December 26, 2010 – January 1, 2011
The Church Militant
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Ephesians 6:10.
Study Help: The Great Controversy, 505–510; Early Writings, 104–107.
“While professing to be Christians, many have the mold of the world upon them, and their affections are not set upon God.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 938.
1 Why should we take a warning from the failures of ancient Israel? Romans 15:4.
Note: “Satan’s snares are laid for us as verily as they were laid for the children of Israel just prior to their entrance into the land of Canaan. We are repeating the history of that people. Lightness, vanity, love of ease and pleasure, selfishness, and impurity are increasing among us. There is need now of men who are firm and fearless in declaring the whole counsel of God; men who will not sleep as do others, but watch and be sober.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 160.
2 What should every believer be doing continually, and why? I Corinthians 10:12; Ephesians 6:10, 11.
Note: “As we approach the close of time, as the people of God stand upon the borders of the heavenly Canaan, Satan will, as of old, redouble his efforts to prevent them from entering the goodly land. He lays his snares for every soul.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 457.
3 Through whom does Satan introduce his most dangerous snares? Acts 20:30.
Note: “Do not forget that the most dangerous snares which Satan has prepared for the church will come through its own members who do not love God supremely or their neighbor as themselves. Satan is continually striving to wedge himself in between brethren. He seeks to gain control of those who claim to believe the truth, but who are unconverted; and when he can influence these, through their own carnal nature, to unite with him in trying to thwart the purposes of God, then he is exultant.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 477.
4 Who are Satan’s primary targets? Why? Isaiah 9:16.
Note: “Satan’s chief work is at the headquarters of our faith. He spares no pains to corrupt men in responsible positions and to persuade them to be unfaithful to their several trusts. He insinuates his suspicions and jealousies into the minds of those whose business it is to do God’s work faithfully. While God is testing and proving these helpers, and fitting them for their posts, Satan is doing his utmost to deceive and allure them, that they may not only be destroyed themselves, but may influence others to do wrong and to injure the great work. He seeks by all the means in his power to shake the confidence of God’s people in the voice of warning and reproof through which God designs to purify the church and prosper His cause.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 210, 211.
5 How does Satan attempt to affect the work of truth? Galatians 3:1.
Note: “It is Satan’s plan to weaken the faith of God’s people in the Testimonies. Next follows skepticism in regard to the vital points of our faith, the pillars of our position, then doubt as to the Holy Scriptures, and then the downward march to perdition. When the Testimonies, which were once believed, are doubted and given up, Satan knows the deceived ones will not stop at this; and he redoubles his efforts till he launches them into open rebellion, which becomes incurable and ends in destruction.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 211.
6 Why is human wisdom insufficient to distinguish truth from error? Matthew 11:25; I Corinthians 2:5.
Note: “Every conceivable deception will be brought to bear upon those who have not a daily, living connection with God. In our work no side issues must be advanced until there has been a thorough examination of the ideas entertained, that it may be ascertained from what source they have originated. Satan’s angels are wise to do evil, and they will create that which some will claim to be advanced light, will proclaim as new and wonderful things; and yet while in some respects the message is truth, it will be mingled with men’s inventions and will teach for doctrines the commandments of men. If there was ever a time when we should watch and pray in real earnest, it is now. There may be supposable things that appear as good things, and yet they need to be carefully considered with much prayer, for they are specious devices of the enemy to lead souls in a path which lies so close to the path of truth that it will be scarcely distinguishable from the path which leads to holiness and heaven. But the eye of faith may discern that it is diverging from the right path, though almost imperceptibly. At first it may be thought positively right, but after a while it is seen to be widely divergent from the path of safety, from the path which leads to holiness and heaven.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 229.
7 How can we prove that honesty does not protect from deception? Revelation 3:17; I Corinthians 15:33.
Note: “The message to be borne to His [God’s] people by ministers whom He has called to warn the people is not a peace-and-safety message. It is not merely theoretical, but practical in every particular. The people of God are represented in the message to the Laodiceans as in a position of carnal security. They are at ease, believing themselves to be in an exalted condition of spiritual attainments. [Revelation 3:17 quoted.]
“What greater deception can come upon human minds than a confidence that they are right when they are all wrong! The message of the True Witness finds the people of God in a sad deception, yet honest in that deception. They know not that their condition is deplorable in the sight of God.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 252, 253.
8 Under what conditions is a person able to discern the truth? Matthew 16:17; John 7:17; Philippians 3:14, 15.
Note: “Christ places the salvation of man, not upon profession merely, but upon faith that is made manifest in works of righteousness. Doing, not saying merely, is expected of the followers of Christ. It is through action that character is built. ‘As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.’ Romans 8:14.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 149, 150. [Author’s italics.]
9 What does Jesus declare of many who profess His name? Luke 9:55. Explain one way that this may be manifested.
Note: “Some have felt no spirit of freedom when they met for worship. They were afraid upon the Sabbath to speak out their real feelings and faith, expecting that he [Brother B] would criticize what they would say. There has been death in the meetings and but little freedom.
“Brother B desires that others should look up to him as a man who can explain the Scriptures, but I was shown that he is deceived and does not understand them. He has started upon a wrong track in seeking to get up a new faith, an original theory of faith. He would uproot and misplace those waymarks which show us our correct bearings, that we are near the close of this earth’s history. He may flatter himself that he is being led of the Lord, but it is surely another spirit.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 440.
10 Why must we constantly be watchful of the motives of our heart? Jeremiah 17:9; Proverbs 3:7.
Note: “Man must cooperate with the heavenly agencies; he must use his God-given abilities to their utmost in earnest endeavor to keep his own soul from being degraded by sin; but he must not trust in his own finite strength, for it will be as a broken staff, a bruised reed. With his human endeavor he must mingle faith in a divine Deliverer, and express his dependence upon God in prayer. … We are to unite prayer with watchfulness, and thus lay hold upon His mighty power, feeling our insufficiency to cope with self and the powers of darkness.” The Signs of the Times, May 15, 1893.
11 How and through whom may Satan scatter darkness and confusion in the church? Romans 16:17; I Thessalonians 5:14.
Note: “Satan, by his skillful and wicked strategy, led our first parents from the Garden of Eden—from their innocence and purity into sin and unspeakable wretchedness. He has not ceased to destroy; all the forces which he can command are diligently employed by him in these last days to compass the ruin of souls. He seizes every artifice that he can use to deceive, perplex, and confuse the people of God.
“He has used you as his agent to scatter darkness and confusion, and he finds that you work admirably in his hands. You are the very instrument that he can handle with good effect to hurt, discourage, and tear down. You are not zealous to put your shoulder under the load with the people of God; but when they would move, you throw yourself as an additional load to prevent them from doing what they might do in advancing in the right direction.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 455, 456.
12 With what class of believers does Satan have considerable success? James 1:8; Ephesians 4:14.
Note: “While professing to be Christians, many have the mold of the world upon them, and their affections are not set upon God. They are double minded, making an attempt to serve God and mammon at the same time; but the world’s Redeemer has declared, ‘Ye cannot serve God and mammon’ (Matthew 6:24). By trying to serve two masters, they are unstable in all their ways, and cannot be depended upon. To all appearances they are serving God, while at the same time in heart they are yielding to the temptation of Satan and cherishing sin.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 938.
Review and Thought Questions
1 What will Satan do as we approach the close of time?
2 Where does Satan concentrate his main efforts?
3 Why must we watch and pray now more than ever before?
4 What reveals that a person is led by the wrong spirit?
5 What attitude leaves us most open to deception?
©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.