Christian Character is attained by individual effort aided by the grace of Christ. By His sacrifice, Christ made provision believers to receive all things that pertain to life and godliness. In His humanity, perfected by a life of constant resistance of evil, the Savior 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. We too, may obtain complete victory. Thus He calls upon us to reach the standard of perfection and places before us the example of Christ’s character.
Of himself or herself, believer is utterly unable to reach this condition
Before the believer is held out the wonderful possibility of being like Christ, obedient to all the principles of the law of God. The holiness that God’s word declares is the result of the working of divine grace, as he or she bow in submission to the discipline and restraining influences of the Spirit of truth.
Believer’s obedience can be made perfect only by the incense of Christ’s righteousness, which fills with divine fragrance every act of obedience. The part of the Christian is to persevere in overcoming every fault. Constantly he or she have to pray the Savior to heal the disorders of their sin-sick soul.
They don’t have the wisdom or the strength to overcome. These belong to the Lord. He bestows them on those who in humiliation and contrition seek Him for help. The work of transformation from unholiness to holiness is a continuous one. Day by day God labors for believer’s sanctification. He or she should co-operate with Him, putting forth persevering efforts in the cultivation of right habits.
They should add grace to grace. As they thus work on the plan of addition, God works for them on the plan of multiplication. Our Savior is always ready to hear and answer the prayer of the contrite heart, and grace and peace are multiplied to His faithful ones.
Advancing into all things that pertain to life and godliness
Many attempt to ascend the ladder of Christian progress. As they advance they begin to put their trust in the power of human beings. Soon they lose sight of Jesus, the Author and Finisher of their faith. The result is a failure – the loss of all that has been gained. Sad indeed is the condition of those, who becoming weary of the way, allow the enemy of souls to rob them of the Christian graces in their lives.
But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 2 Peter 1:9
Give diligence, Peter pleaded, to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:10, 11. Precious assurance! Glorious is the hope before the believers as they advance by faith toward the heights of Christian perfection!
The love of God in the soul transforms one’s character
God’s love will have a direct influence upon the life. It will call the intellect and the affections into active, healthful exercise. The child of God will not rest satisfied until he or she is clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and sustained by His life-giving power. When they see a weakness in their character, it is not enough to confess it again and again.
Christians must work with determination and energy to overcome their defects by building up opposite traits of character. They will not shun this work because it is difficult. Believers are not obliged to work in their own strength. Divine power awaits their demand.
Every one who is sincerely striving for the victory over self, will appropriate the promise – My grace is sufficient for thee. 2 Corinthians 12:9. Through personal effort, joined with the prayer of faith, the soul is trained. Day by day the character grows into the likeness of Christ. Finally the believer is a master of his or hers thoughts, words and actions.
It may cost a severe conflict to overcome habits which have been long indulged, but we may triumph through the grace of Christ. He invites us to learn of Him. God will Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ. Hebrews 13:21
From grace to grace and from glory to glory
That’s the way if we are true to the promptings of the Spirit of God, until we have received the finishing touch of immortality.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. 1 John 3:2, 3
Can any earthly promotion grant honor equal to this to be:
- sons of God
- children of the heavenly King
- members of the royal family?
People may be ambitious of the honor that their finite fellow-man may bestow. The nobility of earth are but people. They die and return to dust. There is no lasting satisfaction in their praise and honor. But the honor that comes from God is lasting. To be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, is to be entitled to unsearchable riches – eternity. Through Christ we are offered unspeakable joy and an eternal glory.
Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:9, 10
“Blessed are the meek”
The difficulties we have to encounter may be very much lessened by that meekness which hides itself in Christ. If we possess the humility of our Master, we shall rise above the slights, rebuffs and annoyances to which we are daily exposed. Thus they will cease to cast a gloom over the spirit.
The highest evidence of nobility in a Christian is self-control. He who under abuse or cruelty fails to maintain a calm and trustful spirit robs God of His right to reveal in him or her His own perfection of character. Lowliness of heart is the strength that gives victory to the followers of Christ. It is the token of their connection with the courts above.
Though the Lord be high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly. Psalm 138:6
Those who reveal the meek and lowly spirit of Christ are tenderly regarded by God. They may be looked upon with contempt by the world, but they are of great value in His sight.
The ideal of Christian character is Christ-likeness
As the Son of man was perfect in His life, so His followers are to be perfect in their life. Jesus was in all things made like unto His brethren. He became flesh, even as we are. Christ was hungry and thirsty and weary. He was sustained by food and refreshed by sleep. Jesus shared the lot of mankind. Yet He was the blameless Son of God. He was God in the flesh. His character is to be ours. The Lord says of those who believe in Him:
I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 2 Corinthians 6:16.
Christ is the ladder that Jacob saw. The base is resting on the earth and the topmost round reaching to the gate of heaven – the very threshold of glory. If that ladder had failed by a single step of reaching the earth, we should have been lost. But Christ reaches us where we are.
He took our nature and overcame, that we through taking His nature might overcome. Made in the likeness of sinful flesh Romans 8:3, He lived a sinless life. Now by His divinity He lays hold upon the throne of heaven, while by His humanity He reaches us. He bids us by faith in Him – attain to the glory of the character of God.
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48
How does that work?
Jesus had shown in what righteousness consists and had pointed to God as its source. Now He turned to practical duties. Let nothing be done to attract attention or win praise to self in:
- charity – give sincerely for the benefit of the suffering poor
- prayer – let the soul commune with God as to a friend
- fasting – go not with the head bowed down and heart filled with thoughts of self.
The one who yields himself or herself most unreservedly to God will render Him the most acceptable service. For through fellowship with God men become workers together with Him in presenting His character in humanity.
The service rendered in sincerity of heart has great recompense.
But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. Matthew 6:3, 4
The character is formed by the life we live through the grace of Christ
The original loveliness begins to be restored to the soul. The attributes of the character of Christ are imparted, and the image of the Divine begins to shine forth. The faces of men and women who walk and work with God express the peace of heaven. They are surrounded with the atmosphere of heaven.
For these souls the kingdom of God has begun. They have Christ’s joy, the joy of being a blessing to humanity. They have the honor of being accepted for the Master’s use, and are trusted to do His work in His name.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 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 all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Titus 2:11-14
We are not to continue in sin that grace may abound
The love of Christ manifested in the infinite sacrifice on Calvary awakes in the heart of those who receive it respect and reverence for the holy law of God. The law is seen to be just, and good. It cost the life of the Son of God to pay the debt of transgression which the sinner had incurred.
It is when the sinner has a realization of the offensive character of sin, a realization to some extent of what it cost the Son of God to redeem him or her, that their heart is filled with love and gratitude. Thus an earnest faith awakens that works by love and purifies the soul.
The soul who appreciates the precious gift of salvation will ever behold Christ dying upon the cross.Thus, that soul will have unselfish sorrow that he or she has ever committed sin to so wound the Son of God. When we have a proper appreciation of the sacrifice that has been made in our behalf, we shall not plead for continuing in transgression. We shall put away sin and our hard hearts will melt under the amazing love of Christ for our souls.
Character cannot be bought
It is formed by hard, stern battles with self. Conflict after conflict must be urged against hereditary tendencies.
If the character is left to be molded as chance may direct, it will become deformed and unlovely. In every one there are weak points and Satan takes advantage of these.
Temptations will thicken about the pathway. But the Lord will help those who ask Him in sincerity. Then stand fast in the strength of Jesus. Swerve not from the right to gain favor or to avoid difficulty. Be straightforward, and firm as a rock to principle.
Be kind and considerate of others. At the same time be frank and sincere, for the Lord despises dissembling. The standard of the world is not the criterion for the Christian. God and the right should be his or her motto. Truthfulness and frankness should be cherished. They should deal honestly and righteously in this present evil world.
We can go through the world but once
We cannot come back to rectify mistakes. Therefore every move should be made with godly fear and careful consideration. Honesty and policy will not harmonize. Either truth and honesty will triumph, or policy will prevail. Thus honesty cease to direct. The two principles cannot act together. They can never be in agreement.
We are in the time of the investigative judgment. The work for the time is solemn heart-searching. The ambition of every soul should be to make straight his or her paths, that the feet of others may not be led astray.
But the anxiety with many is to shape their course to be admired of men. What value can Christians place on the praise and flattery of men who have no reverence for God nor love for His truth? The honor received from such persons is of no worth. We should not aim to receive the applause of the world, but to honor Him who is worthy of the heart’s best and holiest affections. This is a worthy ambition and it brings the highest reward. For God has promised: Them that honor me I will honor. 1 Samuel 2:30
Hold fast your profession of faith without wavering
Maintain a close and living connection with God, because in this is involved the life of the soul. Follow in the footsteps of Jesus, obeying to the letter His word of direction:
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24
This can be done in the grace of Christ alone. Whatever may be the Christian’s business, if it be a lawful calling, God has provided grace that His chosen and elect shall not be discomfited by the enemy. God has provided that believers shall be Christians in the market place, house of commerce, in all manner of taxing cares in private or public life, as well as at the prayer meeting. Every business enterprise may be conducted on Christian principles. In attempting to serve God and mammon, there will be betrayal of sacred trusts, putting of mammon first and Christ last.
The Lord’s Vineyard
Christ hungers to receive from His vineyard the fruit of holiness and unselfishness. He looks for the principles of love and goodness. Moreover, the beauty of temper and character to be revealed in those who are Christ’s representatives. It is the atmosphere of grace which surrounds the soul of the believer.
A congregation may be the poorest in the land. It may be without the attraction of any outward show. If the members possess the principles of the character of Christ, they will have His joy in their souls. Angels will unite with them in their worship. The praise and thanksgiving from grateful hearts will ascend to God as a sweet oblation.
Christ came to suffer in behalf of the fallen race. For Satan made the boast that no one could withstand his devising and in this world live a spotless life. Clothed with human nature, the Redeemer subjected Himself to all the temptations with which human beings are beset. He overcame on every point. The record of His life is given to the world, that no one need be in doubt as to the power of the grace of God.
To every soul who strives for perfection of Christian character, this world becomes a battlefield on which is fought the controversy between good and evil. And everyone who trusts in Christ will gain the victory.
The principles of Christ’s kingdom
In His teaching He showed the great rule of life. To impress the lesson He adds an illustration. It is not enough, He says, for you to hear My words. By obedience you must make them the foundation of your character. Self is but shifting sand. If you build upon human theories and inventions, your house will fall. By the winds of temptation, the tempests of trial, it will be swept away. But these principles that I have given will endure. Receive Me. Build on My words.
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. Matthew 7:24, 25
Our Savior is the Son of man as well as the Son of God. Jesus took humanity upon Himself. He presented a model for humanity in His pure and perfect character. He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. 1 Peter 2:22. His life was as complete as a pattern, as His death was complete as a sacrifice.
- SW, Feb, 1907; AA 532; GW92 420; DA 301, 311, 314; ST, Oct, 1889; ST, Sep, 1893; Letter 38, 1907; COL 298; – The Ellen G. White Estate
- King James Version (KJV) Bible – BibleGateway
- Image courtesy – Pixabay
Last update: April 3, 2019
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