March 12, 2017 – March 18, 2017
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
Study Help: The Desire of Ages, 100–108.
“God’s plan is not to send messengers who will please and flatter sinners; He delivers no message of peace to lull the unsanctified into carnal security. But he lays heavy burdens upon the conscience of the wrongdoer, and pierces his soul with sharp arrows of conviction.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 178.
1 A WATERED-DOWN MESSAGE
- How is it possible to weaken, or make of none effect, God’s message? I Corinthians 1:17; Mark 7:13.
- Instead of a faithful message, what is often told to the people? Jeremiah 6:14, 15; Ezekiel 13:10.
Note: “People venture to commit sins that are grievous in the sight of God, and think that they are not to be called to task for them, because they say they are due to nervousness, to a peculiar temperament; but this is simply soothing the conscience, and crying, ‘Peace, peace, when there is no peace’ (Jeremiah 6:14). Sin is sin, and it is the delusion of Satan to look upon it in any other light than that it is grievous.” The Review and Herald, August 1, 1893.
- How does God regard flattery? Psalms 5:9; 12:3. What does flattery achieve? Proverbs 26:28; 29:5.
Note: “Praise, flattery, and indulgence have done more toward leading precious souls into false paths, than any other art that Satan has devised.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 304.
2 OUR LIFESTYLE
- What was John’s diet, and what was said of his character? Matthew 3:4; Luke 1:80. In what ways was his lifestyle a rebuke to the people of his time?
Note: “In the time of John the Baptist, greed for riches, and the love of luxury and display had become widespread. Sensuous pleasures, feasting and drinking, were causing physical disease and degeneracy, benumbing the spiritual perceptions, and lessening the sensibility to sin. John was to stand as a reformer. By his abstemious life and plain dress he was to rebuke the excesses of his time. Hence the directions given to the parents of John—a lesson of temperance by an angel from the throne of heaven.” The Desire of Ages, 100, 101.
“For years the Lord has been calling the attention of His people to health reform. This is one of the great branches of the work of preparation for the coming of the Son of man. John the Baptist went forth in the spirit and power of Elijah, to prepare the way of the Lord, and to turn the people to the wisdom of the just. He was a representative of those living in these last days, to whom God has entrusted sacred truths to present before the people, to prepare the way for the second appearing of Christ. John was a reformer. The angel Gabriel, direct from heaven, gave a discourse upon health reform to the father and mother of John. He said that he should not drink wine or strong drink, and that he should be filled with the Holy Ghost from his birth.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 70, 71.
- Compare John’s dress with that of Elijah’s. Matthew 3:4; 2 Kings 1:8. What lesson does this have for us?
Note: “John’s singular appearance carried the minds of his hearers back to the ancient seers. In his manner and dress he resembled the prophet Elijah. With the spirit and power of Elijah he denounced the national corruption, and rebuked the prevailing sins. His words were plain, pointed, and convincing. Many believed him to be one of the prophets risen from the dead. The whole nation was stirred. Multitudes flocked to the wilderness.” The Desire of Ages, 104.
“Puritan plainness and simplicity should mark the dwellings and apparel of all who believe the solemn truths for this time.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 189.
3 PRIDE, VANITY, EXTRAVAGANCE HAVE NO PLACE
- What should be our attitude toward worldly things? I John 2:15–17. What is the basic principle behind dress reform, and what is its purpose? I Timothy 2:9, 10; Numbers 15:38–40.
Note: “The children of Israel, after they were brought out of Egypt, were commanded to have a simple ribbon of blue in the border of their garments, to distinguish them from the nations around them, and to signify that they were God’s peculiar people. The people of God are not now required to have a special mark placed upon their garments. But in the New Testament we are often referred to ancient Israel as examples. If God gave such definite directions to His ancient people in regard to their dress, will not the dress of His people in this age come under His notice? Should there not be in their dress a distinction from that of the world? Should not the people of God, who are His peculiar treasure, seek even in their dress to glorify God? And should they not be examples in dress, and by their simple style rebuke the pride, vanity, and extravagance of worldly, pleasure-loving professors?—God requires this of His people. Pride is rebuked in His word.” The Review and Herald, January 23, 1900.
- What is often the case when God’s people forsake Him, and what is our responsibility toward these brethren and sisters? Proverbs 28:4; Romans 1:32.
Note: “When those who are uniting with the world, yet claiming great purity, plead for union with those who have ever been the opposers of the cause of truth, we should fear and shun them as decidedly as did Nehemiah. Such counsel is prompted by the enemy of all good. It is the speech of timeservers, and should be resisted as resolutely today as then. Whatever influence would tend to unsettle the faith of God’s people in His guiding power, should be steadfastly withstood.” Prophets and Kings, 660.
“There are times when apostasy comes into the ranks, when piety is left out of the heart by those who should have kept step with their divine Leader. The people of God separate from the source of their strength, and pride, vanity, extravagance, and display follow. There are idols within and idols without; but God sends the Comforter as a reprover of sin, that His people may be warned of their apostasy and rebuked for their backsliding.” Christian Education, 95.
4 UPHOLDING THE STANDARD
- How can we lift the standard of truth today? 2 Peter 1:10–12; 2 Timothy 2:15; Romans 12:9.
Note: “All who join the church should reveal a transformation of character which shows their reverence for holy things. Their whole life should be molded after the refinement of Christ Jesus. Those who join the church are to be humble enough to receive instruction on the points wherein they are remiss, and wherein they can and must change. They must exert a Christian influence. Those who make no change in words or deportment, in their dress or in their homes, are living unto themselves and not unto Christ. They have not been created anew in Christ Jesus, unto the purifying of the heart and the outward surroundings.” Testimonies to Southern Africa, 87.
“I am charged to say that there is need of a reformation in every church, in every family. We have no time to devote to pleasure-loving, no means to invest in buying the pictures of human faces. Invest your means in the cause of God. Guard carefully your example. It is of the greatest consequence to every soul to love and fear God, to obey His commands. We all need to become better acquainted with the laws of God’s Kingdom, lest we lose our eternal life insurance policy (2 Peter 1:10–12) and fail to find entrance into the city of God.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 409.
- What are our standards to be based upon? Isaiah 59:19; 8:20; Ecclesiastes 12:13.
Note: “God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms. The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority—not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ in its support.” The Great Controversy, 595.
5 ADDING POWER TO THE MESSAGE
- When can the Holy Spirit work to forward the final message of truth? Acts 2:1, 4; Revelation 2:26.
Note: “When the reproach of indolence and slothfulness shall have been wiped away from the church, the Spirit of the Lord will be graciously manifested. Divine power will be revealed. The church will see the providential working of the Lord of hosts. The light of truth will shine forth in clear, strong rays, and, as in the time of the apostles, many souls will turn from error to truth. The earth will be lighted with the glory of the Lord.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 46.
- When can we expect the power of God to be manifested in a marveled manner to heal the sick? Matthew 17:19–21; I Corinthians 10:31; 9:27.
Note: “You may say, ‘Why not, then, take hold of the work, and heal the sick as Christ did?’ I answer, You are not ready. Some have believed; some have been healed; but there are many who make themselves sick by intemperate eating or by indulging in other wrong habits. When they get sick, shall we pray for them to be raised up, that they may carry on the very same work again? There must be a reformation throughout our ranks; the people must reach a higher standard before we can expect the power of God to be manifested in a marked manner for the healing of the sick.” Medical Ministry, 15, 16.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 What is flattery, and why should Christians not use it?
2 How did John rebuke the intemperance prevalent in his time? What does this imply for us?
3 What has happened to those who exhibit pride, vanity, and extravagance?
4 How do we reveal that we have been created anew in Christ?
5 In order for the message to go forward with power, how must we live?
Copyright © 2016 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.