Before elucidating upon the necessity of character perfection in the sanctification process, it would behoove us to understand just how God works so that we might work in cooperation with Him in preparing for our fitness to Heaven. God’s success in our recreation or rehabilitation of character into His likeness can only occur as we submit to His leading and cooperate with Him in this important work.
“The plans of God are always the best, although we may not always discern them. Perfection of Christian character can be obtained only through labor, conflict, and self-denial. We do not always count upon this, and do not consider the painful and often protracted process of purifying necessary for us in order that we may be conformed to the image of Christ. God frequently answers our prayers in a way we least expect. He brings us into positions which are the most trying to reveal what is in our hearts. To further the development of Christian graces He will place us in circumstances which will demand increased exertion on our part to keep our faith in lively exercise.” (Ellen White, Daughters of God, 231, emphasis added.)
“The luster of Christ’s jewels depends on the polishing that they receive. God does not compel us to be polished. We are left free to choose to be polished or to remain unpolished. But everyone who is pronounced worthy of a place in the Lord’s temple must submit to the polishing process. He must consent to have the sharp edges cut away from his character, that it may be shapely and beautiful, fitted to represent the perfection of Christ’s character….” (Ellen White, Our Father Cares, 282, emphasis added.)
“It is growth in knowledge of the character of Christ that sanctifies the soul. To discern and appreciate the wonderful work of the atonement, transforms him who contemplates the plan of salvation. By beholding Christ, he becomes changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord. The beholding of Jesus becomes an ennobling, refining process to the actual Christian. He sees the Pattern, and grows into its likeness, and then how easily are dissensions, emulations, and strife adjusted. The perfection of Christ’s character is the Christian’s inspiration. When we see him as he is, desire awakes to be like him, and this elevates the whole man; for ‘every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.'” (Ellen White, Review and Herald, August 26, 1890, emphasis added.)
It is my hope that in sharing with you the things that I have learned, and am learning still, that we will see in every step and stage of the process just exactly how Jesus Christ perfected character by faith, patiently learning obedience in the things that He suffered as He demonstrated His love for His Father and for us.