In the Crucible with Christ
Struggling with All Energy
Lesson #6 for August 6, 2022
John 16:8-13: [Jesus said:] 8 “And when he [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will prove to the people of the world that they are wrong about sin and about what is right and about God’s judgement. 9They are wrong about sin, because they do not believe in me; 10they are wrong about what is right, because I am going to the Father and you will not see me any more; 11and they are wrong about judgement, because the ruler of this world has already been judged.
12 “I have much more to tell you, but now it would be too much for you to bear. 13When, however, the Spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, he will lead you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own authority, but he will speak of what he hears, and will tell you of things to come.”?American Bible Society. (1992). The Holy Bible: The Good News Translation* (2nd ed.,John 16:8-13). New York: American Bible Society [abbreviated as Good News Bible].†‡
Colossians 1:28-29: 28So we preach Christ to everyone. With all possible wisdom we warn and teach them in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ. 29To get this done I toil and struggle, using the mighty strength which Christ supplies and which is at work in me.?Good News Bible.*†
Hebrews 12:4: For in your struggle against sin you have not yet had to resist to the point of being killed.?Good News Bible.*†
Jeremiah 17:9: [The Lord said:] “Who can understand the human heart?
There is nothing else so deceitful;
it is too sick to be healed.”?Good News Bible.*‡
Genesis 3:6: The woman saw how beautiful the tree was and how good its fruit would be to eat, and she thought how wonderful it would be to become wise. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, and he also ate it.?Good News Bible.*
2 Samuel 11:2-4: 2 One day, late in the afternoon, David got up from his nap and went to the palace roof. As he walked about up there, he saw a woman having a bath. She was very beautiful. 3So he sent a messenger to find out who she was, and learnt that she was Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite. 4David sent messengers to fetch her; they brought her to him and he made love to her. (She had just finished her monthly ritual of purification.) Then she went back home.?Good News Bible.* [Bathsheba was a married woman. Why hadn’t she been pregnant before? Why did she become pregnant after that one encounter with David?]‡
Galatians 2:11-12: 11 But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him in public, because he was clearly wrong. 12Before some men who had been sent by James arrived there, Peter had been eating with the Gentile brothers and sisters. But after these men arrived, he drew back and would not eat with the Gentiles, because he was afraid of those who were in favour of circumcising them.?Good News Bible.*†
Matthew 5:29-30: [Jesus said:] 29 “So if your right eye causes you to sin, take it out and throw it away! It is much better for you to lose a part of your body than to have your whole body thrown into hell. 30If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is much better for you to lose one of your limbs than for your whole body to go to hell.”?Good News Bible.*‡
Genesis 32:22-32: 22 That same night Jacob got up, took his two wives, his two concubines, and his eleven children, and crossed the River Jabbok. 23After he had sent them across, he also sent across all that he owned, 24but he stayed behind, alone.
Then a man came and wrestled with him until just before daybreak. 25When the man saw that he was not winning the struggle, he struck Jacob on the hip, and it was thrown out of joint. 26The man said, “Let me go; daylight is coming.”
“I won’t, unless you bless me,” Jacob answered.
27 “What is your name?” the man asked.
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 The man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob. You have struggled with God and with men, and you have won; so your name will be Israel.”
29 Jacob said, “Now tell me your name.”
But he answered, “Why do you want to know my name?” Then he blessed Jacob.
30 Jacob said, “I have seen God face to face, and I am still alive”; so he named the place Peniel. 31The sun rose as Jacob was leaving Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32Even today the descendants of Israel do not eat the muscle which is on the hip joint, because it was on this muscle that Jacob was struck.?Good News Bible.*†
[From the writings of Ellen G. White=EGW:] Satan had accused Jacob before the angels of God, [That sounds like the story of Job!] claiming the right to destroy him because of his sin; he had moved upon Esau to march against him; and during the patriarch’s long night of wrestling, Satan endeavored to force upon him a sense of his guilt, in order to discourage him, and break his hold upon God. When in his distress Jacob laid hold of the Angel, and made supplication with tears, the heavenly Messenger, in order to try his faith, also reminded him of his sin, and endeavored to escape from him. But Jacob would not be turned away. He had learned that God is merciful, and he cast himself upon His mercy. He pointed back to his repentance for his sin, and pleaded for deliverance. As he reviewed his life, he was driven almost to despair; but he held fast the Angel, and with earnest, agonizing cries urged his petition until he prevailed.
Such will be the experience of God’s people in their final struggle with the powers of evil. God will test their faith, their perseverance, their confidence in His power to deliver them. Satan will endeavor to terrify them with the thought that their cases are hopeless; that their sins have been too great to receive pardon. They will have a deep sense of their shortcomings, and as they review their lives their hopes will sink. But remembering the greatness of God’s mercy, and their own sincere repentance, they will plead His promises made through Christ to helpless, repenting sinners. Their faith will not fail because their prayers are not immediately answered. They will lay hold of the strength of God, as Jacob laid hold of the Angel, and the language of their souls will be, “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.”
Had not Jacob previously repented of his sin in obtaining the birthright by fraud, God could not have heard his prayer and mercifully preserved his life. [Why not? Can’t God do anything?] So in the time of trouble, if the people of God had unconfessed sins to appear before them while tortured with fear and anguish, they would be overwhelmed; despair would cut off their faith, and they could not have confidence to plead with God for deliverance. But while they have a deep sense of their unworthiness, they will have no concealed wrongs to reveal. Their sins will have been blotted out by the atoning blood of Christ, and they cannot bring them to remembrance.?Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets* 201.3-202.2.†‡
[EGW:] 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, 515.1.†‡
[EGW:] 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. [Where is the boundary between doing for ourselves that which we think we can versus relying on God? How can we know when to wait for God and when to proceed with our own decisions? For example, what about Abraham having an heir with Hagar after many years trying with Sarah?] 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* 248.2.†‡
[EGW:] We can do nothing of ourselves. In all our helpless unworthiness we must trust in the merits of the crucified and risen Saviour. None will ever perish while they do this. The long, black catalogue of our delinquencies is before the eye of the Infinite. The register is complete; none of our offenses are forgotten. [There is nothing wrong with God’s memory!] But He who listened to the cries of His servants of old, will hear the prayer of faith and pardon our transgressions. He has promised, and He will fulfill His word….
The greatest victories to the church of Christ or to the individual Christian are not those that are gained by talent or education, by wealth or the favor of men. They are those victories that are gained in the audience chamber with God, when earnest, agonizing faith lays hold upon the mighty arm of power.—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets* 202.4-203.1.†‡
[EGW:] The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought. The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God, requires a struggle; but the soul must submit to God before it can be renewed in holiness….
God does not force the will of His creatures. He cannot accept an homage that is not willingly and intelligently given. A mere forced submission would prevent all real development of mind or character; it would make man a mere automaton….
Whatever shall draw away the heart from God must be given up. Mammon is the idol of many. The love of money, the desire for wealth, is the golden chain that binds them to Satan. Reputation and worldly honor are worshiped by another class. The life of selfish ease and freedom from responsibility is the idol of others. But these slavish bands must be broken. We cannot be half the Lord’s and half the world’s. We are not God’s children unless we are such entirely.
There are those who profess to serve God, while they rely upon their own efforts to obey His law, to form a right character, and secure salvation. Their hearts are not moved by any deep sense of the love of Christ, but they seek to perform the duties of the Christian life as that which God requires of them in order to gain heaven. Such religion is worth nothing. When Christ dwells in the heart, the soul will be so filled with His love, with the joy of communion with Him, that it will cleave to Him; and in the contemplation of Him, self will be forgotten. Love to Christ will be the spring of action. Those who feel the constraining love of God, do not ask how little may be given to meet the requirements of God; they do not ask for the lowest standard, but aim at perfect conformity to the will of their Redeemer. With earnest desire they yield all and manifest an interest proportionate to the value of the object which they seek. A profession of Christ without this deep love is mere talk, dry formality, and heavy drudgery.?Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ* 43.3-44.2.†‡
Matthew 26:36-43: 36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee. Grief and anguish came over him, 38and he said to them, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 He went a little farther on, threw himself face downwards on the ground, and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want.”
40 Then he returned to the three disciples and found them asleep; and he said to Peter, “How is it that you three were not able to keep watch with me even for one hour? 41Keep watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 Once more Jesus went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cup of suffering cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43He returned once more and found the disciples asleep; they could not keep their eyes open.?Good News Bible.*† [Did the Devil have something to do with their being unable to stay awake? Did the Devil use anesthetic agents?]‡
[From the Bible study guide=BSG:] The Bible presents God as love (John 3:16; 1 John 4:8, 16). He created Adam and Eve innocent (Gen. 1:31,Gen. 2:25,Eccles. 7:29) and with freedom of choice (Gen. 2:15S17). However, our parents chose to sin (Gen. 3:6).?Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* 82.†‡§
John 3:16: [Jesus said:] “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.”?Good News Bible.*‡
1 John 4:8,16: 8Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love….
16And we ourselves know and believe the love which God has for us.
God is love, and those who live in love live in union with God and God lives in union with them.?Good News Bible.*
Genesis 1:31: God looked at everything he had made [including especially humans], and he was very pleased. Evening passed and morning came—that was the sixth day.?Good News Bible.*‡ [God declared that His creation was very good. Was He wrong?]‡
[BSG:] For this reason, all humans are born in sin, and none is born righteous (Rom. 3:9S18, 23;Ps. 14:1S3;Ps. 51:5). Thus, the Bible rejects Pelagianism and presents sin as more than an individual human act. Rather, sin is described as both an external and internal force that enslaves and destroys all humanity in all its aspects. Facing this grim outlook, Paul exclaimed desperately: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24, NKJV). By itself, humanity cannot solve the problem of sin and evil. The only hope for sinful humanity is in the sacrificial and transformative ministry of Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:24, 25; Rom. 5:6S19;Rom. 7:25) and in the regenerative and mediating ministry of the Holy Spirit, who gives us a new heart (Ezek. 36:26, 27; John 3:5S8;Rom. 8:3S6, 9S17).?Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* 82.‡§
Romans 5:12-19: 12 Sin came into the world through one man, and his sin brought death with it. As a result, death has spread to the whole human race because everyone has sinned. 13There was sin in the world before the Law was given; but where there is no law, no account is kept of sins. 14But from the time of Adam to the time of Moses death ruled over the whole human race, even over those who did not sin in the same way that Adam did when he disobeyed God’s command.
Adam was a figure of the one who was to come. 15But the two are not the same, because God’s free gift is not like Adam’s sin. It is true that many people died because of the sin of that one man. But God’s grace is much greater, and so is his free gift to so many people through the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. 16And there is a difference between God’s gift and the sin of one man. After the one sin, came the judgement of “Guilty”; but after so many sins, comes the undeserved gift of “Not guilty!” 17It is true that through the sin of one man [Adam] death began to rule because of that one man. But how much greater is the result of what was done by the one man, Jesus Christ! All who receive God’s abundant grace and are freely put right with him will rule in life through Christ.
18 So then, as the one sin condemned all people, in the same way the one righteous act sets all people free and gives them life. 19And just as the mass of people were made sinners as the result of the disobedience of one man, in the same way the mass of people will all be put right with God as the result of the obedience of the one man.?Good News Bible.*†‡
[BSG:] Historically, most Christians rejected Pelagius and embraced Augustine’s understanding that all humans are born with a sinful nature and that sin is an invincible force for humans. Roman Catholics integrated into their theology Augustine’s idea that all humans inherit Adam’s guilt and the need for sacraments but rejected his views on predestination. In contradistinction, Protestantism rightly rejected Augustine’s idea that we inherit Adam’s guilt and that God’s grace comes through the sacraments, but large parts of Protestantism erroneously accepted his concept of predestination. In the wake of the Enlightenment, modern and postmodern societies tend to reject the Augustinian ideas and think more in line with Pelagius. [Modern humans who think that humans have descended from apes, do not want to think that God has anything to do with their lives!] To reach people in these societies, we not only need to emphasize the biblical teachings on the free will and our profound responsibility for our individual and communal history but also share the biblical teaching about the seriousness of the power of sin and our only hope of salvation in Jesus Christ. This illustration helps us understand that knowing the truth is essential for our understanding of suffering and trials in our lives. But it also helps us understand our own nature and the power of free will. Such understanding helps us always seek and accept God’s help, guidance, and power to overcome our crucibles.?Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* 83.†‡
[BSG:] Some Christians think Christianity is synonymous with the absence of suffering and troubles. Other Christians do allow for some amount of inconvenience. But how many Christians are radically committed to God, to His call to follow Christ, to His kingdom, and to His mission in the great conflict between God and Satan, good and evil? In the context of increasing persecution of contemporary Christians in various parts of the world, numerous Christians feel the need for a better—indeed, radical—preparedness to go through crucibles. Examine your level of commitment to God and His kingdom. Design a scale of personal commitment. Based on your scale, what is radical commitment for you? To what extent are you ready in your Christian commitment to serve God in whatever way He may ask of you??Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* 84.‡
©2022, Kenneth Hart, MD, MA, MPH. Permission is hereby granted for any noncommercial use of these materials. Free distribution of all or of a portion of this material such as to a Bible study class is encouraged. *Electronic version. †Bold type is added. ‡Brackets and content in brackets are added. §Italic type is in the source. ¶Compared with the first source, this source has punctuation and/or capitalization differences only. €This source has minor wording differences compared with the first source and may also have punctuation and/or capitalization differences. [email protected]
Last Modified: July 17, 2022
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