In 1 Corinthians 10:12, we read, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” You know, the devil would like people to become self-secure, to feel comfortable and satisfied. The Laodicean message attempts to shake people out of that feeling. God does not have to exaggerate to do it; it is a true message. There were some churches, as you know, about which God had nothing negative to say. But the last church has a special tendency to temptation—believing that, because they know “truth” or because they have more light than people of previous ages, they somehow are “good.” But Paul has a warning, and it is, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”
I have always been interested in what Paul thought about himself. He said, “I am the chief of sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15.) After preaching to others, he commented, “I have to keep myself under subjection lest I should be a castaway after helping other people to be saved.” (1 Corinthians 9:27.) In another place, he said, “Forgetting those things which are behind, I press forward to those things which are ahead.” (Philippians 3:13, 14.) It is so easy for us to reach the point where we are feeling pretty good about ourselves, but Paul says, “Take heed when you think you are standing. You may think you have the truth; you may think you are in the right church; take heed, lest you fall.” You may claim to be saved, or think you are saved, or know the time and date that you were saved. You may be planning on standing with the saved, but Paul says to “take heed lest you fall.”
Who is Able to Stand?
Revelation 6:14–17 tells about some people who were standing and what is going to happen to many people who once stood: “The sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’ ”
Who then is able to stand? David tells us, in Psalm 24:4, that only he who has clean hands and a pure heart. Only he, as it is told in Revelation 14, who is without fault before the throne of God, who is clothed with the robe of righteousness. We read in Revelation and in Hebrews 12:25–29 about how the earth is going to be shaken. It says, “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks.” That is the Holy Spirit, of course. That is the Lord through His holy word. Do not refuse Him who speaks. We are told in Proverbs 28:9 that he “who turns away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer [is] an abomination.”
At times the Lord may send people to us, and we may turn away from these people, because we think they do not come in the right spirit, or they do not say things right or do things right. Have you ever thought about the people who were swimming around the ark and all of the excuses they had for not going inside the ark? Noah was too harsh, or he was too negative, or he used the Spirit of prophecy in a wrong way. They all had their reasons, but it did not matter. They were all swimming out there with one another.
Paul warned, “Do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more [shall we not escape] if we turn away from Him who [speaks] from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, [‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.’] Now this, [‘Yet once more,’] indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God [is] a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:25–29. The Bible says that everything that can be shaken will be shaken.
Rooted and Grounded
We try so hard to win souls. That is a work God has given to us. We plant the seeds, and we try to help everyone to be in heaven. We want to help our spouses, our children, our church members, our Sabbath School members, the person on the street, the person for whom we work. We want to help everyone who will listen to be in heaven. We want to help all to accept the free grace, the free gift of eternal life that Jesus has promised, but after people accept this gift, God requires them to grow and their roots have to go down deep.
Do you remember the parable that Jesus gave about sowing seeds and how some seeds sprung up quickly but they had no roots, and when the wind, the storm, and the blasting heat came, they were uprooted? They withered and were destroyed. That represents everyone who hears the word and allows other things to crowd it out and who do not become rooted and grounded. The Lord is looking for new converts. He is looking for new people who have never before heard the gospel. He is looking for children; He is looking for adults, but He wants everyone to send their roots down deep and to become rooted and grounded.
Are You Secure?
None of us are standing very secure, if we have not grown some over the last month, over the last two months, over the last year. If we are still losing our tempers, as we were a year ago, we are on shaky ground. If we are still becoming impatient, if we are still becoming irritable, if we are still falling into the same sins that we have been falling into time and time again, we are on shaky ground. We need to be overcoming; we need to be falling on the Rock and being broken. There is coming a time, before Jesus returns, when everybody who has been a Christian, but who has not been growing, is going to be shaken out of the faith.
Only those who have deep roots are going to stand. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken. I have asked people, Is there anything that could get you to turn away from the Lord, anything at all in the world? Is there a sickness, a death, a discouragement, financial difficulty, or prosperity—anything that could cause you to lose your hold on the Lord? Lack of friends or good friends turning against you or rumors or character defamation or anything? Is there anything that could get you to turn away from the Lord? Are there people in whom you put great confidence that, if they turn against you or lose their faith, could cause you to lose your faith? Is there anything that could cause you to turn away from the Lord?
We may not know, of course. We may have a lot more confidence in ourselves than what the Lord has. He may see things we do not. But if there is anything that could cause you to be lost, Satan is going to try to tempt you on that point. There is coming a time when everything that can be shaken will be shaken, and when that day comes, it will be too late to become rooted so we cannot be shaken.
Do you remember when the bridegroom came and all of the virgins awoke? (Matthew 25.) How much time did they have then to go and get extra oil? No time; it was too late. Now is the time we have—the only time we have—to be overcoming our besetting sins.
Look at 1 Corinthians 10:12 and 14. It says, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” Paul is here writing to Christians. They were not worshipping idols anymore. It is interesting that from then until now, except for paganism and some cultures, the devil does not tempt people with literal idols anymore. The Catholic Church still has idols, and in Africa there are places with idols, but for the most part, the devil does not tempt Protestants with idols. Have you ever been tempted to kneel down and worship a graven image? I cannot ever remember being tempted in the slightest to kneel down and kiss an image’s foot or to burn incense to an image or pray to an image. Have you?
To what was Paul referring? The early Christian church never seemed to have been plagued with literal idols and images. Those things came in after they merged with paganism. It has never been a problem with most Protestants, and it did not seem to be an issue in the early Christian church. But Paul said, “Flee from idolatry.”
Are there things that we could be clinging to today that we just do not recognize as idols? If there are idols today that are tempting Christians, that they are worshipping, is it possible to hold onto those idols and to remain a Christian at the same time?
Arsenal of Temptations
Paul tells us, in the first 12 verses of 1 Corinthians 10, about the experience of the children of Israel. He says, in verses 1 and 2, “Brethren, I do not want you to be unaware”—to be ignorant—“that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized . . . .” These people were like you and me. They were set apart by baptism. They ate the same spiritual food. They heard Moses teach day after day, and they heard Joshua, and they heard Aaron. They heard the thunder from the mount. They drank the same spiritual drink, but even the literal water they drank came from that rock which represented Jesus. And they ate angel’s food, food that had such perfect nutrition they never got sick. In the wilderness, they never got sick! They had clear minds that could think spiritual thoughts; their minds were keen. They could pray clearly. They had fresh air, exercise, perfect food, and pure water, right from the Water of Life. “But with most of them God was not well pleased, for [their bodies] were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as [were] some of them. As it is written, [‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.’] Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by the serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” Verses 5–11.
The devil had a whole arsenal of temptations; some things worked on some people and different things worked on others. Some were caught up in games and playing; some were caught up in lusting after things that God had not given them to eat; some were caught up in sexual fantasies and immorality. Some were caught up with a lack of faith and with tempting Christ. When the manna withdrew, they began to complain and murmur. God was not well pleased with most of them.
We are like Israel. Israel had the truth—they had the truth. There was no doubt in their minds that they had the truth. They were there before Mount Sinai, and they heard the thunderous roar, and they heard God speak the Ten Commandments.
They did not have any question about keeping the Sabbath. The manna came six days a week, and on the sixth day, twice as much came. On the seventh day, it did not come at all. They had no problems with the Sabbath. There were a few who broke the Sabbath, but, by and large, they knew very well which day was the Sabbath. They were Sabbath keepers, and they knew it was God’s day.
There were idolaters all around who were worshipping the sun on Sunday, but the children of Israel were Sabbath keepers, and they worshiped the true God. They were not heathen as were the other people; they worshiped Jehovah. They had all the evidences; they had the gift of prophecy; they had the miracles of God all around them. They had the truth.
They were God’s children, and they knew they were God’s children. They were standing on truth, and they were going to Canaan—just like we are.
But do you know the rest of the story? There were only two people, out of this vast number, who made it to Canaan. I think if you had told those people, after they crossed the Red Sea, that only two of them were going to make it into Canaan, they would have probably stoned you. They would have been certain that you were not telling the truth. They may have agreed that there might be a few who would fall by the wayside—but certainly the majority would make it. And if it were not a majority, it would certainly be a strong minority. But it was a very small minority—only two of God’s people—who entered the Promised Land!
Paul says, “These things were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the world have come.” I believe, with all my heart—just as much as the children of Israel believed—that Seventh-day Adventist believers comprise the movement that God has raised up for the last days and that He has entrusted us with truth for the world today. I have not a single question. God has given us the Spirit of Prophecy; He has given us the truth, and we know the truth. We can always be learning more depths of truth, but we have the truth. There is not a question whatsoever in my mind which day is the Sabbath. Is there in your mind? I know which day is the Sabbath; it is as clear as can be in the Bible. I have seen the Lord work; I have seen miracles. We have the prophecies; they fit together as a hand in a glove. There can be no question on the part of the true church, and God’s true church is going through.
But we have been warned, time and time again. If we believe Ellen White is a prophet, she has warned us many times. We are warned in the Bible over and over again. In Testimonies, vol. 1, page 609, Ellen White wrote that only a very few of those who claim to be Seventh-day Adventists are going to be saved. In Testimonies, vol. 2, pages 401 and 402, she repeats the same thing. She says: “But a small number of those now professing to believe the truth would eventually be saved—not because they could not be saved, but because they would not be saved in God’s own appointed way.” Ibid., 445.
If there is one thing God wants to teach us in the Laodicean message and throughout the Bible, it is that it is not enough just to keep the law like the Jews kept it. We must be converted in our hearts. We must come to the place where we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love our neighbors as ourselves. We
must overcome our besetting sins; we must become like Jesus. We must be clothed with the robe of righteousness. We must have an individual and personal work of gaining an experience with Jesus. We must not go on day after day, week after week, year after year falling, falling, falling. We must be overcomers!
I am so thankful we have an Advocate who forgives our sins when we fall, but God wants to do more than just forgive our sins. He wants to make us overcomers. He wants us to be more than just forgiven sinners; He wants us to be people who overcome.
For Our Example
Some things that made the children of Israel fall are written as examples for us. Several things are listed in 1 Corinthians 10, but in Psalm 106, three specific things are given that aided in the fall of the children of Israel and are written for our examples.
“He [God] saved them from the hand of him who hated [them],”—that was the Egyptians—“And redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. The waters covered their enemies; There was not one of them left. Then they believed His words; They sang His praise.” Verses 10–12. Oh, they believed then! And they sang then; they sang His praise. They were so happy and so full of faith, but they soon, it says in verse 13, “forgot His works.” Oh, how easy it is to have a religious experience on Sabbath or during a week of prayer or during a camp meeting. But how soon, it says, they “forgot His works.”
Their minds began to be occupied with other things. “They did not wait for His counsel.” Verse 13. How many times we run ahead of the Lord! We cannot wait; we become impatient. We pray, but we are not willing to wait for God to answer our prayers. We feel we have to go on; we become irritated, and we can become upset.
Lust of Appetite
The children of Israel “lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, And tested God in the desert. And He gave them their request.” Verses 14, 15. Do you remember for what they lusted? It was not something bad, especially. They were not lusting for pig. They knew better than that; that was wrong. They were not lusting for camel or rabbits or mice; they were not lusting for snakes or alligators or crabs. They were lusting for things that God had said are good food to eat—perhaps not the best, but permissible food to eat. They lusted for quail.
The Bible presents that vegetarianism is better than meat eating, and that is true, but they were not lusting for something that was bad or unclean. Beyond that, they were lusting for other things on which, certainly, God never placed any restrictions—onions, leeks, cantaloupe, and things that they did not have out there in the desert. They began to lust for these things, things that God had not provided for them. They were probably thinking, How were they going to live on this manna? After all, did they not need to have variety in their diet?
The children of Israel decided that they could not live on just manna. As time went by, they came to loathe the manna. But God kept sending it. Do you think God would send something that was really that bad? The Bible says that it was sweet; they could fix it in a variety of ways—they could bake it; they could eat it raw. But they came to the place where they literally hated it. I do not doubt that some came to the place where they were about ready to vomit if they ate another bite. They probably thought, We have got to have something else or we are going to die! Our bodies reject this stuff, and we are growing thinner every day. If we do not get something different pretty soon, we are going to be buried here in the wilderness.
Leanness to the Soul
Well, it says that God gave them their request. But do you know what else He sent them? Continuing in Psalm 106:15, it says, He “sent leanness into their souls.” And do you know what happened? They did die in the wilderness. Every one of those people who ate the quail died in the wilderness. They all died eating perfectly good food—food that was technically permissible. I do not know that He sent them any leeks or onions, but He did send them the quail. They all died. He sent leanness to their souls.
There are people who want to know what they can eat and still squeak into heaven. They want to know what is technically and legally permissible so they would not actually be sinning or transgressing but doing what they could get by with!
Do you know what God wants us to say? “Lord, what would please You the most? I want to learn to eat such a diet that will please You the most, that my mind will be the clearest and I can serve You to the best of my ability.” God will bless that. But to the person who says, I have got to have something else, God will say, Go ahead, but you know what will come with it—leanness to the soul.
Diet was one of the shortcomings of the children of Israel. They did not eat unclean food, but they were not satisfied with what God said was the best.
Symbol of Jehovah
When Moses went up on the mountain, he was up there a lot longer than the children of Israel had anticipated. How long could it possibly take to climb up a mountain and come back down again? But he did not come back on the first day or the next, and there was thundering and lightning on the top of the mount. They thought per-haps he had been killed—struck by a bolt of lightning or something. Time went on, day after day after day, even week after week, and soon over a month of time had passed! For over a month the people had been waiting, sitting around with very little to occupy their time.
The adults as well as the children were growing restless! Can you imagine? There were no recreational activities in the desert, and it was becoming boring! What in the world was there to do?
The people went to Aaron and declared that they had to do something! As for Moses, they could not imagine what happened to him, but they could not stay stagnant forever.
“Aaron said to them, ‘Break off the golden earrings which [are] in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters.’ ” Exodus 32:2. Well, that was a step in reformation! “So all the people broke off the golden earrings which [were] in their ears, and brought [them] to Aaron. And he received [the gold] from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, ‘This [is] your god, O Israel.’ ” Verses 3, 4.
They believed they really were still worshipping Jehovah. As we consider some of the things the children of Israel did, we wonder how they could do such things! In this situation, they did not think that they were rejecting Jehovah. The golden calf was simply a symbol of Jehovah; that was what they had grown up with in Egypt.
In fact, today, if you talk to Catholics who worship idols, do you think any one of them would admit to worshipping an idol? They will tell you that the idols are only symbols to which they kneel down; they are not the real things. And that is what the children of Israel had, a symbol.
Verse 5 continues: “So when Aaron saw [it], he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow is a feast to . . . .’ ” To whom? Was it a feast to the golden calf? Whom were they going to worship? In your Bibles, if you have a King James Version or a New King James Version, the next word, Lord, is spelled in all capital letters. What does that mean in Hebrew? Jehovah. “Let us have a feast to Jehovah!”
Do you think they had rejected Jehovah? No way! They must have figured that if they were going to enjoy themselves, at least they should do it in the name of God, and worship the Lord while doing it.
They were making great progress! They had gotten rid of their jewelry, and now they were going to have a great feast to Jehovah.
“Then they rose early on the next day,”—they could not waste any time—and “offered burnt offerings . . . .” After all, that is what God had told them to do. I want you to notice that they were following the Lord in their actions here. God had told them to offer burnt offerings, had He not? They were doing what God had said. This was a holy convocation. “And brought peace offerings;”—they needed peace offerings! All these offerings were not Egyptian offerings. The calf may have been Egyptian, but their worship was totally to Jehovah. The peace offerings were not from Egypt; the Egyptians did not have peace offerings.
Pastor Marshall Grosboll, with his wife Lillian, founded Steps to Life. In July 1991, Pastor Marshall and his family met with tragedy as they were returning home from a camp meeting in Washington state, when the airplane he was piloting went down, killing all on board.