In the book Faith and Works, page 55, it says,
“The voice of God is speaking to us through His word, and there are many voices that we will hear; but Christ has said we should beware.”
Already people are hearing many voices, but as time goes on there will be many more. Ellen White has warned to beware. To beware means to watch out!
She writes, “After the truth has been proclaimed as a witness to all nations, every conceivable power of evil will be set in operation, and minds will be confused by many voices crying, ‘Lo, here is Christ, Lo, He is there. This is the truth. I have the message from God, He has sent me with great light.’ ” Maranatha, 189. Will you listen to them at the peril of your soul?
It is imperative to be able to distinguish the voices. John 10:1–6 says, “ ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.’ Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.” This is still true today.
John 18:37 says, “Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’ ”
Speaking to Thomas, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Here is the question: Do you recognize the shepherd’s voice well enough to distinguish His voice from all the other voices? We all hear other voices and must be sure that we are receiving communication from the right Spirit.
If we are receiving communications from the right spirit, certain things will happen in our lives. “A stubborn, willful spirit is not of Christ, but of Satan; hence, it will not be cherished by him who has the mind of Christ. All impurity of thought will be overcome, and the mind will be trained to pure and holy thoughts. Backbiting and evil speaking will be put away. Jealousy and selfishness will be overcome, for they are Satanic, and not Christlike. Bitter are the fruits of self-indulgence, of unsanctified traits of character.” The Signs of the Times, October 12, 1891. Notice what will be overcome: all impurity of thought, backbiting, jealousy and selfishness, for these traits are Satanic.
Psalm 15:3 describes the character of those who are going to be in heaven. It is the person who doesn’t take up a reproach against his neighbor, even in his bedroom at home. It is the person you can trust; they speak no evil behind another’s back.
The condition of church members may give some idea why the Holy Spirit isn’t yet poured out so that God’s work can be finished. In his letter to the Ephesian church, Paul wrote, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:29–32).
Notice the context of the scripture when describing how the Holy Spirit is grieved—the way we speak. The word blasphemy simply means evil speech. The worst kind of evil speech is against God, but all evil speech is blasphemy. The Holy Spirit can never be poured out upon people who are backbiting and evil surmising and speaking evil of each other.
It is during this lifetime that we are to learn godly habits, which include pure speech. Jesus spoke directly to the Pharisees and the Sadducees with any rebuke that was necessary. He talked to them right to their faces and never behind their backs.
If the Holy Spirit is working on the mind, the words will be right. “If we cherish His [Jesus’] Spirit, if we manifest His love to others, if we guard one another’s interests, if we are kind, patient, forbearing, the world will have an evidence by the fruits we bear that we are the children of God.” That I May Know Him, 153.
Christianity today seems so powerless to make an impact on the world and the reason is that though we claim to be Christians, we don’t act like Jesus and talk like Jesus. If the world is going to see Jesus, they are going to have to see Him revealed in somebody that claims God as their Father and Jesus as their Brother.
It was not the early church in Antioch that called themselves Christian, rather it was those to whom they had witnessed who affixed that name to them. The disciples of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26) because they continually spoke about Jesus, what He taught and did, and they were just like Him.
If you were the only Christian amongst the non-believers in your area, would others say, by watching you and listening to you speak, “That person is like Jesus Christ”?
Everyone is tempted in the area of speech. No one is excluded. The devil will see to it that evil surmising and bad reports about you will be widely spread. When you hear of it, the temptation is to absolutely destroy every argument by presenting the facts, but most of the time, if you give all the facts, it would often damage somebody else’s reputation. Never think that pastors aren’t tempted to damage someone’s reputation by giving people the facts when rumors about them start spreading. Rumors were spread about Jesus, about the apostle Paul, about Martin Luther. Rumors were spread about Ellen White. Be aware that it will happen to you if you are a Christian. If you are living right and following the Lord, all manner of evil reports will be spread about you. In fact, I’ve sometimes thought that if there are no evil reports circulating about you, you ought to get scared and wonder if you are really a Christian.
Jesus said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you” (Luke 6:26).
Some may spread gossip, claiming that they are just telling their closest friend, but why speak evil to a friend that will do nothing more than to pollute and poison their mind? Before the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost the disciples had to meet together in that upper room for ten days and talk over things, because they had been jostling with one another over who was going to be first, who was going to have the highest place. They had to confess their sins and talk things over.
Think this through: After the death of Judas, the 11 disciples were in the upper room with about 110 other people who had gathered there to make things right. And they did have a lot to discuss and make right because they had been talking a lot of evil against each other. They had a lot of praying to do and confession of sin. Suppose one of those people got so upset when he found out how much evil had actually been spoken against him and said, “This is too much,” and walked out. They would have had every right to leave. Jesus never stopped anyone from leaving, but they would not have received the Holy Spirit when it was poured out. It is time to work things out with our brethren. It is time to make things right while there is still time. Think through how serious this is, for the Holy Spirit will be given only to those who are wearing Christ’s yoke—who are reflecting His character—and He said, “I am gentle and humble in heart.”
Would you recognize the Holy Spirit if it were poured out? In Acts chapter 2, we read that the Jews did not recognize when the Holy Spirit was poured out. There were a number of reasons for that. If they had recognized that it was the Holy Spirit, they would have had to recognize who Jesus was and they refused to do that. When the Holy Spirit is poured out in its fullness, many won’t recognize it again.
Jesus said, “And when He [that is, the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). Notice, Jesus teaches that when the Holy Spirit comes, He comes to reprove. Many people would like to receive the Holy Spirit, but they do not want to be reproved of their sins. Unfortunately for them, that is not how the Holy Spirit works.
Before Pentecost, the Holy Spirit had been working on the minds of the disciples and convicting them of their sins. As a result, they were ready to make things right between themselves. They desired their carnal natures to be subdued and made whole. The Spirit had already worked on their hearts and on the Day of Pentecost, they were ready to receive the early rain.
The result of this conversion and unity was that the Lord added to the church every single day. At that time, they did not need long series of evangelistic meetings to raise up churches. People recognized Jesus in those early believers and the churches increased daily. That will happen again before Jesus returns. However, it is never going to happen unless the Holy Spirit is poured out and that isn’t going to happen until the church members talk with each other to make things right and get things straightened out.
What an experience it would have been to be in that upper room when the Holy Spirit was poured out. Would you have stayed and faced your mistakes or fled with your pride and stubbornness? There were plenty of places to go, for there were many other Sabbath keeping churches around the area that were strictly orthodox in their belief, practice and teaching. But those churches didn’t receive the Holy Spirit because they hadn’t made things right. They were still talking about Jesus and saying that He was an imposter.
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide [continue, stay] in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’ ” (John 8:31, 32). Those who received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost were people who had stayed with the word of God and kept studying it even when they couldn’t understand what was going on. When Jesus was crucified, they didn’t understand what was going on. They were perplexed and confused but still refused to give up their faith. They continued to search for truth and humbled themselves before the Lord and He revealed the truth to them.
Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit would come, He would “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). From this text, we get the idea that receiving the Holy Spirit is closely connected with receiving the truth and following that truth as it is in Jesus. The Holy Spirit always guides into truth—never error. The devil’s counterfeit is what we call sophistry. Webster’s dictionary definition of sophistry is reasoning that is sound in appearance but actually it is false.
The devil’s sophistry puts people in a position so that they will not receive the Holy Spirit. “The cause of God is in great peril because the physicians in whose minds sophistry has prevailed against truth, are bracing themselves against the impressions of the Holy Spirit, and are placing themselves where the Lord can not use them as leaders of His people.” Spalding and Magan Collection, 364, 365. This was written at the time that we call the alpha of apostasy. These leading Adventist physicians had become convinced that the devil’s sophistry was the truth and as a result they were braced against receiving the real truth. Such is the case of many sincere people calling themselves Christians throughout the world today. By believing some erroneous doctrine, they reject truth. The word of God is true, and the Lord has given it as a measuring stick to measure things, whether they are of the truth or not.
Jesus prayed to His Father, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). It is impossible to be sanctified through error. To be sanctified by the truth is to practice it, live it.
Hebrews 6:18 says, “It is impossible for God to lie.” But the whole world has, at various times, decided that God didn’t know what He was talking about. It happened in Noah’s day (Genesis 6 and 7). The people decided they knew better. After all, how could there be a flood when there had never been rain? The Jews mocked Jesus’ virgin birth and called Him a bastard. They told Him that they hadn’t been born of fornication to indicate their belief that He had been. Jesus said that He didn’t come for Himself, but that His Father had sent Him. The ascension of Christ proves that He was telling the truth. God does not want you to be deceived by the sophistry of the devil.
“God desires scientific sophistry to be purged from every heart. He desires us to rebuke every evil devising, every evil work. If we allow such devising to go unrebuked, we shall have to suffer the consequences.” The Review and Herald, June 29, 1905. To rebuke evil devising is not fun for any preacher to do and certainly doesn’t gain any popularity. However, Jesus said, “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35 NASB).
We are commanded that if we allow evil devising and evil work to be unrebuked, we will have to suffer the consequences. We are living in a time when there is more evil surmising, more evil devising, more scientific sophistry than has ever been in Adventism and it is a snare that only God can deal with.
So how do you figure out what is true and what is not? When Eve spoke to the serpent in the Garden of Eden, she did not know who in reality she was talking to. (See Genesis 3:1–5.) Eve was deceived by someone anonymous. Think this through because this same thing is happening all around us today.
The devil works anonymously. He did not introduce himself to Eve and say that he was going to speak through a snake and deceive her. That would never have worked.
Around the time of the alpha of apostasy some young, very good-looking men began to hang around Battle Creek Sanitarium and go for walks and talk with John Harvey Kellogg. The trouble was John Kellogg did not know who these young men were. Ellen White revealed to him a scene that she had witnessed while in Oakland. “Angels clothed with beautiful garments, like angels of light, were escorting Dr. Kellogg from place to place, and inspiring him to speak words … that were offensive to God.” Ellen G. White, vol. 5, The Early Elmshaven Years, 304. Watch out, friend, for anonymous information. If they can’t give you a name, a date, a place, a phone number, and an address, watch out. You are going to be misled by something you do not understand or even recognize as spiritually dangerous.
Jesus said, “They will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers” (John 10:5). As we draw closer to the end of time, we are going to hear more and more voices. Make no decision based on that anonymous information, not any. Ellen White wrote, “We are not to accept these suppositions and pass them along as truth.” Ellen G. White, vol. 5, The Early Elmshaven Years, 428. Weigh the evidence for what you believe or what you don’t believe. “There is no excuse for doubt or skepticism. God has made ample provision to establish the faith of all men if they will decide from the weight of evidence.” Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, 311. As we approach the final crisis, what are you going to do?
“Present the affirmative of truth. Stand on the platform of eternal truth. But do not accuse. Say nothing to arouse enmity and strife. …
“The signs of the end are fast fulfilling. The time of trouble is very near us now. We are to be brought into strait places [that is, narrow places] in a way in which we have not been brought heretofore. The time of trouble is near, and we are to awake to a realization of this. We are to be sure that our feet are in the narrow path. We need an experience that we have not yet had, that we may have the assurance that the God of all grace is a very present help in time of need. The time of trouble—trouble such as was not since there was a nation—is right upon us, and we are like the sleeping virgins. We are to awake and ask the Lord Jesus to place underneath us His everlasting arms, and carry us through the time of trial before us. …
“How little we know of what is going on in heaven! What fearful indifference those on this earth show to eternal realities. Souls are unprepared for what is about to take place in our world; the warning must be given. The end of all things is at hand. …
“Preach the Word. The last message of mercy is to be given to prepare a people to stand in these last days. Everything is to be shaken that can be shaken, that those things that cannot be shaken may remain.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 436–438.
Study Psalm 15 to know how not to be shaken in the last days.
“This is what has been presented to me—that we are asleep, and do not know the time of our visitation. But if we humble ourselves before God, and seek Him with the whole heart, He will be found of us.” Ibid., 438.
Oh friends, the Lord says you are asleep and that it is time to wake up! Jesus told a parable of ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Because he was delayed, they all fell asleep. At midnight they heard the cry, “Behold the bridegroom is coming” (Matthew 25:6) and they awoke; some were ready to meet him, but sadly, some were not. Those not ready had failed to make the necessary preparation and were not allowed into the marriage feast. (See Matthew 25:1–13.) Learn from this parable. Determine today to seek the Lord with your whole heart. Enjoy a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and get to know His voice so you will not be found a victim of the sophistry of the devil. True joy and happiness are found only in the presence of the Lord.
(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 Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.