We are at war. Just before us is the final phase of this war of all wars. The remnant church is being invaded by a terrible power. “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17. Since we are the only church on earth that keeps the Ten Commandments and has the Spirit of Prophecy, this warning is for you and me. It is a wake-up call and is described like this: “The present activity of Satan in working upon hearts, and upon churches and nations, should startle every student of prophecy.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 537. “Ours is not a conflict with mere flesh and blood, but with despotisms, the empires, the forces that control and govern this dark world with the spiritual hosts of evil arrayed against us in heavenly warfare.” Ephesians 6:12. Weymouth’s Translation.
Surely, this should awaken us out of our sleep. We are being confronted with wicked spirits, unseen but real, ruthless and deadly. In order to stand successfully against such powers, we must know and trust our heavenly resources beyond any doubt. But we must also know about the enemy, his purposes, his methods, his plans and especially the agencies he uses to attack us. We should never underestimate any of his satanic plans.
First, we should be aware that our day is like the days when Christ was on earth. He was continually in combat with the evil one, both within and outside the church. Daily, Christ was surrounded by spies watching His every move to find something that He said or did that might be used to destroy Him.
Some years ago, as a representative of the General Conference, I visited one of our churches behind the iron curtain to encourage our youth to share their faith. One Sabbath during the preliminaries of the church service, the elder pointed out three different spies whom he recognized in the audience. He told me that they would go immediately to the government headquarters and report every word that I spoke. Then the elder went over a list of things that I must not mention, including our church youth organization or anything that might be misconstrued, such as the second coming of Christ (which would end the reign of the present political powers). He handed me a list of eighteen subjects that I should not mention unless I wanted to be deported out of the country before the next sunrise. That was one of the most difficult sermons I ever presented. Today, I am again aware of a similar situation. I know that every audiotape and book that I prepare is finding its way to the conference headquarters. But what is more alarming, they are being gathered by the agencies of Catholicism to use against me. How do I know this to be a fact?
During my days of active evangelism, I well remember a certain evening when I spoke on the subject of the Beast of Revelation 13 to a packed hall in a mid-west town. At the conclusion, I was shaking hands with the people as they left and I noticed one lady lingering so that she might be the last in line. When she finally stepped up, she said she had been sent to talk to me by the Knights of Columbus. I shall never forget her words. “Are you not afraid to speak as you do? I have been sent here to warn you that we are keeping a file of every sermon you preach and all the printed material you have ever written. Think it over.” With that she turned and walked away.
Satan in Our Homes
Generally speaking, we expect to find Satan in such places as the night clubs, the gambling hells (as Ellen White called them), the brothels and the dope joints. But now Satan has found his way into our homes, our Adventist homes, and into our everyday activities! Satan” is intruding his presence in every department of the household, in every street of our cities, in churches, in the national councils, in the courts of justice, perplexing, deceiving, seducing, everywhere ruining the souls and bodies of men, women and children, breaking up families, sowing hatred, emulation, strife, sedition, murder.” The Great Controversy, 508.
What a list! This is happening today. “Satan is intruding his presence in every department of the household.” I believe no true Sabbath-keeper will enter a theater. Yet, the majority of Adventists allow Satan to enter their homes by way of the television. “Among the most dangerous resorts for pleasure is the theater. Instead of being a school of morality and virtue, as it is often claimed, it is the very hotbed of immorality. Vicious habits and sinful propensities are strengthened and confirmed by these entertainments. Low songs, lewd gestures, expressions, and attitudes, deprave the imagination and debase the morals. Every youth who habitually attends such exhibitions will be corrupted in principle. There is no influence in our land more powerful to to poison the imagination, to destroy religious impressions, to blunt the relish for the tranquil pleasures and sober realities of life than theatrical amusements. The love for these scenes increases with every indulgence, as the desire for intoxicating drink strengthens with its use. The only safe course is to shun the theater, the circus, and every other questionable place of amusement.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 652, 653. (See also the E.G. White Index under the topic “Theater.”)
Here is why millions within the Adventist Church seem to have no desire to leave this world of sin for a better heavenly land. This is the real reason why so many youth are leaving our church today. They have been educated in the Television Theater since they were in diapers. Many of our churches bring the evils of the theater into the church by drama and so-called Christian rock music—which accelerates the youth down the path to hell.
I am not a fanatic. I have a television in my home. But I can say before my God, I never look at movies or anything theatrical. I watch news broadcasts and occasionally some wonderful nature programs. I hope that you, too, are able to control your TV. If you can’t, get rid of it as soon as possible! Do not trust your children or teenagers to make right decisions regarding the television. The temptations are far too great.
Satan is introducing his presence in the streets of our cities. The streets of our metropolitan cities are controlled by thousands of gangs who engage in open warfare over territories to control drug sales. There are one hundred thousand gang members in Los Angeles and in New York City. Hundreds of innocent civilians, including children, have been murdered in their drive-by shootings.
Satan is introducing his presence in the church. “Satan and his angels are in the assemblies where the gospel is preached. While angels of heaven endeavor to impress hearts with the word of God, the enemy is on the alert to make the word of no effect.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 44. When the pastor stresses an important truth that could change your life and help you prepare for the kingdom, the devil tries to distract your mind, or suddenly you become sleepy and doze off, or a baby cries and this confuses your thinking ability.
We are at war. Satan our enemy is trying his best to distract us from God’s saving truth. I had a personal experience with devils when I was in evangelism. Each night two spiritualistic mediums would come early. As I was preparing the hall for the meeting, straightening the chairs and doing the details, they followed me and told me the stories, the names of individuals I was going to mention, the texts and all about the subject matter that I had planned to preach that night.
How did they know? I had told no one, not even my wife. “As he (Satan) sees the messenger of God searching the Scriptures, he takes note of the subject to be presented to the people. Then he employs all his cunning and shrewdness so to control circumstances that the message may not reach those whom he is deceiving on that very point.” The Great Controversy, 518.
I am writing this to arouse you so that you will flee to God for help. “There is nothing that the great deceiver fears so much as that we shall become acquainted with his devices.” The Great Controversy, 516. This is why I must warn you of what is to come and even now is appearing.
No longer can we believe every word printed on our presses. Not too long ago I sat in my pastor’s study with my six church elders. The Conference President had come to persuade me to preach differently because he did not like what I was telling the people. He stated clearly that he could find nothing wrong with my theology, but he felt that I was divisive because I was warning the flock about things that were taking place. I replied, “Tell me why the Pacific Press prints The Desire of Ages one day and the next day they will print a book that is contrary to what Ellen White wrote?” It is interesting to note that the President had brought with him the former president of the North Pacific Union Conference to put pressure on me. To this day I admire him for his honesty. He said, “Brother Nelson, I can answer that question. I am well acquainted with the policy of the Pacific Press, for I was the Chairman of the Board for many years. The Pacific Press used to print nothing contrary to our beliefs, but the present policy is to give complete freedom to write without censor.”
I will never forget those words: “to give complete freedom to write without censor.” He plainly admitted that there are new books coming off their presses that contain theology absolutely contrary to our belief. Inspiration has warned us, “The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church would be discarded. Our religion would be changed. The fundamental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error. A new organization would be established. Books of a new order would be written. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced. The founders of this system would go into the cities and do a wonderful work. The Sabbath of course, would be lightly regarded as also the God who created it. Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the new movement. The leaders would teach that virtue is better than vice, but God being removed, they would place their dependence on human power, which, without God, is worthless. Their foundation would be built on the sand, and storm and tempest would sweep away the structure.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 204.
As a result of these policies of “non-censorship,” we hear sermons by leaders in the church denying the Sanctuary in heaven with a Holy and Most Holy Place, claiming all we need to be saved is to believe. They say, “Christ obeyed for us on the cross and all have been saved by the cross. So, relax, sit back and enjoy your church religion for we are all saved by faith alone.” These words from God’s Book are ringing in my ears: “faith without works is dead.” You know as well that a dead faith can save no one, so let us beware. Every kind of doctrine is blowing today. Satan’s purpose is the same as it was in Jesus’ day. Satan was determined to crush the life of God’s dear Son. He has not changed. His aim today is to crush the followers of Christ.
God admonishes us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8. And again, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11. Oh, how we need the help of heavenly angels every day as we meet the commander of thousands of evil angels.
If we only realized what is coming, our family worship would take on a far different meaning. “Satan has control of all whom God does not especially guard.” The Great Controversy, 589. “Evil angels are upon our track every moment.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 302.
I live in Oregon in a small country community of about three thousand people. Recently there were six burglaries within a couple of miles of where I live. A prowler, who was going up the stairs of someone’s home, just two blocks away, was shot to death. I was checking the locks of my home and these words came to my mind, “We carefully secure the houses with bolts and locks to protect our property and our lives from evil men; but we seldom think of the evil angels who are constantly seeking access to us, and against whose attacks we have, in our own strength no method of defense. If permitted, they can distract our minds, disorder and torment our bodies, destroy our possessions and our lives.” The Great Controversy, 517.
This is what evil angels do. As a spiritual watchman on the wall of Zion, I urge you to know what the devil is doing. “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” 2 Corinthians 2:11—or are we? “The followers of Christ know little of the plots which Satan and his hosts are forming against them.” The Great Controversy, 528.
“His rage increases; we do not realize his power.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 302. And again, “While men are ignorant of his devices, this vigilant foe is upon their track every moment.” The Great Controversy, 508.
He is Working Through Calamities
“Even now he is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power.” The Great Controversy, 589.
In The Youth’s Instructor, April 18, 1967, a survey was made regarding floods, hailstorms and hurricanes over a period of twenty-six years. The damage resulting from each disaster was astounding. Tornadoes, from 1916 to 1964 doubled yearly. Earthquakes increased in destructive power some seven hundred percent.
During the years since the time of that survey the number of natural disasters has continued to skyrocket. We have seen the greatest hurricane ever to hit America. It hit Florida and caused thirty billion dollars worth of destruction. We have also had the greatest floods in the history of America, and Los Angeles and San Francisco had catastrophic earthquakes.
Satan’s power to destroy is constantly increasing. “Apparently these calamities are capricious outbreaks of disorganized, unregulated forces of nature, wholly beyond the control of man; but in them all, God’s purpose may be read. They are among the agencies by which He seeks to arouse men and women to a sense of their danger.” Prophets and Kings, 277.
The most tragic news is that the worst is yet to come. We have not seen anything yet. “I have been shown that Satan has not been stupid and careless these many years, since his fall, but has been learning. He has grown more artful. His plans are laid deeper, and are covered with a religious garment to hide their deformity. The power of Satan now to tempt and to deceive is ten-fold greater than it was in the days of the apostles. His power has increased and it will increase.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, 277.
Satan’s power to deceive has increased ten-fold since the days of the apostles? That is a thousand percent! In order to withstand successfully the devil and his angels, we should be spending a thousand times more time in prayer and study than the disciples did.
In reality, we are only now in what we might call the Cold War. Soon will come the all-out last offensive by the devil in a time of trouble. “The agencies of evil are combining their forces and consolidating. They are strengthening for the last great crisis. Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, 11.
“Satan is standing ready, burning with zeal to inspire the whole confederacy of satanic agencies, that he may cause them to unify with evil men and bring upon the believers of truth speedy and severe suffering.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, 241, 242. The servant of God, our own prophet, Ellen White, told us over one hundred years ago what world leaders are now telling us—that everything in this world is soon to change?
I believe the serpent is coiling for the final strike against the followers of the Lamb. Now is the time to prepare our hearts by heeding the counsel of God. “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always.” Ephesians 6:13–18.
“If God has ever spoken by me, the time will come when we shall be brought before councils, and every position of truth which we hold will be severely criticized.” The Review and Herald, December 11, 1888. Over and over, again and again, she stresses the terrible ordeal just before us. “In the last great conflict of the controversy with Satan those who are loyal to God will see every earthly support cut off. Because they refuse to break His law in obedience to earthly powers, they will be forbidden to buy or sell. It will finally be decreed that they should be put to death.” The Desire of Ages, 121. How thankful we are to our God that He has revealed fully, in the Book of Revelation and the inspired writings of Ellen White, all that is needed to know.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1. Not all the power of evil can conquer the soul that trusts in the sufficient grace of Jesus. Stronger is He than a strong man armed. “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4.
“Not one cloud has fallen upon the church that God is not prepared for; not one opposing force has risen to counterwork the work of God but He has foreseen. All has taken place as he predicted through His prophets. He has not left His church in darkness, forsaken, but has traced in prophetic declarations what would occur, and through His providence, acting in its appointed place in the world’s history, He has brought about that which His Holy Spirit inspired the prophets to foretell. All His purposes will be fulfilled and established. His law is linked with His throne, and satanic agencies combined with human agencies cannot destroy it. Truth is inspired and guarded by God; it will live, and will to be overshadowed. The gospel of Christ is the law exemplified in character. The deceptions practiced against it, every device for vindicating falsehood, every error forged by satanic agencies, will eventually be eternally broken, and the triumph of truth will be like the appearing of the sun at noonday. The Sun of Righteousness will shine forth with healing in His wings, and the whole earth shall be filled with His glory.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 108.