Life is a serious gift from our Creator. It is not to be taken lightly or wasted, for in the day of judgment all must give an account.
Paul, writing from his prison cell, outlines the responsibility and job description of every man who is called to be a minister in the Christian religion. “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Colossians 1:24–28.
Paul understood his appointment as apostle and a minister to “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” His preaching was so powerful that there were people who heard only one sermon that changed their lives, and they will be in the kingdom of heaven because of what they heard. The apostle Paul is not the only one who will be asked about those the Lord put in their path, for since that time there have been thousands, actually millions of preachers who will be answerable.
On judgment day the Lord will ask every preacher, “Where is your flock, the people to whom you have been preaching?” I am well aware that someday the Lord is going to ask me, “Where are the people to whom you preached? Are they here? Are they perfect in Christ Jesus? Are they on My right hand or on the left? Where is your flock?” This puts a huge responsibility on those who minister to others to deliver messages that are sometimes very difficult or not popular.
To the Ephesian elders, Paul said, “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” Acts 20:26, 27.
Have you noticed that we are living in a time when all of the counsel of God is not popular? Paul predicted that would be the case and wrote to a young preacher, Timothy: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” II Timothy 4:3, 4.
Preachers are human. They want to be popular, and it is just a human desire to want to be accepted, so in order to be popular, many preachers do not preach everything. Many of them understand perfectly well what the Bible says about the seventh-day Sabbath, but they won’t preach it, fearing they may lose more than half of their congregation. I feel sorry for them. As for myself, I decided a long time ago that I would rather preach to six people and have them ready to go to heaven, than preach to 6,000 people and have them lost.
I receive many letters from people who say, “Your church isn’t perfect. You are preaching about perfection, but your people aren’t perfect. Don’t you sin? Don’t the people in your church sin?” God can bring a whole church full of people to perfection in Christ Jesus, for that is what the Bible teaches. The whole object of Paul’s preaching was to “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” To reach that goal the whole counsel of God must be preached. This consists of three things:
Doctrines—The apostle Paul taught that there are foundation doctrines as well as more advanced doctrines of which an understanding is needed. He said, “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” Hebrews 6:1–3.
The Gospel—This is one of the main themes of Paul’s preaching. “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” Galatians 1:6–10.
Practical Godliness—To explain this in the simplest possible language that even a child can understand, I’m going to quote a statement from the book The Ministry of Healing, 365. Ellen White said that, “He [Jesus] came as God’s ambassador, to show us how to live so as to secure life’s best results.” What we call practical godliness is simply, how to live and the condition of the people who are ready to meet Jesus when He comes in the clouds of heaven.
A practical Christian lifestyle is impossible without first knowing the gospel or the doctrines. Paul also wrote Timothy, “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.” I Timothy 6:11. These are the attributes of Jesus to be reflected in His people.
John the revelator describes people who will be ready for Jesus to come in the last days: “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. Notice, these people have a practical experience in endurance and patience, and they keep the commandments.
In Revelation 14:1–5, there is mentioned a special group of people called the 144,000. These are described in some detail. They will live through the final judgments that will come upon the world and will be ready for Jesus to come. If we are going to be perfect in Christ Jesus and ready for His appearing, this is the group of people that we need to especially study. According to Revelation 14:12, they must be commandment keepers.
Look at Revelation 14:5; it says, “And in their mouth was found no deceit [guile], for they are without fault before the throne of God.” Notice this verse carefully. If in your mouth there is no deceit, you will be without fault before the throne of God. This is a fact that can be proven from several different places in the Bible.
In the Old Testament, Zephaniah 3:13 says, speaking about God’s remnant people in the very last days: “The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness and speak no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth.” Twice in that one verse it says the remnant will not break the ninth commandment, which says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Exodus 20:16.
Facts Concerning the Ninth Commandment
ONE—The devil was the first liar and a skillful one who was able to turn one third of the angels against God and to rebel against His government. In the Garden of Eden, he caused the fall of Eve and Adam by his lies, mixing truth with his error making it more deceptive. The fallen angels have become demons who continue to harass and tempt people on this earth to also lie. Jesus said, “When he [Satan] speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44.
TWO—God never tells a lie. In fact, “It is impossible for God to lie.” Hebrews 6:18. That is an amazing text when you start to think it through. Anything that God tells you will turn out to be the truth. The devil may say the opposite, making it difficult to discern, but you can be certain that if God is speaking, it is always the truth, because God never tells a lie.
The Bible, written thousands of years ago, is true and dependable. Infidels have continually tried to prove it wrong, but it is still true. It’s impossible for God to lie, and those things that people are skeptical of now will eventually prove to be true.
THREE—A special identifying mark of the 144,000 is that they will be people who tell the truth. There is no deceit in their mouths (Revelation 14:5).
FOUR—This point is not so nice. Every person who is a liar will someday burn up. “All liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8.
This fact is so important that it is repeated three times in the last two books in the Bible. “There shall by no means enter it [the Holy City, New Jerusalem] anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” Revelation 21:27.
The most scary one of all is found in Revelation 22:15: “Outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.” As I study this, I find out that it is very uncommon to find any human being that doesn’t love a few lies.
We are living in a time when lying has become more common than ever before. And this was predicted in the Bible. Paul said, “Evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” II Timothy 3:13. Notice, these people are going to deceive, and it is going to get worse and worse. They are going to deceive other people. As a liar engages in deceiving others, he also deceives himself.
Let’s consider this to better understand the ninth commandment. Remember, the 144,000 will be keepers of all the commandments, but especially the ninth commandment is emphasized and, according to Zephaniah 3, they are without deceit in their mouths not telling any lies. This is a special qualification of God’s remnant in the last time.
We have been commanded to “not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Exodus 20:16. In the book Patriarchs and Prophets, 309, Ellen White expounds on this commandment.
- Make sure that everything you say is absolutely true. We say things often that aren’t true without even thinking about it. I remember my grandfather had a pocket watch and he checked the time three times each day for the exact time. My grandmother and my wife were different than that, and if you asked them the time, it might be given as ten to eight or five to eight, but if you asked my grandfather, he would tell you, “It is 7:56 and a half.” I try to always be approximate when I tell the time, because I realize that people don’t really even know what the time is. Often times we give general answers that are not exactly right in every detail. In those cases we should be careful to make it known that our statements are approximate and not exact, being careful not to bear false witness.
- Making a statement with the purpose to deceive.
- An intentional overstatement. You may ask the evangelist how many people attended his meeting tonight and he may tell you 150. This could be an overstatement, unless the heads were counted. It is very difficult to look at a crowd and tell exactly how many people are there. An exaggeration breaks the ninth commandment.
- The ninth commandment is broken when by a hint or insinuation or expression you convey an erroneous message.
- An effort to injure our neighbor’s reputation by misrepresentation or by evil surmising breaks this commandment. A correct statement can be given either a negative or positive twist to change the meaning. Do Christians take things that other people say and do and give it a negative twist? Yes, unfortunately this happens far too often.
Listed along with an effort to injure our neighbor’s reputation by misrepresentation is evil surmising, slander, or tale bearing. Slander is repeating evil information about a person. By the way, slander is not necessarily false. The slander may be true, but do you realize if each one of us knew everything about everybody else, we could all say something about every single person that would be slanderous!
The Wise Man
In the book of Proverbs, the wise man deals many times with this subject in strong terms. Using the terms folly and fools, he says, “The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is deceit.” Proverbs 14:8. Read through the book of Proverbs noticing everything it says about fools and folly and remembering that the folly of the fool is deceit.
“The thoughts of the righteous are right, but the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.” Proverbs 12:5. “He who speaks truth declares righteousness, but a false witness, deceit.” Verse 17. “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.” Verse 22.
Proverbs 6:16–19 says there are six things that God hates. Then he says, actually there are seven, and they are listed. Of those seven things that God hates, two of them relate to the ninth commandment.
Solomon explains why people fall into that sin: “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.” Proverbs 20:17. “He who hates, disguises it with his lips, and lays up deceit within himself; When he speaks kindly, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart; Though his hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him. A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” Proverbs 26:24–28.
Dig For a Deeper Meaning
A lie does not have to be spoken audibly. You can live a lie. In fact, your whole life can be a lie acted out—it is still a lie!
Some things really hit a tender nerve, but they need to be said if we are going to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. All acting is lying. Did you understand that? I was involved in acting as a child. I was selected in school to play the part of the grandfather. Think this through. Was I a grandfather when I was in the eighth grade? No, I was acting out a lie; it was not the truth.
When watching movies or television or some DVDs of a theatrical performance, you are watching people act things out, and you are watching a lie. When I was at Southwestern Adventist College in Keene, Texas, we used to get what we thought were good movies, things like the life of Martin Luther. The actor in the movie who played the part of Martin Luther pretended to be him. Martin Luther had been dead for 400 years, so he was acting out a lie.
Remember that in Revelation 22:15 it said that outside the city is everybody who loves and practices a lie. Those people who watch the lie love it. If they didn’t love the lie, they wouldn’t be watching it. I know what I’m talking about, because I’ve been there and watched many movies. I’m not proud of that fact, but I know what happens when you watch a movie. Many Seventh-day Adventists believe that it is the environment of the movie theater that prohibits the Christian to watch movies, so they are brought into the school settings or other “safe” environments. One of the movies that we watched while I was in high school was about Peter Marshall, a very godly man who immigrated to the United States of America and became the chaplain of the United States Senate. He was one of the most brilliant preachers and orators of the twentieth century. It was clear that he had the gift of communication, but we were watching a lie. The actor was not Peter Marshall who had been dead for ten years, and neither was the actress his wife. So we were watching a lie. Mentally we entered into this thing, loving and practicing a lie. I remember when I got done watching that movie I could hardly sleep that night having entered into that experience.
Ellen White said to those who are preachers to avoid anything theatrical, in gestures, work, preaching or in evangelism. When she was alive, the only way a person could see theatrics was to actually go to a theater. This is what she wrote:
“Among the most dangerous resorts for pleasure is the theater. Instead of being a school of morality and virtue, as is so 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 poison the imagination, to destroy religious impressions, and 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 drinks strengthens with its use. The only safe course is to shun the theater, the circus, and every other questionable place of amusement.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 652, 653.
Soon we shall all stand before the judgment bar of God, and the Lord will ask us ministers, “Where’s your flock? Are they all perfect? Are they here, perfect in Christ Jesus?” Will we be able to say, “Yes, here they are”? That will not be the case if you don’t get over watching videos, movies, DVDs and programs on the Internet that some are still watching. It is time to take a careful look into this serious situation. The 144,000 have no deceit in their mouth. They are not watching it, or listening to it, or reading it, or speaking it; they are pure.
One More Thing
“He who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk just as He walked.” I John 2:6. It was in Antioch that men and women were first called Christians, because they continually talked about Jesus and His life. With tear-dimmed eyes and quivering lips, they would tell about His suffering in Gethsemane, how He was scourged and crucified for the human family, offering the invitation to believe on Him as Lord and Saviour, to deliver them from both the guilt and power of sin. They taught that He is in heaven right now interceding for His children and that He is going to come back again to take those who have received Him out of this world. Constantly they spoke about Jesus, His life, death and ministry for His chosen ones. As people listened to this over and over, it seemed like that was all they talked about. The people said they were just like the person they talked about, so they began calling themselves Christians. A Christian is one who is a disciple, a follower of Jesus Christ. They have been called Christians from that day to the present.
Christianity has now been around for about 2,000 years. But why is it that there are hundreds of millions of people in the world who hate all Christians? It is because of hypocrisy—there are many people who profess to be Christians, but they are far from being Christlike. Professing the name Christian, but not being like Christ, is to lie. I may not say anything, but I am acting a lie.
The 144,000 will have no deceit in their mouth. They are truly Christians—like Christ. I’ll confess this to you, that when I first studied this out, it made me scared to call myself a Christian, and I realized that I had a lot of praying to do. In Revelation 12:17, it talks about the followers of Jesus, the last ones left on the earth. It says, “The dragon [the devil] was enraged with the woman [the true church], and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
Notice the word remnant. Seventh-day Adventists love to call themselves the remnant of Revelation 12:17. The remnant, besides keeping the commandments of God must also have the testimony of Jesus Christ. To call myself a Seventh-day Adventist and part of the remnant means that my life should be in harmony with the Spirit of Prophecy. If I call myself a Seventh-day Adventist and my life is not in harmony with the Spirit of Prophecy, what am I doing? I am acting out a lie. To take it to the final conclusion, if you call yourself a Seventh-day Adventist church and your church is not living out the teachings of the Spirit of Prophecy, your church is acting out a lie.
The Lord is going to have a people that are Christlike, and I want to be one of them. I hope by God’s grace that each one of you can be one of them, too.
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Free Seventh-day Adventist Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.