The New Theology that came into the SDA Church first took hold in the 1940s and 50s by some of the leaders at the Andrews University seminary. Edward Heppenstall (from England) came to La Sierra College in 1940, became a religion teacher and the La Sierra SDA Church pastor. He also chaired the systematic theology department at the Andrews seminary, and then taught at Loma Linda University until he retired. He was the main scholar to speak out against M. L. Andreasen’s “Last Generation Theology.” Heppenstall opposed the truth on the human nature of Christ, the atonement, and the character perfection of God’s people who will stand without Christ as their Mediator in the Most Holy Place just before He returns the second time.
In 1957 the book Questions on Doctrine (QOD) was published, which changed the theology on the human nature of Christ and righteousness by faith. Andreasen disagreed strongly with QOD and suffered because of it. He retired as a Field Secretary for the General Conference of SDAs and lost his ministerial credentials.
By the 1960s, the New Theology was being taught to SDA ministers in the U.S. and at Avondale College in Australia by Desmond Ford. Because it was causing so much upheaval, he was sent to the U.S. where he continued to teach his heresy. Eventually he was defrocked, but by the 1980s, the New Theology was spreading worldwide. Ford’s teachings included the following: 1) A person cannot keep the law of God perfectly; 2) 1844 is not relevant, which denies the Sanctuary teaching; 3) Ellen White did not have the authority of biblical prophets.
Because the New Theology has been taught in the SDA Church for over 50 years and teaches the wrong theology, this section focuses on obedience and overcoming, the correct nature of Christ, sin, and perfection. Satan has succeeded in getting SDAs to go from one extreme to the other. Stressing obedience can lead to legalism, or perfectionism, which works without power from Christ, trying to do good works on our own, rather than because we love God and want to follow His Word. Good works can only be attained through Christ. The balance includes faith and works together. We are saved by faith and judged by God’s law. Faith cannot exist without obedience. Obedience exists because of faith. On the other hand, the doctrine of imperfection, allows for sinfulness. Continual disobedience takes God’s grace for granted and doubts the power which God has promised to give when we ask for it. It doubts the complete substitute and example of Christ, that God’s law can be kept and we can overcome all sin before Christ returns. The new “faith” today is based on feelings, imagination, group consensus, and mysticism.
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Faith and Works, p. 49
Faith and works go hand in hand; they act harmoniously in the work of overcoming. Works without faith are dead, and faith without works is dead.
Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 398
Grace is unmerited favor, and the believer is justified without any merit of his own, without any claim to offer to God. He is justified through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, who stands in the courts of heaven as the sinner's substitute and surety. But while he is justified because of the merit of Christ, he is not free to work unrighteousness. Faith works by love and purifies the soul. Faith buds and blossoms and bears a harvest of precious fruit. Where faith is, good works appear.
Our Father Cares, p. 79
God’s law is the only correct standard of holiness. It is by this law that character is to be judged.
Cheap grace teaches that obedience follows faith, that obedience is the result of salvation, rather than the condition of salvation. However, faith and works cannot be separated. The modern-day world says that God loves us and accepts us where we are. Much is said about love; however, love expresses itself in obedience. Many deny God’s demand to “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). God has not instructed us to remain in sin. His unconditional love is used by many to mean “once saved, always saved,” that Christ did everything for us on the cross, which is a false assurance of salvation. If that were the case, why are we still here on this earth? Christ may as well return now, but He does not, because His remnant have not yet won the victory. When they do, then Christ will return. God cannot take sinners to heaven because then heaven would be filled with sin. Since God will not allow that, sin must be done away with completely.
Christ Triumphant, p. 81
This goody-goody religion that makes light of sin, and that is forever dwelling upon the love of God to the sinner, encourages sinners to believe that God will save them while they continue in sin and know it to be sin.
The Great Controversy (1888), p. 180
...men are not, because of the grace of Christ, free to continue in sin.
The Signs of the Times, July 18, 1892
They talk of grace, they preach of grace, apparently they pray for grace; but they have not the grace of Christ in their hearts.
This Day With God, p. 299
There is a spurious experience that is prevailing now everywhere in regard to the love of Jesus--that we must dwell on the love of Jesus, that faith in Jesus is all we need--but these souls must be instructed that the love of Jesus in the heart will lead to humility of life and obedience to all His commandments. "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:4). The love of Jesus that goes no farther than the lips will not save any soul, but be a great delusion.
My Life Today, p. 250
No one who truly loves and fears God will continue to transgress the law in any particular.
The Great Controversy (1888), p. 425
Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above, are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort, they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative Judgment is going forward in Heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God's people upon earth. This work is more clearly presented in the messages of Revelation 14.
When this work shall have been accomplished, the followers of Christ will be ready for his appearing.
Ibid., p. 678
The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love.
Maranatha, p. 326
Were justice extinct, and were it possible for divine mercy to open the gates to the whole race, irrespective of character, there would be a worse condition of disaffection and rebellion in heaven than before Satan was expelled. The peace, happiness, and harmony of heaven would be broken. The change from earth to heaven will not change men's character; the happiness of the redeemed in heaven results from the character formed in this life after the image of Christ. The saints in heaven will first have been saints on earth.
Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 69
Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.
But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.
Righteousness by faith includes justification and sanctification. Justification provides deliverance from the death penalty through our repentance of past sins and Christ’s forgiveness of those sins. Christ imputes to us the merits of His death. He gives us the credit for what He did for us. However, His death only saves us when we copy Him through obedience to God’s Word. Through sanctification, which is equally important and must be a continuous process, Christ imparts His righteousness to the obedient believer, making complete victory over sin possible and fitting the person to be sealed under the latter rain.
Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 65
At every stage of development our life may be perfect; yet if God's purpose for us is fulfilled, there will be continual advancement. Sanctification is the work of a lifetime.
The Review and Herald, November 19, 1908
The third angel's message is to lighten the earth with its glory; but only those who have withstood temptation in the strength of the Mighty One will be permitted to act a part in proclaiming it when it shall have swelled into the loud cry.
Both justification and sanctification are obtained by faith alone. One cannot be justified by faith and not obtain sanctification by the same faith. The two are inseparable. Both will take effort and self-discipline on our part. However, righteousness does not come by trying with all our might to do right on our own, but by choosing to surrender our will to Christ’s will and letting Him work in us, by asking for His help and power when temptation comes.
Sons and Daughters of God, p. 115
As the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. Ephesians 6:6.
Let no one say, “I cannot overcome my defects of character”; for if this is your decision, then you cannot have eternal life. The impossibility is all in your will. If you will not, that constitutes the cannot.
The real difficulty is the corruption of an unsanctified heart, and an unwillingness to submit to the will of God. When there is a determined purpose born in your heart to overcome, you will have a disposition to overcome, and will cultivate those traits of character that are desirable, and will engage in the conflict with steady, persevering effort. You will exercise a ceaseless watchfulness over your defects of character, and will cultivate right practices in little things. The difficulty of overcoming will be lessened in proportion as the heart is sanctified by the grace of Christ.
Our will must choose to give up our sinful desires and surrender all to God’s will. This must happen every time we are tempted. Ask for God’s power and the victory will come. Temptation never ceased for Jesus and it will never cease for us. It is an ongoing battle. Yet God has promised us the victory if we trust in His words. When we control our will and choose to obey God every moment, we are overcoming in His strength, not our own.
The Great Controversy (1888), pp. 528-529
The followers of Christ know little of the plots which Satan and his hosts are forming against them. But He who sitteth in the heavens will overrule all these devices for the accomplishment of his deep designs. The Lord permits his people to be subjected to the fiery ordeal of temptation, not because he takes pleasure in their distress and affliction, but because this process is essential to their final victory. He could not, consistently with his own glory, shield them from temptation; for the very object of the trial is to prepare them to resist all the allurements of evil.
Neither wicked men nor devils can hinder the work of God or shut out his presence from his people, if they will, with subdued, contrite hearts, confess and put away their sins, and in faith claim his promises. Every temptation, every opposing influence, whether open or secret, may be successfully resisted, “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” [Zechariah 4:6.]
Our Father Cares, p. 60
There is nothing that can keep you away from God but a rebellious will. The will is the governing power in the nature of man. If the will is set right, all the rest of the being will come under its sway. The will is not the taste or the inclination, but it is the choice, the deciding power, the kingly power, which works in the children of men unto obedience to God or to disobedience.
We are responsible for our choices. When we sin it is because we choose to sin. The exception is a sin of ignorance. However, we will be held accountable for not learning what sin is.
2 Timothy 2:15
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.
Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, p. 234
All will be judged according to the light that has shone upon them. If they have light upon the Sabbath, they cannot be saved in rejecting that light. But none will be held accountable for light which they have never received.
Selected Messages, Book 3, p. 345
In this day we have been privileged to have increased light and large opportunities, and we are held responsible for the improvement of light. This will be manifested by increased piety and devotion. Our loyalty to God should be proportionate to the light which shines upon us in this age.
Gospel Workers (1915), p. 162
Light makes manifest and reproves the errors that were concealed in darkness; and as light comes, the life and character of men must change correspondingly, to be in harmony with it. Sins that were once sins of ignorance, because of the blindness of the mind, can no more be indulged in without incurring guilt.
We cannot trust self, because it is naturally inclined to sin. However, as long as Christ is in our hearts, we will not sin.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
If we distrust ourselves and trust Jesus “to will and to do of His good pleasure” in us, that is the victory.
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
Surrendering self does involve agonizing because it does not die easily, but Christ has promised His power to overcome every cherished sin as we surrender to Him.
Christ's Object Lessons, p. 311
When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness.
Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 141-142
The Christian life is a battle and a march. But the victory to be gained is not won by human power. The field of conflict is the domain of the heart. The battle which we have to fight--the greatest battle that was ever fought by man--is the surrender of self to the will of God, the yielding of the heart to the sovereignty of love. The old nature, born of blood and of the will of the flesh, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The hereditary tendencies, the former habits, must be given up....
God alone can give us the victory. He desires us to have the mastery over ourselves, our own will and ways. But He cannot work in us without our consent and co-operation....
The victory is not won without much earnest prayer, without the humbling of self at every step. Our will is not to be forced into co-operation with divine agencies, but it must be voluntarily submitted.... The will must be placed on the side of God's will.
Sinful habits must be replaced with right habits. We need a will that chooses to die to sin and self continually, to choose even physical death rather than dishonor God, and a will that chooses Him throughout eternity.
Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 314
Satan had claimed that it was impossible for man to obey God's commandments; and in our own strength it is true that we cannot obey them. But Christ came in the form of humanity, and by His perfect obedience He proved that humanity and divinity combined can obey every one of God's precepts.
1 John 3:9
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
Beware of any information on righteousness by faith from the following, where false ideas are or were taught on this subject: Roy Adams, LeRoy Froom, Clifford Goldstein, Norman Gulley, William Johnsson, George Knight, Roy Naden, Jack Sequeira, Morris Venden, Martin Weber, Woodrow Whidden III, and others like them. A few examples follow.
Faith That Works, Morris L. Venden, Review & Herald Publishing, Hagerstown, Maryland, 1999, pp. 161-165
We are all sinners, whether we have ever done anything ‘wrong’ or not. It is not sinning that makes us sinners. It is getting born that makes us sinners.... We are born sinners, and we sin because we are sinners. We are not sinners because we sin! ...Since we are sinners by nature, we of ourselves are never going to be able to produce any obedience.
To Know God: A Five Day Plan, Morris L. Venden, Review & Herald Publishing, Hagerstown, Maryland, 1983, pp. 22-23
Man sins because he is sinful. He is not sinful because he sins.... You don't have to sin to be sinful; all you have to do is get yourself born!
Adult Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly, First Quarter, Lesson No. 5, January 23, 1983, p. 35
We are born sinners.... (Morris L. Venden)
Here is what the Adventist Book Center (ABC) states about Faith That Works:
Morris Venden explores the strange and wonderful kingdom of grace, and explains how to fight the fight of faith. “You don't get righteousness by seeking righteousness,” writes Venden. “Righteousness comes by seeking Jesus.” Both seekers and do-it-yourselfers will find here a feast of good things. Open this daily devotional book and join the party.
No thanks. It is better to forego the party and celebrating of this world and save it for the heavenly courts.
Unfortunately, at the time Roy Adams was Associate Editor for the Adventist Review, he wrote the book entitled The Nature of Christ, which teaches that Christ possessed an unfallen nature. The belief of original sin (born sinners) teaches that all will continue to sin, at least in nature, until Christ’s return and urges that focusing on perfection distracts from Christ. However, those who believe in overcoming before Christ’s return are very focused on following Christ as they seek to be like Him in character. We cannot change our nature, but we can change our character. Christ will change our sinful nature at His Second Coming.
Sinful or fallen human nature is the spiritual, mental, and physical condition we are born with. Therefore, without divine aid, we find it very easy to sin. However, just because we are born with a fallen nature does not mean we must always sin. Nature does not choose to sin; people do. Therefore, even though Jesus took on Himself a fallen nature, this did not mean He had to sin. He chose not to sin, just as we can choose not to sin.
Unlike what the New Theology teaches today, the Bible gives us only one true definition of sin. “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4). God has also provided the following Spirit of Prophecy statements to ensure we are not deceived on this fundamental truth:
The Great Controversy (1888), p. 492
Our only definition of sin is that given in the word of God; it is ‘the transgression of the law;’ it is the outworking of a principle at war with the great law of love which is the foundation of the divine government.
General Conference Daily Bulletin, March 2, 1897
The only definition of sin given in God's Word, is transgression of the law.
Sermons and Talks, Vol. 1, p. 228
It is the privilege of every sinner to ask his teacher what sin really is. Give me a definition of sin. We have one in 1 John 3. “Sin is the transgression of the law.” Now this is the only definition of sin in the whole Bible.
We are guilty only when we choose to sin in thought, word, or deed, not because we are “born sinners.” Sin is giving in to our fallen nature. The false belief of predestination does not allow our right to choose for or against God. The gospel includes free choice. Sin involves our will, not our nature. Therefore, Christ could inherit our fallen, sinful nature without giving in to sin. He was sinless because He chose to always obey God. He did not allow his nature to control His choices. He used His will to control Himself.
This biblical understanding of Christ’s nature was taught in the messages of 1888 by A. T. Jones, E. J. Waggoner, Ellen White, and others. The good news of the gospel is that God’s grace forgives us when we repent and restores us to His image when we by faith obey Him through the power of the Holy Spirit to become more and more like Christ.
When we make Jesus just our sinless Substitute, we deny His victory over sinful human nature. Let us make Him our perfect Example as well. Our Saviour, who provided atonement for us, will lead His remnant to final victory. However, our fallen human nature will not be changed until we are glorified at Christ’s return.
For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.
The Desire of Ages, p. 48
It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man's nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin.
Medical Ministry, p. 181
The example He has left must be followed. He took upon His sinless nature our sinful nature, that He might know how to succor those that are tempted.
Early Writings, p. 152
Satan again rejoiced with his angels that he could, by causing man's fall, pull down the Son of God from His exalted position. He told his angels that when Jesus should take fallen man's nature, he could overpower Him and hinder the accomplishment of the plan of salvation.
Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 253
What a sight was this for Heaven to look upon! Christ, who knew not the least taint of sin or defilement, took our nature in its deteriorated condition. This was humiliation greater than finite man can comprehend. God was manifest in the flesh.
Early Writings, p. 150
Jesus also told them that they would have a part to act, to be with Him and at different times strengthen Him; that He would take man's fallen nature, and His strength would not be even equal with theirs [angels]....
The Review and Herald, December 15, 1896
Clad in the vestments of humanity, the Son of God came down to the level of those he wished to save. In him was no guile or sinfulness; he was ever pure and undefiled; yet he took upon him our sinful nature. Clothing his divinity with humanity, that he might associate with fallen humanity, he sought to regain for man that which, by disobedience, Adam had lost for himself and for the world.
The Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 2, p. 39
It was in the order of God that Christ should take upon himself the form and nature of fallen man, that he might be made perfect through suffering, and himself endure the strength of Satan's fierce temptations, that he might understand how to succor those who should be tempted.
Selected Messages, Book 3, p. 134
Though He had no taint of sin upon His character, yet He condescended to connect our fallen human nature with His divinity. By thus taking humanity, He honored humanity. Having taken our fallen nature, he showed what it might become, by accepting the ample provision He has made for it, and by becoming partaker of the divine nature.
Ibid., Book 1, p. 408
Letters have been coming in to me, affirming that Christ could not have had the same nature as man, for if He had, He would have fallen under similar temptations. If He did not have man's nature, He could not be our example. If He was not a partaker of our nature, He could not have been tempted as man has been. If it were not possible for Him to yield to temptation, He could not be our helper. It was a solemn reality that Christ came to fight the battles as man, in man's behalf. His temptation and victory tell us that humanity must copy the Pattern; man must become a partaker of the divine nature.
1 Peter 2:21-22
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.
Christ took upon Himself our fallen human nature, but He never sinned. He laid aside His divinity and took hold of God’s divinity as a perfect example. Why did Jesus pray to His heavenly Father for help if He was able to use His divinity? That would not make sense. He never used His divinity. He took hold of God’s divinity. In this way He had no advantage over us. He is our perfect example of keeping the Ten Commandments. We, too, can take hold of God’s divinity and receive omnipotence just as Jesus did while on this earth. Christ took our fallen human nature that we might partake of His divine nature. What incredible love that is and what hope it gives us. How foolish we would be to not take advantage of that power.
Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 332-333
A character formed according to the divine likeness is the only treasure that we can take from this world to the next. Those who are under the instruction of Christ in this world will take every divine attainment with them to the heavenly mansions. And in heaven we are continually to improve. How important, then, is the development of character in this life.
The heavenly intelligences will work with the human agent who seeks with determined faith that perfection of character which will reach out to perfection in action. To everyone engaged in this work Christ says, I am at your right hand to help you.
As the will of man co-operates with the will of God, it becomes omnipotent. Whatever is to be done at His command may be accomplished in His strength. All His biddings are enablings.
The Desire of Ages, p. 664
The Saviour was deeply anxious for His disciples to understand for what purpose His divinity was united to humanity. He came to the world to display the glory of God, that man might be uplifted by its restoring power. God was manifested in Him that He might be manifested in them. Jesus revealed no qualities, and exercised no powers, that men may not have through faith in Him. His perfect humanity is that which all His followers may possess, if they will be in subjection to God as He was.
Manuscript Releases, Vol. 13, p. 18
He could have sinned; He could have fallen, but not for one moment was there in Him an evil propensity.
Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 256
In taking upon Himself man's nature in its fallen condition, Christ did not in the least participate in its sin.
The Desire of Ages, p. 112
Notwithstanding that the sins of a guilty world were laid upon Christ, notwithstanding the humiliation of taking upon Himself our fallen nature, the voice from heaven declared Him to be the Son of the Eternal.
Selected Messages, Book 3, p. 136
The world's Redeemer passed over the ground where Adam fell because of his disobeying the expressed law of Jehovah; and the only begotten Son of God came to our world as a man, to reveal to the world that men could keep the law of God. Satan, the fallen angel, had declared that no man could keep the law of God after the disobedience of Adam.
The Signs of the Times, January 16, 1896
Satan declared that it was impossible for the sons and daughters of Adam to keep the law of God, and thus charged upon God a lack of wisdom and love. If they could not keep the law, then there was fault with the Lawgiver. Men who are under the control of Satan repeat these accusations against God, in asserting that men can not keep the law of God. Jesus humbled himself, clothing his divinity with humanity, in order that he might stand as the head and representative of the human family, and by both precept and example condemn sin in the flesh, and give the lie to Satan's charges. He was subjected to the fiercest temptations that human nature can know, yet he sinned not; for sin is the transgression of the law. By faith he laid hold upon divinity, even as humanity may lay hold upon infinite power through him. Altho tempted upon all points even as men are tempted, he sinned not. He did not surrender his allegiance to God, as did Adam.
If Christ had come with an unfallen nature, he could not have died because no one with such a nature can die. Why would Jesus have been tempted if He could not have sinned? Additionally, if Christ had come with an unfallen nature, we would have no hope of overcoming. There would be no hope of the 144,000 living without their Intercessor in the Most Holy Place just before He returns to this earth to take them home. Satan wants us to die in our sins, not be saved from our sins. We should be very grateful that his lie has been exposed and a remnant people at the very end of earth’s history will vindicate God’s law by winning the victory over sin. Understanding the right concept of Christ’s nature involves understanding correctly salvation, the sanctuary message, standards and conduct, as well as the Second Coming.
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.
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
The Review and Herald, October 26, 1897
Obedience to the commandments of God is the only true sign of sanctification. Disobedience is the sign of disloyalty and apostasy.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Christian perfection is letting God do His work in us as we depend on Him by faith. It means total victory over sin because we no longer desire to rebel against God’s will. This also involves learning what God’s will is for us. We long to bring glory to God, not ourselves. Temptations will still come, but we would no longer give in to them. Being perfect does not mean we will be equal with Christ, and we will never feel like we are perfect. Perfection is a continual relationship with God just as Jesus had. It is a reflection of His Character.
The Review and Herald, February 5, 1880
God is pleased with men who do not think that they have attained perfection, but who are constantly trying to improve. He would have us come into connection with him, and increase in understanding, and reform our habits, ever rising higher, and approaching nearer the standard of perfection.
2 Peter 1:3-7
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
The Review and Herald, April 26, 1881
Unity is the sure result of Christian perfection.
Manuscript Releases, Vol. 12, p. 155
Human effort must combine with divine power, that we may be able to accomplish the closing work for this time.
Selected Messages, Book 2, p. 378
Let the churches who claim to believe the truth, who are advocating the law of God, keep that law and depart from all iniquity. Let the individual members of the church resist the temptations to practice evils and indulge in sin. Let the church commence the work of purification before God by repentance, humiliation, deep heart searching, for we are in the antitypical day of atonement --solemn hour fraught with eternal results.
We are not saved while in sin, but God will protect His sincere people as long as He knows they will repent. Many in the Bible were protected while sinning, and He will do the same today. Those who achieve victory over sin feel unworthy and are unaware of their victory.
The Great Controversy (1911), p. 620
In the time of trouble, if the people of God had unconfessed sins to appear before them while tortured with fear and anguish, they would be overwhelmed; despair would cut off their faith, and they could not have confidence to plead with God for deliverance. But while they have a deep sense of their unworthiness, they have no concealed wrongs to reveal. Their sins have gone beforehand to judgment, and have been blotted out; and they cannot bring them to remembrance.
Revelation 2:7, 11, 17; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:7
To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. [2:11] He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. [2:17] To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. [3:5] He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. [3:12] Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. [3:21] To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. [21:7] He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.