Every one who shall be found with the wedding garment on will have come out of great tribulation. The mighty surges of temptation will beat upon all the followers of Christ; and unless they are riveted to the eternal Rock, they will be borne away. Do not think you can safely drift with the current; you must stem the tide, or you will surely become a helpless prey to Satan’s power. You are not safe in placing your feet on the ground of the enemy, but should direct your path in the way cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. Even in the path of holiness you will be tried; your faith, your love, your patience, your constancy, will be tested. By diligent searching of the Scriptures, by earnest prayer for divine help, prepare the soul to resist temptation. The Lord will hear the sincere prayer of the contrite soul, and will lift up a standard for you against the enemy.
Jesus left His home in heaven, and came to this dark world to reach to the very depths of human woe, that He might save those who are ready to perish. He laid aside His glory in the heavenly courts above, clothed His divinity with humanity, and for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich. He came to the earth that was all seared and marred with sin; “and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” [Phil. 2:8, KJV]. He submitted to insult and mockery, that He might leave us a perfect example. When we are inclined to magnify our trials, to think we are having a hard time, we should look away from self to Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” [Heb. 12:2, KJV]. All this He endured that He might bring many sons and daughters to God, to present them before the universe as trophies of His victory.
Will man take hold of this divine power which has been placed within his reach, and with determination and perseverance resist Satan, as Christ has given example in His conflict with the foe in the wilderness of temptation? God cannot save man against his will from the power of Satan’s artifices. Man must work with his human power, aided by the divine power of Christ, to resist and to conquer at any cost to himself. In short, man must overcome as Christ overcame. Christ was a perfect overcomer; and we must be perfect, wanting nothing, without spot or blemish.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
In order to be overcomers, we must heed the injunction of the apostle: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” [Phil. 2:5, KJV]. He is the Pattern that we, as His disciples, must follow. We cannot cherish selfishness in our hearts, and follow the example of Christ, who died to make an atonement for us. We cannot extol our own merits, and follow His example; for He made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant. We cannot harbor pride, and follow Christ, since He humbled Himself until there was no lower place to which He could descend. Be astonished, O heavens, and be amazed, O earth, that sinful man should make such returns to his Lord in formality and pride, in efforts to lift up and glorify himself, when Christ came and humbled Himself in our behalf even to the death of the cross.
Christ came to teach us how to live. He has invited us to learn of Him to be meek and lowly of heart, that we may find rest unto our souls. We have no excuse for not imitating His life and working His works. Those who profess His name, and do not practice His precepts, are weighed in the balances of heaven, and found wanting. But those who reflect His image will have a place in the mansions which He has gone to prepare.
The redemption that Christ achieved for man was at infinite cost to Himself. The victory we gain over our own evil hearts and over the temptations of Satan will cost us strong effort, constant watchfulness, and persevering prayer; but, gaining the victory through the all-powerful name of Jesus, we become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. This could not be the case if Christ alone did all the overcoming. We must be victors on our own account. Then we shall not only reap the reward of eternal life, but shall increase our happiness on earth by the consciousness of duty performed, and by the greater respect and love that we shall win from those about us.
He who is a child of God should henceforth look upon himself as a part of the cross of Christ, a link in the chain let down to save the world, one with Christ in His plan of mercy, going forth with Him to seek and to save the lost. The Christian is ever to realize that he is bought with a price, to stand under the blood-stained banner of Prince Immanuel, to fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life. He is to reveal Christ to the world. The self-denial, the self-sacrifice, the sympathy, the love that were manifested in the life of Christ are to reappear in the life of His followers. In order to do this, we must put on the whole armor of God; “for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” [Eph. 6:12, KJV]. If we do not overcome, we lose the crown; and if we lose the crown, we lose everything. Eternal loss or eternal gain will be ours. If we gain the crown, we gain all things; we become heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.
Christ is coming in a little while. He has been our brother in suffering; and if we overcome through His grace, we shall see Him as He is. We shall suffer here but a few days longer, and then enter into an eternity of happiness; for there is sweet rest in the kingdom of God. For those who fight the good fight of faith, there is reserved a crown of glory, a palm of victory, an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. Let the determination of every soul be “I must run the race; I must overcome.” n
This article was first published in Bible Echo, January 1, 1893. Ellen G. White, its author, was one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Her life and work testified to the special guidance of the Holy Spirit.