August 7, 1999 – August 13, 1999
MEMORY VERSE: “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” Romans 8:22.
STUDY HELP: Testimonies, vol. 3, 138–140.
“God made man perfectly holy and happy; and the fair earth, as it came from the Creator’s hand, bore no blight of decay or shadow of the curse. It is transgression of God’s law—the law of love—that has brought woe and death. Yet even amid the suffering that results from sin, God’s love is revealed. It is written that God cursed the ground for man’s sake. Genesis 3:17. The thorn and the thistle—the difficulties and trials that make his life one of toil and care—were appointed for his good as a part of the training needful in God’s plan for his uplifting from the ruin and degradation that sin has wrought. The world, though fallen, is not all sorrow and misery. In nature itself are messages of hope and comfort. There are flowers upon the thistles, and the thorns are covered with roses.” Steps to Christ, 9.
“GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD”
How does Paul describe the condition of the whole creation because of sin? Romans 8:22, 23.
NOTE: “Adam and Eve persuaded themselves that in so small a matter as eating of the forbidden fruit, there could not result such terrible consequences as God had declared. But this small matter was the transgression of God’s immutable and holy law, and it separated man from God and opened the floodgates of death and untold woe upon our world. Age after age there has gone up from our earth a continual cry of mourning, and the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain, as a consequence of man’s disobedience. Heaven itself has felt the effects of his rebellion against God. Calvary stands as a memorial of the amazing sacrifice required to atone for the transgression of the divine law. Let us not regard sin as a trivial thing. Every act of transgression, every neglect or rejection of the grace of Christ, is reacting upon yourself; it is hardening the heart, depraving the will, benumbing the understanding, and not only making you less inclined to yield, but less capable of yielding, to the tender pleading of God’s Holy Spirit.” Steps to Christ, 33.
What assurance are we given that God suffers with us? Isaiah 63:9.
NOTE: “Those who think of the result of hastening or hindering the gospel think of it in relation to themselves and to the world. Few think of its relation to God. Few give thought to the suffering that sin has caused our Creator. All heaven suffered in Christ’s agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity. The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God. Every departure from the right, every deed of cruelty, every failure of humanity to reach His ideal, brings grief to Him. When there came upon Israel the calamities that were the sure result of separation from God—subjugation by their enemies, cruelty, and death—it is said that ‘His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.’ ‘In all their affliction He was afflicted: . . . and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old.’ Judges 10:16; Isaiah 63:9.” Education, 263.
“AS THE SPARKS FLY UPWARD”
How does the Book of Job describe the human condition? Job 5:7.
NOTE: “In order to serve God acceptably, we must be ‘born again.’ Our natural dispositions, which are in opposition to the Spirit of God, must be put away. We must be made new men and women in Christ Jesus. Our old, unrenewed lives must give place to a new life—a life full of love, of trust, of willing obedience. Think you that such a change is not necessary for entrance into the kingdom of God? Listen to the words of the Majesty of heaven: ‘Ye must be born again.’ ‘Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ Unless the change takes place, we cannot serve God aright. Our work will be defective; earthly plans will be brought in; strange fire, dishonoring to God, will be offered. Our lives will be unholy and unhappy, full of unrest and trouble.” Youth’s Instructor, September 9, 1897.
What precious promise was given to Adam and Eve on the day of their sin? Genesis 3:15.
NOTE: “The divine sentence pronounced against Satan after the fall of man was also a prophecy, embracing all the ages to the close of time and foreshadowing the great conflict to engage all the races of men who should live upon the earth. God declares: ‘I will put enmity.’ This enmity is not naturally entertained. When man transgressed the divine law, his nature became evil, and he was in harmony, and not at variance, with Satan. There exists naturally no enmity between sinful man and the originator of sin. Both became evil through apostasy. The apostate is never at rest, except as he obtains sympathy and support by inducing others to follow his example. For this reason fallen angels and wicked men unite in desperate companionship. Had not God specially interposed, Satan and man would have entered into an alliance against Heaven; and instead of cherishing enmity against Satan, the whole human family would have been united in opposition to God.” The Great Controversy, 505.
How does the prophet Isaiah describe man’s alienation from God? Isaiah 59:2–8; 64:7.
NOTE: “Many are inquiring, ‘Why is it that we have so little strength? Is it because heaven is sealed? Is it because there are no precious blessings in store for us? Is it because our source of strength is exhausted, and we can receive no more? Why is it that we are not all light in the Lord? He who was a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, who was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, is high and lifted up, and the glory of His train fills the temple. Why is this glory withheld from those who are in a world of sin and sorrow, trouble and sadness, corruption and iniquity?’ The trouble lies with ourselves. Our iniquities have separated us from God. We are not filled, because we do not feel our need; we do not hunger and thirst after righteousness. The promise is that if we hunger and thirst after righteousness, we shall be filled. The promise is to you, my brethren and sisters. It is to me; it is to every one of us. It is the hungering, thirsting souls who will be filled. We may come to Christ just as we are, in our weakness, with our folly and imperfections, and offer our petitions in faith. In spite of our errors, our continual backsliding, the voice of the long-suffering Saviour invites us, ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ To the needy, the fainting, those who are bowed down with burden and care and perplexity, the invitation is, Come. It is Christ’s glory to encircle us in the arms of His mercy and love, and bind up our wounds. He will sympathize with those who need sympathy, and strengthen those who need strength.” Review and Herald, January 2, 1900.
How does the Bible describe the results of this alienation from God? Genesis 6:5, 12–13; Romans 3:10–18.
NOTE: “God executes justice upon the wicked, for the good of the universe, and even for the good of those upon whom His judgments are visited. He would make them happy if He could do so in accordance with the laws of His government and the justice of His character. He surrounds them with the tokens of His love, He grants them a knowledge of His law, and follows them with the offers of His mercy; but they despise His love, make void His law, and reject His mercy. While constantly receiving His gifts, they dishonor the Giver; they hate God because they know that He abhors their sins. The Lord bears long with their perversity; but the decisive hour will come at last, when their destiny is to be decided. Will He then chain these rebels to His side? Will He force them to do His will? Those who have chosen Satan as their leader and have been controlled by his power are not prepared to enter the presence of God. Pride, deception, licentiousness, cruelty, have become fixed in their characters. Can they enter heaven to dwell forever with those whom they despised and hated on earth? Truth will never be agreeable to a liar; meekness will not satisfy self-esteem and pride; purity is not acceptable to the corrupt; disinterested love does not appear attractive to the selfish. What source of enjoyment could heaven offer to those who are wholly absorbed in earthly and selfish interests?” The Great Controversy, 541, 542.
“THORNS AND THISTLES”
What specific visible evidence were Adam and Eve given of the curse brought upon the earth by sin. Genesis 3:18, first part.
NOTE: “Let parents walk with their children in the fields and groves. Amid the beautiful things of nature tell them the reason for the institution of the Sabbath. Describe to them God’s great work of creation. Tell them that when the earth came from His hand, it was holy and beautiful. Every flower, every shrub, every tree, answered the purpose of its Creator. Everything upon which the eye rested was lovely and filled the mind with thoughts of the love of God. Every sound was music in harmony with the voice of God. Show that it was sin which marred God’s perfect work; that thorns and thistles, sorrow and pain and death, are all the result of disobedience to God.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 358.
How does Isaiah show that thorns and briers symbolize the curse on God’s unfaithful people? Isaiah 32:13; 34:13; 5:1–7.
NOTE: “Grace can thrive only in the heart that is being constantly prepared for the precious seeds of truth. The thorns of sin will grow in any soil; they need no cultivation; but grace must be carefully cultivated. The briers and thorns are always ready to spring up, and the work of purification must advance continually. If the heart is not kept under the control of God, if the Holy Spirit does not work unceasingly to refine and ennoble the character, the old habits will reveal themselves in the life. Men may profess to believe the gospel; but unless they are sanctified by the gospel their profession is of no avail. If they do not gain the victory over sin, then sin is gaining the victory over them. The thorns that have been cut off but not uprooted grow apace, until the soul is overspread with them.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 50, 51.
“EVERY TREE IS KNOWN BY HIS OWN FRUIT”
What lessons did the Lord teach about thorns? Matthew 13:7, 22; Luke 6:44.
NOTE: “Christ has said: ‘A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.’ ‘Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.’ The deeds of a man’s life are the fruit he bears. If he is unfaithful and dishonest in temporal matters he is bringing forth briers and thorns; he will be unfaithful in the religious life and will rob God in tithes and offerings.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 311.
What will be the end for those whose lives bear thorns and briers? Hebrews 6:4–8.
NOTE: “There are many who have not a correct knowledge of what constitutes a Christian character, and their lives are a reproach to the cause of truth. If they were thoroughly converted they would not bear briers and thorns, but rich clusters of the precious fruits of the Spirit—‘love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.’ The great danger is in neglecting a heart work. Many feel well pleased with themselves; they think that a nominal observance of the divine law is sufficient, while they are unacquainted with the grace of Christ, and He is not abiding in the heart by living faith . . . The testimony borne to you by the Spirit of God is: Parley not with the enemy. Kill the thorns, or they will kill you. Break up the fallow ground of the heart. Let the work go deep and thorough. Let the ploughshare of truth tear out the weeds and briers.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 306, 53.
“MADE TO BE SIN FOR US”
How did our Lord suffer the curse of sin? Matthew 27:29.
NOTE: “When you think that the way is too strait, that there is too much self-denial in this narrow path; when you say, How hard to give up all, ask yourselves the question, What did Christ give up for me? This question puts anything that we may call self-denial in the shade. Behold Him in the garden, sweating great drops of blood. A solitary angel is sent from heaven to strengthen the Son of God. Follow Him on His way to the judgment hall, while He is derided, mocked, and insulted by that infuriated mob. Behold Him clothed in that old purple kingly robe. Hear the coarse jest and cruel mocking. See them place upon that noble brow the crown of thorns, and then smite Him with a reed, causing the thorns to penetrate His temples, and the blood to flow from that holy brow.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 240.
How is the restoration of nature pictured? Isaiah 55:12, 13; Revelation 22:3.
NOTE: “Not only had man come under the power of the deceiver, but the earth itself, the dominion of man, was usurped by the enemy. Through the plan of salvation, through the sacrifice of Christ, not only man, but his dominion, was to be redeemed. Because of the merits of Christ, all that man lost through sin was to be restored. The time would come when there should be no more curse, but the throne of God should be in the earth renewed, and his servants should serve Him. The promise would be fulfilled, ‘The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever.’” Bible Echo, July 15, 1893.