Author Topic: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 6--3rd Quarter 2022--Struggling With All Energy  (Read 359 times)

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Richard Myers

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 Lesson 6 July 30-August 5

Struggling With All Energy

Commentary in Navy                  Inspiration in Maroon

Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: John 16:5-15; Col. 1:28, 29; 1 Pet. 1:13, Matt. 5:29; Genesis 32.

Memory Text: “Whereunto I also labour, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily.” Colossians 1:29

A man and woman sat together on a talk show. Both had experienced the murder of a child. The woman’s son had been murdered 20 years before, and her anger and bitterness were as great as ever. The man was totally different. His daughter had been murdered by terrorists a few years earlier. He spoke about forgiveness toward the killers and about how God had transformed his hurt. However terrible the pain, this man had become an illustration of how God can bring healing to the darkest moments of our lives.

How can two people respond so differently? How does spiritual change occur in the life of a Christian, enabling that individual to mature through life’s crucibles rather than being completely overwhelmed by them?

The "new birth" or conversion comes after long wooing by the Holy Spirit wherein we love the Lord our God with all of the heart. It does not end with conversion, we must die daily and maintain our connection with God moment by moment.

The Week at a Glance: What is the role of our wills, and willpower, in the battle with self and sin? How can we avoid the mistake of letting our feelings rule the decisions we make? Why must we persevere and not give up when in the crucible?

Or better yet, it all depends upon us loving God with all of the heart. Then our faith will be such that whatever God allows to come, we shall be prepared. God has promised He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. That promise is only for those who are clinging to Christ. If we allow our minds to wander away from Jesus, then we shall be tempted beyond what we can bear. Do we want to set our will to do His will? If not, then we need to behold Jesus hanging on the cross until we love Him with the whole heart.

Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, August 6.

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Sunday          July 31
The Spirit of Truth

Have you ever prayed, “Please, God, make me good!” but little seems to change? How is it possible that we can pray for God’s great transforming power to work within us, but our lives seem to remain the same? We know that God has unlimited supernatural resources that He so eagerly and freely offers us. We really want to take advantage of it all, and yet, our lives don’t seem to change in a way that matches what God is offering.

Why? One reason is disturbingly simple: While the Spirit has unlimited power to transform us, it is possible by our own choices to restrict what God can do.

This correct. But, better is to understand that unless we love God with the whole heart, we can do no good thing. Instead of asking for power to obey, ask for a revelation of His grace. And, don't stop there, ask for the Holy Spirit and open your Bible to Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, or read a chapter from the Desire of Ages, especially Gethsemane, Calvary, or It is Finished. By beholding His stripes we are healed, transformed from sinner to saint. It would be well to spend a thoughtful hour a day contemplating the life of Christ. Read 2 Cor. 3:18 if you are seriously wanting to be transformed to reflect the character of Christ. Join with us daily as we read a chapter a day.

Read John 16:5-15.

 16:5   But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? 
 16:6   But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. 
 16:7   Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 
 16:8   And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 
 16:9   Of sin, because they believe not on me; 
 16:10   Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 
 16:11   Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 
 16:12   I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 
 16:13   Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. 
 16:14   He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show [it] unto you. 
 16:15   All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show [it] unto you. 

In this passage, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the “Spirit of truth” (John 16:13). What does this imply that the Holy Spirit does for us?
While the Holy Spirit can bring us the truth about our sinfulness, He cannot make us repent. He can also show us the greatest truth about God, but He cannot force us to believe or obey it. If God did compel us in even the slightest way, we would lose our free will, and Satan would accuse God of manipulating our minds and hearts and thus be able to accuse God of cheating in the great controversy. When the great controversy broke out in heaven, our Father did not compel Satan or any of the angels to believe that He was good and just or compel the angels to repent. And in the Garden of Eden, when so much was at stake again, God made the truth about the tree in the middle of the garden very clear, but did not prevent Eve and Adam from exercising their free will to disobey. God will not act any differently with us today. So, the Spirit presents the truth about God and sin and then says, “In view of what I have shown you, what will you do now?”

We have a part to play in our salvation. What shall we do when convicted of sin, righteousness, and judgment? What did Saul do? He finally got to the point that he realized no matter what he did, he could not keep the law of god (be transformed). Why? what was missing? So it with us, we do not understand we need Jesus in order to do good. Unless we love the Lord our God with the whole heart, we will not be transformed. How is it that we can love God with the whole heart? What does the Bible say about repentance? When we see we are condemned, then what must we do that we will repent? It is that we do not want to go to jail that we are changed? No. We must repent, truly repent. How does that happen? It happens when we love the Lord our God with the whole heart. We sorrow over what we have done to Jesus. What causes us to sorrow? Because we hurt the One we love. Then the problem is if we do not repent, truly repent, then we do not love God supremely. Then the real question is what shall we do in order to love God supremely? Spend time with Him. Learn of  Him, for it is by His stripes we are transformed. It is  by beholding His character that we are transformed into His image (character).

It is the same when we are in the crucible. Sometimes the crucible is there precisely because we have not obeyed or repented of our sins. For our Father to work in such cases, we must consciously choose to open the doors of repentance and obedience in order for God’s power to enter in and transform us.

What convictions has the “Spirit of truth” brought to you recently? How well are you listening to His voice? And, most important, what choices are you making with your free will?

Are we studying the Word? Are we seeking to know God? How is it that we come to the point of loving God more than sin, the things of this world? Why is it that we did come to the point of loving God more than sin, but then sinned anyway? Because we remember what great things God has done for us, do we ever forget this, or even forget God is with us? If we do not cling to Christ, keep our minds on Him, then we have no power to resist the smallest temptation. We are a forgetful people. Let us not forget God. How can this be? What did Daniel do in order to remember God every day, all day long?

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Monday          August 1
The Divine-Human Combination

What is your greatest accomplishment ever?

Making a full heart surrender to God!

Chances are, whatever you achieved did not happen simply by your rolling out of bed in the morning. If we want to achieve something worthwhile in this life, it takes time and effort. Our discipleship to Christ is no different.

Amen! God does not do it all. It is our effort and His power that does anything good in my life, that is my character. He does not do what we can do for ourselves.

Read Colossians 1:28, 29.

 1:28   Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 
 1:29   Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. 

Though Paul talks about God working in him, in what ways does he show the human effort also involved? See also Deut. 4:4, Luke 13:24, 1 Cor. 9:25, Heb. 12:4.

In Colossians 1:29 there is a very interesting insight into the way Paul sees his relationship with God in this work. He says that he is struggling — but with the power of God.

The word for “labor” means to “grow weary,” to “work to the point of exhaustion.” This word was used particularly of athletes as they trained. The word for “struggle,” which comes next, can mean in some languages “to agonize.” So, we have the word picture of an athlete straining with everything to win. But then Paul adds a twist to the idea, because Paul is straining, not with everything he has, but with everything that God gives him. So we are left with a simple conclusion about Paul’s ministry — it was a ministry done with great personal effort and discipline, but done with God’s power. This relationship works in exactly the same way as we pursue the development of Christ’s character in us.

Amen!! It is my character that needs development. It is through His power and my effort that my character grows stronger. When converted God imparts Christ's character to us. But, is there room for growth? Yes, in two ways. First, we are ignorant of many  of God's ways. He enlightens us and thus we reflect more perfectly His righteous character. All of the fruits of the Spirit are there at true conversion, but that does not include which day we keep holy. Then there is the matter of weakness of character. While all of the fruits are seen in the life of those filled with the Holy Spirit, Adam had them all, but he had a very weak character. When given the lightest test possible, don't eat the forbidden fruit, he failed. When Moses was first converted he had all of the fruits of the Spirit, but his character was not what it was when he dealt with Kora, Dathan, and Abirum. He had the fruit of long-suffering when first converted, but not the strength of character that he had developed after dealing with the rebellion which had large support. "As soon as the movement gained sufficient strength to warrant an open rupture, Korah publicly accused Moses and Aaron of usurping authority. “Ye take too much upon you,” said the conspirators. “Seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?”  EP 279.

Compare what Adam failed on to what Moses  did not fail on.  It is this character that our lessons are teaching, and how God and man work together to achieve. If you were stranded on an island and God gave you the choice of having Adam or Moses to help you, who would you choose, Adam living in holy flesh, or Moses living in sinful flesh after 40 years in the wilderness?

This is important to remember, because we live in a world in which we want more and more with less and less effort. That idea has crept into Christianity, too. Some Christian evangelists promise that if you just believe, the Holy Spirit will fall upon you with amazing supernatural power and perform great miracles. But this can be a dangerous half-truth, because it can lead people to the conclusion that we just need to wait for God’s power to come while sitting comfortably in our seats!

Yes, indeed it has come into the church. We are told to pray for the Latter Rain. He will give us great power. Yes, and no. In a Laodicean church, few are converted, thus few will receive the Latter Rain. There is a teaching very popular among conservatives who teach that the 144,000 will not sin because God waves a wand and empowers them to not sin. He "imparts" this character to them, not to us. We only get the "substitution" of His character to stand in place of our defective character.

What is your own experience with the kind of striving Paul talked about? What things has God laid upon your heart that you are struggling with? How can you learn to surrender to God’s will?

In other words, what  must I do to be saved? This is what it means to be surrendered to God. God requires that we love the Lord our God with the whole heart, a full surrender of all we have and all we are. How  do you answer this most important question? How does one come to the point of loving God with the whole heart? You cannot love someone to that extent without truly knowing them. The Bible tells us that we love Him because He first loved us. A whole heart love requires more than knowing He loves us, but how much does He loves us? It takes some time to know how much God loves us. It would be well to spend a thoughtful hour a day contemplating the  life of Christ, especially the closing scenes. By beholding we become transformed into His image (2 Cor. 3:18). What do we see in the closing scenes? We seen Jesus sweating blood in Gethsemane. We see Jesus taking the stripes we deserve prior to being hung on a cross. By beholding His stripes we are healed. "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." 1 Peter 2:24. We must "look and live" in order to be truly converted.

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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  • Posts: 43481
  • Grace, more than a word, it is transforming power
    • The Remnant Online
Tuesday          August 2
The Disciplined Will

One of the greatest enemies of our wills is our own feelings. We are increasingly living in a culture bombarded with pictures and music that can appeal directly to our senses, triggering our emotions — anger, fear, or lust — without our realizing it. How often do we think such things as “What do I feel like eating for supper?” “What do I feel like doing today?” “Do I feel good about buying this?” Feelings have thus become intimately involved in our decision-making. Feelings are not necessarily bad, but how I feel about something may have little to do with what is right or best. Indeed, our feelings can lie to us (“The heart is deceitful above all things” [Jer. 17:9]) and can create a false picture of reality, causing us to make bad choices, setting us up for a crucible of our own making.

This is why we must guard the avenues of the mind. We need to take care as to what we listen to, what we see, what we feel, what we smell, and what we think. We need Jesus continually in order to resist the smallest temptation. When we forget about Jesus, then we have no protection against the smallest temptation to sin. Jesus is our only hope. Through Him we can do all things.  "Only through realizing our own weakness and looking steadfastly unto Jesus can we walk securely."

What examples can you find from the Bible where people made choices based on feelings rather than on God’s Word? What were the consequences? See for example, Gen. 3:6; 2 Sam. 11:2-4; Gal. 2:11, 12.

David did not guard who he watched. King Saul thought he would receive help from a witch. He did not guard his thoughts, his vision, nor his hearing. Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and fell in the water. Saul of Tarsus listened to false teachers. Paul felt he ought to go through the purification rites instead of asking God. It cost the church the loss of his help. Moses too his eyes off of Jesus and felt he needed to rebuke Israel. Not having the aid of the Holy Spirit, he manifest pride and anger. King Nebuchadnezzar listened to Satan telling him of his greatness, and thus became a wild animal so he would understand his true condition and continual need of Jesus. Feeling his need to protect himself, King David ordered the death of Uriah his faithful servant. Job under great pressure when sick and tired allowed his mind to wander away from Jesus and listened to Satan tell him how great he was, so that Job spoke words that were not true in defense of himself (Job 38:1-3).

Read 1 Peter 1:13.

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 

What is Peter concerned about, and what does he want his readers actually to do?

He is concerned about sin and how to avert it. He speaks the truth that we all need to hear continually. It would be well to behold the life of Christ, especially the closing scenes where we have a profound view of the grace by which we are saved continually.

Peter understood that the mind is the rudder for the body that we control. Take away the control of the mind, and we will be controlled by whatever feelings blow our way.

Imagine walking along a narrow path to the Shepherd’s home. Along the way there are many paths leading in different directions. Some of these paths go to places that we would not want to visit. Others look tempting; they appeal to our feelings, our emotions, our desires. If, though, we take any one of them, we get off the right path and go in a way that might be exceedingly difficult to get off.

When Mary and Joseph took their eyes off of Jesus and left Him at the temple in Jerusalem, it took them three days of worry to find Him. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus that we have power to resist the feelings that would lead us away from Him.

What important decisions are you facing? Ask yourself honestly, “How can I know if I am basing my choices on feeling, emotion, desire, as opposed to the Word of God?”

Ask Jesus to show you if you are selfish and thinking of self or are following His Word and the Holy Spirit. Do we love the Lord our God with all of the heart, or do we love something else more? Is the heart fully surrendered to God? If not, then self is alive and well and we shall do the bidding of Satan and not God.

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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  • Posts: 43481
  • Grace, more than a word, it is transforming power
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Wednesday         August 3
Radical Commitment

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast [it] from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not [that] thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Matt. 5:29.

Dwell on the words of Jesus in the above verse. Would you call His words radical? If so, why?

Radical to those who do not love God with all of the heart. To those of us who love the Lord our God with all of the heart we would rather die than sin. But, if we could choose between losing an I or losing our life, which would we choose? Not so radical after all.

Radical action is necessary not because God has made the Christian life difficult, but because we and our culture have drifted so far away from God’s plans for us. People often wake up and wonder to themselves, “How could I have gone so far away from God?” The answer is always the same: just one step at a time.

Moses was surely sorry for the sins that cost him his life. But, it was not that he had to die that was the great concern. He was so very sorry that he has hurt Jesus. His repentance was quick and deep because He love the Lord with all of his heart.

Read Matthew 5:29, 30.

 5:29   And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast [it] from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not [that] thy whole body should be cast into hell. 
 5:30   And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast [it] from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not [that] thy whole body should be cast into hell. 

Jesus is speaking in the context of sexual sin. However, the underlying principles apply to dealing with other sin, as well. Indeed, the principles can apply to our growth in Christ in general.

What crucial point is Jesus telling us with His words in Matthew 5:29, 30? Are we really called literally to maim ourselves?

No, He is pointing out how ignorant someone is to choose to give up life with Him for eternity and be burned by fire until every sinful deed received just punishment. Since we value our eyes and hands, now much ought we value eternal life with Jesus even if it cost us something as precious as our eyes and hands. Losing them is nothing compared to being burned to death for every sin. Not for eternity, but by hellfire until justice is satisfied. Is this not what Jesus saying? What else could He mean by "hell"?

Jesus isn’t calling us to harm our bodies physically — not at all! Rather, He is calling us to control our minds and therefore our bodies, no matter the cost. Notice that the verses do not say that we should pray and that God will instantly remove the sinful tendencies from our lives.

Sometimes God may graciously do this for us, but often He calls us to make a radical commitment to give up something, or start doing something, that we may not feel like doing at all. What a crucible that can be! The more often we make the right choices, the stronger we will become, and the weaker the power of temptation in our lives.

God sometimes uses crucibles to catch our attention when there are so many noisy distractions around us. It is in the crucible that we realize how far we have drifted from God. The crucible may be God’s call for us to make a radical decision to return to our Father’s plan for us.

Amen! Radical involves a new birth that calls for surrender of all we have and all we are. Many are called, but few will choose to accept life for eternity with Jesus and without sin, sorrow, and death. Instead, for them there is a fearful looking unto judgment (hell) and death. "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Hebrews 10:26-31. It might be helpful to share these verses instead of just using the word "hell" so that some might be pulled out of the fire (Jude 1:23).

God has better thoughts for us all. "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Jeremiah 29:11.

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

  • Servant
  • Posts: 43481
  • Grace, more than a word, it is transforming power
    • The Remnant Online
Thursday          August 4
The Need to Persevere

Read the story of Jacob’s wrestling with God (Genesis 32). What does this story say to us about perseverance, even amid great discouragement? (Keep the whole context of Jacob’s situation in mind before you answer.)

We can know what is right and exercise our wills to do the right thing; but when we are under pressure, it can be very difficult to keep holding on to God and His promises. That’s because we are weak and fearful. Therefore, one of the important strengths of the Christian is perseverance, the ability to keep going despite wanting to give up.
One of the greatest examples of perseverance in the Bible is Jacob. Many years before, Jacob had tricked his brother, Esau, and his father into giving him the birthright (Genesis 27), and ever since, he had been running in fear of Esau’s desire to kill him. Even though he had been given wonderful promises of God’s guidance and blessing in his dream of a ladder reaching to heaven (Genesis 28), he was still scared. Jacob was desperate for God’s assurance that he was accepted and that the promises made to him many years before were still true. As he fought someone who was actually Jesus, Jacob had his hip dislocated. From that point on, it could not have been possible to fight, as the pain would have been too excruciating. There must have been a subtle shift from fighting to hanging on. Jacob is hanging on to Jesus through unbearable pain until he receives an assurance of his blessing. So Jesus says to him, “Let me go, for it is daybreak” (Gen. 32:26, NIV).

Jacob’s blessing came because he held on through the pain. So it is with us. God may also dislocate our “hip” and then call us to hang on to Him through our pain. Indeed, God allowed the painful scars to continue — Jacob was still limping when he met his brother. To outside appearances it was a weakness, but for Jacob it was an indication of his strength.

Amen. Another example of needing to hold on no matter what is found in the life of Job. It is indeed hard to hold on to Jesus when sick and tired. Job let go. What had he been through before Satan attacked him with sores from head to toe? He lost everything except his wife who Satan knew he could speak through her and tell Job to curse God and die. Job did not curse God, but once the thought was in his mind, he at times wished for death. When his fourth friend, Elihu reproved him, he stopped saying things that were untrue. Then God spoke to him out of the whirlwind and rebuked him strongly for a period of time. Job repented and God blessed him mightily. Don't rely on what others have falsely taught, go study and see if this is so. If we continue to rely upon what we have been taught, we shall continue to be deceived about our own condition before God. Be a faithful Berean and study to show thyself approved as they did with the teachings of Paul.

What are some practical choices you can make (associations, lifestyle, reading material, health habits, spiritual life) that will help you better persevere with the Lord amid discouragement and temptation?

The hours of sleep are more valuable prior to midnight. If we will go to bed early, then we shall arise early and can spend a thoughtful hour a day contemplating the life of Christ. By beholding His glory (character) we shall be changed into His image (character) by the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18). Thus, we will start our day in a converted state. If we will cling to Jesus until noon when we can remove ourselves  from the world for time to kneel down and make sure we have a connection with Christ, we ought to be able to get a good start at making it through the day without hurting Jesus and others. God wants us to be faithful examples of His character rightly representing Him before a world soon to perish.

Persevering is dependent upon our full surrender to Christ continually. Else we will not persevere. Our effort is first to cling to Christ.

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

  • Servant
  • Posts: 43481
  • Grace, more than a word, it is transforming power
    • The Remnant Online
Friday          August 5

Further Thought: Read Ellen G. White, “The Night of Wrestling,” pp. 195-203, in Patriarchs and Prophets; “Consecration,” pp. 43-48, in Steps to Christ.

“This will, that forms so important a factor in the character of man, was at the Fall given into the control of Satan; and he has ever since been working in man to will and to do of his own pleasure, but to the utter ruin and misery of man.” — Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 515.

This is so very true. We come into this world in need of a new birth wherein we can obey God. In order to do this we must choose to learn of God. Why can we make this decision even though Satan tells us to do otherwise? Because it is for our good to do so. We can do no good thing for the right reason when self is alive. But, we can do things that are good for us in the end. Do you want to burn for eternity? That would be a good reason even though selfish to look for a way out. God is perfectly just and will not burn sinners for eternity, only for as long as they deserve. So, we ought to choose to learn of God and a way out of being burned for every sin committed.

Now, we see that with free will we can choose to do something good even though it is for a selfish reason. Study the Bible to know the truth. All can do this unless they have hardened the heart in resisting the truth for a very long time. Satan will do all he can to stop this. But for our good we ought to seek to understand how things work, for out good.

“In order to receive God’s help, man must realize his weakness and deficiency; he must apply his own mind to the great change to be wrought in himself; he must be aroused to earnest and persevering prayer and effort. Wrong habits and customs must be shaken off; and it is only by determined endeavor to correct these errors and to conform to right principles that the victory can be gained. Many never attain to the position that they might occupy, because they wait for God to do for them that which He has given them power to do for themselves. All who are fitted for usefulness must be trained by the severest mental and moral discipline, and God will assist them by uniting divine power with human effort.” — Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 248.

Why is this so? Why must there be "the severest mental and moral discipline"? Because we come into this world evil. We have a fallen nature that makes it hard to do what is right for the right reason. We serve the flesh until we are born again of the Spirit."That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." John 3:6,7.

Discussion Questions:

    To what extent do you think that we actually recognize that our wills were “at the Fall given into the control of Satan”?

It depends on how clearly we realize the character of our God. The closer we get to Jesus, the more clearly we see our own defects of character. That is not to say that they manifest themselves in the saints when they are fully surrendered to Christ. But, when we clearly see His character, we have a standard to measure our own character. We know who we are in Christ and apart from Christ. In our flesh we are evil, but in the heart we may be cleansed whiter than snow. The motives are pure and holy when the Holy Spirit has possession of the heart. When we separate from Christ, then we are walking in the flesh, not in the Spirit. Thus, none of the fruits of the Spirit will be in the life, but rather the works of the flesh are in the life.

How by focusing on the character of Jesus can we better understand just how fallen we are and how great God’s grace is toward us?

By focusing on the character of Jesus we are changed into His image (2 Cor. 3:18). Then we have spiritual eyesight to see how much God's loves the sinner, that He suffered and died for us while we were yet sinners. And, even when in Christ, we understand that Christ covers the sins we do not know we do. We may eat the wrong food, dress the wrong way, and break the 4th commandment because we do not understand. It is the heart that God wants, all of it, not 99%.

     Read the story of Jesus in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36-42). What were Jesus’ own feelings and desires, as opposed to God’s will? What can we learn from this example?

Christ wanted what His Father wanted. He was tempted to do otherwise, but He loves His Father and us more than escaping the suffering He was enduring (sweating blood). When we suffer, do we love God more than wanting to escape our suffering? Or do we give in and take what appears to be the easy path? Which in the end is the easier path considering the rewards and punishment that follows?

     As a class, talk about the distinct things in your own culture that can work to break down our defenses and leave us more vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. What can we do to help other church members be aware of these dangers, as well as help those who feel the need for help?

Help is at hand. Where is Jesus for those who are seeking help? If not converted, He stands at the door of the heart seeking entrance. If converted, then like Jesus what is it that will help them through the great trials that will come? What was it that got Jesus through His great suffering? "Amid the awful darkness, apparently forsaken of God, Christ had drained the last dregs in the cup of human woe. In those dreadful hours He had relied upon the evidence of His Father’s acceptance heretofore given Him. He was acquainted with the character of His Father; He understood His justice, His mercy, and His great love. By faith He rested in Him whom it had ever been His joy to obey. And as in submission He committed Himself to God, the sense of the loss of His Father’s favor was withdrawn. By faith, Christ was victor.  Desire of Ages, pg 756. So it will be with all who love the Lord our God with the whole heart.
     Do you know someone in your church who hasn’t been there for quite a long time, who might be getting ready to give up or has already given up? What can you do as a group to encourage this person, to help him or her not turn away from Jesus? What practical things can you do to help?

In the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, many who are baptized leave the church. Why? Many were buried alive and did not die to self. Thus, they cannot bear the temptations and trials that come, even in God's church. Why would they stay in a Laodicean Church that misrepresents the message we have been given. The very best we can do for those who do not come to church is to rightly represent Christ, and when we do not, we ought to repent, and repent publicly where we have done so publicly. If we are doing what God wants us to do, we will visit those who have ceased coming to church.

It would be good to remember that we have troubles in the church never before experienced. Rebellion is often impossible to cure. That is not an excuse for sin in the church, but it does create great trials for those seeking to walk in the light of God's love and truth. This quarter's lessons are much needed that we fail not to endure the great trials in God's church. If the piety in the church is very low, then remove your children from the church, but do not give up yourself to follow the example of Jesus. You can rightly represent Christ in your church. If there are those open to truth, then do not leave them unhelped. [color]

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.