The Time in Which We Live
“The contest will wax more and more fierce on the part of Satan; for he is moved by a power from beneath. As the work of God’s people moves forward with sanctified, resistless energy, planting the standard of Christ’s righteousness in the church, moved by a power from the throne of God, the great controversy will wax stronger and stronger, and will become more and more determined. Mind will be arrayed against mind, plans against plans, principles of heavenly origin against principles of Satan. Truth in its varied phases will be in conflict with error in its ever-varying, increasing forms, and which, if possible, will deceive the very elect.” Testimonies to Ministers, 407.
According to this quotation, error is ever changing its form and increasing its forms. The person, whose mind is filled with truth from the throne of God, will be arrayed against the minds of those who have accepted the ever-varying and increasing forms of error. The plans in the minds of God’s people will be in opposition to the plans of others in the church who have accepted the plans of the adversary. The principles of heavenly origin will be in opposition to the principles originating with Satan. All this is described as going on in the church as we approach the end.
Since the principles of error are constantly varying and changing, they are not stable like the principles of truth. Those who accept them are not stable either, because they are constantly having to change their minds about what they believe. The truth which Adventists have accepted does not change. It is like an unfolding flower—although, as time goes on, the truth develops and is revealed more and more in its eternal beauty.
If we have been in error on some point, obviously sometime we are going to have to change our minds. But, if our minds are changing almost constantly, this is evidence that we are double-minded.
One of the main reasons that people deceive others and end up being deceived themselves is that they are double minded. We are strictly warned about this in the Bible. Let us look at the symptoms of the problem.
Symptoms and Propositions
Symptom 1: The double -minded man is the man who is bent on having his own way. He seeks to follow his own way while professing to be doing the will of God. Not only does this deceive others, eventually he is deceived himself. He really thinks when following his own way that he is doing the will of God. It took forty years of training to prepare Moses to withstand these types of problems: “It was the experience gained during the years of toil and waiting in Midian—the spirit of humility and long-suffering there developed—that prepared Moses to meet with patience the unbelief and murmuring of the people and the pride and envy of those who should have been his unswerving helpers. Moses ‘was very meek, above all men which were upon the face of the earth,’ and this is why he was granted divine wisdom and guidance above all others. Says the Scripture, ‘The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way.’ Psalm 25:9. The meek are guided by the Lord, because they are teachable, willing to be instructed . . . God does not force the will of any; hence He cannot lead those who are too proud to be taught, who are bent upon having their own way. Of the double -minded man—he who seeks to follow his own will, while professing to do the will of God—it is written, ‘Let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.’ James 1:7.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 384. [All emphasis supplied.]
Symptom 2: The double -minded man has two agendas in his mind. When people talk to him, sometimes he is on one agenda and sometimes on the other. Consequently, while everything he says might be absolutely the truth according to the agenda he is talking about, actually it is very deceptive. This deception eventually is manifest when the two agendas become known and are found often to be contradictory. “They are men of two minds.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 531.
Some years ago a conference minister moved to the area of a Seventh-day Adventist church which was not recognized by the conference and was therefore an independent church seeking to become sanctified and spread the Three Angels’ Messages to their community. When he explained why he had come, he said that he wanted to come and help with the work in that church. However when he talked to another worker over a 100 miles away, this same minister said that the conference president had sent him to that church to get control of it. Why was the story so different? Because there were two agendas —one public and another hidden.
Recently a number of conference ministers have issued appeals—calls to various special ministries to come back to the church—”Come back home.” These calls are most attractive to those who are mixed up about who and what the church really is. It is just as in Jesus’ day—if you did not know who the church was you most certainly would end up not being part of it. The interesting thing about these appeals is that they are sometimes addressed as from relatives of officials in the Adventist structure. These same people have confided privately that they (the structure) have an objective to destroy all independent ministries which they cannot control. Thus two distinct messages, contradictory to one another, are coming from the same people. One message is public, the other is private and hidden.
The proposed destruction will be accomplished by the double -minded upon all others who are double -minded:
Proposition 1: On the one hand those who have been determined for destruction are appealed to and flattered and an attempt is made in every possible way to win them over. Many will be won by this method.
Proposition 2: If this does not work then the power of the state is employed in an effort to silence them, and/or destroy them. How does this work today? At the very same time that apparently loving appeals are being made to come back to the structure, Historic Adventist churches are receiving threats from the very same organization. There is a double agenda—a double -mind.
Symptom 3: The double -minded man is unstable —he is constantly in the process of changing his mind, back and forth and up and down. “To be double -minded is to be unstable.” Youth’s Instructor, May 24, 1900. “They are unstable in all their ways, and cannot be depended upon.” Youth’s Instructor, February 8, 1894.
Examples of These Symptoms
Example 1: The Spirit of Prophecy made it very clear in 1893 that we were not to call Seventh-day Adventists Babylon. But, she also made it clear to the General Conference President in 1886 that we as a people could become part of Babylon. (See Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery and Divorce, 188.) Now there have been several positions taken:
Position 1: that the church has now become Babylon.
Position 2: we can become part of Babylon if we fulfill all the conditions laid down in the Spirit of Prophecy, but are not at the present time.
Position 3: that it is impossible for us as a people to ever become part of Babylon.
At Steps to Life we are convinced that the second position is the correct one and have proclaimed this position for several years in publications and sermons. We believe the Ellen White statement that we are on the track of Romanism (Testimonies to Ministers, 362) is more true now than then and that we are nearer the “city-limits” of Babylon now than then.
An interesting thing has developed in Historic Adventism. Some, having taken position number one, are proclaiming all others as heretics. They are saying that everybody must get their names off of the structure church rolls. Others, who used to do this same thing, have switched to the position that the organization they formerly called Babylon, is the true church. They are saying that everybody must belong to it or they are in danger of having their name stricken from the book of life in heaven. After saying this, if you ask them about it, they may tell you that they are still not part of the structure church!
Whenever you see a “Babylon” like this you can know that there is a problem with being double minded.
Example 2: Where do you take your converts? Some know from experience that if you bring them into a conference church in your area, that you may lose them. Others say that only baptisms into a conference church count. In plain language, who and what is the church that is founded upon a Rock that cannot be prevailed against by the powers from beneath? If you keep changing your mind, obviously you are double -minded. If you say, we are going back to the conference (“church” “home”) but a few days later you say that you are not—is this not being double -minded?
More Symptoms and Devices
Symptom 4: The double -minded man professes one thing and does another. To be more specific, he by profession deplores the work of Satan and yet enters into his devices. “Of what profit is it to say pleasant things, to deplore the works of Satan, and yet at the same time to enter into the fulfillment of all his devices? This is being double -minded.” Youth’s Instructor, February 15, 1894. What are some of Satan’s devices?
Device 1: Blaming others and justifying ourselves.
“The spirit of self-justification originated in the father of lies; it was indulged by our first parents as soon as they yielded to the influence of Satan, and has been exhibited by all the sons and daughters of Adam. Instead of humbly confessing their sins, they try to shield themselves by casting the blame upon others, upon circumstances, or upon God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 58.
“The very thing that gained for Satan the sympathy of one-third of the angels in heaven, was this spirit of self-justification. The angels were deceived by Satan’s misrepresentations and by his artful power of accusing those who would not unite with him. Satan has kept up this work ever since his fall, and he has large numbers of men and women who follow in the very steps he has taken, until they fall from the truth, give up their steadfastness, and stand on Satan’s side, as accusers, criticizing others.” Manuscript Release, vol. 18, 324, 325.
We are all in a world of temptation, “let no one feel . . . that he makes no mistakes.” Counsels on Health, 244. The problem is not so much that we make mistakes, but rather when we do make them, do we take responsibility? Or, do we instead accuse others, trying to cast the blame on some other minister or worker or ministry or on “the constituency” or on the Historic Adventists worldwide or on some conference or the general conference or some other scapegoat?
Device 2: Deception.
In the effort to cause good to happen to ourselves by self-justification and blaming others, inevitably we will sooner or later be caught up in deception. We may have proclaimed to all that we are transparent in all our actions, etc., but an attempt to justify self and blame others will always end up in a crooked course of action. Not only will others be deceived but we will deceive ourselves by this course.
Symptom 5: Instead of going to God for unerring, stable counsel, the double -minded man seeks counsel from man—he is controlled by men instead of God. Because of this he is never comfortable unless there is a coalition of people working together. Consequently, it is only through human association and groups that he can feel safe and comfortable. If things do not work out in one group, he is forced to seek some other group to be a part of so that he feels safe, secure and comfortable. If the home church is not big enough, he must go to some other church (no matter what is being taught) because he is not comfortable except in a group. ” ‘A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.’ God calls upon His people now to consecrate all their powers to His service. He would have every household become a home-church . . . None are to place themselves under the guidance of human beings; for God has not ordained this. He bids us look to One and depend upon One who understands our needs, and is able to supply them from His abundant fullness.” Australia Union Record, October 14, 1907.
Symptom 6: The double -minded man has not a personal spiritual foundation—he walks in the light of another’s torch. Why do you believe what you believe? Some people believe what they believe because that is what they were taught by their Bible teacher or by the evangelist they trained under or by some theologian, etc. All these people may know the truth, but you must know the truth for yourself, not just what somebody else believes, or you will not endure through the shaking. “Many of those who profess the truth have received it because some one else did, and for their life they could not give the reason of their faith. This is why they are so unstable. Instead of weighing their motives in the light of eternity, instead of obtaining a practical knowledge of the principles underlying all their actions, instead of digging down to the bottom and building upon a right foundation for themselves, they are walking in the light of another’s torch, and will surely fail.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 196.
Symptom 7: The double -minded man deals in man-made tests. “Men will arise speaking perverse things . . . bringing sacred truth upon a level with common things . . . The devisings of men’s minds will invent tests that are no tests at all, that when the true test shall be made prominent, it shall be considered on a par with the man-made tests that have been of no value.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1064.
Popular Man-Made Tests
Test 1: You must have your name on the conference church book or your name is not written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Test 2: You must address God by Hebrew names.
Test 3: You must profess faith in and give your tithe and all your financial support to ______organization or you will be accounted as robbing God.
Test 4: “The Lord gave me this impression (or “sign”) and therefore I know this is the Lord’s will.” Some people can tell you of many signs and impressions they have received and multitudes have followed these undependable tests. Some stupendous mistakes have been made by Adventists because they have depended on “signs” and “impressions.”
“Whenever I have been called to meet fanaticism in its varied forms, I have received clear, positive, and definite instruction to lift my voice against its influence. With some the evil has revealed itself in the form of man-made tests for ascertaining a knowledge of the will of God; and I was shown that this was a delusion which became an infatuation, and that it is contrary to the will of the Lord. If we follow such methods, we shall be found aiding the enemy’s plans. In times past certain among the believers had great faith in the setting of signs by which to decide their duty. Some had such confidence in these signs that men went so far as to exchange wives, thus bringing adultery into the church.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 28.
“I have no faith in casting lots. We have in the Bible a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ in regard to all church duties . . . Read your Bibles with much prayer. Do not try to humble others, but humble yourselves before God, and deal gently with one another. To cast lots for the officers of the church is not in God’s order.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1054.
“Will it furnish us with experiences that will glorify God, for us to decide what is His will by the dropping of a card or a coin, and observing how it falls? No, no. Such tests as this will spoil the religious experience of the one who adopts them. Everyone who depends upon such things for guidance, needs to be reconverted.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 327.
“Being nothing more than a matter of chance, the influence of adopting such tests regarding duty is calculated to lead the mind to depend on chance and guesswork, when all our work and plans for work should be established on the sure foundation of the Word of God.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 325.
Symptom 8: The double -minded man speaks evil of his brethren who will not be turned from the truth to his present opinion. He will call them all sorts of names and epithets such as schismatic, “ignorant of theology or history,” divisive, back-biters, wishy-washy, filled with hatred against him—in short he blames his troubles on his brethren who do not agree with him about this or that.
“Satan is at the head of fallen principalities and powers, and is the ruler of the darkness of this world. Day and night he is plotting against God and against those who are seeking to obey the truth. He transforms himself into an angel of light, and makes darkness appear as light, and light as darkness; and he seeks continually to lead unstable souls to unite with him in thinking evil and in speaking evil of those who will not be turned from the truth. He is described in the Scriptures as a liar, a destroyer, a tormentor, an accuser, a murderer, and it will not be difficult to discern on which side a soul is fighting, or under what leadership he is moving, if he is found accusing and condemning others. If men and women have been placed so that they have gained influence, and they use that influence to further Satan’s designs, they are uniting with the great adversary and apostate.” Review and Herald, December 11, 1894.
Symptom 9: The double -minded man says anything that comes into his mind. He strongly advocates something and then strongly advocates just the opposite and then denies what he formerly advocated.
Where do you believe I should go to church? Oh, I believe that you should go to a home church. A few weeks later when you ask the same question you are told that if you do not have your name on the conference list then it probably is not in the book of life. With vehemence you are first told that you must not be a part of the conference churches but then with the same vehemence you are later told that you must be. Why? There is a double -mind.
To a double -minded minister Ellen White wrote as follows: “When a man gives evidence that he is sound in principle, when he is of good repute among those where he is best known, when his character is one whose influence will be Christ-like, he should be admitted to fellowship and confidence without hesitancy. But he whose works show him to be unstable, who says one thing and does the very opposite, is careless of his words and influence, bringing out of his heart the evil things lurking there, such a one will profane both men and God. He will say anything that comes into his mind, whether he knows it to be falsehood or truth. There is a mixture of good and bad in his character, and he speaks just as he feels without studying the influence his words must have upon those who believe him to be a true minister of the gospel. They have heard him speak as Christ’s ambassador, and therefore they will either regard his sins lightly or their confidence in him as a devoted servant of Christ will be destroyed. The minister of Christ should be circumspect, he should understand human nature.” Pamphlets #28 Testimonies on the case of Elder E.P. Daniels.
“One day you will stand in the pulpit and strongly advocate the testimonies which God has sent to his people; in a few days, if you feel like it, you do your best to unsettle faith in them, among those with whom you associate; and then in a day or two you are advocating the testimonies again. Now, my brother, are you anchored anywhere, or are you not more like the waves of the sea, tossed to and fro, unstable, unreliable, moved not by principle, but by emotion? Will not your work be of the same character? Will it not ravel out? Both you and your wife are under the reproof of God. What are you going to do about it? Will you draw nigh to God? Will you set your own house in order? Will you unitedly make earnest work for eternity? Or will you throw down the yoke of Jesus, refuse to lift his burdens, and choose to be independent, perverse, willful, uncontrollable? . . . You often deny what you have said or done.” Pamphlets #96 Testimonies on the case of Elder E.P. Daniels.
Ellen White was forced to consider workers’ past experience and how this past experience had molded the mind and judgment when making decisions about trusting a person in the future. She wrote concerning one such double -minded worker whom she refused to re-accept for employment: “This past experience has given a mold to the thoughts, and has fashioned the mind and judgment. I can see no safety in trusting the matter the Lord shall give me in the hands of one of such unstable, unreliable developments of character that a balance wheel is needed constantly, else she will be running off on a side track where Satan may choose to lead the way. Fannie is so wrapped up in her own exalted estimation of herself that any contrary influence that has been brought to bear upon her mind meets with a resistance that is according to the attributes of the enemy. The surroundings, the impulses, give tone and character to the whole life. There are too large and important interests at stake in this matter to be lightly imperiled. Should I consent that Fannie remain in connection with the work, there would be a constant burden of foreboding upon me, for these elements of character are not easily changed.” Manuscript Release, 926.
We have been given similar counsel in preparing for the time of trouble: “Before the great trouble shall come upon the world such as has never been since there was a nation, those who have faltered and who would ignorantly lead in unsafe paths will reveal this before the real vital test, the last proving comes, so that whatsoever they may say will not be regarded as voicing the True Shepherd. The time of our educating will soon be over. We have no time to lose in walking through clouds of doubt and uncertainty because of uncertain voices.” 1888 Materials, 1002.