Bible Study Guides – Denominational Dangers

January 9, 2011 – January 15, 2011

Key Text

“Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” Ephesians 5:6.

Study Help: Early Writings, 107–110; Patriarchs and Prophets, 117–124.


“If in defiance of God’s arrangements the world be allowed to influence our decisions or our actions, the purpose of God is defeated.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 16, 17.

1 What was the greatest denominational deception in the days of Christ? Matthew 23:1–3. How are many professed Christians caught in the same snare today?

Note: “The greatest deception of the human mind in Christ’s day was that a mere assent to the truth constitutes righteousness. In all human experience a theoretical knowledge of the truth has been proved to be insufficient for the saving of the soul. It does not bring forth the fruits of righteousness. A jealous regard for what is termed theological truth often accompanies a hatred of genuine truth as made manifest in life. …

“The same danger still exists. Many take it for granted that they are Christians, simply because they subscribe to certain theological tenets. But they have not brought the truth into practical life. They have not believed and loved it, therefore they have not received the power and grace that come through sanctification of the truth. Men may profess faith in the truth; but if it does not make them sincere, kind, patient, forbearing, heavenly-minded, it is a curse to its possessors, and through their influence it is a curse to the world.” The Desire of Ages, 309, 310.

“Oh, it is a great deception, a fascinating delusion, that takes possession of minds when men who have once known the truth, mistake the form of godliness for the spirit and power thereof.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 249.

2 In what danger are those who profess the present truth but are not sanctified by obeying it? Ezekiel 33:31.

Note: “Instead of leading the world to render obedience to God’s law, the church is uniting more and more closely with the world in transgression. Daily the church is becoming converted to the world.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 119.

“If some who profess to believe present truth could understand their true position, they would despair of the mercy of God. They have been exerting all their influence against the truth, against the voice of warning, against the people of God. They have been doing the work of Satan.” Ibid., vol. 5, 103.

“These transgressors of the law claim everything that is promised to the children of God; but this is presumption on their part, for John tells us that true love for God will be revealed in obedience to all His commandments.” The Acts of the Apostles, 563.

3 How serious is our condition if our works do not correspond to the truth that we profess? Matthew 11:23, 24; 23:12.

Note: “The Redeemer of the world declares that there are greater sins than that for which Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. Those who hear the gospel invitation calling sinners to repentance, and heed it not, are more guilty before God than were the dwellers in the vale of Siddim. And still greater sin is theirs who profess to know God and to keep His commandments, yet who deny Christ in their character and their daily life. In the light of the Saviour’s warning, the fate of Sodom is a solemn admonition, not merely to those who are guilty of outbreaking sin, but to all who are trifling with Heaven-sent light and privileges.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 165.

“ ‘When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:3. Not all, however, would be ensnared by the enemy’s devices. As the end of all things earthly should approach, there would be faithful ones able to discern the signs of the times. While a large number of professing believers would deny their faith by their works, there would be a remnant who would endure to the end.” The Acts of the Apostles, 535, 536.

4 Through what types of religious leaders can Satan work most efficiently? Ephesians 5:6; Titus 1:16.

Note: “Satan has many agents, and they are ready to present any and every kind of theory to deceive souls—heresies prepared to suit the varied tastes and capacities of those whom he would ruin. There are cheap fallacies for those who are easily led into error, and who desire something new, odd, or fanciful, which they cannot explain intelligently, or even understand themselves. A mysterious, disconnected set of ideas is more in accordance with their minds than the plain truth, which has a ‘Thus saith the Lord’ for its foundation. …

“Those who belittle their profession of faith by conformity to the world, show that they despise the riches of the grace of Christ. They cry, ‘The grace of Christ! we are not saved by works, but by Christ;’ but they continue in sin—continue to transgress the law of God. They act as though they considered it their privilege to live in sin that grace may abound. But every indulgence in sin weakens the soul; it welcomes Satan to come in and control the mind, making the individual his effectual servant. …

“Some profess Christianity year after year, and in some things appear to serve God, and yet they are far from him. They give loose rein to appetite and passion, and follow their own unsanctified inclinations, loving pleasure and the applause of men more than God or His truth. But God reads the secrets of the heart. Base thoughts lead to base actions. Self-righteousness, pride, and licentiousness are far-reaching, deep, and almost universal. These are the sins for which God destroyed the inhabitants of the old world by a flood of water, and they are corrupting the churches in these last days.” The Signs of the Times, March 27, 1884.

5 How can the true character of religious leaders be determined? I John 2:3, 4.

Note: “If men do not feel the weight of the moral law; if they make light of God’s precepts; if they break one of the least of His commandments, and teach men so, they shall be of no esteem in the sight of heaven. We may know that their claims are without foundation. They are doing the very work that originated with the prince of darkness, the enemy of God.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 145.

6 Examples—In many points some who profess to be commandment keepers are actually commandment breakers. Here are some examples. Please take time to study each one in more detail:

  • Health Reform (I Corinthians 9:25–27)

“Men and women cannot violate natural law by indulging depraved appetite and lustful passions, and not violate the law of God. Therefore He has permitted the light of health reform to shine upon us, that we may see our sin in violating the laws which He has established in our being. All our enjoyment or suffering may be traced to obedience or transgression of natural law.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 161.

  • Dress Reform (I Timothy 2:9)

“When we see them [Christian sisters] using God’s time and money in needless display of dress we cannot but warn them that they are breaking not only the first four, but the last six commandments.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 632.

  • Labor Unions (Isaiah 8:9–12)

“These [trade] unions are one of the signs of the last days. Men are binding up in bundles ready to be burned. They may be church members, but while they belong to these unions, they cannot possibly keep the commandments of God; for to belong to these unions means to disregard the entire Decalogue.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 143.

  • War and Bloodshed (Matthew 26:52)

“War and bloodshed are carried on by nations claiming to be Christian. A disregard for the law of God has brought its sure result.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 974.

“In the army they [God’s people] cannot obey the truth and at the same time obey the requirements of their officers. There would be a continual violation of conscience. Worldly men are governed by worldly principles. They can appreciate no other. Worldly policy and public opinion comprise the principle of action that governs them and leads them to practice the form of rightdoing. But God’s people cannot be governed by these motives.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 361.

7 How does Satan try to keep us from obeying God’s law? James 2:10.

Note: “From the very beginning of the great controversy in heaven it has been Satan’s purpose to overthrow the law of God. It was to accomplish this that he entered upon his rebellion against the Creator, and though he was cast out of heaven he has continued the same warfare upon the earth. To deceive men, and thus lead them to transgress God’s law, is the object which he has steadfastly pursued. Whether this be accomplished by casting aside the law altogether, or by rejecting one of its precepts, the result will be ultimately the same.” The Great Controversy, 582.

8 How does God see unfaithfulness in the church? Hosea 2:2.

Note: “His [God’s] authority should be kept distinct and plain before the world, and no laws are to be acknowledged that come in collision with the laws of Jehovah. If in defiance of God’s arrangements the world be allowed to influence our decisions or our actions, the purpose of God is defeated. However specious the pretext, if the church waver here, there is written against her in the books of heaven a betrayal of the most sacred trusts, and treachery to the kingdom of Christ.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 16, 17.

Review and Thought Questions

1 What lamentable confusion do professed believers in the threefold message make? Why cannot God accept their work?

2 How can we become presumptuous in our knowledge of the truth?

3 What should we know of those who take a lax stand toward the law of God and/or ignore the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy?

4 In which fields of human behavior and activity is the law of God often violated?

5 What object is Satan steadfastly pursuing? How? What are the consequences?

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.