Chapter 10: ~ “…IT HAS A BROADER MEANING”
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Chapter 10

“…IT HAS A BROADER MEANING.”

Keeping in mind what we just studied in chapter nine concerning the mistaken understanding that in order for something to be a temptation we have to desire it, I would like to return to something I said earlier. In chapter five I stated that this whole subject of lust, temptation, and James 1:14 covers a much broader realm than just sexual things. In the Bible itself the word lust is actually used as often in a non-sexual connotation as it is in a sexual. Here are just a few examples:

 “The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.”  {Exodus 15:9}

 “They [asked] meat for their lust.”  {Psalms 78:18}

 “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts.”  {James 4:1}

 Ellen White makes a comment on 1 Peter 2:11 (“Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.”), that I believe can also be said of James 1:14:

 “Many regard this text as a warning against licentiousness only; but it has a broader meaning.”  {Counsel of Diet and Foods 167}

Often in the Bible the word lust is used in the much broader sense of “evil desire;” which is how many of the modern Bibles translate James 1:14:

 “It is the evil that a person wants that tempts him. His own evil desire leads him away and holds him.”  {New Century Version}

 “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away.”  {New International Version}

 “Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires.”  {New Living Bible}

 I believe it is no coincidence that those Bibles all translate the word “lust” here the same: “evil desires.” It must also be kept in mind that in every translation, including the King James, are found the words: “his own” or “our own.” And it is right here that this whole subject not only centers, but where it also embraces virtually every aspect of life. I only hope that I can express what is being taught in a way that will cause people to realize that something is seriously wrong.

Before saying what I am going to say here, let me also remind you that what I am about to describe is not the understanding and experience of those who have embraced the beliefs of the New Theology (although I cannot help but imagine that there are some who have turned to the New Theology because they never found true peace and true victory in the belief and experience that I am about to describe). What I am about to describe is the understanding and experience of multitudes of fundamental, conservative, old-fashioned Seventh-day Adventists, who truly love the great truths that have been committed to us as the remnant people. And this stretches from the most insignificant layman to the highest theologians and preachers.

Here is what is believed and taught (and I must say, it would be virtually impossible for a man to teach this if this were not his own experience): There was always a part of Christ that wanted to do wrong. (This is usually attributed to the fact that Christ, like all human beings, had a fallen nature. I will be sharing some quotes in chapter twelve that will shed light on this question of our fallen nature.) Again, here is what is being taught: There was always a part of Christ that wanted to do wrong: He was “drawn away of His own evil desires” (sometimes stated as evil tendencies, or evil inclinations), but He never gave in to them. Of course it must then be taught that there will always be a part of us that wants to do wrong: we will always be “drawn away of our own evil desires;” but as long as we never give in to them, this is not only victory, but Christian perfection.

Let me stop here and repeat what I tried to make clear in the last chapter: Since Christianity involves a process (“redemption is that process” DA 330) of growing up into the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus, there may very well be times when saying no to “our own evil desires” will truly be victory. But this is not the ultimate experience that God is calling us to, it most certainly was never the experience of Christ, and, possibly what is of greatest importance right now, it is not the kind of experience that will ever bring about the fulfillment of these words:

 “When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.”  {Christ’s Object Lessons 69}

 I would like to spend the rest of this chapter looking at a number of quotes, and then commenting on them in an attempt to show how out of harmony this teaching is with the Spirit of Prophecy. (I will also be including one quote from an additional author.) There can be no denying that these quotes are not only wonderful, but that all of us need, more than anything else in the world, to have them written in our hearts and minds. It is this, and only this, that will forever settle this whole question.

I want to share one all-important quote before beginning:

 “[The reception of truth] depends upon the renunciation of every sin that the Spirit of God reveals.”  {Desire of Ages 455}

 Please, before going on: STOP; and if you have never truly done it before, commit yourself to God with a commitment that holds back absolutely nothing. Determine in your heart that you will follow Christ and His truth no matter what it costs you. That you will give up every single thought and practice that is not in perfect harmony with the revealed will of God, no matter how small or how dear it may seem to you.

I would like to begin with a most important Bible text; it has to do with hating sin (as well as loving righteousness); then I will share some quotes that will go along with it:

“But unto the Son he saith…Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore …”  {Hebrews 1:8, 9}

 Since this next quote is from someone other than Ellen White, I feel that I must preface it with the Bible admonition: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” Having said that, I would now like to say a little bit about the man before citing his words. The man is Charles Fitch. He, along with William Miller and many others, preached the great Second Advent message throughout the early 1840’s. In vision Ellen White saw him in heaven:

 “Here we saw the tree of life and the throne of God…We all went under the tree and sat down to look at the glory of the place, when Brethren Fitch and Stockman, who had preached the gospel of the kingdom, and whom God had laid in the grave to save them, came up to us and asked us what we had passed through while they were sleeping.”  {Early Writings 17}

 I have heard it said that Charles Fitch was the most beloved advent preacher. After reading his writings I can certainly understand why. Here is what he had to say in regard to loving righteousness and hating iniquity:

 “The all-absorbing question with me then, so far as my own eternal interests are concerned, is this: How shall I become obedient to that high command of the most high God, “Be ye holy for I am holy!” (1 Peter 1:16; Leviticus 11:44). I have, I can have, I ought to have, no expectation of dwelling where God dwells—of being an object of His love forever, and a sharer of the eternal blessedness which He only can give, unless I have a character fully assimilated to His—unless I love, with a full and undivided heart, what He loves, and hate what He hates, and all that He hates, with a hatred, full, entire, uniform, perpetual, like His own.”  {Sin Shall Not Have Dominion Over You 4, 5}

 Allow me to use this opportunity to try to convince you to obtain a copy of his book. My wife and I, along with scores of others, would honestly tell you that outside of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy it is the most powerful and beautiful book we have ever read. It is all about living a sinless life. He uses the Bible in a way that is absolutely wonderful. It is clear that for him righteousness and holiness were not just a theory, but his actual experience. I believe it is this that gives his book such power. (And it was this that gave the Second Advent movement such power. And it is this, and only this, that will give us the power that we so desperately need to finish the work.) Since there are no Spirit of Prophecy quotes in it, it is an absolutely wonderful missionary book. If you are not able to find it at the ABC’s, or through one of the independent book sellers, you can obtain a copy from my wife and me. Providentially we had a part in the initial publishing of it (thanks to a dear friend who searched high and low for these kinds of old writings). If you decide you want one there is contact information in the back of the book.

Now some quotes from the Spirit of Prophecy about hating sin:

 “There is only one power that can guide the heart and mind in paths of truth and righteousness. We must know the love of Christ in our individual experience. This love in the soul will purify the entire being and renew it in the likeness of God. More and more familiar are we to become with Christ’s divine human life; we are to make it ours by personal experience, until it can be said of us as it was said of Him, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity.”  {Signs of the Times, January 20, 1909}

 What a quote!

Ask yourself the question: when “our individual experience” is the experience described in those words: “this love in the soul will purify the entire being and renew it [the entire being] in the likeness of God,” what part of our being will still want to do wrong?

This next quote has long been one of my favorites:

 “All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.”  {Desire of Ages 668}

 Please, read that quote over and over and over. Can a person truly have this kind of experience and at the same time want to do wrong?

Earlier I used the quote:

 “Never before had there been a being upon the earth who hated sin with so perfect a hatred as did Christ.”  {1 Selected Messages 254}

Now I want to share a quote that shows we can hate sin with a perfect hatred also (this is not the only quote of its kind):

“O, if every one could see this matter as it is presented before me in all its bearings, how soon would they quit with the enemy in his artful work! How they would despise his measures to bring sin upon the human family! How they would hate sin with a perfect hatred, as they consider the fact that it cost the life of heaven’s Commander, in order that they should not perish, that man should not be bound a hopeless captive to Satan’s chariot, a degraded slave to his will, a trophy of his victory and his kingdom.”  {Fundamentals of Christian Education 291}

As I said earlier, I cannot fathom how someone could want to do something they have a perfect hatred for.

Now I would like to spend a few minutes considering this question from a different perspective: I have repeatedly stressed the truth that we are called to become like Christ. Do you realize that we are also called to become like God?

 “Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God’s ideal for His children. Godliness—godlikeness—is the goal to be reached.”  {Education 18}

 “The righteousness of God is absolute. This righteousness characterizes all His works, all His laws. As God is, so must His people be.”  {1 Selected Messages 198}

 All of us are probably familiar with Christ’s command at the end of His Sermon on the Mount:

 “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”  {Matthew 5:48}

 Commenting on this verse, Ellen White tells us:

“The conditions of eternal life, under grace, are just what they were in Eden—perfect righteousness, harmony with God…God has made provision that we may become like unto Him…He tells us to be perfect as He is, in the same manner…Jesus said, Be perfect as your Father is perfect…”  {Mount of Blessing 76, 77}

 I began this point by saying: “I have repeatedly stressed the truth that we are called to become like Christ. Do you realize that we are also called to become like God?” Do I believe that becoming like Christ and becoming like God are one in the same thing? I answer unequivocally—yes:

 “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.”  {John 14:9}

 “I and my Father are one.”  {John 10:30}

To avoid the possibility of any misunderstanding: I DO NOT believe that God the Father and Christ (who, in the truest sense was, and is, also God) are the same person. They are two separate and distinct individuals:

 “The unity that exists between Christ and His disciples does not destroy the personality of either. They are one in purpose, in mind, in character, but not in person. It is thus that God and Christ are one.”  {Ministry of Healing 422}

 Ellen White, commenting on those two verses from John says:

 “The glory of the Father was revealed in the Son; Christ made manifest the character of the Father. He was so perfectly connected with God, so completely embraced in His encircling light, that he who had seen the Son, had seen the Father.”  {Review & Herald, January 7, 1890}

“As a personal being, God has revealed Himself in His Son…Christ, the Light of the world, veiled the dazzling splendor of His divinity and came to live as a man among men, that they might, without being consumed, become acquainted with their Creator. Since sin brought separation between man and his Maker, no man has seen God at any time, except as He is manifested through Christ…
“God saw that a clearer revelation than nature was needed to portray both His personality and His character. He sent His Son into the world to manifest, so far as could be endured by human sight, the nature and the attributes of the invisible God.”  {Ministry of Healing 418, 419}

 Jesus made one of the most important statements in the history of the world when He declared: “He that has seen Me hath seen the Father.” To paint the picture that outwardly Christ was “manifesting the nature and the attributes of the invisible God,” while inwardly He was being “drawn away of His own lust,” or being “drawn away of His own evil desires,” is, to put it in the words of inspiration, truly error:

 “…of a most startling nature.”  {1 Selected Messages 197}
 “…misrepresents [Christ] and is a dishonor to His greatness and majesty.”  {8 Testimonies 291}

 and has

 “…sensuality [as its] sphere.”  {8 Testimonies 291}

 (Those last three quotes are all related. I will leave it to you to find out how.)