Spiritual health is very important. It is something that many of us often tend to forget with so much happening in our busy schedules. The reality is that if our spiritual health is not good, we have lost everything.
It is much like our attitude towards physical health. We start off with enthusiasm on a healthy regime, putting to practice the eight laws of health, and then after a little while we find that we have slipped back into our old habits and lifestyle. Without physical health, we have no quality of life, and without spiritual health, we have no hope of future eternal life.
“And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” Luke 18:18–24.
In The Desire of Ages, 520, Ellen White says, “Christ’s words were verily to the ruler the invitation, ‘Choose you this day whom ye will serve.’ Joshua 24:15. The choice was left with him. Jesus was yearning for his conversion. He had shown him the plague spot in his character, and with what deep interest He watched the issue as the young man weighed the question! If he decided to follow Christ, he must obey His words in everything.”
She goes on to say, “Christ gave this man a test. He called upon him to choose between the heavenly treasure and worldly greatness. The heavenly treasure was assured him if he would follow Christ. But self must yield; his will must be given into Christ’s control. The very holiness of God was offered to the young ruler. He had the privilege of becoming a son of God, and a coheir with Christ to the heavenly treasure.” Ibid., 519, 520. [Emphasis supplied.]
Jesus called upon him to choose between heavenly treasure and worldly greatness. The very holiness of God was offered to him and to you and me. The very privilege of becoming sons and daughters of God is offered to us! “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” Joshua 24:15.
What happened? That young man turned away—why? His love of self and worldly gain was out of harmony with the principles of heaven. This was a plague spot in his character. Is there something in your life that is out of harmony with the principles of heaven? “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Amos 3:3.
The word of God tells us that many are called but few are chosen. Anything out of harmony with the principles of heaven will not be chosen. Anytime you do something or choose something that is out of harmony with the principles of heaven, you turn away from walking with Jesus, just like that young ruler turned away.
What are some things that are “out of harmony” with the principles of heaven or plague spots? A plague spot is something that is malignant and contagious, like a tumor that threatens death. It causes harm and it has a deadly influence. A dictionary may define a plague spot as “rebellious against God or against government,” very discontent.
We are told that the young ruler had a plague spot in his character, which was revealed when he spoke with Jesus. Sadly, he made his choice and walked away sorrowfully, not wanting to part with his riches.
Paul points out a few of the plague spots that are deadly to character in Ephesians 4:22–32. They include:
- Falsehood and lying are out of harmony with the principles of heaven—always speak truth. There is no lying in heaven.
- Stealing is out of harmony—start working and giving to those in need.
- Unwholesome speech—start edifying others with speech that builds up instead of what tears down; speech that teaches morality.
- Bitterness, anger, slander, malice—be kind to others revealing a tender heart with forgiveness.
When we turn away from the invitation to put on Jesus and reveal His heavenly attributes we forfeit the opportunity to be among the few who are chosen. Living the principles of heaven here is to fit us for the kingdom of God.
“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Romans 14:17. The rich young ruler turned his back on the call. His principles were out of harmony with heaven, and he chose to walk away. Each time we tell a lie, steal, have bitterness or anger or put down people, we also are out of harmony with God’s kingdom of righteousness, and we no longer walk with Jesus.
“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. The young ruler was tested, as each of us is, to prove his worthiness of this most precious gift.
In Ephesians 1:3 we are told, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” Where? In Christ! Spiritual blessings will never be found in any other place. “According as He (God) hath chosen us in Him (Jesus) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Verse 4). “Before the foundations of the earth were laid, the covenant was made that all who were obedient, all who should through the abundant grace provided, become holy in character, and without blame before God … should be children of God.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 403.
Jesus gave His life that we should be holy and without fault—with no neglect of duty, unstained, before Him in love. He covenanted with the Father that He would put that new heart within us. We are to become partakers of the divine nature and escape worldly corruption through receiving that new heart. (Read Ezekiel 36:26.) Jesus died so this promise would be fulfilled in each of us if we so choose. We are among the many who have been called. God has emptied all heaven that we may have that choice! The question remains whether we will receive the new heart that is offered so we can be chosen.
Another golden nugget of truth is found in Ephesians 1:5. It says, “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself.” God has predestinated us to this adoption through Jesus. Like a child—the parents have big plans for their little baby to become all that they would like their child to become. The outcome of that success is determined by the choices the child makes of the opportunities that are made available. That child’s destiny depends upon his/her choices.
Each of us has been called by God and predestinated to receive the very holiness of God and become His child. He works things out to accomplish His purpose for us. In Romans 8:28, 29, it says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Will we choose to walk the path that God has chosen for us—the path of obedience—to walk with Jesus? The rich young ruler made his choice; he walked away sorrowful.
How can all things work together for good? How does theft work together for good? God allows circumstances to test us.
- The thief – God tests that person, as he is tempted to steal. He failed the test and wanted something that belonged to somebody else more than to walk honestly with Jesus! He coveted and then stole. He was predestined to be a child of God and called to walk with Jesus, but the invitation was refused. Unless there is repentance he will not be among the chosen.
- The victims of the theft – Those persons were tested to see how they would respond to something of theirs being stolen, whether in a Christlike manner or otherwise. If they responded as Jesus would when called to this test, they would be chosen. If they do not respond like Jesus would and turn from Him, they will not be chosen unless there is repentance.
Daily our characters are being tested to see if we have surrendered our lives to Jesus and come to understand why or how all things work together for good. Each test is a call to stand and to reflect the image of Jesus Christ regardless of the outcome.
“ ‘Many are called,’ Christ said, ‘but few are chosen’ [Matthew 22:14]. If we would remember that we are on test and trial before the heavenly universe, that God is proving us, to see what spirit we are of, there would be more serious contemplation, more earnest prayer.” The Signs of the Times, August 9, 1899.
As hard as it is to understand, God can and does bring joy and good out of accident and tragedy.
When my older brother died—my life changed as a consequence! I was not religious, and I believed that my brother was in heaven, so I tried to contact him. There was no answer, so I thought I needed to become a witch, and then I could make contact. I picked up witchcraft books and started incantations. I look back now and can see how God had His hand over me, and I was so unaware. Finally, I came back to reality and considered what my brother would have wanted me to do with my life. I loved my brother so much! The first thing I did was to quit where I was working, because it was not a nice place, and my brother never did approve of me being there. I would never have done that if he had not died in that accident. I went back to school for training and ended up working in law offices. Had it not been for my brother’s death, I would not be here, because the thought of changing my life had not occurred to me before this. God knew that my brother’s death was the only way He could get my attention.
In heaven we will thank God for all the things that have happened in our lives and the lives of our family—even though we do not understand right now. That is why we trust God, by remembering what He has done for us in the past. He has predestined us for good reason.
God loves us so much that He emptied all heaven to save us. He can be trusted through thick and thin. His promises are sure, and we can safely believe that all things do work together for good to them that love Him—to those who are called according to His purpose. His purpose is that we be conformed into the image of His Son.
God told Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; And before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5. He believed and accepted that call and filled the place God had for him.
John 1:12 says, “As many as received him”—as many who associated with Him or spent time with Him—“to them gave he power to become the sons of God.” Spend time with Jesus, associate with Him, get to know Him through His Word and receive the power He so freely offers.
God has a purpose for you. He has called you. Will you answer that call or will that privilege be given to another? Are you receiving Christ daily into your life? Walk with Him and talk with Him daily. I shudder to think what would have happened had my brother not died or if I had not accepted the invitation to Bible studies and rejected God’s will for my life. God’s purpose for me would not have been fulfilled! I would have lost out. But it was not easy; I had to step out of my “comfort zone” and take each step, one at a time. If I had not taken that first step, I would have continued in the world walking in that wide road and, worse yet, no light would be shining to others. All in my sphere of influence may have been lost, because I would not have been reflecting the light that comes from Jesus.
God has called me and He has called you. I want to be part of the “few [who] are chosen” (Matthew 22:14)! Don’t you? “Choose you this day whom ye will serve … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15, last part.
Peter said, “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” II Peter 1:10. In Paul’s plea to the Ephesians, he said, “I … beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” Ephesians 4:1. He said to walk worthy or to “regulate” your life, or “conduct one’s self” worthy of your calling.
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” Colossians 2:6. The rich young ruler was called but chose not to walk with Jesus; he turned away. Are you being called today? Are you hearing the invitation to “Come and follow Me”? Have you chosen to walk the narrow way with Jesus? Are you following the light that illuminates your way? Are you walking worthy of your calling and regulating your life? Think on these things and make your calling and election sure.
“Those who perish will perish [why?] because they refuse to be adopted as children of God through Christ Jesus.” The Signs of the Times, January 2, 1893. Like the rich young ruler they refused the call to walk with Jesus.
Matthew 22:9–14 tells the parable of the wedding garment.
“When the king came in to view the guests, the real character of all was revealed. For every guest at the feast there had been provided a wedding garment. This garment was a gift from the king. By wearing it the guests showed their respect for the giver of the feast.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 309.
Many have been called to this spiritual feast, and a garment has been made available—a robe of righteousness—a mighty character transformation through Jesus Christ. We have been called and may, right now, join the banquet.
What is included in this feast? In The Review and Herald, January 17, 1899, it says, “The spiritual banquet has been set before us in rich abundance. We have had presented to us by the messengers of God the richest feast—the righteousness of Christ, justification by faith, the exceeding great and precious promises of God in his word, free access to the Father by Jesus Christ, the comforts of the Holy Spirit, and the well-grounded assurance of eternal life in the kingdom of God. We ask, What could God do for us that he has not done in preparing the great supper, the heavenly banquet?”
We have been provided a wedding garment that “represents the character which all must possess who shall be accounted fit guests for the wedding.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 307.
“But one man was clothed in his common citizen dress. He had refused to make the preparation required by the king. The garment provided for him at great cost he disdained to wear.” Ibid., 309.
The character that was provided for him at great price—the death of the Son of God—he undervalued. He despised it—despised the character of Christ—held it of no value and clung to his own evil character traits. As David pled, so should we also plead: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23, 24.
One man came dressed in citizen’s clothing. “Thus he insulted his lord. To the king’s demand, ‘How camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?’ he could answer nothing. He was self-condemned. Then the king said, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness’ [Matthew 22:12, 13].”
“By the king’s examination of the guests at the feast is represented a work of judgment. The guests at the gospel feast are those who profess to serve God, those whose names are written in the book of life. But not all who profess to be Christians are true disciples.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 309, 310. [Emphasis supplied.] Many are called!
“When the work of investigation shall be ended, when the cases of those who in all ages have professed to be followers of Christ have been examined and decided, then, and not till then, probation will close, and the door of mercy will be shut.” The Great Controversy, 428.
“It is not enough for us to believe that Jesus is not an impostor, and that the religion of the Bible is no cunningly devised fable. We may believe that the name of Jesus is the only name under heaven whereby man may be saved, and yet we may not through faith make Him our personal Saviour. It is not enough to believe the theory of truth. It is not enough to make a profession of faith in Christ and have our names registered on the church roll. ‘He that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us.’ ‘Hereby we do know that we know Him if we keep His commandments.’ I John 3:24; 2:3. This is the genuine evidence of conversion. Whatever our profession, it amounts to nothing unless Christ is revealed in works of righteousness.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 312, 313.
He is to be revealed in our characters! It is our choice; we either accept Christ or the plague spots, as the two cannot exist together.
“The truth is to be planted in the heart. It is to control the mind and regulate the affections. The whole character must be stamped with the divine utterances. Every jot and tittle of the word of God is to be brought into the daily practice.
“He who becomes a partaker of the divine nature will be in harmony with God’s great standard of righteousness, His holy law. This is the rule by which God measures the actions of men. This will be the test of character in the judgment.” Ibid., 314.
God has predestined each of us for a high calling. What more can He do that has not been done? Do not insult God by refusing the gift that has been offered to walk with His Son, refusing to reflect His character.
“Believers in Christ are, in this world to bring into action the principles of heaven. …
“Into the heavenly courts will enter no taint of sin. Those who enter there will have obeyed the truth in this world, and will have brought into the life-practice, while on this earth, the principles of heaven. Only such can be allowed to enter heaven, for only those who learn to live in accordance with the principles of heaven will have demonstrated that they would not, after entering heaven, introduce specious devisings that would create a second rebellion.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 20, 171.
“ ‘Many are called, but few are chosen.’ This is a true statement of the final outcome.” The Review and Herald, May 8, 1900.
God has called you—what more can He do?
“Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, … Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.” Ephesians 1:5, 9, 10.
Are you in Christ Jesus? Will you be chosen? Is your election sure?
“He is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” Revelation 17:14.
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth [bitterness, anger, unkindness, lies, impatience?—No!] the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” I Peter 2:9.
As tests come to you, remember that the Lord is calling you to hold a heavenly standard. Don’t let Him down or allow another to steal your crown. “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.
Get rid of them!
Send up this prayer at that moment of test or trial:
“Lord, take my heart; for I cannot give it. It is Thy property. Keep it pure, for I cannot keep it for Thee. Save me in spite of myself, my weak, unchristlike self. Mold me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love can flow through my soul.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 159.
Don’t hang onto your plague spots. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18. Many are called but few are chosen. I want you and me to be part of the chosen.
The rich young ruler thought he was good! But when the test came, his heart was revealed; he refused to yield himself to Christ—to walk with Jesus—to receive the very holiness of God. When tests come to you, will you, by your responses and actions, choose to walk with Jesus? Will you be part of the few who are chosen?
Judy Hallingstad works with the LandMarks team. She can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.