satan brought about man’s fall, God instigated the plan of salvation as a way in which man might be restored to his original position of perfect obedience to God and His law, in which he had been before He fell. Thus, God would be shown to be fully just and merciful in all His dealings with His creatures. If God’s plan were unable to restore a perfect character in man, Satan’s accusation would be proven true; but on the other hand, if God’s plan is able to prepare a people of perfect character living in full obedience to His law, though surrounded by a sinful and corrupt world, Satan’s lies will be seen in all their deceitfulness, and God’s character will be vindicated before the entire universe. So you can see why Satan is so desperate to try to deceive God’s professed people into believing that they cannot obey God’s law perfectly, cannot overcome all sin, and that sin is not so objectionable to God after all.
“Be __________, be ________________; because your adversary the devil, as a _______
________________, walketh about, ______________ whom he may ____________:”
1 Peter 5:8
Now, let us consider some of the counsel given on this subject in the Spirit of Prophecy:
11) Does God require perfect obedience? YES / NO
“Let no one take up with the delusion so pleasant to the natural heart, that God will accept of sincerity, no matter what may be the faith, no matter how imperfect may be the life. God requires of His child perfect obedience.” 1SM 374
“The righteousness of Christ will not cover one cherished sin.” COL 316
12) How are we to attain to perfection of character? ______________________________
“Moral perfection is required of all. Never should we lower the standard of righteousness in order to accommodate inherited or cultivated tendencies to wrong-doing. We need to understand that imperfection of character is sin…. But Christ has given us no assurance that to attain perfection of character is an easy matter. A noble, all-round character is not inherited. It does not come to us by accident. A noble character is earned by individual effort through the merits and grace of Christ. God gives the talents, the powers of the mind; we form the character. It is formed by hard, stern battles with self. Conflict after conflict must be waged against hereditary tendencies. We shall have to criticize ourselves closely, and allow not one unfavorable trait to remain uncorrected. Let no one say, I cannot remedy my defects of character. If you come to this decision, you will certainly fail of obtaining everlasting life. The impossibility lies in your own will. If you will not, then you can not overcome. The real difficulty arises from the corruption of an unsanctified heart, and an unwillingness to submit to the control of God.” COL 330, 331
13) Who is our Example of how we are to be perfect? ____________________________
“God calls upon us to reach the standard of perfection and places before us the example of Christ's character. In His humanity, perfected by a life of constant resistance of evil, the Saviour showed that through co-operation with Divinity, human beings may in this life attain to perfection of character. This is God's assurance to us that we, too, may obtain complete victory. Before the believer is held out the wonderful possibility of being like Christ, obedient to all the principles of the law.” AA 531
“Bear in mind that Christ's overcoming and obedience is that of a true human being. In our conclusions, we make many mistakes because of our erroneous views of the human nature of our Lord. When we give to His human nature a power that it is not possible for man to have in his conflicts with Satan, we destroy the completeness of His humanity… The obedience of Christ to His Father was the same obedience that is required of man. Man cannot overcome Satan's temptations without divine power to combine with His instrumentality. So with Jesus Christ, He could lay hold of divine power. He came not to our world to give the obedience of a lesser God to a greater, but as a man to obey God's Holy Law, and in this way He is our example.” 3SM 139, 140
14) What relationship does perfection of character have to whether or not we receive the latter rain and the seal of God? _____________________________________________
““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.” 5T 214
“ I was shown that if God's people make no efforts 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 from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 1T 619
“Those who receive the seal of the living God and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully…. I saw that none could share the "refreshing" unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action.” EW 71
15) What condition must we be in to stand in the time of trouble? ___________________
“Now, while our great High Priest is making the atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ… Satan could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. He had kept His Father's commandments, and there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to his advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble. It is in this life that we are to separate sin from us, through faith in the atoning blood of Christ…. None can neglect or defer this work but at the most fearful peril to their souls.” GC 623
16) What part does our character play in deciding whether we are saved or lost? _______
“Christ Himself will decide who are worthy to dwell with the family of heaven. He will judge every man according to his words and his works. Profession is as nothing in the scale. It is character that decides destiny.” COL 74
“In the day of judgment, the course of the man who has retained the frailty and imperfection of humanity will not be vindicated. For him there will be no place in heaven. He could not enjoy the perfection of the saints in light. He who has not sufficient faith in Christ to believe that He can keep him from sinning, has not the faith that will give him an entrance into the kingdom of God.” Manuscript 161, 1897
“God will accept nothing but purity and holiness; one spot, one wrinkle, one defect in the character, will forever debar them from heaven, with all its glories and treasures. Ample provisions have been made for all who sincerely, earnestly, and thoughtfully set about the work of perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2T 453
17) What does God say about our excuses for sin? _______________________________
“Satan is jubilant when he hears the professed followers of Christ making excuses for their deformity of character. It is these excuses that lead to sin. There is no excuse for sinning. A holy temper, a Christlike life, is accessible to every repenting, believing child of God. The ideal of Christian character is Christlikeness. As the Son of man was perfect in His life, so His followers are to be perfect in their life…. His character is to be ours.” DA 311
18) Do you recognize the high calling to which God is calling you, and are you willing to surrender your life fully to God and put forth all of your effort in cooperation with the power of God to follow Christ, your Example, and attain to perfection of character, now - before it is too late? Write your commitment below: _____________________________