March 6, 2011 – March 12, 2011
“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:20.
Study help: Christ’s Object Lessons, 150–163; Steps to Christ, 67–76.
“A profession of religion has become popular with the world.” The Great Controversy, 386.
1 How do false Christians often deceive themselves? I John 4:20.
Note: “It is the greatest and most fatal deception to suppose that a man can have faith unto life eternal, without possessing Christlike love for his brethren.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1141.
2 How do loveless Christians reveal their character? Matthew 7:4, 5.
Note: “The sin that leads to the most unhappy results is the cold, critical, unforgiving spirit that characterizes Pharisaism. When the religious experience is devoid of love, Jesus is not there; the sunshine of His presence is not there. No busy activity or Christless zeal can supply the lack. There may be a wonderful keenness of perception to discover the defects of others; but to everyone who indulges this spirit, Jesus says, ‘Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye’ [Matthew 7:5]. He who is guilty of wrong is the first to suspect wrong. By condemning another he is trying to conceal or excuse the evil of his own heart. It was through sin that men gained the knowledge of evil; no sooner had the first pair sinned than they began to accuse each other; and this is what human nature will inevitably do when uncontrolled by the grace of Christ.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 126.
3 When the love of Christ is lacking in the heart, how does this become evident? Revelation 3:17; Matthew 7:20.
Note: “Love of self excludes the love of Christ. Those who live for self are ranged under the head of the Laodicean church who are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot. The ardor of the first love has lapsed into a selfish egotism. The love of Christ in the heart is expressed in the actions. If love for Christ is dull, the love for those for whom Christ has died will degenerate. There may be a wonderful appearance for zeal and ceremonies, but this is the substance of their self-inflated religion. Christ represents them as nauseating to His taste.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 962.
4 How do men deceive themselves through self-love and self-confidence? Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19.
Note: “It is difficult for us to understand ourselves, to have a correct knowledge of our own characters. The word of God is plain, but often there is an error in applying it to one’s self. There is liability to self-deception and to think its warnings and reproofs do not mean me. ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it’ [Jeremiah 17:9] Self-flattery may be construed into Christian emotion and zeal. Self-love and confidence may give us assurance that we are right when we are far from meeting the requirements of God’s word.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 332.
“Man’s great danger is in being self-deceived, indulging self sufficiency, and thus separating from God, the source of his strength. Our natural tendencies, unless corrected by the Holy Spirit of God, have in them the seeds of moral death. Unless we become vitally connected with God, we cannot resist the unhallowed effects of self-indulgence, self-love, and temptation to sin.
“In order to receive help from Christ, we must realize our need. We must have a true knowledge of ourselves. It is only he who knows himself to be a sinner that Christ can save. Only as we see our utter helplessness and renounce all self-trust, shall we lay hold on divine power.
“It is not only at the beginning of the Christian life that this renunciation of self is to be made. At every advance step heavenward it is to be renewed.” The Ministry of Healing, 455.
5 How does a counterfeit type of missionary work contrast with the genuine? Titus 3:2, 3; James 3:14–16; Proverbs 6:18, 19.
Note: “God will never say to us, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ [Matthew 25:23], at the end of our journey, if we now cherish a spirit which craves to crowd out and supplant others. Malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy, and evil speaking are things which God abhors, and no one who reveals those fruits in his life will enter the kingdom of heaven. …
“Those who make faultfinding their work, may appear to be constantly anxious and interested in regard to the welfare of others. They may seem to be actively engaged in good work. But their work does harm, and by the Lord it is not regarded as of any value. ‘They say,’ is whispered here and there; by blind suggestions, other minds are filled with suspicion and distrust; uneasiness is created. Those who have listened to the ‘They say,’ call to mind something they have observed in their brethren, which might have been wrong, and much is made of that which is worthy of but little notice. These apparently innocent words strike long, fibrous roots into the minds of those that hear them, and untold harm is done. Seeds of bitterness are planted; evil suggestions rankle in human hearts, and the seed springs up to bear an abundant harvest.
“The enemy of all righteousness sets in operation objectionable missionary work of this kind. One who is professedly working for Christ is tempted by him to probe the minds of others, and ask their opinions of words which have been spoken. In this way suspicion and envy are planted in many breasts. If those who carry on this missionary work could see it as it is regarded by the Lord of heaven; if for one day they could trace the course of their work, and see its baleful results, they would repent.
“To do good to all, to faithfully perform our home duties, to devote our time to comparing our lives with the life of Christ, praying for a humble, sanctified mind—this is the missionary work which the Lord requires us to do.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 940.
6 What attitude too often destroys the peace of the church? Matthew 18:1–4.
7 Describe the attitude spread by those who boast in their own self-sufficiency over righteousness and truth. Isaiah 5:20; 65:5.
Note: “[Isaiah 5:19–23 quoted.]
“The class here represented, in order to exalt their own opinions, employ a reasoning which is not authorized by the word of God. They walk in the sparks of their own kindling. By their specious reasoning, they confuse the distinction that God desires to have drawn between good and evil. The sacred is brought down on a level with common things. Avarice and selfishness are called by false names; they are called prudence. Their rising up in independence and rebellion, their revenge and stubbornness, in their eyes are proofs of dignity, evidences of a noble mind. They act as though ignorance of divine things were not dangerous and even fatal to the soul; and they prefer their own reasoning to divine revelation, their own plans and human wisdom to the admonitions and commands of God. The piety and conscientiousness of others are called fanaticism, and those who practice truth and holiness are watched and criticized. They deride those who teach and believe the mystery of godliness, ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ [Colossians 1:27]. The principles underlying these things are not discerned by them; and they go on in wrongdoing, leaving the bars open for Satan to find ready access to the soul.” The Review and Herald, December 22, 1896.
8 What will be the influence of capable but unconverted men, and what will be their end? II Peter 2:1–3.
Note: “Men may possess capabilities given them in trust of God, but if they are not humble men, daily converted men, as vessels of honor, they will do the greater harm because of their capabilities. If they are not learners of Christ Jesus, if they do not pray and keep their natural hereditary and cultivated tendencies under control, traits of character that God abhors will pervert the judgment of those who associate with them.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1138.
“Men who repudiate the teachings of the Spirit of God are not the proper persons to be placed in offices as leaders in the church. There is danger that the teachings of men who are not soundly converted may lead others into by and forbidden paths.” Loma Linda Messages, 465.
9 How are today’s popular ministries and professed Christians making Satan happy? II Timothy 3:1–5.
Note: “A profession of religion has become popular with the world. Rulers, politicians, lawyers, doctors, merchants, join the church as a means of securing the respect and confidence of society, and advancing their own worldly interests. Thus they seek to cover all their unrighteous transactions under a profession of Christianity. The various religious bodies, re-inforced by the wealth and influence of these baptized worldlings, make a still higher bid for popularity and patronage. Splendid churches, embellished in the most extravagant manner, are erected on popular avenues. The worshipers array themselves in costly and fashionable attire. A high salary is paid for a talented minister to entertain and attract the people. His sermons must not touch popular sins, but be made smooth and pleasing for fashionable ears. Thus fashionable sinners are enrolled on the church records, and fashionable sins are concealed under a pretense of godliness.” The Great Controversy, 386.
10 What warning is given to us who profess to believe in the third angel’s message? Matthew 23:25, 27.
Note: “Many who profess to be serving God are in the same position as Saul—covering over ambitious projects, pride of display, with a garment of pretended righteousness. The Lord’s cause is made a cloak to hide the deformity of injustice, but it makes the sin of tenfold greater enormity.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 1017.
Review and Thought Questions:
1 To what is Christian love an index?
2 What are the characteristics of self-love?
3 How are seeds of bitterness scattered by self-righteous believers?
4 What are often the far-reaching ill effects of walking in the sparks of your own kindling?
5 What is often used as a cloak to hide injustice?
©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.