We need to have the story of Jesus written in our hearts. God has promised, under the new covenant, to write His Law into our hearts and minds—our hearts representing our affections, and our minds representing our intellectual aspects. We need to believe and to love His Law and the story of Jesus, and it needs to be more dear and precious to us than life itself. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Revelation 12:11. We need to come to the place that we would give our life for Christ’s sake because we love Him that much, and we do not want anything to separate us from Him.
This was the experience Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had when they refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s image. We also need that experience, for things are happening all around us—increase of crime, wars and rumors of wars, and the judgments upon the land. (See Matthew 24.) The United States is speaking like a dragon.
But, we are not to be fearful. The Bible says in 1 John 4:18 that perfect love casts out all fear. We need that perfect love to cast out all fear! There is a tendency to become frightened about what the Bible tells us is going to occur in the last days. It is comforting to know that Jesus is coming again soon to redeem us. But, the Bible also speaks of a “time of trouble,” which may not appear very comforting to us. It is natural for us to be afraid. “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” Matthew 24:6. We are not to be troubled or to fear or have apprehension for the future, because we know that Christ will carry us through. If we are planted on the Rock, nothing can shake us. We are to lift up our heads, because our redemption draws near.
“We have nothing to fear for the future except we forget how the Lord has led us in the past.” Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 196. It is important that we remember the past, because what happened in the past is applicable to us today. “These things . . . were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11. That is us! We must study history so we will not be led astray in the future. It only makes sense that if someone else has gone through an experience we are to go through, that we look and see how the situation was handled. It is well to learn from previous mistakes, failures, and successes. We do not need to worry about the future if our soul is right with God.
Beware of Men
In Matthew 10:17-19, Jesus, giving instruction to His disciples before sending them out to witness, said to them, as well as to us, what they were going to encounter: “But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak.” These things happened over and over again. Many people have gone through these experiences, and we will face such things, too, but we are not to be frightened, for Jesus will be with us.
During the Protestant Reformation, the Papacy tried many different tactics to destroy it. Persecution did not work, but one scheme was almost successful. If God had not intervened, the Protestant Reformation would have failed, because they were on the very verge of accepting the bait.
When Luther was brought before the Diet, he boldly declared that nothing was going to shake him. He said, “Here I take my stand; I can not do otherwise. God be my help.” (See Christ’s Object Lessons, 78.) The Diet was baffled. Here was one man, one lone monk with no backing, standing before all the great men of the empire, and they could not shake him. We need to stand as Luther, as the three worthies, and as Daniel stood. We dare not swerve our allegiance to God.
Shortly after Luther’s experience came one of the grandest moments for the Protestant Reformation, namely the “Protest of the Princes.” Instead of one man standing before the Diet, some of the most powerful princes in the empire stood on the offensive, not on the defensive. (See The Great Controversy, 197-210.)
Peace prevailed for a few years, but then came one of the most formidable obstacles to the Protestant Reformation—the Augsburg Diet in 1529 and 1530. The elector and princes were going to what seemed certain death. Their heads and morale were hanging low. It was then that Luther composed the song, A Mighty Fortress. It was timely and uplifted their spirits. It would be well for us to memorize that song.
Charles V had returned. He had vanquished Italy, and he controlled almost all of Europe. The pope had given him the order, “Crush Lutheranism.” He marched to Augsburg with that sole purpose. The princes and the elector knew it was dangerous, but Luther encouraged them. He said, “Go ahead, confess Christ before the great men in this world.” The Papists met them with warm friendship. They were trying to get them to yield to compromise, but that did not work. Next, they threatened persecution and death. That did not work either. Then they tried the most successful inducement and the most to be feared. The Romans said, “We will send three of our theologians, and you send three of yours. We will try to come to an agreement.” This was the newest and most formidable of the dangers. This plan almost crushed the Protestant Reformation.
Luther Begs to Be Excused
First, the Romanist party made amazing compromises and concessions. The Protestants put together a confession of 21 points. There were only three that the Protestants and Romanists were wrangling over. The Roman party made it appear that they had won the Reformation. They knew that if they could get the Protestants to yield once, they would eventually yield on everything. Unfortunately, the Protestants agreed at first, but Luther, from his hideout, wrote letters. From one letter we read: “I learned that you have begun a marvelous work, namely, to reconcile Luther and the pope, but the pope will not be reconciled, and Luther begs to be excused.” The Reformation was saved. He knew that when they began to yield, they stepped off the platform to sure ruin. Yielding will always bring ruin. We cannot compromise!
Whenever the church has yielded to compromise, the result has always been a lost battle. The early church was pure in the days of the apostles, but it compromised, and now we have the Roman Catholic Church. Compromise is spiritual suicide on the installment plan. We cannot pull down the banner even a little bit. Compromise may appear to look good, but it is not. That is what resulted in the Dark Ages. The Waldenses compromised, and many lives were lost. The Bohemians compromised, and their nation was bathed in blood. This sad history is for us to ponder.
We read from The Great Controversy, 607: “As the movement for Sunday enforcement becomes more bold and decided, the law will be invoked against commandment keepers. They will be threatened with fines and imprisonment, and some will be offered positions of influence, and other rewards and advantages, as inducements to renounce their faith. But their steadfast answer is: ‘Show us from the word of God our error the same plea that was made by Luther under similar circumstances. Those who are arraigned before the courts make a strong vindication of the truth, and some who hear them are led to take their stand to keep all the commandments of God.” The early Christians let down the standard to convert pagans, and it resulted in converting the church to paganism.
We, too, are going to have to answer for our faith. We must stand firm. Our God is A Mighty Fortress. He will uphold us and give us strength. We must say, as did Luther, “Here I take my stand; I can not do otherwise. God be my help.” The Great Controversy says that if Luther had yielded in one point, Satan would have won the victory. Neither can we yield in one point.
Dare to be a Daniel
Daniel was thrown into the den of lions because he prayed with his windows open, as he always did. (Daniel 6:10.) He did not compromise on one point, and God shut the lions’ mouths. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego could have bowed down to tie their shoes, but that would have been compromising. They knew very well that to not bow could result in their deaths, but they stood firm, even though the greatest man in the world opposed them. (Daniel 3:12-19.) Their steadfast adherence to right converted Nebuchadnezzar. It is encouraging to know that if we stand for the right, souls may be converted. Before these experiences, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were tested on the point of appetite. Because they stood firm on the Word of God then, they were able to stand the more severe trials.
We must set our faces as firm as a flint now, if we are to stand later. “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? And [if] in the land of peace, [in which] you trusted, [they wearied] you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?” Jeremiah 12:5. Right now we are deciding if we are going to stand as did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego or if we are going to bow down as all the other Hebrews did. We are choosing under which banner we are going to be arraigned. We are either with Luther, saying, “Here I take my stand; I can not do otherwise. God be my help”; or we are compromising.
Some people excuse themselves, saying, “God understands.” God does understand your situation, and He tells you in His Word what you need to do. The devil is in the business of giving excuses, not God. We read in Romans 1:20 that we are all without excuse. There is no excuse if it goes against God’s Word. Daniel and his three friends stood firm in the little things. Because they had proved faithful in that which was least, they could be trusted with that which was more. “What if Daniel and his companions had made a compromise with those heathen officers and had yielded to the pressure of the occasion by eating and drinking as was customary with the Babylonians? That single instance of departure from principle would have weakened their sense of right and their abhorrence of wrong. Indulgence of appetite would have involved the sacrifice of physical vigor, clearness of intellect, and spiritual power. One wrong step would probably have led to others, until, their connection with Heaven being severed, they would have been swept away by temptation.” The Sanctified Life, 23. It is the little things in life that make up the sum of life’s big things.
Too many times we think that little things do not matter much. But little choices set us upon the path that we are going to take. If you bend a tree when it is young, it will grow bent. There are some funny looking trees, because they were bent that way when they were saplings. By compromising in little things, we prepare ourselves to compromise in big things.
Compromise and indifference in a religious crisis is one of the sins that God hates the most. We cannot flatter ourselves that we will stand when we are forced by law to disregard the Sabbath if we do not keep the Sabbath now. It is not just in the Sabbath; it is in everything of our lives. “It is the grossest presumption for mortal man to venture upon a compromise with the Almighty in order to secure his own petty temporal interest.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 249. God says what he means, and He means what He says. Right now, in the little things, we are determining our destination. “It is as ruthless a violation of the law to occasionally use the Sabbath for secular business as to entirely reject it, for it is making the Lord’s commandments a matter of convenience.” Ibid. It is just the same to compromise in any other point. It is always the principle.
Solomon compromised. This was what led to his ruin. He knew that polygamy was against God’s Law, but it was a very common practice. The first wife he took appeared to be converted, but eventually he set up an idol to another god, which he and his children worshipped—because he took one wrong step. If we, like Solomon, take that one wrong step down, it will be much easier to take the next one. We are developing habits that determine where we are going to stand. One little compromise in sin will eventually crowd out all the good.
Do you think that the Jews at their first departure from the right had any intentions of crucifing the Son of God? No, none whatsoever. But they took the one wrong step, and it led to that terrible sin. The fall of any person can be traced back to one departure from the right. We cannot, even in the slightest thing, compromise. It will not work. God considers it the grossest presumption to compromise in the smallest thing.
Compromise is the most dangerous thing we can do for our souls. In the history of the Israelites, there are many examples of failure, but, fortunately, there are encouraging examples also—Daniel and his three companions, Joseph, and others.
There is a song with these words: “Dare to be a Daniel, Dare to stand alone! Dare to have a purpose firm! Dare to make it known!” We must dare, like Daniel, to stand for the right no matter what. We cannot depart in the slightest, because it will lead to us going all the way renouncing everything and being lost.
Right now we are deciding if we are going to be numbered on the Lord’s side. If we know to do right, and do not do it, we will be weighed in the balances of the sanctuary and found wanting. Different people have different temptations and problems. It may not be the Sabbath issue for you; it could be something else. We dare not depart slightly; we must stand firm as a rock. The record says of Jesus that “He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51. That is what we must do—set our face steadfastly to go to the New Jerusalem. We must not allow anything to hinder us. We must not compromise in the slightest, because it will be our ruin if we do. Many pleasing allurements and inducements may be held out to us, but we cannot compromise. We must, as did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, stand erect, not allowing anything to sway us.
Cody Francis is engaged in worldwide evangelism through Mission Projects International and pastors the Remnant Church of Seventh-day Adventist Believers in the Seattle, Washington, area. His gospel service began with Steps to Life in Wichita, Kansas. Cody and his wife, Mandy, have one daughter and live in western Washington. He may be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.