Making an End of Sin

MAKING AN END OF SIN

The list of accomplishments which were prophesied in Daniel 9:24 to be fulfilled by the coming of Jesus, the promised Messiah, is astounding. Through His life, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension and mediation, He would “finish transgression, put an end to sin, atone for wickedness, bring in everlasting righteousness, seal up vision and prophecy and anoint the most holy.” In other words, the first coming of Jesus to this earth would provide for the complete eradication of the damage done by Satan’s rebellion in heaven. What Satan began, Christ would finish. Through Jesus, the plan of salvation would bruise the serpent’s head and free all who would choose to allow God to remove the curse of sin in their lives.

Throughout Jesus’ life, He demonstrated what a life free from sin would look like in every human situation. He modeled for us a holiness and perfection of character that is foreign to fallen beings. But He did this not just to excite our admiration so that we would be drawn to Him, but also that we might have a way back to holiness and godliness in our own lives. His purpose was to restore the human race to the perfect righteousness and happiness that crowned Adam and Eve on the day of their creation. As Creator and re-Creator, Jesus has all power to “save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Because of this, Peter can exhort us to follow the example of our Savior and walk in His steps.

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth. When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.” 1 Pet. 2:21-24.

Unfortunately, today many people are denying the possibility of this transformation. This is understandable when coming from the nominal Christian churches of the day. But when it infiltrates the Seventh-day Adventist church, it becomes a deadly heresy that derails the whole purpose of our calling,  and our remnant identity. For decades, now, we have been “leaning over the back fence,” so to speak, and assimilating some of the ideas and thinking of the churches around us who are not of our persuasion. In doing so, we are gradually changing to reflect their concepts about vital subjects, such as the meaning of grace, the requirements for salvation, and the possibility and need for overcoming sin before the Second Advent.

According to a Christianity Today article which I have in my possession, this shift in emphasis began in the mid-1950’s:

“Seventh-day Adventists trace their origins to the Millerite movement of the 1830’s and 1840’s…. In the wake of [the ‘Great Disappointment’], several of Millers followers became convinced that something significant had indeed happened in 1844. Jesus, according to these Adventist pioneers, had begun a new phase of ministry in the heavenly sanctuary…. They also believed that God had made them special messengers of this new revelation. The early Seventh-day Adventists knew exactly who they were. They were God’s ‘remnant church.’ ‘A special people, with a special message, for a special time!’…

“This exalted identity remained intact until Adventism’s encounter with evangelicalism in the 1950’s. Much of the doctrinal controversy that emerged in Adventism in the last several decades can be traced to their interaction with evangelicals in the 1950’s.” Samples, Kenneth R., “The Recent Truth About Seventh-day Adventism,” Christianity Today, Feb. 5, 1990, p. 19.

What are some of the results of these interactions with evangelicals? Perhaps the one major change that has impacted the church so dramatically is the downplaying of the Sanctuary doctrine. Notice these observations in the same article:

“The “sanctuary doctrine” is an important part of the Seventh-day Adventist story, although few contemporary Adventists can explain it and few Adventist theologians still teach it. In a nutshell, it says that Jesus is now acting as High Priest in fulfillment of the Old Testament Day of Atonement…. This aspect of His work, in Adventist terminology, is called the ‘Investigative Judgment.’… The doctrine produces some controversial theological by-products. One of those by-products…. was the teaching that between the time Jesus would expunge the record of a believer’s sins and the time He would return to earth, that believer would be without a Mediator. Consequently, Adventists were taught they would need to achieve a sinless state before the Second Coming…. Some traditionalist Adventists have revived these and other harmful by-products of the 1844 theology….

“A vocal and perfectionistic segment within Traditional Adventism has classified Evangelical Adventism as a ‘new theology,’ which destroys Adventism’s true identity…. Liberal Adventism comes out of that church’s attempt to achieve theological and cultural respectability…. Liberal Adventism is not concerned at all with maintaining a ‘remnant’ identity like that of the nineteenth pioneers.” Ibid. pp. 20, 21.

 In the interim years, much has transpired. It is now common to hear that we will sin until Jesus comes, and then be transformed. Here are some examples:

Quote from the Pastor’s Corner in the Columbia Union Visitor, March 2009, p. 4:

“We are born with a desire for evil, but a possibility for good. Jesus was born with a desire for good, but a possibility for evil. Hence, our constant strivings to be like Jesus are futile and unwarranted. We cannot be like Jesus. He never asked us to because He understands that sin is in our DNA… What about our efforts? All of them are as filthy rags. The question should be, What about His efforts and my submission? This is true freedom.”

Quote from Mental and Emotional Health, by Julian Melgosa. First Quarter Companion Book for the Sabbath School lessons, Jan. – Mar. 2011:            

“Not only does jealousy appear very early in life, but it also stretches back to the most remote past of our collective history. It is considered the first sin, having come into existence even before humankind was created. It has existed ever since, and it will continue to exist until Jesus comes and transforms the redeemed.”

Conversation with a visiting pastor giving a week of prayer in one of our institutions:

Question: “What do you think about the possibility of ceasing to sin before Jesus comes?”

Answer: “If that would be the case, we wouldn’t need a Savior.”

Conversation with a pastor in whose church I was giving a seminar:

Pastor: “You know we will sin until Jesus comes, don’t you?”

Me: “Well, what I often say when someone asks me that question is this:  What sin would you want to be doing when you look up and see Jesus coming in all His glory with all His holy angels?”

Pastor: “What about David? He was a man after God’s own heart, and he did some pretty terrible things!” (At this point, the pastor was called to take care of another situation, and the conversation was never resumed.)

Why are we coming to these dangerous conclusions at this critical time in history? First, the effect of 60 years of interfacing with Christians of other denominations, reading their books, going to their meetings, attending their schools, listening to their music, copying their worship styles, has taken its toll. Many have lost our remnant identity, our doctrinal uniqueness, our goal to warn the world of the coming apocalypse, and to prepare a people who will stand amid the perils of the last days.

And second, many are becoming discouraged and hopeless about their own personal sins, their family problems, their failure to achieve victory over their daily temptations, their frustrations and stress over the challenges of living in today’s uncertain world. Anything labeled “victory” seems light years away, and mysteriously unreachable. The social gospel of grace appears attractive and do-able. It feels like a tropical island in a sea of shark-infested waters.

But there are pitfalls for those who try to find peace in the grace-only gospel. It does not produce the victorious living that results from an intimate relationship with God that sustains the soul through every emergency life can bring. When we battle with sin and fail, when we lose our temper, fall into lust, struggle with depression, anger, fear, anxiety – it is then that we long for something more than simply knowing that God loves us and forgives us through His Son. We want freedom from our carnal passions; we want the mind of Christ. We want to live His life in the midst of the storm. We want to represent Jesus to others in our deportment, our loving spirit, our self-sacrifice for Him and those around us. In short, we want to be like Him.

But in order to have these spiritual blessings, we must return to our denominational roots. We must re-examine the truths we were given in 1844, in the light of where we are today. It is new light on old truths that we need now. In order to meet the modern challenges that threaten our remnant identity and our spiritual inheritance, we need to re-evaluate the precious light that will see us through the rest of the journey.

First, I would like to spend some time in the Word of God to get a flavor of what we find there about God’s ideal for His children.

“But to each of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it….to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants,… Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” Eph. 4:7, 12-15.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us.” Eph. 4:32-5:2.

“Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Eph. 5:25-27.

“Hallelujah!… Let us rejoice and be glad…. for the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints).” Rev. 19:6-8.

“Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?’ I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of great tribulation (KJV); they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Rev. 7:13, 14.

“Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with Him 144,000 who had His name and His Father’s name written on their foreheads…. These are those who did not defile themselves with women,* for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths, they are blameless.” Rev. 14:1, 4, 5.

*Note: The word “women” in the Bible is often used to refer symbolically to churches. It is, no doubt, used that way here, pointing out the necessity of doctrinal purity, although God’s people individually must also be morally pure.

“To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne.” Rev. 3:21.

“In that day seven women will take hold of one man and say, ‘We will eat our own food and provide our own clothes; only let us be called by your name to (KJV) take away our disgrace. In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. The LORD will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; He will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire.” Isa. 4:1-4.

Note: The condition of the churches of the last generation are here clearly revealed. Those who want to be called Christians yet remain in their sins, are starkly contrasted with God’s remnant, who voluntarily cooperate with Jesus in the Day of Atonement cleansing and whose names are retained in the book of life.

“I will remove from this city those who rejoice in their pride. Never again will you be haughty on my holy hill. But I will leave within you the meek and humble, who trust in the name of the LORD. The remnant of Israel will do no wrong; they will speak no lies, nor will deceit be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid.” Zeph. 3:11-13.

“’I will bring Israel back to his own pasture…. In those days, at that time,’ declares the LORD, ‘search will be made for Israel’s guilt, but there will be none, and for the sins of Judah, but none will be found, for I will forgive the remnant I spare.’” Jer. 50:19, 20.

“This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny (afflict –KJV) yourselves and not do any work…because on this day atonement will be made for you to cleanse you. Then you will be clean from all your sins.” Lev. 16:29, 30.

“But you, man of God,..pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called…. I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Tim. 6:11, 12, 14.

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.” Phil. 1:9-11.

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” Heb. 12:14.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” Phil. 2:14-16.

“Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong….Our prayer is for your perfection…. Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Cor. 13:7, 9, 11. 

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself just as He is pure. Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that He appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin. No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him.

“Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:2-10.

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil. 1:6

“To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power, and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” Jude 24, 25.

Dear friend, do you see anything in these quotations, or any other Scriptures which would lead you to the conclusion that the Bible writers believed or taught that we would continue to sin until Jesus comes? Where, then, do these current trends come from? Is it not that we have drifted from our spiritual moorings and are drinking from the polluted cisterns of the daughters of Babylon?

Add to this list of Scriptures some Spirit of Prophecy quotations:

“Character cannot be changed when Christ comes….Character building must be done in this life.” TM 430.

“Through defects in character, Satan works to gain control of the whole mind, and he knows that if these defects are cherished, he will succeed. Therefore he is constantly seeking to deceive the followers of Christ with His fatal sophistry that it is impossible for them to overcome.” GC 489.

“When He comes He is not to cleanse us of our sins, to remove from us the defects in our characters, or to cure us of the infirmities of our tempers and dispositions. If wrought for us at all, this work will all be accomplished before that time….No work will then be done for them to remove their defects and give them holy characters. The Refiner does not then sit to pursue His refining process and remove their sins and their corruption. This is all to be done in these hours of probation. It is NOW that this work is to be accomplished for us.” 2 T 355.

“There is no change of character when Christ comes. The character building is to go on during the hours of probation.” 7 BC 990.

“We cannot do evil and work wickedness, and yet stand justified before God at last. Now is our day of probation, and we are now to perfect characters that will stand the test of the judgment. When Christ comes, there is to be no change of character;… those who are alive and remain…will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, if their characters are blameless and pure. Transformation of character must take place during the precious hours of probation.” ST 8/29/1892.

  “The coming of Christ does not change our characters; it only fixes them forever beyond all change.” 5 T 466.

 “I was shown that but a small portion of those who now profess the truth will be sanctified by it and be saved. Many will get above the simplicity of the work. They will conform to the world, cherish idols, and become spiritually dead. The humble, self-sacrificing followers of Jesus will pass on to perfection, leaving behind the indifferent and lovers of the world.” 1 T 608.

“I saw a covering that God was drawing over His people to protect them in the Time of Trouble; and every soul that was decided on the truth and was pure in heart was to be covered with the covering of the Almighty.” EW 43.

“I saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful and were looking to the time of ‘refreshing’ and the ‘latter rain’ to fit them to stand in the day of the Lord and to live in His sight. Oh how many I saw in the Time of Trouble without a shelter! They had neglected the needful preparation; therefore they could not receive the refreshing that all must have to fit them to live in the sight of a holy God.” EW 71.

Personally, I do not see how any honest person can go astray from the principles of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy that teach the necessity of perfection of character for God’s people by the time Jesus returns. These quotations are only a small sample of what is available. But the real question is, How is this to be accomplished? It is this that I want to address in the rest of this article.

First, it is evident that the understanding of holiness, or spiritual maturity that God is seeking to produce in His people has only gradually been revealed through the centuries. For the first four thousand years, the sacrificial system brought the people to an understanding of obedience that for the majority of people stayed on a behavioral level. When Jesus came, He emphasized the fact that sin is deeper than behavior, and springs from the thoughts and feelings of the heart. But even that understanding needs one more level to complete the full picture of the origin of sin. Behind the thoughts and feelings are motives:

“The Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.” 1 Chr. 28:9.

“All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” Pr. 16:2.

“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.” Heb. 4:3-5.

“For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” Eccl. 12:14.

“In the solemn assembly of the last day, in the hearing of the universe, will be read the reason for the condemnation of the sinner….There will be a general revealing of the secrets and motives of the heart, for that which is hid will be made manifest.” CG 560.

“Every act is judged by the motives that prompt it.” COL 316.

“The secret purposes and motives appear in the unerring register; for God will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.” (1 Cor. 4:5). GC 481.

“The truth is kept altogether too much in the outer court. Bring it into the inner temple of the soul, enthrone it in the heart, and let it control the life….When truth is kept apart from the life, in the outer court, the heart is not warmed with the glowing fire of God’s goodness.” 5 T 547.

Notice in the quotations that all are referring to the judgment, which corresponds to the Second Apartment work of Jesus in the heavenly Sanctuary. This is Jesus’ final work for His people, cleansing them from the sins that have been accumulating in the Sanctuary for centuries. This is why the 144,000 are called “firstfruits” (Rev. 14:4). They are the result of God’s judgment process in the Most Holy Place. They are the first to go through the entire process of salvation which rids them of the effects of sin.

“’See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘But who can endure the day of His coming? Who can stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years. So I will come near to you for judgment.” Mal. 3:1-5. 

“And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth….They kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes….No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.” Rev. 14:3-5.

But how are God’s people going to come to this state of blamelessness? In answer to that question, I submit to you the Sanctuary. Throughout the ages, the Sanctuary has been the center of the work that God is doing for His people, and the place of communication where He guides and directs those who look to Him and seek to follow Him. It is the place of His throne and the seat of His government. And the earthly Sanctuary was given as a model of how fallen sinners can be restored to fellowship with Him and once again be in harmony with His law and His character.

Suppose you went for a walk in the woods, and after some time found yourself to be hopelessly lost. No matter which way you took, your search for the path back home would always end in a fruitless circle which brought you once again to the same location. In your despair you cry out, only to hear the faint echo of your own voice fading into the distance. With night coming on, you begin to hear the rustle of leaves and grass as some nocturnal animal crept near. With beating heart and fear clutching at your throat, you wonder if you will ever see again the face of your loved ones, smell the delicious aroma of home-cooked food, feel the warmth of your cozy bed. And then in the fading light, you see a paper with some writing on it, nailed to the bark of a tree. Coming closer, you can just make out the words: “To all who find themselves lost in these woods as I was, please follow these directions to safety. You will see a large evergreen tree about 30 yards ahead. On that tree you will find another paper with further directions. There will be seven of these. If you follow these directions faithfully, you will find the way out of these woods. May God guide you safely back to your destination.”

Dear Friend, if you found yourself in such a situation, would you follow the directions by faith, or would you continue to try to find your way out by your own instincts? Personally, I believe that most of us would trust that the person writing these instructions had made the journey ahead of us, and had graciously thought of others who would need help to find their way back home. In like manner,
God has seen our hopeless plight, and has sent His Son to mark out the way back home. It was an expensive errand, fraught with danger and death. But His eternal purposes were accomplished. And now there is a way back for everyone who will avail themselves of the plan of escape.

As soon as Jesus went back to heaven, the disciples recognized that Jesus had opened the way for all those who choose to follow Him to be reconciled with the Father in heaven. In Peter’s first sermon, he quoted Psalms 16:11: “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” Jesus Himself had said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. Soon the followers of Jesus became known as those who followed “the Way.” Before his conversion, Paul persecuted any “who belonged to the Way, whether men or women.” Acts 9:2. Paul mentions that he “persecuted the followers of the Way to their death” in Acts 22:4. Later, of course, he became a follower himself, as he attests during his trial before Felix, “’I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect.’… Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings.” Acts 24:14, 22.

What is the meaning of this name – “The Way” – that was given to the followers of Jesus? Does it have a precedent in Old Testament Scriptures? Perhaps the most well-known would be, “Thy way, O God, is in the Sanctuary.”  Ps. 77:13. But there are many other references using the same Hebrew word, (#1870 in Strong’s Conc.), that contribute fascinating insights which will help us to delve more deeply into the study of the Sanctuary as the key to the recovery of the human race from the effects of our fall from Edenic holiness. Here are a few of these references:

“After He drove the man out, He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” Gen. 3:24.

“A voice of one calling in the desert: Prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isa. 40:3-5.

“The man who makes me his refuge will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain. And it will be said: ‘Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.’ For this is what the high and lofty One says—He who lives forever, whose name is holy; I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isa. 57:13-15.

“Pass through, pass through the gates! Prepare the way for the people. Build up, build up the highway! Remove the stones. Raise a banner for the nations.” Isa. 62:10.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ Then you will defile your idols…. You will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, ‘Away with you!’” Isa. 30:21, 22.

And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there…. But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” Isa. 35:8-10.

These are just a few of the hundreds of references using this phrase, but all of us would do well to study this important subject, for it gives us God’s directions back to our lost estate, and brings us into holiness of character and life, and harmony with Him once again.

In order to understand these Sanctuary concepts, it will be helpful to examine certain key words which will open our minds to the practical application which hides behind the surface of the Sanctuary experience. The first is the word holy, or holiness. At first glance, it seems beyond our reach – a state that belongs only to God and unfallen beings. But Scripturally, that is not the case. God’s people are also to be holy, as attested to in many places, such as these examples:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Rom. 12:1, 2.

“To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. 1:2.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Cor. 6:19, 20.

“For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.” Eph. 1:4.

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.” Eph. 19-21.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her with water through the Word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Eph. 5:25-27.

Please notice how often these texts make reference to the Sanctuary and its symbols! This is not accidental. Only as we are able to comprehend the true meaning and purpose of the Sanctuary is it possible to understand the pathway to restoration, obedience, holiness and blamelessness. Significantly, the 144,000 are described as “blameless” (Rev. 14:5). This is because they have gone through the whole Sanctuary process, including the cleansing of character performed by Jesus for them in the Most Holy Place before the close of probation. When that work is accomplished, Jesus will close the mediatorial phase of His ministry, for it is no longer needed. His people will then be in complete harmony with Him, and they are prepared to sing the new song before the throne and before the heavenly host which no one can learn except the 144,000. (Rev. 14:3).

It is my purpose and desire to decode the service and symbols of the Sanctuary to make them simple enough for all to understand and appropriate into their lives. If the Sanctuary can only be understood by theologians, we are repeating the experience of the Dark Ages when the Scriptures were locked up in monasteries, and available to only to the priests who could read Latin. The whole Bible is written in Sanctuary language, and the more we understand that language, the more applicable the Scriptures will be to our lives and our connection with Jesus. The first word I want to decode is the word, “holy,” or “holiness.” Here is an Ellen White quotation that opens up a whole new world of thought on that subject:

“Holiness is agreement with God.” 5 T 743.

Now, if you are accustomed to seeing holiness as an unattainable goal in this life, look at the spin this concept gives to this topic. Add to this the text in Hebrews 12:14:

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

In other words, any area of my life in which I am knowingly in disagreement with God will prevent me from standing before Him face to face without a mediator. This should be a compelling reason to seek God fervently every day and ask Him to reveal to us any area of disagreement in our hearts that would prevent us from being ready for His coming.

The second nebulous concept which needs clarification is the word “character.” Ellen White has some significant statements which help to make this clearer:

“The thoughts and feelings combined make up the moral character.” 5 T 310.

“Few realize that it is their duty to exercise control over their thoughts and feelings.” OHC 111.

“Through defects in character, Satan works to gain control of the whole mind.” GC 489.

“God’s law reaches the feelings and motives, as well as the outward acts.” 5 BC 1085.

“Angels of God daily place upon the books of heaven an exact representation of the character of every human being.” 7 BC 897.

So, when Jesus is cleansing the records of His people preparatory to His coming, He is looking for those who are in agreement with Him in thought, word, action and motive. That is why God says in Eccl. 12:14:

“For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

But before you despair of reaching such a high standard, let’s go back to the Sanctuary. Remember—Jesus is not in the heavenly Sanctuary trying to find out all the bad things we have done; He is there to cleanse His people root and branch of all disagreement with Him and His law. As the High Priest on the Day of Atonement cleansed the people from all their sins (Lev. 16:30, 34), so Jesus will work together with us in revealing and removing all our sins, or areas of our lives where we are in disagreement with Him. Then we will be safe to save eternally. Here are some quotes from Ellen White which reveal how Jesus is working with us to make sure there are no unrevealed areas of our lives which are left unknown to us:

“Before that time (the second coming), everything that is imperfect will have been seen and put away. All envy and jealousy and evil surmising and every selfish plan will have been banished from the life.” 3 SM 427.

“If the eye is fixed on Christ, the work of the Spirit ceases not until the soul is conformed to His image.” DA 302.

“Those who hold fast their faith unto the end will come forth from the furnace of trial seven times purified…. Remember that there is One watching every movement to see when the last particle of dross is taken away from your character.” UL 292.

“It may take time to attain to perfect submission to God’s will, but we can never stop short of it and be fitted for heaven.” 3 T 538.

Doesn’t that make sense? Perfect submission means perfect agreement with God. Anything short of that indicates that the seeds of rebellion remain in the heart, and Satan’s character lives in the soul. Jesus said, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.” Matt. 15:13. Rebellion and sin has to go—every bit of it. Nothing must be left to spring up in eternity and mar the perfect happiness and safety of the universe. But how can this be accomplished in the short time remaining? We can see that the end is near. Many are giving up the struggle for holiness of character. Grace will cover, they say. But will it really cover rebellion and disagreement with God? Think again! Without holiness, no one will see the Lord! What then can we do to be ready for His appearing? In answer to this vital question, I submit to you the divine check list of character—the seven steps of the Sanctuary. Here they are in brief:

“It was Christ who planned the arrangement for the first earthly tabernacle. He…was the heavenly architect who marked out the plan for the sacred building where His name was to be honored.” COL 349.

#1. Come into His courts with praise, gratitude, and thanksgiving (Ps. 100; 84:4; 89:15, 16).

      “The day is coming in which the battle will have been fought, the victory won. All will be a happy, united family, clothed with the garments of praise and thanksgiving—the robe of Christ’s righteousness.” 8 T 42.

      “The melody of praise is the atmosphere of heaven.” IHP 94.

#2. Submit to God at the altar of self-sacrifice, repentance, and humility (Phil. 2; Eph. 4:1, 2).

      “Through the sacrifices and offerings brought to the earthly sanctuary, the children of Israel were to lay hold of the merits of a Savior to come. And, in the wisdom of God, the particulars of this work were given us that we might, by looking to them, understand the work of Jesus in the heavenly Sanctuary.” EW 253.

     “The life we live is to be one of constant repentance and humility. We need to repent constantly that we may be constantly victorious. When we have true humility we have victory.” 7 BC 959.

     “I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. No one repents of his wickedness, saying, ‘What have I done?’ Each pursues his own course like a horse charging into battle. Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the LORD.” Jer.8:6, 7.

      “Every sin must be confessed at the Sanctuary, then the work will move; it must be done now. The latter rain is coming on all those that are pure—all, then, will receive it as formerly. None receive the latter rain but those who do all they can.” GC Bulletin, 1893, p. 179.

#3. Have a mind washed at the laver by the water of the Word (Eph. 5:26); order everything in my life by the principles of God’s Word (Matt. 4:4).

     “Through the Scriptures the Holy Spirit speaks to the mind, and impresses truth upon the heart. Thus, He exposes error and expels it from the soul. It is by the Spirit of Truth, working through the Word of God, that Christ subdues His chosen people to Himself.” DA 671.

#4. Live by the unction, inspiration and power of the seven-fold Spirit of God (Rev. 4:5; 5:6), not by the impulses and desires of the flesh (Rom. 8:5-11). Allow only the fruit of the Spirit to find entrance into our thought life at all times (Gal. 5:13-26).

     “He who is guided by the Holy Spirit has cast his anchor within the veil wherein Jesus has entered for us.” ST 8/14/1893.

     “It is only by personal union with Christ, by communion with Him daily, hourly, that we can bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit.” SD 290.

     “There is not an impulse of our nature, not a faculty of the mind or an inclination of the heart, but needs to be, moment by moment, under the control of the Spirit of God.” MYP 62.

     “The impartation of the Spirit is the impartation of the life of Christ. It imbues the receiver with the attributes of Christ.” DA 805.

     “By the power of the Holy Spirit the moral image of God is to be perfected in the character. We are to be wholly transformed into the likeness of Christ.” TM 506.

     “The influence of the Holy Spirit is the life of Christ in the soul.” 6 BC 1112.

      “It is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ has given His Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress His own character upon His church.” DA 671.

#5. By remaining in connection with Christ as our bread of life, and internalizing His thoughts and His mind, we live His life (1Cor.2:16). He passed successfully through every test and temptation that we must face (Heb. 2:18; 4:14). Now all His victories are for us. In contact with Him, we can ask for everything He had (1 Pet. 2:21-24.). They are laid up in heaven for us at all times. “What would Jesus do if He were in my place?” should be our constant inquiry (Heb. 5:9; 7:25; 10:14-17; 12:1-3).

     “Study carefully the divine-human character, and constantly inquire, ‘What would Jesus do if He were in my place?’ This should be the measurement of our duty.” OHC 60.

     “Refer every thought and action to Him, inquiring: ‘Is this the way of the Lord?’ If [we] did [we] would walk with God as did Enoch.” 6 T 393.

     “Keep the eye fixed on Jesus, inquiring at every step, ‘Is this the way of the Lord?’ The Lord will not leave anyone who does this to become the sport of Satan’s temptations.” TD 284.

#6. Pray and intercede at the altar of incense with a mind empowered by the Spirit and filled with the love of Christ for others (Rom. 8:26-28).

      “The holy perfume of the character of Christ…. is the sacred fire of God’s own kindling.” TM 357.

     “We must not only pray in Christ’s name, but by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This explains what is meant when it is said that the Spirit ‘maketh intercession for us, with groaning which cannot be uttered.” Rom. 8:26. Such prayer God delights to answer. When with earnestness and intensity we breathe a prayer in the name of Christ, there is in that very intensity a pledge from God that He is about to answer our prayer ‘exceeding abundantly above all that we ask of think.’” COL 147.

     “Let the inspiration of the Spirit of God dictate your prayers.” 6 T 367.

     “In every difficulty we are to see a call to prayer.” Lift Him Up, p.140.

#7. Come into harmony with God in the Most Holy Place; resolve every issue where we have been in disagreement (Eccl. 12:14; Heb. 8:10-12; Ps. 40:8; 51:6-13; 139:23, 24; Lu. 22:42); let the roots of sin be removed that go back to childhood or our ancestry which have caused hurts that still bring poison into our lives (Matt. 15:10-20; Heb. 12:14-29; Rom. 2:12-16; Mal. 3:1-4; 4:5, 6; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; 1Cor. 3:10-17; 4:2-5; Lev. 16:29, 30; Isa. 4:2-6).

     “The heart-Searcher…. is weighing moral character in the golden scales of the heavenly Sanctuary.” SD 60.

     “God is weighing our characters, our conduct, and our motives in the balances of the Sanctuary.” 3 T 370.

     “We individually have a case pending in the court of heaven. Character is being weighed in the balances of the sanctuary…. All dissention, all differences and faultfinding, should be put away, with all evil speaking and bitterness; kindness, love, and compassion for one another should be cherished, that the prayer of Christ that His disciples might be one as He is with the Father may be answered.” 5 T 279.

     “I have seen an angel standing with scales in his hands, weighing the thoughts and interests of the people of God, especially the young.” 1 T 124.

     “Men, women, children and youth, are measured in the scales of heaven in accordance with that which they reveal in their home life.” SD 255.

     “The work of restoration can never be thorough unless the roots of evil are reached. Again and again the shoots have been clipped, while the root of bitterness has been left to spring up and defile many; but the very depth of the hidden evil must be reached, the moral senses must be judged, and judged again, in the light of the divine presence. The daily life will testify whether the work is genuine…. If the tempted soul endures the trying process, and self does not awake to life to feel hurt and abused under the test, that probing knife reveals that the soul is indeed dead to self but alive to God.” 5 BC 1152.

     “The tops have been cut down, but the roots have never been eradicated, and they still bear their unholy fruit to poison the judgment, pervert the perceptions, and blind the understanding…. When, by thorough confession you destroy the root of bitterness, you will see light in God’s light. Without this thorough work you will never clear your souls.” LS 326.

Please notice the implications of these quotes:  Since the people of God are weighed by the scales of the heavenly Sanctuary, it would seem that the earthly Sanctuary contains and reveals the full measure of the character of Christ, broken down into seven steps. And since it was Christ who was the architect of the earthly Sanctuary, it was He who planned out His earthly existence to display these characteristics completely so that all who accepted Him could receive His perfect character, if they, too, would follow the Sanctuary plan. Thus the impossible—perfection of character in our fallen nature—would be made possible by walking with Jesus and connection with Him in this way—the Way of the Sanctuary. In the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, there are passages that foreshadow this concept:

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him—the Spirit of  1.wisdom and of  2. understanding, the Spirit of  3. counsel and of  4. power, the Spirit of  5. knowledge and of  6. the fear of the LORD (see Pr. 8:13)—and He will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what He sees with His eyes, or decide by what He hears with His ears, but with righteousness  7. He will judge (see Isa. 4:4 – the Spirit of judgment)  the needy, with justice He will give decisions for the poor.” Isa. 11:1-4. (Note: I believe these to be the seven qualities of the Holy Spirit as symbolized by the seven-branched candlestick in the Holy Place.)

“In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to Him, and His place of rest will be glorious. In that day the Lord will reach out His hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of His people…. He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; He will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth…. He will sweep His hand over the Euphrates River. He will break it up into seven streams so that men can cross over in sandals. There will be a *highway for the remnant of His people…as there was for Israel when they came up from Egypt.” Isa. 11:10-16.*Hebrew meaning – Main road; raised highway, ramp, stairs; lifestyle, conduct in life; straight ahead.

Note: “The Euphrates is first mentioned in the Old Testament in reference to one of the rivers of the Garden of Eden….and is designated as the northern boundary of the promised land.” 8 BC 328 (not EGW).

“In the last days, the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples…. Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.” Isa. 2:2-5.

Now, perhaps, a picture is beginning to develop for those of you who have read this far in this study. There will be a special understanding of the Sanctuary for the remnant of God’s people who face the spiritual crossing of the Jordan into the heavenly Canaan. The stormy waters of our carnal natures have never truly been conquered. For centuries Jesus has been mediating for His people and by the blood of His spotless perfection providing an entrance into His kingdom. But the remnant, the final generation who will live through the time when probation closes and there is no more mediatorial work being done by Jesus, will need to have the Sanctuary in their hearts and be in full harmony with their heavenly Bridegroom on all seven levels.

When will the work of our heavenly Mediator be ended? Webster’s dictionary states that the work of a mediator is “to bring about a settlement by reconciling conflicting parties; to settle a dispute, etc., by reconciling conflicting parties; to act as agent in conveying, communicating, etc.; to intervene in order to bring about a reconciliation.” As long as we are in conflict with God in our minds on any issue, the Mediatorial work of Christ is needed to stand in the gap for us, and continue to work with us until we come into harmony and agreement with Him on every issue. The Bible makes it very clear that this work will be accomplished for His remnant people.

“I will remove from this city those who rejoice in their pride. Never again will you be haughty on my holy hill. But I will leave within you the meek and humble, who trust in the name of the LORD. The remnant of Israel will do no wrong; they will speak no lies, nor will deceit be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down, and no one will make them afraid…. At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home.” Zeph. 3:11-13, 20.

“These are they who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths, they are blameless.” Rev. 14:4, 5.

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s…death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” Col. 1:21, 22.

Ellen White gives a similar insight:

“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 purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling…. While the investigative judgment is going on 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 on earth…. When this work shall have been accomplished, the followers of Christ will be ready for His appearing.” GC 425. (See also EW 269-271.)

So now we have come full circle. We started out in Daniel with the prophecy that the work of the Messiah would be “to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.” Dan. 9:24. All this is within the setting of the Sanctuary, especially the Most Holy Place. Without the final work of Jesus there, full restitution from the damage of sin would not be accomplished. Jesus is the Author and Finisher, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. He will finish what He has promised – He will make an end of sin and bring in everlasting righteousness.

Since sin began in the garden of Eden, all mankind has tried to find the way to God through personal effort. But this goal will never be accomplished until we learn to seek reconciliation through a personal walk with Jesus, and through a connection with Him. As we commune with Him, His thoughts and ideas flow to us through the Holy Spirit, and thus our lives become submitted and changed into His image, and His works are reproduced in us.

“If we put mind and heart into the work of reaching God’s ideal for us, if we go to Christ, the mighty helper for aid, He will give us the very assistance that we need. He will bestow on us the very power that will enable us to be victorious in the struggle against evil.”  IHP 355.

The Sanctuary is the visible pattern for this connection. It is the way to understand and appropriate the character of Jesus – His life of praise, humility and self-sacrifice is outlined there. You and I can walk that pathway every day if we consciously align ourselves with its principles and power. In so doing, we connect with Jesus in His work in the Most Holy Place. No wonder Satan’s wrath has been vented through the ages against the Sanctuary doctrine! It is the connection with God that produces holiness! It is the Way back home.

*NIV is used unless otherwise noted.

 

Note: Some have asked me to include my list of Satan’s counterfeits for the Sanctuary steps, which display the character of the evil one in contrast to the character of Jesus. Here is that list.

SATAN’S WAY

#1. Criticism, blaming, accusing, controlling

#2. Self-*aggrandizement; putting others down

     *Webster – “to make a person greater in power, rank, prestige or wealth; to exaggerate, to give the appearance of greatness.”

#3. Looking to self or others as the standard for our behavior and lives.

#4. Coming to and living by the standards of the world and other people that we choose to adopt into our lives because they serve our purposes.

#5. The anti-Christ, “little horn” power in each person that wants to be above others and be our own god.

#6. Pharisee-type praying to advance myself, my ideas, my desires, wishes and comforts.

#7. Doing as I please and think best, and expecting God to agree with me and be pleased with me.

     “An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to hate or detect his sin.” Ps. 36:1, 2.

     “Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies. Their venom is like the venom of a snake, like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears, that will not heed the tune of the charmer, however skillful the enchanter may be.” Ps. 58:3-5.

     “They are all hardened rebels, going about to slander. They are bronze and iron; they all act corruptly. The bellows blow fiercely to burn away the lead with fire, but the refining goes on in vain; the wicked are not purged out. They are called rejected silver, because the LORD has rejected them.” Jer. 6:28-30.

 

                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                         

 

                    

 

 

 

               

 

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