Three Angel's Messages shared with the world

Chapter 1. Transforming the Character

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Every now and then, you hear of an amazing transformation that has occurred in a person's life. This type of story is moving and inspiring. Even more impactful is the opportunity to witness firsthand when a life changes so dramatically. What a thrill to personally watch an angry, short-fused spouse become patient and pleasant; or a boss, a greedy, never-satisfied business executive become content and happy; or a child, a depressed, unemployed, college graduate achieve calm assurance and joy.

How do they do it? How do people develop patience, exhibit kindness, overcome addiction, eliminate a violent temper, become content and happy or modify any of a long list of character flaws? And how do these changes become truly integrated into the character? Successful transformations are not temporary acts or just band-aids. They are not selfishly motivated or sustained by guilt, but implemented with sincerity and pure intentions for the long-term. They also aren't isolated, but affect all other areas of the life for the better, inspiring additional change.

Pursuing character transformation in your own life is a quest that begins from a place familiar to us all. Everyone, at one time or another, has struggled with mastering his or her own behavior, internal thoughts and emotions. It is extremely challenging to even recognize your own faults, much less acknowledge them or accept that they are the cause of any problems. The challenge is especially frustrating and depressing as you think of the harm you have caused to those around you, even to those you love the very most in this world. It may seem overwhelmingly difficult and even strangely undesirable to break free of these thought patterns and long-entrenched habits. Nevertheless, something urges you to try.

The many theories and methods available for trial, when searching for solutions to character flaws, are diverse and plentiful. Even more challenging is that each approach may differ in its definitions of the root of the problem and its definitions of success.

To learn more about these definitions we have turned to the Bible. What is found there, is a clear description of the root of the problem, along with a solution of vastly different composition than all the others. It is a complete and long-term solution, promising one hundred percent success. The solution and its giver, are the subject of this book.

The Bible contains a multitude of verses that relate to the phenomenon of character transformation. It speaks of the process using a number of intriguing terms, including:

Figure 1.1 - Bible terms for character transformation

Each of these terms, and others, will be explored in-depth as we proceed. They are all closely interrelated and are different aspects of, or ways of seeing, the same process; God's work to transform your character completely and perfectly, by making you into the creature He originally created. Becoming this "New Creature" is the solution presented in the Bible.

Key Point:
The emergence, growth and maturity of a new creature are synonymous with character transformation and development.

What is Character?

"And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience [character]; and experience, hope" (Romans 5:3-4).

The Bible is full of concepts that revolve around and are realized in the English word "character". Though the word "Character" does not appear in the King James Version of the Bible, other translations do render the Greek word "dokima" (translated "experience" in the KJV) as character or proven character, as in the above passage in Romans. The word "dokima" means tested, proven or having passed the test. The type of character presented, in this verse and derived from texts throughout the Bible, is gained through life experiences and determines the way an individual responds to situations. The phrase "Transforming the Character" encompasses numerous and essential Biblical concepts.

English dictionaries define character as the features and traits that form behavior or disposition. The thoughts, habits and conduct of a person result from the character he or she has formed. Good character is closely associated with moral qualities, ethical standards, principles, honesty, courage, integrity and the like. Importantly, this state can only be reached after a fair amount of time goes by, in which one gains experience, makes choices and demonstrates a steady devotion and immovable adherence to those moral qualities.

Note that a person of good character is not one who never makes a mistake. Rather, it is someone who has made choices to develop good habits and nurture positive thought process. They make decisions and respond to situations based on good principles and pure motives. You can count on them to do their best and be thoughtful of others.

Definition:
Character: The features and traits that form behavior and disposition.

Definition:
Good Character: The steadfast and immovable principles, standards and morality established within one's mind that have been proven to consistently manifest in a loving disposition, pure motives, true thoughts and habitually healthy behaviors.

"The completeness of Christian character is attained when the impulse to help and bless others springs constantly from within" (The Acts of the Apostles 551.1).

"Mental ability and genius are not character, for these are often possessed by those who have the very opposite of a good character. Reputation is not character. True character is a quality of the soul, revealing itself in the conduct.... Integrity, firmness, and perseverance are qualities that all should seek earnestly to cultivate; for they clothe the possessor with a power which is irresistible--a power which makes him strong to do good, strong to resist evil, strong to bear adversity. Strength of character consists of two things--power of will and power of self-control" (Maranatha 223.4).

Who makes character transformation possible?

Enabling a human to enjoy a perfect character is not a simple or quick process. Fortunately, God has taken on the complexities for us, making our part relatively straightforward. To begin to understand and appreciate the many actions of love, self-sacrifice, and untiring efforts by God put forth on our behalf, it helps to look at the personalities and various roles undertaken by each individual within the Godhead. When we speak of God in this study, it represents the Biblical model of the united Godhead comprised of God the Father, God the Son (Christ, Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost). Let's start by looking at God the Son, Jesus Christ.

A. The enabler of the transformation

en-a-ble [en-ey-buhl]
  1. to make able; give power, means, competence, or ability to; authorize.
  2. to make possible or easy.
  3. to make ready; equip.
There is only one reason why it is even possible to have an opportunity to be transformed into the creature of God's original intent. Jesus Christ, our creator, offers us the opportunity.
  • A. He is able to create (John 1:3), which is necessary in order for there to be a new creation.
  • B. He lived as a human with flawless character, proved it can be done and knows exactly how to enable us do it.
  • C. He died without deserving it, so he could give us His life and we can live inspite of doing so many things that bring pain and sure death upon ourselves.
  • D. He raised to life again, went to heaven and is available and willing to implement His unique remedy.
His actions were substitutionary, in our place, and also enabling, for our replication. His ongoing ministry for us makes it possible to rejoin God's circle of life and for everything spoken of in the following pages to occur.

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement... For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many" (Romans 5:8-15).

"The atonement of Christ is not a mere skillful way to have our sins pardoned; it is a divine remedy for the cure of transgression and the restoration of spiritual health. It is the Heaven-ordained means by which the righteousness of Christ may be not only upon us but in our hearts and characters" (Letter 406, 1906).

There is no one else who makes this offer or would be capable of actually fulfilling it. Neither is there any hope of looking within yourself for the answer. Humans cannot manufacture something for which they do not have the raw materials or the ability. Only Jesus has supplied the resources, by giving them from His own life, and He has supplied the Creative power and aid in implementing those resources. This understanding helps one begin to see why followers of Jesus develop such a strong affection for and bond with Him.

"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:14-16) (see also Heb. 8:1-10).

He is, right now, available to help you in whatever way is needed. A complete transformation in your life can happen. Christ's saving activity revolves around this very goal. Christ's work includes His death to pay the penalty of your sins (there are consequenses to harmful actions), but also includes His ministry to fix your character and empower you to overcome harmful habits. If you think about it, it makes an awful lot of sense that His work would include fixing us, otherwise we would just return to sin again and again. There would continue to be pain and death as a result, and He could never end His ministry or promise a better place where no tear would be shed.

Key Point:
Character transformation is made possible by the tireless and various workings of the Godhead:
  • Jesus - Enabler
  • Holy Spirit - Agent
  • The Father - Provider

B. The agent of the transformation

a-gent [ey-juhnt]
  1. a person or business authorized to act on another's behalf.
  2. the means by which something occurs or is achieved.
  3. something that produces or is capable of producing an effect.
After completing His earthly ministry and going to heaven, Jesus chose to implement His gifts and provide you with assistance through the aid of God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is sent to this world, by God the Father, at the request of Jesus Christ. He is Christ's representative, knowing all things about Christ, and implementing His will.

"But when the Comforter is come, whom I [Christ] will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning" (John 15:26-27).

"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 shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you" (John 16:13-15).

"The Holy Spirit was the highest of all gifts that He could solicit from His Father for the exaltation of His people. The Spirit was to be given as a regenerating agent, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail. The power of evil had been strengthening for centuries, and the submission of men to this satanic captivity was amazing. Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the Third Person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power. It is the Spirit that makes effectual what has been wrought out by the world's Redeemer" (Lift Him Up 191.3).

The Holy Spirit is the agent of Christ to implement this amazing restoration and transformation of character. He accomplishes His work in a wide variety of ways, with a wide variety of tools. The Bible lists many activities in which the Spirit is involved. Below is a partial list:
  1. Guides us into all truth (John 16:8,13)
  2. Convicts of sin (John 16:8,13)
  3. Comforts us (John 15:26
  4. Testifies of Jesus (John 15:26)
  5. Reveals deep things (I Cor. 2:9-10, Ephes. 3:3-6)
  6. Gives us abilities (I Cor. 12:1-31)
  7. Makes the heart repentant (Acts 5:31)
  8. Produces good traits of character (Galatians 5:22-26)
  9. Enables Christ to live in us (Ephes. 3:16-17)
These varied activities may seem unrelated at first, but each one is part of a complete solution and plays a critical role in the process of transforming a person's character. While the Holy Spirit is the agent of change, the Bible is clear that the Spirit is sent at the request of Jesus, who is not on earth, but working out of the sanctuary in heaven (Heb. 4:14) (see presentation on Sanctuary Symbolism). The Holy Spirit is the chosen conduit for Jesus to send you His grace. The word "grace" in the Greek (charis) refers to a gift, favor and liberality. These are things that you have not earned; they are unmerited and given because God loves you and desires your happiness. All of God's gifts to transform you, any divine influence in the life at all, is grace. Undeserved.

Definition:
Grace: An unmerited gift or favor.

The Spirit's work in this process of becoming and growing as a new creature, is mysterious and invisible. You cannot see the Holy Spirit at work. Yet there will be outward visible effects seen clearly by those coming in contact with you, and joyous inward effects experienced and understood only by you.

"The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8).

"A person may not be able to tell the exact time or place, or trace all the chain of circumstances in the process of conversion; but this does not prove him to be unconverted... Like the wind, which is invisible, yet the effects of which are plainly seen and felt, is the Spirit of God in its work upon the human heart. That regenerating power, which no human eye can see, begets a new life in the soul; it creates a new being in the image of God" (Steps to Christ 57.2).

"Through the power of Christ, men and women have broken the chains of sinful habit. They have renounced selfishness. The profane have become reverent, the drunken sober, the profligate pure. Souls that have borne the likeness of Satan have become transformed into the image of God. This change is in itself the miracle of miracles. A change wrought by the Word, it is one of the deepest mysteries of the Word. We cannot understand it, we can only believe, as declared by the Scriptures, it is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (The Acts of the Apostles 476.1).

Note:
Just because you cannot see something, doesn't mean it isn't there or that it isn't causing things that you are able to see. Like the wind, the invisible source of character change is the Holy Spirit.

C. The provider of the transformation

pro-vid-er [pruh-vahy-der]
  1. a person who makes available; furnish, supply or equip.
  2. the one who arranges for or stipulates beforehand, as by a provision.
  3. someone who makes arrangements for supplying means of support.
God the Father is the one the Bible says gave Jesus to the world. This was a voluntary act on Jesus' part, but the Father also had to agree to the plan and give Him up. He is shown throughout Scripture as having an inseparably close relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, where they have one and the same purpose, goals and character. He could be thought of as the Director of Activities, and is shown especially as loving, approving, and supporting Jesus in His work. The following quotes show how God the Father not only provides for Jesus, but also provides Jesus for us.

"Behold my [God the Father] servant [Jesus], whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles... I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles" (Isaiah 42:1,6).

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

"Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities" (Acts 3:26).

"For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (2 Pet. 1:17).

"Such a conception of God was never given to the world by any religion but that of the Bible. Heathenism teaches men to look upon the Supreme Being as an object of fear rather than of love--a malign deity to be appeased by sacrifices, rather than a Father pouring upon His children the gift of His love" (The Faith I Live By 38.6).

What is the goal of the transformation?

In order to understand God's goal for you as a new creature, it is important to understand that He originally created humans with perfect character, with no need of this type of transformation. The first humans, (Adam and Eve - Gen. 1:26-31) did not have a natural tendency to be selfish and they were in close communication with God. In fact, they were created in the image of God and the Holy Spirit dwelt in them. There is evidence that the human physical state, spiritual nature and moral character were all in the likeness of God. They were not gods, but were given similarities or a likeness to their Creator. He made them with His traits, goodness and with free choice, reflecting His character of love and selflessness.

"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Genesis 1:26).

"Created to be 'the image and glory of God' (1 Corinthians 11:7), Adam and Eve had received endowments not unworthy of their high destiny. Graceful and symmetrical in form, regular and beautiful in feature, their countenances glowing with the tint of health and the light of joy and hope, they bore in outward resemblance the likeness of their Maker. Nor was this likeness manifest in the physical nature only. Every faculty of mind and soul reflected the Creator's glory. Endowed with high mental and spiritual gifts, Adam and Eve were made but "little lower than the angels" (Hebrews 2:7), that they might not only discern the wonders of the visible universe, but comprehend moral responsibilities and obligations" (Education 20.2).

With freedom of choice, Adam and Eve's perfect character could be developed in any way they chose. Unfortunately, these first representatives of the human race chose to mistrust God and go against His instructions. They suspected God was withholding something that would be good for them.

"And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die... And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat." (Genesis 2:16-17, 3:6).

Adam and Eve exercised their God-given ability of free will, and chose to gain a knowledge, not only of good, but of evil. This opened the door for all kinds of evil into their lives; evil thoughts, harmful behaviors and selfish actions. Their choice showed they wished to put their own interests above God's. Thus, they became self-serving, forcing the Holy Spirit to withdraw from them, and they separated from God.

"Through disobedience man's powers were perverted and selfishness took the place of love. His nature became so weakened that it was impossible for him to resist the power of evil..." (2MCP 562.2).

Since then, humanity has inherited this state of being born separated from God, without the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. When selfishness is in control of a person, it is impossible to make good choices and thus impossible to develop truly good character. Without intervention, it is impossible for anyone to break free of this self-centeredness.

God wants to help us get back to humanity's original state, which is precisely the state that makes us the most happy, satisfied and thrilled with life. He has provided the intervention necessary to transform selfishness into love, so that all can have a second chance to prove their loyalty to Him. By embracing this transformation, you can have a character that reflects His.

"Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities" (Acts 3:26).

"In the beginning, man was created in the likeness of God, not only in character, but in form and feature. Sin defaced and almost obliterated the divine image; but Christ came to restore that which had been lost" (The Great Controversy 644.3).

"The cross of Calvary challenges, and will finally vanquish every earthly and hellish power. In the cross all influence centers, and from it all influence goes forth. It is the great center of attraction; for on it Christ gave up His life for the human race. This sacrifice was offered for the purpose of restoring man to his original perfection. Yea, more, it was offered to give him an entire transformation of character..." (LHU 230.2).

The significance of free choice, transcends the human story. The angels too, were on probation and had to develop character and prove their loyalty to God. Even Christ Himself, when living on earth as a human, had to develop character. Note that He did not have to "transform" His character, for He was never entangled in sin, and was always fully submitted to the Holy Spirit and partaking of the Diving nature. But, He had to "develop" His character, which is done just like everyone else; by making choices, day by day, that show your obedience and loyalty to God and prove what type of person you are. Humans have to first submit to the work of the Holy Spirit in order to receive a new nature and be transformed, and then they are able to develop character.

"His Heavenly Father chose this place for Him, where His character would be tested and tried in a variety of ways. The early life of Christ was subjected to severe trials, hardships, and conflicts, that He might develop the perfect character which makes Him a perfect example for children, youth, and manhood" (Messages to Young People 78.2).

"He [Christ] was a free agent, placed on probation, as was Adam, and as is every man" (YI July 20, 1899). {5BC 1082.4}

"Though created innocent and holy, our first parents were not placed beyond the possibility of wrong-doing. God might have created them without the power to transgress His requirements, but in that case there could have been no development of character; their service would not have been voluntary, but forced. Therefore He gave them the power of choice--the power to yield or to withhold obedience" (Education 23.1).

"Angels on probation had been deceived by Satan, and had been led on by him in the great rebellion in heaven against Christ. They failed to endure the test brought to bear upon them, and they fell. Adam was then created in the image of God and placed upon probation. He had a perfectly developed organism. All his faculties were harmonious. In all his emotions, words, and actions, there was a perfect conformity to the will of his Maker. After God had made every provision for the happiness of man, and had supplied his every want, He tested his loyalty. If the holy pair should be obedient, the race would, after a time, be made equal to the angels. As Adam and Eve failed to bear this test, Christ proposed to become a voluntary offering for man" (Con 18.2).

"Like the angels, the dwellers in Eden had been placed upon probation; their happy estate could be retained only on condition of fidelity to the Creator's law. They could obey and live, or disobey and perish. God had made them the recipients of rich blessings; but should they disregard His will, He who spared not the angels that sinned, could not spare them; transgression would forfeit His gifts, and bring upon them misery and ruin. {FLB 179.3}

"For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment" (2 Peter 2:4).

Key:
Character development = The manifestation of your free will. It is the way you reveal your choices during probationary time.

Our original likeness to Christ, our happiness, the unity and that close connection between Creator and creature is what He desires (Romans 8:29, 2 Thes. 2:13-14). As such, it is important to know that we cannot go backwards to get to that same state. The past cannot be changed (think how unsettling it would be if God just snapped His fingers to erase days of time whenever something went wrong, like in some sci-fi movie). And we cannot "evolve" to attain that elevated and noble human condition (evolution makes advances based on selfish behavior, not selflessness). We can, however, follow God's plan to "revolve" to that state. Revolving means that God transforms us back into the image of God and unity with Him, by leading us forward along a new path to our original position, a full 360 degrees from where humanity originally started.

Figure 1.2 - A return to the original creation
360 Degrees

"Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him" (Col. 3:9-10).

"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17.

"The forgiveness of sins is not the sole result of the death of Jesus. He made the infinite sacrifice, not only that sin might be removed, but that human nature might be restored, rebeautified, reconstructed from its ruins, and made fit for the presence of God" (Testimonies for the Church Volume Five 537.1).

"The Lord shows, to the repenting, believing one, that Christ accepts the surrender of the soul, to be molded and fashioned after His own likeness" (Selected Messages Book 2, 32.3).

Key Point:
The goal of character transformation is to return to being in the image of God and closely connected as originally intended.

To be one with God. To be united with him in character, interest and purpose. To be a unique, free-willed, loving individual. What a wonderful thing to be the recipient of God's special plans and efforts to restore us to such a high and privileged state. To achieve this, there has to be a drastic change, in fact a new creation. He will, in reality, recreate us!

"'Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.' John 17:20-23. Wonderful statement! The unity that exists between Christ and His disciples does not destroy the personality of either. They are one in purpose, in mind, in character, but not in person. It is thus that God and Christ are one" (Testimonies for the Church Volume 8 269.3-4).

Components of the transformation

Character transformation cannot take place without having freedom to make your own choices. Transformation proceeds as you exercise your free will in response to God's gifts. It is the choices you make, the motives behind them and the extent your will power is established as you cooperate with and rely on God's work that firmly entrenches good habits and determines the success of your transformation.

In order to enable you to want the good, choose the good and implement the good, there are three main components of your being that must be fully involved. Bible terminology regarding God's work to transform your character and restore you fall into these three main categories. The cooperation of each of these components of your being are necessary in order to have a transformation of character.

"When Adam came from the Creator's hand, he bore, in his physical, mental, and spiritual nature, a likeness to his Maker. . . . It was His purpose that the longer man lived the more fully he should reveal this image--the more fully reflect the glory of the Creator" (The Faith I Live By 29.7).

A) Spiritual Nature - Tendencies, Inclinations and Propensities

When considering a change of your nature as it relates to character transformation, it is important to understand that it is not "human nature" to which is here being referred. There are several definitions of the word "nature."
  1. Nature = The natural world, such as trees, rivers, animals or the universe.
  2. Nature = The qualities, constitution and origin of a thing or entity that make it a class, order of being or species (i.e. human, animal, angel).
  3. Nature = The instincts and tendencies directing conduct (i.e. sinful, selfish, evil, carnal verses righteous, good, loving, spiritual, divine).
For purposes of this book, the last definition is the one being discussed. Our disposition, inclinations, temperament and tendencies are in need of transformation. In other words, our inner predisposition to either sin or righteousness makes all the difference in character transformation. The fact that we belong to the human race is not what needs changing (though our physical bodies will eventually be completely remade, we will still be human). God made us human; not flowers, not aardvarks, and not angels, and then pronounced us good (Gen. 1:31). He made humans in the image of God. Being a human is good.

It is easy to equate human nature with a selfish nature, but these need to be kept separate. We do not need to become something other than a human being in order to develop unselfish instincts and loving tendencies. Jesus took on human nature. He became human, yet did not sin. He did not have any inner propensity to sin because he was born with a spiritual nature. We have selfish natures by default as humans and need to receive a spiritual nature like Jesus.

"And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others" (Ephesians 2:1-3).

"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:4).

"To Jesus, who emptied Himself for the salvation of lost humanity, the Holy Spirit was given without measure. So it will be given to every follower of Christ when the whole heart is surrendered for His indwelling" (OHC 151.5).

"After tempting man to sin, Satan claimed the earth as his, and styled himself the prince of this world. Having conformed to his own nature the father and mother of our race, he thought to establish here his empire. He declared that men had chosen him as their sovereign" (The Desire of Ages 114.3).

"God declares, 'I will put enmity.' This enmity is supernaturally put, and not naturally entertained. When man sinned, his nature became evil, and he was in harmony, and not at variance, with Satan...when Satan heard that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, he knew that though he had succeeded in depraving human nature..., yet by some mysterious process God would restore to man his lost power, and enable him to resist and overcome his conqueror" (That I May Know Him 16.3).

"The creative energy that called the worlds into existence is in the word of God. This word imparts power; it begets life. Every command is a promise; accepted by the will, received into the soul, it brings with it the life of the Infinite One. It transforms the nature and re-creates the soul in the image of God" (Education 126.4).

"The word destroys the natural, earthly nature, and imparts a new life in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes to the soul as a Comforter. By the transforming agency of His grace, the image of God is reproduced in the disciple; he becomes a new creature. Love takes the place of hatred, and the heart receives the divine similitude" (The Faith I Live By 19.4).

"When men are bound together, not by force or self-interest, but by love, they show the working of an influence that is above every human influence. Where this oneness exists, it is evidence that the image of God is being restored in humanity, that a new principle of life has been implanted. It shows that there is power in the divine nature to withstand the supernatural agencies of evil, and that the grace of God subdues the selfishness inherent in the natural heart" (The Desire of Ages 678.1).

B) Mind/Mental - Moral view and habits

What you know, the way you think and the habits you've formed are central to the mental component of character transformation. Your very thoughts need to be adjusted and your mind healed. The behaviour that is so harmful to yourself and others begins in the mind. Nurturing positive thought processes and filling the mind with good things will change your habits. Pattern your life after the life of Christ and your mind will be transformed.

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12:2).

"For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man" (Mark 7:21-23).

"I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts" (Isaiah 65:2) (see also Isaiah 59:7-8).

"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; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation" (1 Peter 1:13-15).

"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness" (Colossians 3:12-14).

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5).

"The defects cherished in dealing with life's minor details pass into more important affairs. He acts on the principles to which he has accustomed himself. Thus actions repeated form habits, habits form character, and by the character our destiny for time and for eternity is decided" (Christ's Object Lessons 356.2).

"He wants to restore His moral image in man. As you draw near to Him with confession and repentance, He will draw near to you with mercy and forgiveness" (God's Amazing Grace 82.4).

"Higher education is an experimental knowledge of the plan of salvation, and this knowledge is secured by earnest and diligent study of the Scriptures. Such an education will renew the mind and transform the character, restoring the image of God in the soul. It will fortify the mind against the deceptive whisperings of the adversary, and enable us to understand the voice of God" (Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students 11.1).

"All defects of character originate in the heart. Pride, vanity, evil temper, and covetousness proceed from the carnal heart unrenewed by the grace of Christ. It is by the renewing of the heart that the grace of God works to transform the life. No mere external change is sufficient to bring us into harmony with God. There are many who try to reform by correcting this bad habit or that bad habit and they hope in this way to become Christians, but they are beginning in the wrong place. Our first work is with the heart... If studied and obeyed, the Word of God works in the heart, subduing every unholy attribute. The Holy Spirit comes to convict of sin, and the faith that springs up in the heart works by love to Christ, conforming us, body, soul, and spirit, to His will. Let us not spare ourselves, but carry forward in earnest the work of reform that must be done in our lives. Let us crucify self. Unholy habits will clamor for the mastery, but in the name and through the power of Jesus we may conquer" {AG 223.7}

C) Body/Physical (health and life)

Your mind is part of your body. Keeping your body in as healthy condition as possible will contribute to the health and abilities of your mind. God asks for a whole sacrifice, which means presenting your entire being in the best possible condition in order to serve Him. Glorifying God in your body and sanctifying your body, means keeping it from harmful practices, learning how to be healthy and living in a way to keep your body in the healthiest condition possible.

"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

"Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

"That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee" (Deuteronomy 6:2-3).

"But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (1 Corinthians 9:27).

"Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof" (Romans 6:12).

"The body is a most important medium through which the mind and the soul are developed for the upbuilding of character. Hence it is that the adversary of souls directs his temptations to the enfeebling and degrading of the physical powers. . . . The body is to be brought into subjection to the higher powers of the being. The passions are to be controlled by the will, which is itself to be under the control of God. . . . Intellectual power, physical stamina, and the length of life depend upon immutable laws. Through obedience to these laws, man may stand conqueror of himself, conqueror of his own inclinations, conqueror of principalities and powers of "the rulers of the darkness of this world," and of "spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12)" (AG 256.4).

How to control the body

"The truth must sanctify the whole man--his mind, his thoughts, his heart, his strength. His vital powers will not be consumed upon his own lustful practices. These must be overcome, or they will overcome him. . . . The thoughts need purifying. What might not men and women have been had they realized that the treatment of the body has everything to do with the vigor and purity of mind and heart" {Mar 230.1}.

"Through sin the divine likeness was marred, and well-nigh obliterated. Man's physical powers were weakened, his mental capacity was lessened, his spiritual vision dimmed. He had become subject to death. Yet the race was not left without hope. By infinite love and mercy the plan of salvation had been devised, and a life of probation was granted. To restore in man the image of his Maker, to bring him back to the perfection in which he was created, to promote the development of body, mind, and soul, that the divine purpose in his creation might be realized--this was to be the work of redemption" (Education 15.2).

"Health, life, and happiness are the result of obedience to physical laws governing our bodies. If our will and way are in accordance with God's will and way; if we do the pleasure of our Creator, He will keep the human organism in good condition, and restore the moral, mental, and physical powers, in order that He may work through us to His glory. Constantly His restoring power is manifested in our bodies. If we cooperate with Him in this work, health and happiness, peace and usefulness, are the sure results" (Lift Him Up 160.3).

"...with what readiness the assumed period of the earth's development is from time to time increased or diminished by millions of years; and how the theories advanced by different scientists conflict with one another,--considering all this, shall we, for the privilege of tracing our descent from germs and mollusks and apes, consent to cast away that statement of Holy Writ, so grand in its simplicity, 'God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him'? Genesis 1:27. Shall we reject that genealogical record,--prouder than any treasured in the courts of kings,--'which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God'? Luke 3:38." (Education 130.2).

Summary

The terms we will study in the following chapters of this study involve the above three areas. All three are important components of achieving character transformation. Understanding them will help clarify the various topics.

"The central theme of the Bible, the theme about which every other in the whole book clusters, is the redemption plan, the restoration in the human soul of the image of God. From the first intimation of hope in the sentence pronounced in Eden to that last glorious promise of the Revelation, 'They shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads' (Revelation 22:4), the burden of every book and every passage of the Bible is the unfolding of this wondrous theme,--man's uplifting,--the power of God, 'which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.' 1 Corinthians 15:57. He who grasps this thought has before him an infinite field for study. He has the key that will unlock to him the whole treasure house of God's word" (Education 126.1).

"Christ sought to save the world, not by conformity to it, but by revealing to the world the transforming power of the grace of God to mold and fashion the human character after the likeness of the character of Christ" (God's Amazing Grace 227.5).

Key Point:
Character transformation involves three main areas of your being:
  1. Spiritual Nature - Inclinations and propensities
  2. Mind/Mental - Moral view and habits
  3. Body - Physical health

In light of the unequaled capabilities and loving provisions of the Enabler, Agent and Provider, being transformed into a new creature becomes infinitely more appealing and less overwhelming than it may have at first. A transformation of character, whole and complete, successful and long-lasting, is possible. Let's get started!

Continue to the first Bible term: Receiving a New Heart
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