The Word of God tells us what kind of mental outlook the saints must have. God wants us to be happy, and it is important for us to recognize that such a state really begins in our minds. If our thoughts are uplifting and encouraging (instead of sad and discouraging), then our feelings and attitudes will take on the same pattern. Therefore, the Word of God gives us the following advice to help us experience happiness and fearlessness in the midst of bad and unfavorable circumstances: “Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.” John 15:4. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” Psalm 119:11.
Many who encounter such quotations as these find it difficult to see how it is possible to fulfill the instructions given in them. For example, some inquire concerning the practicality of a person praying “without ceasing.”
Such statements do not mean that God’s people have to be thinking only about Him every second of every minute of every day. In all of these quotations, God is showing us the need of always keeping our minds and hearts in a heavenly state, a state of purity, holiness, and righteousness—a prayerful state. In the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy we read, “. . . the life of Jesus was a life of constant trust, sustained by continual communion; and [as a result] His service for heaven and earth was without failure or faltering.” Education, 80. Christ was indeed a true champion—even the Champion of all champions. Like Enoch and the others we have considered in this series, Christ too prayed often and maintained a fervent faith in God. Hence the Scriptures encourage us: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5.
Like Christ, therefore, we should endeavor to keep ourselves unspotted from the world by striving to always be in a prayerful, heavenly, and righteous frame of mind. This we can do by constantly seeking God and trusting in His grace to enable us to do all things. We must always be thinking and working in harmony with the principles of God’s kingdom, and we must often be found communing with our Maker. Only in this way can we have the same experience that Enoch had anciently.
To truly be prepared for Christ’s second advent, His faithful followers today must learn by daily experience how to walk with God: “He who is a citizen of the heavenly kingdom will be constantly looking at things not seen. The power of earth over the mind and character is broken. He has the abiding presence of the heavenly Guest, in accordance with the promise, ‘I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.’ He walks with God as did Enoch, in constant communion.” Review and Herald, November 10, 1910.
“The doctrine of Christ’s coming was made known at this early date to the man [Enoch] who walked with God in continual communion. The godly character of this prophet is to represent the state of holiness to which the people of God must attain who expect to be translated to heaven.” That I May Know Him, 348.
Whatever may be our duty, responsibility, interest, or activity, God desires us to always keep our hearts in tune with Him. Therefore, we need to focus on heavenly things much more than we presently do. As Christians, we need to often talk with God (pray unceasingly) during the day. Also, we need to monitor all our thoughts, words, and deeds at all times in order to ensure they are in harmony with our Master’s holy will. As we do this, like Enoch, we will begin to walk with God.
“If we would but think of God as often as we have evidence of His care for us we should keep Him ever in our thoughts and should delight to talk of Him and to praise Him. We talk of temporal things because we have an interest in them. We talk of our friends because we love them; our joys and our sorrows are bound up with them. Yet we have infinitely greater reason to love God than to love our earthly friends; it should be the most natural thing in the world to make Him first in all our thoughts, to talk of His goodness and tell of His power.” Steps to Christ, 102.
On some occasions God’s people had to even physically move to better locations in order to keep themselves unspotted from the world. Abraham had to leave his father’s home in order to do his Master’s will. Also, Lot and his two daughters had to leave Sodom in order to escape the environment of sin and God’s judgments. Enoch, too, saw the necessity of relocating to more suitable surroundings to truly walk with God. Therefore, for God’s people to truly serve Him faithfully today, amidst the evils of our age, this too is fast becoming a necessity.
“Enoch walked with God, and yet he did not live in the midst of any city, polluted with every kind of violence and wickedness, as did Lot in Sodom.” Evangelism, 78.
“More and more, as wickedness increases in the great cities, we shall have to work them from outpost centers. This is the way Enoch labored in the days before the flood, when wickedness was rife in every populous community, and when violence was in the land.” Review and Herald, September 27, 1906.
We will always have need of attending to secular matters and, thus, our minds will need to be channeled in such areas at times, if we are to be successful in all our various pursuits. However, this does not mean that we cannot maintain a sense of God’s presence with us wherever we go and in whatever we do. It does not mean that we cannot often make time to commune with God in prayer, for this is the means whereby we come into contact with God Himself. He alone is capable of granting us success in all our pursuits and enabling us to keep our minds and hearts uplifted to heavenly things.
“Although there may be a tainted, corrupted atmosphere around us, we need not breathe its miasma, but may live in the pure air of heaven. We may close every door to impure imaginings and unholy thoughts by lifting the soul into the presence of God through sincere prayer. Those whose hearts are open to receive the support and blessing of God will walk in a holier atmosphere than that of earth and will have constant communion with heaven.” Steps to Christ, 99.
Furthermore, to truly “abide” in Christ, we must regularly focus our minds on the truths of God’s Word. This we must do whenever the opportunity or need arises during the day. Experience shows that too often we, as Christians, may take the time to study God’s truths, but fail to utilize them (focus on them) in times of need. We fail to “hide” (secure) them carefully in our “hearts” (minds) in such a manner that we can quickly use them as a shield against temptation and sin. (John 15:4.) “Thy word,” said the psalmist David, “have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” Psalm 119:11.
David, like other men of God, knew the value of putting his mind on truth in the hour of temptation and test. But we who fail to use the strength of truth in times of need often end up falling into temptation and yielding to sin. Like any other instrument, truth is beneficial to us only when we use it. Therefore, while we are away from temptation we should fortify our minds with the truth so that when we are buffeted by such things as sickness, sorrow, addiction, fears, lust, guilt, and anger, we can repulse or replace the enemy’s darts, which are his evil thoughts, with God’s thoughts, His truths. For example, even when Satan seeks to tempt us by putting a guilt trip on us by telling us that God will not accept us or our prayers because of our sins, we should quickly refocus our minds on God’s views (truths) versus Satan’s views (lies). This is the science of overcoming with the truth that has been practiced by God’s true servants over the years. Such are the thoughts that are found in the minds of true champions.
Hence, “When Satan comes to tell you that you are a great sinner, look up to your Redeemer and talk of His merits. That which will help you is to look to His light. Acknowledge your sin, but tell the enemy that ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ and that you may be saved by His matchless love.” Ibid., 36.
Believers today need a new outlook on how to successfully live the Christian life, and more and more I am becoming convicted that Enoch’s experience must be ours. Also, it seems as though the Lord has been doing His best to convince me that this is the answer. Interestingly enough, about the time I was writing this, I came across a message board outside of a church on which was posted the following words: “Exercise Every Day, Walk With God.”
Obviously these words caught my attention. Not only was the message in direct harmony with the truth being advocated in this series, but also the advice actually makes a lot of sense. Anyone interested in health will agree that exercise is extremely important to good health, and walking is one of the best forms of exercise. Therefore, the application of this truth in the spiritual realm surely must also hold true. If we want to gain the benefits of true spiritual rejuvenation and growth, we must engage in the act of exercising spiritually or “walking with God.” Hence, like Enoch, we, too, must learn to walk with God on a daily basis in order to be spiritually healthy.
In growing up, many people have experiences that cause certain character and personality defects to develop. Inherited and cultivated traits of character often linger. Some of these traits are difficult to deal with in adulthood, and sometimes even hinder our service to God. One of these traits is a fearful spirit. As we grow into adulthood, we often find that little things which caused us to fear and tremble as children may still affect us as adults. Yes, we may have outgrown some of them, but others hang on like pieces of iron filings attracted to a magnet.
If, as children, we were taught to pray and think of God often, and always believe that we were not alone, many of the wrong things we did and many of the temptations we yielded to would not have conquered us. Also, many of the things we feared, such as being alone in a dark room, or hearing strange sounds, may not have affected us. If we were taught and encouraged as children to believe that we are not alone, that God is with us, we may have overcome many fears early in life. Unfortunately, however, this has not been the experience in most cases. Many still need this outlook in their adulthood, when it should have been developed already.
Challenges of Life
All of us are confronted with problems, difficulties, trials, and tests. Some of these various challenges may be in the form of the demands of life that the world places upon us. For example, some people are afraid of losing their jobs. They are scared that if they lose their jobs now, in a time when they are in debt, they will lose everything. They see no hope for themselves and are usually overcome by discouragement and stress. Such fearful and negative thinking was developed early in life. Many adults simply bring it over from their childhood.
However, if we can learn to pray more often and to believe that we are not alone—that God is with us, that angels are with us—many things we fear, as well as many things we do that are wrong, we would not yield to, because we believe that there is an all-seeing eye beholding our every move, ready to supply grace. But for convenience sake we often let go of this thought. We act as though to keep a sense of God’s presence puts us in a straight jacket. Hence, this is a major reason why Enoch’s experience is not as common as it ought to be. But, say the Scriptures, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24.
Most of us want to do our own thing. We want to be too independent. We want to rule and run our own lives in a manner that pleases us, even if it is contrary to the will of our all-knowing Creator. But we are warned: “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd [strive] with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?” Isaiah 45:9.
Too often many fool themselves into believing that they are wise enough to solve all their problems and to provide for their mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Yet, such pride and stubbornness has brought them trouble and disappointment time and time again.
In the hearts of such persons, “self” or “mammon” still reigns. Christ is not yet permitted to take full control of their lives. He is left out of major decisions. He is still kept at the door of their hearts. However, most of these individuals are fully aware that all wisdom and power is found in Christ, and in man is found weakness and failure. Thus we are wisely admonished: “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:6.
Evidence of Love
Over the years, the devil has created such a bad concept of God in the minds of some that they believe God is a hard, harsh judge. They believe that God is watching down from heaven ready to “zap” anyone who makes a wrong move. But we know better. We know that the opposite is true; God is love. 1 John 4:8. We know this, not only because the holy Bible tells us so, but also because the evidences of the Creator’s great and overwhelming love can be clearly seen all around us if we look for them. Yes, we can believe that God is love, and benefit from the thought that He is indeed watching over us to help us.
This belief will help us to walk right with God at all times. It will also help us to represent the truth under all circumstances fearlessly and boldly. It will even help us to face the difficulties of life, whether bills, people, loneliness, sorrows, unfavorable circumstances, persecution, or even a consciousness of our sinful traits of character. We will face every challenge and difficulty of life with boldness and fearlessness. We will also be prepared to stand up, like Luther, against the enemies of truth. This we will gladly do because we know that we are not standing by ourselves: Somebody bigger than you or me is at our sides. Someone who is more powerful than anyone else is present to help us along the way. If we can believe this, we too will be champions of truth.
Teach the Children
We need to teach our children these things because what we ourselves may not have gained during childhood, hopefully we can impart to them and to others right now, before it is too late: “Only the sense of God’s presence can banish the fear that, for the timid child, would make life a burden. Let him fix in his memory [memorize] the promise, ‘The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.’ Psalm 34:7. Let him read that wonderful story of Elisha in the mountain city, and, between him and the hosts of armed foemen, a mighty encircling band of heavenly angels. Let him read how to Peter, in prison and condemned to death, God’s angel appeared; how, past the armed guards, the massive doors and great iron gateway with their bolts and bars, the angel led God’s servant forth in safety. Let him read of that scene on the sea, when to the tempest-tossed soldiers and seamen, worn with labor and watching and long fasting, Paul the prisoner, on his way to trial and execution, spoke those grand words of courage and hope: ‘Be of good cheer, for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you. . . . For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.’ In the faith of this promise Paul assured his companions, ‘There shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.’ So it came to pass. Because there was in that ship one man through whom God could work, the whole shipload of heathen soldiers and sailors was preserved. ‘They escaped all safe to land.’ Acts 27:22–24, 34, 44.
Given for a Purpose
“These things were not written merely that we might read and wonder, but that the same faith which wrought in God’s servants of old might work in us. In no less marked a manner than He wrought then will He work now wherever there are hearts of faith to be channels of His power.
“Let the self-distrustful, whose lack of self-reliance leads them to shrink from care and responsibility, be taught reliance upon God. Thus many a one who other¬wise would be but a cipher in the world, perhaps only a helpless burden, will be able to say with the apostle Paul, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.’ Philippians 4:13.” Education, 255, 256.
Promise of Angels
Many people are scared or afraid of everything. Afraid to speak, afraid to get involved in any activity, afraid to do something by themselves that they may be sent to do, afraid to venture out and take chances, afraid to do a particular chore because they do not believe they could ever do it right. Not only afraid to do anything, but also afraid of anything that could possibly happen. There is only one remedy for such victims of fear, be they children, youth, or adults. Remember the inspired promise uttered by the psalmist David: “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.” Psalm 34:7.
Yes, we are promised that the angel of the Lord encampeth around those who fear Him. Therefore, let us believe it and “see” in our mind’s eye that we are not alone. It will make a difference in our lives. If we believe this, we will fear no evil. We can then say like David, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me.” Psalm 23:4.
The Spirit of Prophecy says: “As a shield from temptation and an inspiration to purity and truth, no other influence can equal the sense of God’s presence. ‘All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.’ He is ‘of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.’ Hebrews 4:13; Habakkuk 1:13. This thought was Joseph’s shield amidst the corruptions of Egypt.” Education, 255.
This was the mind of Joseph, another hero for God. God has given us glimpses into the thoughts of some of His heroes, and in every case when they did great things, they believed that they were not alone. In these victorious experiences, they believed that they had a Companion with them, protecting and helping them. Even when Joseph refused to fall into sin, it was not because he was just seeing Potiphar’s wife; he saw God. Therefore, “To the allurements of temptation his [Joseph’s] answer was steadfast: ‘How . . . can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ Genesis 39:9. Such a shield, faith, if cherished, will bring to every soul.” Ibid.
[All emphasis added.]
Pastor Patrick Herbert is the senior pastor of the Tucker-Norcross Adventist Church and Director of the Gilead Institute of America, a medical missionary evangelistic training institution located in Norcross, Georgia. He holds a Doctorate in religion and speaks and writes on a wide range of religious and health topics. He may be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.