Bible Study Guides – The Eastern Question

November 20, 2004 – November 26, 2004

Memory Verse

“And now will I shew thee the truth . . . .” Daniel 11:2.

Suggested Reading: Stephen N. Haskell, Story of Daniel the Prophet, (1904), TEACH Services, Inc., Brushton, New York, 1995, 179–217.


“Who reads the warnings given by the fast-fulfilling signs of the times? What impression is made upon worldlings? What change is seen in their attitude? No more than was seen in the attitude of the inhabitants of the Noachian world. Absorbed in worldly business and pleasure, the antediluvians ‘knew not until the Flood came, and took them all away.’ Matthew 24:39. They had heaven-sent warnings, but they refused to listen. And today the world, utterly regardless of the warning voice of God, is hurrying on to eternal ruin.

“The world is stirred with the spirit of war. The prophecy of the eleventh chapter of Daniel has nearly reached its complete fulfillment. Soon the scenes of trouble spoken of in the prophecies will take place.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 14.

1 Whom does Gabriel say he stood to confirm and strengthen? When? Daniel 11:1.

note: “The first two verses of the eleventh chapter of Daniel outline the history of the second kingdom, Medo-Persia. That portion of the chapter included in verses three to thirteen records the history of the third kingdom, Greece. Those things which are ‘noted in the Scripture of truth’ concerning Greece are the things which Gabriel made known to Daniel. The prophet had found it difficult to grasp the full significance of the symbols used in previous visions to represent the kingdoms of the world, and so in this last interview between the servant of God and the angel of prophecy, symbols are laid aside, and the history is repeated in plain language.” Stephen N. Haskell, Story of Daniel the Prophet (1904), TEACH Services, Inc., Brushton, New York, 1995, 179.

2 What did Gabriel say he would show Daniel? How many kings did he say would yet reign in Persia? How did he say the fourth king would compare with the others? What did he say this fourth king would accomplish? Daniel 11:2.

note: “Cyrus died in the year b.c. 529, and was succeeded by his son, Cambyses, who reigned seven years. Cambyses was succeeded by Smerdis, an impostor, who reigned but eight months, being succeeded in b.c. 521 by Darius Hystaspes. Darius Hystaspes reigned thirty-six years, and was succeeded by Xerxes in the year b.c. 485. Xerxes, by his strength and through his riches, did stir up all against the realm of Grecia. He collected the most numerous army ever marshaled for war, estimated by careful historians to have numbered 2,641,610 fighting men, with an equal number of attendants, making a total of 5,283,220. This army was seven days and seven nights crossing the Dardanelles, on two immense bridges of boats built for the purpose. Xerxes was the last of the Persian monarchs who invaded Grecia; therefore the prophecy takes no note of his eight successors, but passes, as we shall see, in the third verse to the empire of Grecia.” International Sabbath School Quarterly, Pacific Press Publishing Company, Oakland, California, January 1, 1904, 25, 26.

3 What is the character of the king brought to view? How was this king to rule? What king of Grecia fulfilled these specifications? Daniel 11:3.

note: “Truly it may be said of Alexander the Great that he did according to his will. His entire reign was one of unparalleled conquest, and at the age of thirty-two years he is said to have conquered the whole of the then known world, and to have wept because there was not another world to conquer.” Quarterly, 26.

“As God brought Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus in direct contact with his people, that they might know the God of heaven, so he permitted Alexander to learn of him. While that conqueror was passing from Tyre, after its surrender, toward Gaza, which guards the entrance into Egypt, he stopped at Jerusalem. . . . The high priest, Juddas, had a dream in which he was bidden to go out to meet Alexander, arrayed in his priestly garments . . . .

“[Alexander] accompanied the priest to the temple at Jerusalem, where the sacrifices were explained. Moreover, the prophecies of Daniel concerning the rise and fall of Babylon and conquests of Medo-Persia, and its subsequent fall and the rise of a third empire were explained. . . . The mighty conqueror was in the presence of the Spirit of God . . . . Would he bow in submission, and let God conquer him?

“Alexander acknowledged God, but left Jerusalem and pushed forward in battle. Gaza fell. . . . [In Egypt], to gratify a selfish pride, he had himself proclaimed son of Jupiter Ammon. He who might have become a son of God chose rather to be called the son of Jupiter.” Haskell, 186, 187.

4 What was to happen to Alexander’s kingdom? How was it to be divided? Was the kingdom to fall into the hands of Alexander’s posterity? How was this fulfilled? Daniel 11:4.

note: “Within twenty years of Alexander’s death it is said that there was not one of his posterity left, and his kingdom was divided toward the four winds, between his four leading generals.” Quarterly, 26.

“Four notable horns were to come up toward the four winds of heaven in place of the great horn that was broken. These were Cassander, who had Greece and the neighboring countries; Lysimachus, who had Asia Minor; Seleucus, who had Syria and Babylon, and from whom came the line of kings known as the ‘Seleucidæ,’ so famous in history; and Ptolemy, son of Lagus, who had Egypt, and from whom sprang the ‘Lagidæ.’ These held dominion toward the four winds of heaven. Cassander had the western parts, Lysimachus the northern regions, Seleucus the eastern countries, and Ptolemy the southern portion of the empire.” Uriah Smith, The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, Southern Publishing Association, Nashville, Tennessee, 1944, 155.

5 Of these four divisions of Alexander’s kingdom, which one was the kingdom of the south? What is said of the king of the south? What is said of one of Alexander’s princes? Which one of Alexander’s princes soon became so strong as to possess three out of the four original divisions of the empire? Daniel 11:5.

note: “In b.c. 281, Lysimachus was slain in battle, and Seleucus annexed all of his dominion; and as Lysimachus had previously conquered the territory assigned to Cassander, this left Seleucus ruler of three of the four portions of the original division of Alexander’s kingdom.” Quarterly, 26.

6 What two powers then became “the king of the south” and the “king of the north”?

note: “From this point [verse 5] on through much of the chapter [Daniel 11], the prophecy focuses on the two kingdoms emerging from Alexander’s empire . . . . These were Syria, ruled by the Seleucids, and Egypt, ruled by the Ptolemies. From the geographical standpoint of Palestine, the former was north, and the latter, south. The original Greek translation, in fact, has ‘king of Egypt’ for ‘king of the south’; also verse 8 points to Egypt as king of the south. A similar designation can be demonstrated from historical sources.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 866.

“The successive rulers of that territory of the north, which fell under the dominion of Seleucus, are referred to in this prophecy as “the king of the north,” while Egypt is called “the king of the south.” Quarterly, 26.

7 Read Daniel 11:6–14. In those times, about b.c. 200, who were to stand up against Egypt, the king of the south? What new power is introduced in this line of prophecy? Verse 14.

note: “ ‘And in those times [about b.c. 203] there shall many [Antiochus Magnus, king of Syria; Philip, king of Macedon; and many of the provinces which had revolted from Egypt] stand up against the king of the south [Egypt]; also the robbers [breakers] of thy people [Rome] shall exalt themselves [rear her head among the nations of earth] to establish the vision [destined to exert a mighty influence among the nations of earth in fulfilment of the prophecy till the end of time]; but they shall fall [be broken up into many kingdoms], and finally be “destroyed and given to the burning flame.” Daniel 7:11’ ” Quarterly, 26.

8 Where was this rising power of Rome to stand, and what destruction was to be accomplished by his hand? Daniel 11:16.

note: “In b.c. 63, Pompey, the Roman general, demolished the walls of Jerusalem, transferred several cities from the jurisdiction of Judea to that of Coel-Syria, and imposed tribute upon the Jews. Thus was Jerusalem placed by conquest in the hands of that power which was to hold ‘the glorious land’ in its iron grasp till it had utterly consumed it.” Quarterly, 26.

9 The history of what Roman ruler fulfilled the events of Daniel 11:19?

note: “ ‘Then he [Julius Cæsar] shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land [Rome]; but he shall stumble and fall [assassinated by Brutus and Cassius and other conspirators, b.c. 44], and not be found.’ ” Quarterly, 26.

“Cæsar as a general stood in a position to accomplish for the fourth kingdom what Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, and Alexander had done for the former three, but we have no record that he even acknowledged God as a ruler of nations. He was fascinated and corrupted by the queen of Egypt.” Haskell, 212.

10 Who succeeded Julius Cæsar? How is he designated in Daniel 11:20? What Roman emperor justly earned the title of “a raiser of taxes”? Luke 2:1. How is the death of Augustus referred to in the prophecy?

note: “ ‘Then shall stand up [reign] in his [Julius Cæsar’s] estate a raiser of taxes [Augustus Cæsar, see Luke 2:1] in the glory of the kingdom [the ‘Augustan Age,’ an expression commonly used to denote the golden age of Roman history]; but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.’ Eighteen years after the taxing brought to view, seeming but a ‘few days’ to the distant view of the prophet, Augustus Cæsar died peacefully in his own bed at Nola, whither he had gone to seek repose and health, a.d. 14, in the seventy-sixth year of his age.” Quarterly, 26.

“All that the sacred record gives concerning Augustus, the man who held universal sway, is that he was a raiser of taxes when the kingdom was at the height of its glory, and that after a reign of a few days, or years, he should end his career in peace. He had unconsciously been instrumental in preparing the way for the Prince of peace, and having done that, he passed from the scene.” Haskell, 215.

11 Who succeeded Augustus Cæsar as emperor of Rome? How were his character and reign foretold in Daniel 11:21?

note: “ ‘And in his [Augustus Cæsar’s] estate shall stand up [reign] a vile person [Tiberius Cæsar], to whom they [the people of Rome] shall not give the honor of the kingdom; but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.’

“It was through the flatteries of his mother, Livia, that Tiberius reached the throne. But the citizens of Rome never gave to him the respect and ‘honor of the kingdom,’ due to an upright and faithful sovereign.

“ ‘Augustus rested his last hopes on Tiberius. It is almost superfluous to enumerate the unworthy successors of Augustus. Their unparalleled vices, and the splendid theater upon which they were acted, have saved them from oblivion. The dark, unrelenting Tiberius, the furious Caligula, the feeble Claudius, the profligate and cruel Nero, the beastly Vitellius, and the timid, inhuman Domitian, are condemned to everlasting infamy. Rome groaned beneath an unremitting tyranny, which exterminated the ancient families of the republic, and was fatal to almost every virtue and every talent that arose in that unhappy period. Under the reign of these monsters the slavery of the Romans was accomplished with peculiar circumstances.’—Gibbon.” Quarterly, 26.

12 What note does the prophecy in Daniel 11:22 make of the death of Tiberius Cæsar? Who else was to be cut off during the period of the reign of Tiberius? Daniel 11:22.

note: “Most of the life of the Saviour was spent during the reign of Tiberius, the successor of Augustus, whom Gabriel described to Daniel as a ‘vile person.’ History substantiates the description. He was not a direct heir to the throne, and he was never honored by his subjects. . . . The Jews were bitterly oppressed, and as they knew the time was near for the appearance of a Saviour, they placed all their hopes upon a temporal king, one who should break the yoke of Rome and establish for them a separate kingdom. A few, perhaps, but only a few divined the spiritual nature of the promise of a Messiah.” Haskell, 216.

“It was when Tiberius reigned (a.d. 14–37), and upon the order of his procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate, that Jesus was crucified, in the year a.d. 31.” Commentary, vol. 4, 870.

These lessons are adapted from International Sabbath School Quarterly, Pacific Press Publishing Company, Oakland, California, January 1, 1904.

Bible Study Guides – The Judgment

November 13, 2004 – November 19, 2004

Memory Verse

“Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Revelation 14:7.

Suggested Reading: The Faith I Live By, 207; The Great Controversy, 352.


“[Jude 14, 15; Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14 quoted in part.] God places every action in the scale. What a scene it will be! What impressions will be made regarding the holy character of God and the terrible enormity of sin, when the judgment, based on the law, is carried forward in the presence of all the worlds. Then before the mind of the unrepentant sinner there will be opened all the sins that he has committed, and he will see and understand the aggregate of sin and his own guilt.

“When the loyal overcomers are crowned, God would have present all who have transgressed His law and broken their covenant with Him. And not one of the righteous will be absent. They see in the Judge, Christ Jesus, the One whom every sinner has crucified. The Son of man shall come in His glory, and before Him shall be gathered all nations. The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 953.

1 What does Acts 17:31 tell us has been appointed? In the days of the apostles, was this event past, present, or future? Acts 24:25, first part.

note: “Mark the words of Paul: [Acts 17:31 quoted]. Here the apostle plainly stated that a specified time, then future, had been fixed upon for the Judgment of the world.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 367, 368.

“The ambition of every soul should be to make straight his paths, that the feet of others may not be led astray. But the care and anxiety with many is to shape their course to be admired by men. The highest effort of their mental powers is directed to this end. They speak and act that they may float upon the tide of popularity. There is no dependence to be placed upon this class; for they will betray sacred trusts, if by so doing they can serve their own interests. They study their own purposes so intently that they have no time for the study of God’s word. The day of retributive judgment is coming on apace, and it will find them unprepared.” Review and Herald, December 29, 1896. [Emphasis supplied.]

2 What work have we found to be synonymous with the judgment? When did the angel tell Daniel that event would begin? Daniel 8:14; 9:24.

note: “As the 2300 days was the only period of time mentioned in chapter 8, it must be the period from which the seventy weeks were cut off; the seventy weeks must therefore be a part of the 2300 days, and the two periods must begin together. The seventy weeks were declared by the angel to date from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. If the date of this commandment could be found, then the starting point for the great period of the 2300 days would be ascertained.

“In the seventh chapter of Ezra the decree is found. Verses 12–26. In its completest form it was issued by Artaxerxes, king of Persia, 457 b.c.” The Great Controversy, 326.

3 When did the 2300 days end? Since a.d. 1844, what has been the message of “present truth”? Revelation 14:7.

note: “The preaching of a definite time for the judgment, in the giving of the first message, was ordered by God. The computation of the prophetic periods on which that message was based, placing the close of the 2300 days in the autumn of 1844, stands without impeachment. The repeated efforts to find new dates for the beginning and close of the prophetic periods, and the unsound reasoning necessary to sustain these positions, not only lead minds away from the present truth, but throw contempt upon all efforts to explain the prophecies. The more frequently a definite time is set for the second advent, and the more widely it is taught, the better it suits the purposes of Satan. After the time has passed, he excites ridicule and contempt of its advocates, and thus casts reproach upon the great advent movement of 1843 and 1844. Those who persist in this error will at last fix upon a date too far in the future for the coming of Christ. Thus they will be led to rest in a false security, and many will not be undeceived until it is too late.” The Great Controversy, 457.

4 For what has God prepared His throne? Who will be judged? Psalm 9:7, 8.

note: “I [Ellen White] appeal to every man and woman who shall read these words, to remember that a reckoning is to be made by the One whom God hath appointed to judge the world. Every one must then give account of the talents intrusted to him.” Review and Herald, October 6, 1891.

5 To whom has the Father committed the work of judgment? John 5:22. Why? Verse 27.

note: “To His Son the Father has committed all judgment. Christ will declare the reward of loyalty. [John 5:22, 27 quoted.] Christ accepted humanity and lived on this earth a pure, sanctified life. For this reason He has received the appointment of judge. He who occupies the position of judge is God manifest in the flesh.” Review and Herald, June 18, 1901.

6 How many of us will be brought into the judgment? What reward will each one receive? 11 Corinthians 5:10.

note: “The whole world stands condemned before the great moral standard of righteousness. In the great day of judgment every soul that has lived on the earth will receive sentence in accordance as to whether his deeds have been good or evil in the light of the law of God. Every mouth will be stopped as the cross with its dying Victim shall be presented, and its real bearing shall be seen by every mind that has been sin blinded and corrupted. Sinners will stand condemned before the cross, with its mysterious Victim bowing beneath the infinite burden of human transgression. How quickly will be swept away every subterfuge, every lying excuse! Human apostasy will appear in its heinous character. Men will see what their choice has been. They will then understand that they have chosen Barabbas instead of Christ, the Prince of Peace.” The Signs of the Times, March 7, 1895.

7 What reason is given why we should not judge one another? To whom must every knee bow and tongue confess? Of whom will each one be called to give an account? In view of this, what should we not do any more? Romans 14:10–13.

note: “ ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’ [Matthew 7:1.] Do not think yourself better than other men, and set yourself up as their judge. Since you cannot discern motive, you are incapable of judging another. In criticizing him, you are passing sentence upon yourself; for you show that you are a participant with Satan, the accuser of the brethren. The Lord says, ‘Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.’ This is our work. ‘If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.’ 11 Corinthians 13:5; 1 Corinthians 11:31.” The Desire of Ages, 314.

8 Who besides man are reserved to judgment? 11 Peter 2:4, 9. See also Jude 6.

note: “Satan has been blessed with great advantages. There can be no one greater or more talented, none more wise and good, than was Satan before he apostatized. But he allowed a spirit of selfishness to take possession of him, and he fell through self-exaltation. Angels fell with him because they placed themselves on the side of the great rebel instead of on the side of Christ. We read in Jude [6]: ‘And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.’ ” Review and Herald, July 6, 1897.

9 Has time been established for the judgment? Ecclesiastes 3:17. What are those doing who judge one another now? When will be the time for judgment? What will then be brought to light? What will every man then have? 1 Corinthians 4:5. When will the living and the dead be judged? 11 Timothy 4:1.

note: “To hate and reprove sin, and at the same time to show pity and tenderness for the sinner, is a difficult attainment. The more earnest our own efforts to attain to holiness of heart and life, the more acute will be our perception of sin and the more decided our disapproval of any deviation from the right. We must guard against undue severity toward the wrongdoer, but we must also be careful not to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. There is need of showing Christlike patience and love for the erring one, but there is also danger of showing so great toleration for his error that he will look upon himself as undeserving of reproof. . . .” Conflict and Courage, 347.

10 How many events are associated with the judgment? Revelation 11:18.

note: “I [Ellen White] saw that Jesus would not leave the most holy place until every case was decided either for salvation or destruction, and that the wrath of God could not come until Jesus had finished His work in the most holy place, laid off His priestly attire, and clothed Himself with the garments of vengeance. Then Jesus will step out from between the Father and man, and God will keep silence no longer, but pour out His wrath on those who have rejected His truth. I saw that the anger of the nations, the wrath of God, and the time to judge the dead were separate and distinct, one following the other, also that Michael had not stood up, and that the time of trouble, such as never was, had not yet commenced. The nations are now getting angry, but when our High Priest has finished His work in the sanctuary, He will stand up, put on the garments of vengeance, and then the seven last plagues will be poured out.” Maranatha, 258.

“We are standing upon the threshold of great and solemn events. Prophecies are fulfilling. Strange, eventful history is being recorded in the books of heaven. Everything in our world is in agitation. There are wars, and rumors of wars. The nations are angry, and the time of the dead has come, that they should be judged. Events are changing to bring about the day of God, which hasteth greatly. Only a moment of time, as it were, yet remains. But while already nation is rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, there is not now a general engagement. As yet the four winds are held until the servants of God shall be sealed in their foreheads. Then the powers of earth will marshal their forces for the last great battle.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 14.

11 According to what will men be judged? Romans 2:16.

note: “Those whom Christ commends in the judgment may have known little of theology, but they have cherished His principles. Through the influence of the divine Spirit they have been a blessing to those about them. Even among the heathen are those who have cherished the spirit of kindness; before the words of life had fallen upon their ears, they have befriended the missionaries, even ministering to them at the peril of their own lives. Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required. Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God.” The Desire of Ages, 638.

12 What is the conclusion of the whole matter? What is declared to be the whole duty of man? What will God bring into judgment? Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14.

note: “In the book of God’s remembrance every deed of righteousness is immortalized. There every temptation resisted, every evil overcome, every word of tender pity expressed, is faithfully chronicled. And every act of sacrifice, every suffering and sorrow endured for Christ’s sake, is recorded. Says the psalmist: ‘Thou tellest my wanderings: put Thou my tears into Thy bottle: are they not in Thy book?’ Psalm 56:8.

“There is a record also of the sins of men. ‘For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.’ ‘Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.’ Says the Saviour: ‘By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.’ Ecclesiastes 12:14; Matthew 12:36, 37. The secret purposes and motives appear in the unerring register; for God ‘will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.’ 1 Corinthians 4:5. ‘Behold, it is written before Me, . . . your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the Lord.’ Isaiah 65:6, 7.” The Great Controversy, 481.

These lessons are adapted from International Sabbath School Quarterly, Pacific Press Publishing Company, Oakland, California, January 1, 1904.

Bible Study Guides – The Sanctuary and Its Cleansing—in Antitype

November 6, 2004 – November 12, 2004

Memory Verse

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19.

Suggested Reading: The Great Controversy, 430, 431; Selected Messages, Book 1, 124–126.


“We are now living in the great day of atonement. In the typical service, while the high priest was making the atonement for Israel, all were required to afflict their souls by repentance of sin and humiliation before the Lord, lest they be cut off from among the people. In like manner, all who would have their names retained in the book of life should now, in the few remaining days of their probation, afflict their souls before God by sorrow for sin and true repentance. There must be deep, faithful searching of heart. The light, frivolous spirit indulged by so many professed Christians must be put away. There is earnest warfare before all who would subdue the evil tendencies that strive for the mastery. The work of preparation is an individual work. We are not saved in groups. The purity and devotion of one will not offset the want of these qualities in another. Though all nations are to pass in judgment before God, yet He will examine the case of each individual with as close and searching scrutiny as if there were not another being upon the earth. Everyone must be tested and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.” The Great Controversy, 489, 490.

1 Outline as fully as you can the ceremony of the cleansing of the typical sanctuary, as studied in last week’s lesson.

note: “Important truths concerning the atonement are taught by the typical service. A substitute was accepted in the sinner’s stead; but the sin was not canceled by the blood of the victim. A means was thus provided by which it was transferred to the sanctuary. By the offering of blood the sinner acknowledged the authority of the law, confessed his guilt in transgression, and expressed his desire for pardon through faith in a Redeemer to come; but he was not yet entirely released from the condemnation of the law. On the Day of Atonement the high priest, having taken an offering from the congregation, went into the most holy place with the blood of this offering, and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat, directly over the law, to make satisfaction for its claims. Then, in his character of mediator, he took the sins upon himself and bore them from the sanctuary. Placing his hands upon the head of the scapegoat, he confessed over him all these sins, thus in figure transferring them from himself to the goat. The goat then bore them away, and they were regarded as forever separated from the people.” The Great Controversy, 420.

2 Of what was each year’s round of service in the earthly sanctuary a complete type? Hebrews 8:4, 5.

note: “Each year’s round of services in the earthly sanctuary was a complete type of the entire priesthood of our Saviour.” International Sabbath School Quarterly, Pacific Press Publishing Company, Oakland, California, January 1, 1904, 21.

“I [Ellen White] was also shown a sanctuary upon the earth containing two apartments. It resembled the one in heaven, and I was told that it was a figure of the heavenly. The furniture of the first apartment of the earthly sanctuary was like that in the first apartment of the heavenly. The veil was lifted, and I looked into the holy of holies and saw that the furniture was the same as in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. The priest ministered in both apartments of the earthly. He went daily into the first apartment, but entered the most holy only once a year, to cleanse it from the sins which had been conveyed there. I saw that Jesus ministered in both apartments of the heavenly sanctuary. The priests entered into the earthly with the blood of an animal as an offering for sin. Christ entered into the heavenly sanctuary by the offering of His own blood. The earthly priests were removed by death; therefore they could not continue long; but Jesus was a priest forever. Through the sacrifices and offerings brought to the earthly sanctuary, the children of Israel were to lay hold of the merits of a Saviour to come. And in the wisdom of God the particulars of this work were given us that we might, by looking to them, understand the work of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary.” Early Writings, 252, 253.

3 How often will those services, which in the type were performed once every year, be performed in the antitype? Hebrews 9:25, 26.

note: “Behold the apostle [Paul] preaching in the synagogue at Corinth, reasoning from the writings of Moses and the prophets, and bringing his hearers down to the advent of the promised Messiah. Listen as he makes plain the work of the Redeemer as the great high priest of mankind—the One who through the sacrifice of His own life was to make atonement for sin once for all, and was then to take up His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. Paul’s hearers were made to understand that the Messiah for whose advent they had been longing, had already come; that His death was the antitype of all the sacrificial offerings, and that His ministry in the sanctuary in heaven was the great object that cast its shadow backward and made clear the ministry of the Jewish priesthood.” The Acts of the Apostles, 246.

4 What was the last solemn act performed in each year’s round of service in the type? Leviticus 23:27.

note: “Once a year, on the great Day of Atonement, the priest entered the most holy place for the cleansing of the sanctuary. The work there performed completed the yearly round of ministration.” The Great Controversy, 419.

5 What consequence followed indifference on the part of any person on that solemn Day of Atonement? What solemn event was typified each year by the ceremony that was performed on the Day of Atonement? Leviticus 23:28, 29.

note: “In 1844 our great High Priest entered the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, to begin the work of the investigative judgment. The cases of the righteous dead have been passing in review before God. When that work shall be completed, judgment is to be pronounced upon the living. How precious, how important are these solemn moments! Each of us has a case pending in the court of heaven. We are individually to be judged according to the deeds done in the body. In the typical service, when the work of atonement was performed by the high priest in the most holy place of the earthly sanctuary, the people were required to afflict their souls before God, and confess their sins, that they might be atoned for and blotted out. Will any less be required of us in this antitypical day of atonement, when Christ in the sanctuary above is pleading in behalf of His people, and the final, irrevocable decision is to be pronounced upon every case?” Selected Messages, Book 1, 125.

6 Has the time for judgment been appointed? What assurance has been given that the judgment will take place? Acts 17:31.

note: “Before any can enter the mansions of the blessed, their cases must be investigated, and their characters and their deeds must pass in review before God. All are to be judged according to the things written in the books and to be rewarded as their works have been. This judgment does not take place at death. . . . [In Acts 17:31], the apostle plainly stated that a specified time, then future, had been fixed upon for the judgment of the world.” The Great Controversy, 548.

7 Of what were the two holy places in the typical sanctuary figures? Then how many apartments or holy places are there in the heavenly sanctuary? Exodus 25:8, 9, 40; 26:30, 33; Hebrews 8:5; 9:1–3.

note: “As the sanctuary on earth had two apartments, the holy and the most holy, so there are two holy places in the sanctuary in Heaven.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 261.

8 How often did the priests minister in the first apartment or holy place? How often in the second or most holy? Numbers 28:3; Leviticus 16:29–34.

note: “The ministration of the earthly sanctuary consisted of two divisions; the priests ministered daily in the holy place, while once a year the high priest performed a special work of atonement in the most holy, for the cleansing of the sanctuary. Day by day the repentant sinner brought his offering to the door of the tabernacle and, placing his hand upon the victim’s head, confessed his sins, thus in figure transferring them from himself to the innocent sacrifice. The animal was then slain. ‘Without shedding of blood,’ says the apostle, there is no remission of sin. ‘The life of the flesh is in the blood.’ Leviticus 17:11. The broken law of God demanded the life of the transgressor. The blood, representing the forfeited life of the sinner, whose guilt the victim bore, was carried by the priest into the holy place and sprinkled before the veil, behind which was the ark containing the law that the sinner had transgressed. By this ceremony the sin was, through the blood, transferred in figure to the sanctuary. In some cases the blood was not taken into the holy place; but the flesh was then to be eaten by the priest, as Moses directed the sons of Aaron, saying: ‘God hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation.’ Leviticus 10:17. Both ceremonies alike symbolized the transfer of the sin from the penitent to the sanctuary.” The Great Controversy, 418.

9 What in the antitype answers to the “cutting off” of those who, in the typical service, did not afflict their souls on the Day of Atonement? Psalm 37:22, 38.

note: “All of us, as beings blessed of God with reasoning powers, with intellect and judgment, should acknowledge our accountability to God. The life He has given us is a sacred responsibility, and no moment of it is to be trifled with; for we shall have to meet it again in the record of the Judgment. In the books of heaven our lives are as accurately traced as in the picture on the plate of the photographer. Not only are we held accountable for what we have done, but for what we have left undone. We are held to account for our undeveloped characters, our unimproved opportunities.” Review and Herald, September 22, 1891.

“God judges every man according to his work. Not only does He judge, but He sums up, day by day and hour by hour, our progress in well-doing.” Ibid., May 16, 1899.

10 What in the antitype answers to the removal of sins once every year from the typical sanctuary? Acts 3:19.

note: “In the time of trouble, if the people of God had unconfessed sins to appear before them while tortured with fear and anguish, they would be overwhelmed; despair would cut off their faith, and they could not have confidence to plead with God for deliverance. But while they have a deep sense of their unworthiness, they will have no concealed wrongs to reveal. Their sins will have been blotted out by the atoning blood of Christ, and they cannot bring them to remembrance. . . .” Conflict and Courage, 69.

11 What will be the last solemn act of our Great High Priest as He closes His priestly work?

note: “He [Christ, our Great High Priest] will bear the sins of believers out of the sanctuary.” Quarterly, 21.

“It was seen, also, that while the sin offering pointed to Christ as a sacrifice, and the high priest represented Christ as a mediator, the scapegoat typified Satan, the author of sin, upon whom the sins of the truly penitent will finally be placed. When the high priest, by virtue of the blood of the sin offering, removed the sins from the sanctuary, he placed them upon the scapegoat. When Christ, by virtue of His own blood, removes the sins of His people from the heavenly sanctuary at the close of His ministration, He will place them upon Satan, who, in the execution of the judgment, must bear the final penalty. The scapegoat was sent away into a land not inhabited, never to come again into the congregation of Israel. So will Satan be forever banished from the presence of God and His people, and he will be blotted from existence in the final destruction of sin and sinners.” The Great Controversy, 422.

12 When Christ bears the sins of the overcomers from the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, upon whom will he place them?

note: “When our High Priest, in His own person, bears our sins from the sanctuary, those sins will then be rolled back upon the head of the antitypical scapegoat, the originator of sin.” Quarterly, 21.

“When the work of atonement in the heavenly sanctuary has been completed, then in the presence of God and heavenly angels and the host of the redeemed the sins of God’s people will be placed upon Satan; he will be declared guilty of all the evil which he has caused them to commit. And as the scapegoat was sent away into a land not inhabited, so Satan will be banished to the desolate earth, an uninhabited and dreary wilderness.” The Great Controversy, 658.

These lessons are adapted from International Sabbath School Quarterly, Pacific Press Publishing Company, Oakland, California, January 1, 1904.

Bible Study Guides – The Sanctuary and Its Cleansing—in Type

October 30, 2004 – November 5, 2004

Memory Verse:

“And he shall make an atonement for the holy [place], because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.” Leviticus 16:16.

Suggested Reading: Patriarchs and Prophets, 357, 358; The Great Controversy, 409–422.


“I [Ellen White] was shown the grievous disappointment of the people of God that they did not see Jesus at the expected time [1844]. They knew not why their Saviour did not come; for they could see no evidence that prophetic time had not ended. Said the angel, ‘Has God’s word failed? Has God failed to fulfill His promises? No; He has fulfilled all that He promised. Jesus has risen up and shut the door of the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary and has opened a door into the most holy place and entered in to cleanse the sanctuary. All who wait patiently shall understand the mystery. Man has erred; but there has been no failure on the part of God. All was accomplished that God promised; but man erroneously believed the earth to be the sanctuary to be cleansed at the end of the prophetic periods. It is man’s expectation, not the promise of God, that has failed.’ ” Early Writings, 250, 251.

1 What line of reasoning upon Daniel 8:14 led to the conclusion that the Second Coming of Christ would take place in the autumn of a.d. 1844?

note: “Shortly after the fulfilment of some of the signs that the Saviour foretold would be seen before his second coming, there took place throughout the Christian world a great religious awakening. Students of prophecy came to the conclusion that the time of the end was at hand. In the book of Daniel they read: ‘Unto two thousand and three hundred days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.’ Thinking that the earth was the sanctuary, they understood that the cleansing foretold in Daniel 8:14 represented the purification of the earth by fire at the Second Coming of Christ. Searching the Scriptures for further light, and comparing this prophetic period with the records of historians, they learned that the twenty-three hundred days extended to the year 1844.” The Southern Watchman, January 24, 1905.

2 What does Daniel 8:14 say would take place at the end of the 2300 days?

note: “Through another vision further light was thrown upon the events of the future; and it was at the close of this vision that Daniel heard ‘one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision?’ Daniel 8:13. The answer that was given, ‘Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed’ (verse 14), filled him with perplexity. Earnestly he sought for the meaning of the vision.” Prophets and Kings, 554.

“The 2300 days had been found to begin when the commandment of Artaxerxes for the restoration and building of Jerusalem went into effect, in the autumn of b.c. 457. Taking this as the starting point, there was perfect harmony in the application of all the events foretold in the explanation of that period in Daniel 9:25–27. . . . The seventy weeks, or 490 years, were to pertain especially to the Jews. At the expiration of this period, the nation sealed its rejection of Christ by the persecution of His disciples, and the apostles turned to the Gentiles, a.d. 34. The first 490 years of the 2300 having then ended, 1810 years would remain. From a.d. 34, 1810 years extend to 1844. ‘Then,’ said the angel, ‘shall the sanctuary be cleansed.’ [Daniel 8:14.]” The Faith I Live By, 208.

3 What literal sanctuary was in existence in a.d. 1844? Hebrews 8:1, 2; 9:24.

note: “[The believers] overlooked the fact that nowhere in the Bible is the earth spoken of, or referred to, as the sanctuary. They overlooked the fact, also, that the only sanctuary in existence in a.d. 1844 was the one in heaven, where our Great High Priest ministers.” International Sabbath School Quarterly, Pacific Press Publishing Company, Oakland, California, January 1, 1904, 18.

4 Could a sanctuary in heaven need cleansing? Hebrews 9:23. Compare Acts 3:19, 20.

note: “What is the cleansing of the sanctuary? That there was such a service in connection with the earthly sanctuary, is stated in the Old Testament Scriptures. But can there be anything in heaven to be cleansed? In Hebrews 9 the cleansing of both the earthly and the heavenly sanctuary is plainly taught. . . .

“The cleansing, both in the typical and in the real service, must be accomplished with blood: in the former, with the blood of animals; in the latter, with the blood of Christ.

“The cleansing was not a removal of physical impurities, for it was to be accomplished with blood, and therefore must be a cleansing from sin.

“But how could there be sin connected with the sanctuary, either in heaven or upon the earth?

“As the sins of the people were anciently transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary by the blood of the sin offering, so our sins are, in fact, transferred to the heavenly sanctuary by the blood of Christ. And as the typical cleansing of the earthly was accomplished by the removal of the sins by which it had been polluted, so the actual cleansing of the heavenly is to be accomplished by the removal, or blotting out, of the sins which are there recorded. This necessitates an examination of the books of record to determine who, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement.

“Then [in the great day of final award] by virtue of the atoning blood of Christ, the sins of all the truly penitent will be blotted from the books of heaven.” The Faith I Live By, 206.

5 What instruction was given to Aaron concerning his entering the most holy place of the typical sanctuary? Leviticus 16:2.

note: “In the sanctuary of the wilderness tabernacle and of the temple that were the earthly symbols of God’s dwelling place, one apartment was sacred to His presence. The veil inwrought with cherubim at its entrance was not to be lifted by any hand save one. To lift that veil, and intrude unbidden into the sacred mystery of the most holy place, was death. For above the mercy seat dwelt the glory of the Holiest—glory upon which no man might look and live. On the one day of the year appointed for ministry in the most holy place, the high priest with trembling entered God’s presence, while clouds of incense veiled the glory from his sight. Throughout the courts of the temple every sound was hushed. No priests ministered at the altars. The host of worshipers, bowed in silent awe, offered their petitions for God’s mercy.” The Ministry of Healing, 437, 438.

6 By whom alone, and how often, was the most holy place to be entered? Hebrews 9:6, 7.

note: “Once a year, on the great Day of Atonement, the priest entered the most holy place for the cleansing of the sanctuary. The work there performed completed the yearly round of ministration.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 355.

“Only once a year could the high priest enter into the most holy place, after the most careful and solemn preparation. No mortal eye but that of the high priest could look upon the sacred grandeur of that apartment, because it was the especial dwelling-place of God’s visible glory. The high priest always entered it with trembling, while the people waited his return with solemn silence. Their earnest desires were to God for his blessing. Before the mercy-seat, God conversed with the high priest. If he remained an unusual time in the most holy, the people were often terrified, fearing that because of their sins, or some sin of the priest, the glory of the Lord had slain him. But when the sound of the tinkling of the bells upon his garments was heard, they were greatly relieved. He then came forth and blessed the people.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 274, 275.

7 What was to be taken from the congregation of the children of Israel? Where, and before whom, were these two goats presented? How was a selection made between these two goats? For whom were these goats thus severally set apart? What was done with the goat upon which the lot fell to be the Lord’s? For what purpose was the scapegoat reserved? Leviticus 16:5, 7–10, 21.

note: “On the Day of Atonement two kids of the goats were brought to the door of the tabernacle, and lots were cast upon them, ‘one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat.’ [Leviticus 16:8.] The goat upon which the first lot fell was to be slain as a sin offering for the people. And the priest was to bring his blood within the veil, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat. [Verse 16 quoted.]

“[Verse 21 quoted.] Not until the goat had been thus sent away did the people regard themselves as freed from the burden of their sins. Every man was to afflict his soul while the work of atonement was going forward. All business was laid aside, and the whole congregation of Israel spent the day in solemn humiliation before God, with prayer, fasting, and deep searching of heart.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 355.

8 What was done with the Lord’s goat? Where was the blood brought? Upon what was the blood sprinkled? What was thus made on behalf of Israel? Leviticus 16:15, 16.

note: “Aaron bore the names of Israel upon his breast. He communicated to the people the will of God. He entered the most holy place on the Day of Atonement, ‘not without blood,’ as a mediator for all Israel. He came forth from that work to bless the congregation, as Christ will come forth to bless His waiting people when His work of atonement in their behalf shall be ended.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 426.

9 What was done to the sanctuary? From what was it cleansed? Was this cleansing of the sanctuary, then, from physical or from moral uncleanness? How had the sins of Israel been transferred to the sanctuary, and how were they removed once every year by this ceremony? Leviticus 16:19.

note: “The sins of Israel being thus transferred to the sanctuary, the holy places were defiled, and a special work became necessary for the removal of the sins. God commanded that an atonement be made for each of the sacred apartments, as for the altar, to ‘cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.’ Leviticus 16:19.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 355.

10 After the sins of Israel had been borne from the sanctuary, in the person of the high priest, what did he do with them? What was then done with the live goat? What was the principal difference between the deaths of these two goats? Leviticus 16:15, 16, 21, 22.

note: “The slaying of the Lord’s goat represented a voluntary death to sin. The goat for Azazel, that was sent away to ‘bear upon him all the iniquity’ of the children of Israel [Leviticus 16:22], represented an involuntary death in sin.” Quarterly, 19.

11 What is the difference between the death of Christ and the death that Satan will experience? Hebrews 9:12, 22–24; 10:12; Revelation 20:1–3, 10, first part.

note: “Type has met antitype in the death of God’s Son. The great sacrifice has been made. The way into the holiest is laid open. A new and living way is prepared for all. . . . Henceforth the Saviour was to officiate as priest and advocate in the heaven of heavens. It was as if a living voice had spoken to the worshipers: There is now an end to all sacrifices and offerings for sin. The Son of God is come according to His word, . . . ‘By His own blood’ He entereth ‘in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.’ Hebrews 9:12.” The Desire of Ages, 757.

“Now the event takes place foreshadowed in the last solemn service of the Day of Atonement. . . . When the work of atonement in the heavenly sanctuary has been completed, then in the presence of God and heavenly angels and the hosts of the redeemed the sins of God’s people will be placed upon Satan; he will be declared guilty of all the evil which he has caused them to commit. And as the scapegoat was sent away into a land not inhabited, so Satan will be banished to the desolate earth, an uninhabited and dreary wilderness.” The Great Controversy, 657, 658.

“In the cleansing flames the wicked are at last destroyed, root and branch—Satan the root, his followers the branches.” Ibid., 673.

12 What did the apostle desire to be made ‘conformable’ unto? What choice is left for you and me to make? Philippians 3:10.

note: “The same choice that was left to Christ, after He had taken man’s place, with all of its risks and liabilities, to die a voluntary death to sin, or suffer an involuntary death in sin, is also left for us to make. ‘The wages of sin is death.’ [Romans 6:23.] The old man must die. Either he will be ‘crucified with Christ,’ or perish in the lake of fire with Azazel.” Quarterly, 18.

These lessons are adapted from International Sabbath School Quarterly, Pacific Press Publishing Company, Oakland, California, January 1, 1904.

Are You Connected?

In the book, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 79, Ellen White writes that the attitude and philosophy of the Pharisees is the attitude of human nature.

“The principles cherished by the Pharisees are such as are characteristic of humanity in all ages. The spirit of Pharisaism is the spirit of human nature.”

Universal Problem

Pharisaism is something that is almost universal in the religious world, so please do not think that we are trying to point a finger at this church or that church. It exists throughout historic Adventism. It exists throughout conference Adventism. It exists throughout the Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, and the Baptist Church. It exists all over the world.

Even though it is almost universal, God has decided to remove this Pharisaism from the church. He removed it when He first came to this earth, and when He was finished, Ellen White states that there were only 11 men and a few women left in the church. (See Testimonies, vol. 5, 130.) So this is an alarming topic to study.

I have offered many prayers that our church would not be engulfed, swamped, flooded, taken over, and controlled by the spirit of Pharisaism. I consider this to be one of our greatest dangers. I would rather be in a church of 6 people empty of Pharisaism than a church of 600 people full of Pharisaism. It is dangerous, because it is so subtle. It is much subtler than Sadduceeism. It is one of the reasons for the splits that we see, both in conference churches and in historic Adventist churches, all over the world. It is rife in historic Adventism, as it was in the day of Christ. People can see that something is wrong, but they cannot figure out what it is, because it is so subtle that their minds cannot grasp it.

No Righteousness

Jesus, speaking in the Sermon on the Mount, made the following statement that left the people in a state of shock: “For I say to you, That except your righteousness shall exceed [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20.

Are there going to be any Pharisees in heaven? No! I want you to understand how serious this subject is. No Pharisees will be allowed into the kingdom of heaven. Not one! God will not allow it! Why? Because they do not have enough righteousness.

The people could not understand this. The Pharisees were the most righteous people in the church. If they could not go to heaven, who could?

Many home churches have been established as protest against Sadduceeism. Many historic Adventist leaders have spent the last few decades protesting Sadduceeism in Adventism. We have no argument with these people. But remember, friends, in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy, the Holy Spirit spends at least ten times more time dealing with Pharisaism than with Sadduceeism.

We have no argument with those Seventh-day Adventist leaders who are writing books, publishing magazines, and sending tapes all over the world, protesting Sadduceeism in the church. But friends, if we concentrate on that and miss the big point, we are in trouble! The big point is not Sadduceeism. That is a huge problem, but it is not the biggest problem.

The Problem

The really big problem is that Pharisaism is endemic in the home church movement, in the denomination, in other Protestant churches, and in the Catholic Church—it is all over Christendom.

At times, when I hear some of the sermons and tapes and read the books against Sadduceeism, I recall that, in Jesus’ day, the Pharisees were against the Sadducees, too. But you know, you can spend your whole life proving that the Sadducees are wrong, and still be lost. Thousands of people did it in Jesus’ day. Jesus and the apostles identified where the really big problem was—and it was not with the Sadducees! The big problem was with the Pharisees.

We read, in Matthew 5:20, why the Pharisees were not going to the kingdom of heaven—because their righteousness was not enough! How could that be? They were the most particular people. Because, friend, they did not understand righteousness by faith. They had no conception of it. Paul spoke of it. He said that they go about to establish their own righteousness. (Romans 10:3.)

Nicodemus was a Pharisee. Remember that? And when Jesus told him that he would have to be born again if he was going to be saved, he was in a state of shock. In fact, he was so upset that he became sarcastic with Jesus about it. (See John 3:4.) Jesus did not back down. He just said the same thing again, only stronger. (See verse 5.) Why was Nicodemus in such a state of shock when Jesus told him that he must be born again? To understand why Nicodemus was in such a state of shock, we need to understand what the Pharisees believed.

Connection with Israel

“The Jews based their hope of salvation on the fact of their connection with Israel.” The Desire of Ages, 675. This is a major point in connection with Pharisaism, and is actually one of the few beliefs shared by the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Although they both believed it, the Pharisees enforced it.

Nicodemus, we are told in John 3, was a leader of the Jews. In their church organization, He was the equivalent of a leader in the General Conference. Was Nicodemus connected with Israel? He was not only connected with Israel, but he was one of their leaders. If anyone was going to be saved, it should be he.

Pharisaism Today

Did you know that that principle teaching of Pharisaism is still in existence today? In my own observations—and these are just my own observations—the two churches which are more steeped in this Pharisaic teaching than any other churches in the world are the Roman Catholic Church and the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I am not saying that there are no others, but these two denominations are more steeped in this Pharisaism than any others I have seen.

The Roman Catholic Church is steeped in Pharisaical teaching. At the beginning of the fourteenth century, the pope stated in a papal bull that, to guarantee salvation, it was necessary to believe that you must belong to the Roman Church. They have never retracted this edict. I am not speaking inadvisably, friends. I have a 1994 Roman Catholic Catechism in my office with the signature of Pope John Paul 11 on it.

The other church that is steeped in this teaching is the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Let me read the quote again: “The Jews based their hope of salvation on the fact of their connection with Israel.” If you believe that you are going to be saved because of your connection with Israel, what is going to happen to you if you lose the connection? You will be lost.

That is why, during the Dark Ages, the Roman Catholic Church could put a city under what they called interdict. They would say, “We have the power of the keys. We have cut you off from the kingdom of heaven.” When a city was under interdict, they would not even perform a marriage inside the church, and they did not recognize the marriages performed outside the church as valid. If you wanted to get married lawfully, you had to go to a city that was not under interdict.

Not only that, but when people died, their funerals could not be conducted in the church; they said that no one was going to heaven because only the church had the keys. They could not even bury the dead in the churchyard. People became terrified. We would not believe anything like that, would we?

I remember when I was disfellowshipped from the Seventh-day Adventist Church for ordaining people. The church told me that I could not ordain people without going through it. That is what the Pharisees believed. They said that your salvation is based on your connection with Israel, and we are Israel, and everything the Lord is going to do in the world is going to come through us. The church said that I was ordaining people without going through them and baptizing people without going through them and organizing churches without going through them and preaching that they are in apostasy, so they disfellowshipped me. And I said, “Yes, all those things are true,” and I still stand on those things.

Do you believe that people should not be able to go to church unless they secure permission? And do you believe that people should not be able to be ordained or baptized unless they secure permission? “The Jews based their hope of salvation on the fact of their connection with Israel.”

One of the main problems with Pharisaism is that it is almost the truth. That is why it is so deceptive. It is almost the truth. In fact, it could be the truth, if you understand it in the right context.


How is a person saved? Are you saved because you say that you believe these doctrines, so now you are going to be baptized, and thereby you are connected with the church? Is that what makes you saved? The fact that you are baptized does not guarantee that you will be in the kingdom of heaven, because a church cannot save you. You see, that is sectarianism. And the two churches I know of that are the most sectarian today are the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

This spirit of Pharisaism was so rife in Jesus’ day that it permeated all of the disciples. That was their major problem, as you will find in reading the Gospels. The whole time Jesus was here they were permeated with Pharisaism and did not know what was going on. The Pharisees were sectarian, so the disciples were sectarian, too.

We read, in Mark 9:38–40: “John gave answer to him, and said, Teacher, we saw a certain person casting out demons in your name, and we forbid him, because he did not follow us. And Jesus said, Do not forbid him, for there is no one who does a miracle—or a work—in my name, and then is able soon to speak evil of me. For whosoever is not against us is on our part.”

Do you comprehend what Jesus is saying here? Let us think this through. Was this church apostolic? If there ever was an apostolic church, this was it! This church was composed of Jesus Christ and the 12 apostles. John was a member of the apostolic church; he was one of the apostles, and he saw someone performing miracles but not fol-lowing or being a part of the church organization of the 12 apostles. So he brought a curse on him and told him to stop, because he was not doing it through the apostolic church. That was sectarianism. Did Jesus agree with them? No, Jesus rebuked them for their sectarianism. He said, “Whoever is not against Me is for Me. He is doing it in My name, do not forbid him.”

Sectarianism has been a curse of the church in all ages. It is one of the first and principal identifying marks of Pharisaism.

Pharisaism Brings Division

The apostolic church had this problem. The first three chapters of 1 Corinthians disclose the fact that they were having divisions in the church. Pharisaism always brings divisions in the church. It brings church splits and all kinds of problems.

Within the Corinthian church, there were some people who said they believed the gospel the way Paul taught it. There were other people who said they believed it the way Apollos taught it. And there were other people saying they believed it the way Peter taught it. They had three splits in the church!

Paul talks about this. One person says, I am of Paul; one says, I am of Apollos, and one says, I am of Cephas, that is, Peter. (1 Corin-thians 1:12.) Since Paul is writing, would you not expect him to set everyone straight and show him or her that he is the one who is right? He rebuked them. He asked, “Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you?” Verse 13. He told them that when they were acting this way and had all of this strife among them, it proved they were not converted. They were still carnal. (1 Corinthians 3:4.)

Jesus rebuked sectarianism to His disciples. The apostle Paul rebuked sectarianism to the Corinthian church. Sectarianism is always a result of Pharisaism. Wherever you see people thinking in a sectarian way, you can be absolutely sure that there is Pharisaism at work, because it is one of the identifying marks.

How Saved

What did Jesus teach concerning this? How is a person saved? The Jews said that they “based their hope of salvation on the fact of their connection with Israel,” and if you were cut off from Israel, you were lost. That is why, when the Jews came to the parents of the blind man whom Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, and asked, “Is this your son who was born blind? How does he now see?” they said, “This is our son, and we know that he was born blind, but how he sees now, we do not know, and who healed him and gave him sight, we do not know.” (John 9:19–21.) That was an absolute falsehood. That was not a white lie. That was a black lie. That was breaking the Ten Commandments.

They were willing to break the Ten Commandments in order to not be disfellowshipped from the church! Why were they willing to break the Ten Commandments to stay in the church? Because they had been taught that if someone was cut off from the church, they would lose eternal life. But the fact of the matter was that they were going to lose eternal life for breaking the Law of God. That is what Pharisaism does.

When you believe Pharisaic theology, the very thing that you believe is going to ensure your salvation actually ensures your damnation. Is that not demonic? So what did Jesus teach concerning this?

Jesus Taught

Now the Jews taught that their hope of salvation was based on the fact of their connection with Israel. Isaiah said that Israel is a vine that the Lord planted, and one must be connected with this vine to be saved. (See Isaiah 5.) So Jesus decided, the night He was betrayed, to correct His disciples’ thinking on this point. They had believed and had been taught by the Pharisees their whole lives, that Israel was the vine. Now notice what Jesus says about this. “I myself am the true vine.” John 15:1. (See also The Desire of Ages, 675.)

I have often wondered if those few words did not hit them, as we would say, like a ton of bricks. It was totally contrary to what they had been taught their whole lives. The prophet had taught that Israel was the vine, but Israel was only the vine if it was connected. We are only part of the vine, if we are connected. So, if Jesus is the true vine, to what do we need to be sure we are connected?

The Pharisees taught that if you were connected to the church, you were saved. That is what the Catholics teach. That is what the Seventh-day Adventists teach. If you are connected to the church, you are going to be saved. If you are not connected to the church, you are going to be lost.

What did Jesus say? “I myself am the true vine.” So, if the church is likened to a vineyard, how does one become connected to the vine?

Fatal Flaw

The Pharisees will say that you have to profess faith in the doctrines, become baptized, and then your name is written down on the church books. They vote you into membership, and then you are connected. Remember, the problem with Pharisaic theology is that it is almost right, but there is always a fatal flaw in it.

The following statement from the Spirit of Prophecy will show you what the fatal flaw is. “There are two kinds of connection between the branches and the vine stock.” The Signs of the Times, July 27, 1888. How many kinds of connection are there between the branches and the vine stock? There are two kinds.

“One is visible, but superficial.” Ibid. You can see it. When you declare that you believe the doctrines, you become baptized, and the church votes you into fellowship, you then have a visible connection with the vine stock. That is an outward connection. It is a visible connection, but that connection, by itself, will not get you into the kingdom of heaven.

“One is visible, but superficial. The other is invisible and vital.” Ibid. If you have ever raised grapes, you know there is an inward connection, and an outward connection and if the inward connection is not complete, the branch dies. Then, when you prune the plant, you cut off that dead branch. That is what Jesus talks about in John 15:6. Eventually, the branches that have only the outward connection are going to get pruned. You cannot see it, but inside there is a vital connection, and the sap from the vine runs into the branch, clear to the outermost twig. That is the really important connection.

Notice how Ellen White explains this: “There is an apparent union, a membership with the church, and a profession of religion, which, though in itself good, is too often unaccompanied by saving faith in Jesus or living obedience to the commandments of God. The branches that are connected with Christ, the living vine, will make it manifest by bearing much fruit in good works to the glory of God. But the branches which have nothing but an apparent union, will be fruitless. As the branch cannot possibly bring forth fruit without a vital connection with the parent stock, so the Christian can be fruitful in good works only as union with Christ is made and preserved. The ruin of those who are not connected with Christ, is as complete as though they had no name to live; for they are dead. Christ compares them to lifeless branches that are gathered and burned in the fire.” Ibid. “Every branch in me that bears not fruit he takes it away: and every branch that bears fruit, he purges [prunes] it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” John 15:2.

Who to Believe

Jesus said, “I am the Vine.” The Pharisees said, “Israel is the vine.” Do you want to have eternal life? If so, you have to be connected to Jesus. We are not criticizing Israel. We just want to recognize who the vine really is. If you want to have eternal life, Jesus said, you have to be connected to Me. Another time, He said, ”No one”—how many is no one?—“comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6.) Do you want to be saved? Do you want to go to heaven? Do you want to have eternal life? There is only one way. You are only saved because you are connected to the true Vine, Jesus Christ.

There were people in the apostolic church who ended up losing eternal life. Yes, there were, because the New Testament mentions several by name. You can read through the New Testament and find the names of several people who had been members of the apostolic church, but they still lost eternal life even though the human leaders of their church were the 12 apostles. You see, being connected with the church will not save you—you must be connected with Jesus.

I am so glad that Peter finally figured that out, because when he got it figured out, he shared it. Peter did not teach the people that they were going to be saved because they became members of the apostolic church. He did not teach that, and neither did the other apostles. The people who were being saved joined the church, but notice what Peter said in Acts 4:12: “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which it is necessary for us to be saved.”

Ephesians 1:22, 23 and Colossians 1:18 identify Christ as the head of the church. The church is likened, in the New Testament, not only to a vine, but also to the body of Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:12.) Now, if Jesus is the Head of the church, it just follows that if you are going to be part of the church, you have to be connected to Him. Does that make sense? And if you are not really connected to Jesus, you are not really part of the church.

Profession or Reality

When we began preaching these things about 12 years ago, the Pharisees in the church went ballistic. The Pharisees in the church cannot figure out the difference between profession and reality. The Spirit of Prophecy teaches very clearly that there is a difference between the professed church and the true church. Ellen White draws a line so clear that I cannot comprehend how anyone can miss it. But if you are a Pharisee, you can miss it, because Pharisees have a different idea in regard to the church. They believe that if you are connected with the church, you are going to be saved, and if you lose that connection, you are going to be lost.

In 1993, a person wrote to me expressing great sorrow for my disfellowshipping—since I was not part of the church anymore. And I said, “What? I am not part of the church anymore? When did I decide not to keep the commandments of God? Ellen White says that the church is the people who love God and keep the commandments. When did I decide to turn my back on the Lord?” I am a sinner, but friends, I have not turned my back on the Lord. I am still part of His church.

If Jesus is the Head of the church, then to be part of the church, really—not just by profession—you have to be connected with Him. Ephesians 5:30–32 says, “Because we [the church members] are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones, on account of this, a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave [stick] to his wife, and they shall be the two unto one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I am speaking about Christ and the church.” You see, if you are really going to be part of the church, you have to be a member of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.

The Pharisees said that they were connected with God. We cannot contradict them; they had the outward connection. But, having an outward connection with the church will not save your soul. If you do not have the inward connection with Jesus—if you are not part of His body, if you are not bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh, if you are not really connected with Christ—you are not really part of Him. You only have the outward connection, and the Lord says that you will be cut away.

I am not concerned that I have been told by certain groups of people that I could no longer be part of their church and that I would be disfellowshipped and defrocked. I am not concerned about that. But I do not want the Lord to come and say to me that because I have only the outward connection, I am not truly connected, so I must be severed from Jesus. This is something about which I pray. It can happen to preachers; it can happen to deacons; it can happen to anybody; and when it happens, you are no better than is any other Pharisee in the world. You are still connected outwardly, but the inward connection is gone.

Do you want to be vitally connected to Jesus Christ? Do you want your life to be connected with Jesus Christ so that you are bone of His bones, flesh of His flesh, a member of His body? Do you want the inward connection? Ask the Lord in prayer for that vital, inward connection. He will give it to you.

[Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]


The subject of this study is one that many people never consider when determining whether or not they are going to stand in the last days. After we read the statements that will be presented here, I think you will see that, in the last days, the matter of appetite is at the foundation of standing for God. We are going to address seven questions, and we will rely on the Bible and the writings of Ellen White for the answers.

The question is, “What Will it Take to Stand in the Last Days?” The Bible promises salvation only to the overcomer. (See John 8:32–36; Romans 8:1–14; 1 John 3:4–10; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:5–7.) The work of overcoming begins with the overcomer.

Question 1

Where did the workings of the temptation and the fall begin? How did the devil tempt Adam and Eve? The fall of man was on the point of appetite. When the devil came to Jesus on the mount of temptation, he used three temptations. What was his first temptation? It was appetite.

“If we would elevate the moral standard in any country where we may be called to go, we must begin by correcting their physical habits.” Counsels on Health, 505. We must begin by correcting peoples’ physical habits. Some people who have been Christians for a while might think that they do not need to be concerned about this. They may think that they have already corrected their physical habits, but think this through for a moment. We have to maintain control over our physical habits for the rest of our lives.

When we speak of physical habits, we are not just referring to smoking, drinking alcohol, or using some type of harmful substance. Now, these things are involved, and if you are using a harmful substance or drinking something that is harmful or smoking, you need to put all those things aside—if you are going to get your physical habits corrected so you will be living in harmony with the divine government. But we are talking about something more basic than that.

Every day of your life, you have to deal with what and how much you are going to drink and what and how much and when you are going to eat. As long as you live in this world, you will have to make these decisions. The choices you make lie at the foundation of either your success or your failure in developing a Christian character, going through the last days, and at last being ready for Jesus to come. It sounds like a long jump to make something that simple so directly involved in how we will stand, but let us read a few statements and ask some more questions and we will then see the answer develop.

Question 2

What is the relationship between health reform and preparation for the Second Coming of Christ?

We are told in Testimonies, vol. 3, 492, that “those who are slaves to appetite will fail in perfecting Christian character.” Does perfecting of Christian character have to do with standing in the last days? If we are slaves to appetite, we are going to fail. That is what the prophet says.

We want to learn the relationship between health reform and preparing for Christ’s return, so we will read some more statements and then ask the question, What can we do to get in control?

In 1973, I began an educational process at the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University [Loma Linda, California]. One of the very first classes I attended was on the subject of nutrition. At that time, we were told that America had a greater problem with eating in that the weight of Americans was more out of control than in any other nation in the world. Now this was in 1973, and the findings were that, in America, over 40 percent of the population had a severe problem in this area. At that time, Europe was quite poor at 25 percent, but in places like India and Africa, it was only 10 percent.

When I first heard these facts, I could hardly believe them, but if you have been listening to the news lately, you know that over 60 percent of America’s population is overweight today. Why is this so?

Temptation to Indulge

“As we near the close of time, Satan’s temptation to indulge appetite will be more powerful and more difficult to overcome.” Ibid. Is the temptation to indulge more powerful today than when Ellen White wrote these words? When she penned this statement, was there McDonalds? No! Did we have Burger King or Taco Bell yet? No! The fast food industry did not exist.

Some of you are old enough to remember that there was a time when, if you wanted to eat out, you had to do so during the times the restaurants were open. They served breakfast for a set time in the morning, and then, in the middle of the day, they served dinner or lunch for so long a time, and in the late afternoon and early evening, they served supper or dinner for so long a time. You had to go during those times, or you could not get anything to eat.

After World War 11, that all changed. I remember, when I was a boy, something called Dairy Queen came to our town. A person could go to the Dairy Queen and get a great big ice cream cone for 10 cents. The Dairy Queen was not just open from 4 to 6 o’clock for supper; it was open extended hours.

As time went on, we eventually got to the place where we decided we needed to have our eating establishments open 24 hours a day. There are a number of eating establishments in Wichita [Kansas] that are open 24 hours a day. I am not usually downtown late at night, but the few times I have had occasion to be there late at night, I have found it to be an amazing sight! As you drive by some of these places at 10 o’clock at night—or even later—the cars are lined up, and they are not lined up to buy apples. They are lined up to buy food that has a very high fat and protein content. If you eat food like that late at night, the stomach and small intestines will be digesting and assimilating it until 6 or 7 or 8 o’clock in the morning. The more fat in the food, the longer it takes to digest, and if you eat a lot of deep-fat-fried food and a lot of meat with fat in it, it is not going to be out of your stomach in three or four hours. It is going to be in there a long time.

This kind of eating pattern did not exist 60 years ago. The places offering food like this were not on the market then. The concept of “fast food” had not yet been developed.

Our children are flooded with advertisements on television about eating. By the way, the food being featured on these advertisements is not apples either—or oranges or bananas. It is food that is high in protein and fat.

Let us look at some additional statements Ellen White gives that deal with the relationship between health reform and preparation for the Second Coming.

“Nine-tenths of the wickedness among the children of today is caused by intemperance in eating and drinking.” Review and Herald, October 21, 1884. That is a startling statement!

Then this one: “As our first parents lost Eden through the indulgence of appetite, our only hope of regaining Eden is through the firm denial of appetite and passion.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 59. So if we are to go to heaven, what do we have to learn? We must learn to control our appetites. That is foundational; that is number one. If I am not in control of my appetite, I will not be in control of my passions, and I will not be in control of my thoughts or my feelings. It is just that simple.

We have studied during this Week of Prayer about the necessity of controlling our thoughts. That is important, but if our appetites are out of control, we will find it impossible to control our thoughts and our sexual passions, too.

People come to preachers saying that somehow the plan of salvation does not work for them. Why does it not work? They say they have been praying and praying and praying. Let me ask you a question. Now this is a cruel question and a crude one, too, but I want you to think. If I were to climb onto the roof of a building and jump off, I am going to get hurt because of gravity. But can I jump off the building and then—if I pray hard enough—not get hurt? No, that would never happen, because I have violated a physical law. There are physical laws in the body, and the foundation of overcoming—so that we are ready to stand in the last days—has to do with learning to live in harmony with the physical laws in the body. If we do not live in harmony with the physical laws of the body, we will not be able to control our thoughts, and eventually, we will not have patience. Ellen White says that an intemperate person cannot be a patient person. (Review and Herald, February 21, 1888.)

She also wrote: “We want our sisters who are now injuring themselves by wrong habits to put them away and come to the front and be workers in reform. The reason why many of us will fall in the time of trouble is because of laxity in temperance and indulgence of appetite.” Temperance, 150.

That is quite a statement! Many of us are going to fall in the time of trouble, because we have not learned to control our appetites. Please, friends, let us not look at anyone else. Let me share with you some information I received from a physician about 30 years ago.

The digestive systems of some people are so efficient with food that they can overeat just a little bit, and over a period of time, they will gain a lot of weight. He said that there are other people whose systems are efficient enough that they can throw off all the extra food they eat and stay skinny. But, he said, the skinny sinners are just as much sinners as the fat sinners. So do not look at someone else who has a different kind of metabolism than you have. If you have not learned to be in control of your intake of food, you have just as much a problem as they have, even if you are skinny! The other person has to work on his problem, but we each have to work on our own problem.

You are probably familiar with this statement: “Many who are now only half converted on the question of meat eating will go from God’s people to walk no more with them.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 382.

Question 3

Let us try to understand some relationships between how we eat, how it affects the body physically, and what happens to us mentally and spiritually. What do the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy say about the relation of physical habits and Christian living?

In 1 Peter 2:11, Peter shows that there is a relationship between our physical habits and our Christian experience: “Dearly beloved, I beseech [you] as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” Ellen White quotes that text and says, “Many regard this warning as applicable only to the licentious; but it has a broader meaning. It guards against every injurious gratification of appetite or passion.” Counsels on Health, 67, 68.

What we are studying is something to which a large part of the Christian world is apparently oblivious. They do not understand it, and this is one of the reasons there is trouble in many Christian churches. They do not understand the principles of temperance. In fact, there is such a lack of understanding that some churches even use fermented wine for communion! Are you aware of the fact that some people have become drunkards just by going to communion?

We are not focusing primarily on liquor and tobacco use. We are addressing the things that are more basic—the water we drink and the food we eat.

How would you describe the relationship between physical habits and Christian living?

For one thing, however we overload the physical system has a direct bearing on the mind and, consequently, on the spiritual and the emotional faculties. Our physical habits are going to affect our minds, our ability to think.

One of the faculties of the mind is willpower. If the willpower is weakened, is that going to affect the Christian experience, especially when we are faced with a temptation? Yes, it is. The classic example generally used is the way alcoholic drink will anesthetize the will. Someone in this condition will fall for just about anything the devil puts in his or her way. The Bible says, “Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.” Proverbs 23:33. People will do and say crazy things, and afterwards, when they come to their senses, they will ask, “What in the world did I do that for?” Their will was turned off by what they drank.

Although it is not totally anesthetized, the will can be weakened by improper physical habits. For instance, would you want to take a college examination after you have eaten something that has made you drowsy? It would not be too prof-itable, would it?

Your physical habits affect the different faculties of the mind and your ability to think. One of the faculties of the mind, as we have discussed, is the will. Another is the ability to exercise faith. If you are drowsy and cannot think, does that affect your ability to exercise faith in God? Yes, it certainly does.

Even eating too much of good things can make our minds drowsy. That is one of the reasons Ellen White told us that it would be well for us to eat less food on Sabbath than on other days. On the Sabbath, people are less physically active than on other days. If we eat the same amount of food on Sabbath that we eat on other days, we will have the tendency to go to sleep in church.

“We should not provide for the Sabbath a more liberal supply or a greater variety of food than for other days. Instead of this, the food should be more simple, and less should be eaten, in order that the mind may be clear and vigorous to comprehend spiritual things. A clogged stomach means a clogged brain. The most precious words may be heard and not appreciated, because the mind is confused by an improper diet. By overeating on the Sabbath, many do more than they think, to unfit themselves for receiving the benefit of its sacred opportunities.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 46.

This is something that is good to remember if you are ever driving a car for long distances. Eating too much food is a way to become drowsy, and even if you do not go to sleep, your reflex actions may be slowed, and if a quick response is needed, you may have an accident.

Question 4

Where does the devil have the strongest hold on the human race? On appetite!

“[Satan’s] strongest hold on man is through the appetite, and this he seeks to stimulate in every possible way.” Ibid., 150. If, by the grace of God, we gain the victory on appetite, we are going to gain the victory on everything else. If we do not obtain the victory on appetite, Christian perfection will be impossible.

One of the challenges we face is that we have to eat every day. That is why it is such a struggle. To eat is necessary, yet it calls for control. We do not have to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, but we do have to eat every day. When I was at the School of Public Health, the instructors used to say that dealing with overeating and overweight was a much more difficult problem than even alcoholism. You can quit alcohol or tobacco, but eating, you cannot quit. You have to do it in a controlled way, and that is much more difficult than quitting something.

That is even true with dieting. There have been people who sought to solve their overweight problem by stopping to eat. The world record for fasting is 382 days—at least it was when I went to school. Ceasing to eat is not encouraged, because it is very dangerous.

There was a woman who fasted under medical supervision. Her electrolytes were kept up and medical professionals monitored her. She was not given any calories and she lost weight very quickly. She was on the fast for 210 days, and she did reach normal weight, but a week or two later she was admitted to the hospital and died. Since her fasting diet was medically supervised, an autopsy was performed to learn the cause of death. From the autopsy, it was found that approximately 64 percent of the myofibrils in her heart had been removed. When the body loses weight, about half the calories it loses are protein calories, so muscle mass is lost. The fasting diet took the protein right out of the heart, and she died.

The fasting diet then went out of vogue and was replaced with protein modified fasting, which was really the “in” thing for several years. In fact, it is still being done. This is dangerous, too. Numerous people have died on these various kinds of programs.

The important thing is not how much we weigh. The important thing is for us to get in control of our appetites. Then, if we are controlling our appetites and actively exercising, the Lord will help us with our problem with weight. The important thing is being in control of our appetites.

Control of the appetite is the most basic place where overcoming must begin. That is where the devil has the strongest hold on the human race.

Question 5

Why is appetite the most basic human drive that must be brought under control?

“Entire cities have been swept from the face of the earth because of the debasing crimes and revolting iniquity that made them a blot upon the fair field of God’s created works. The gratification of unnatural appetite led to the sins that caused the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. God ascribes the fall of Babylon to her gluttony and drunkenness. Indulgence of appetite and passion was the foundation of all their sins.” Ibid., 147.

What was the foundation of the whole problem? “The indulgence of appetite” was the foundation of all their sins. Indulgence of appetite! Does it sound important? It is at the foundation of a large number of things.

I want to tell you friends, I have been a minister for several decades now, but I do not ever go to the table, in private or public, without asking the Lord to give me wisdom to make the right choice—not just for the kind of food but for the appropriate amount of food to eat. I need wisdom; I need help; I need divine grace to make the right choice.

Appetite is the most basic human drive that has to be brought under control. Look at what happens if the appetite is not in control: “Through the channel of appetite, the passions are inflamed, and the moral powers are paralyzed . . . .” Temperance, 183.

Stop there for a moment. If your moral powers are paralyzed, are you going to be able to stand in the last days? There is no way! You are not going to make it. Your moral powers will be paralyzed, if your appetite is not in control.

“. . . so that parental instruction in the principles of morality and true goodness falls upon the ear without affecting the heart.” Ibid. If the appetite is not in control, it will be impossible for the parents to train their children to be Christians. Have you ever thought about that? It will be impossible; it will not work.

This is one of the problems in our society. The appetites of the children are not in control. They are eating at all hours of the day and night and eating all kinds of foods that are not healthful for them.

“Satan is no novice in the business of destroying souls. He well knows that if he can lead men and women into wrong habits of eating and drinking, he has gained, in a great degree, the control of their minds and baser passions.” Ibid., 161.

Sometimes we are dense. We do not know what is going on, but the devil knows. He knows that if he can get us to indulge our appetites, he is going to get control of our minds and our passions. Do you want the devil to be in control?

Are you going to go through the last days and stand? If the devil is in control of your passions, you are not going to make it.

Question 6

How can I bring my appetite under the control of my mind and reason?

We can talk about the temperance pledge, about removing temptation as far as possible, but we cannot succeed unless we have help. We have to cooperate with the Holy Spirit.

We cannot succeed unless we receive divine grace, but God is not going to help us unless we cooperate. “This could not be the case if Christ alone did all the overcoming. Man must do his part. Man must be victor on his own account, through the strength and grace that Jesus gives him. Man must be a co-worker with Christ in the labor of overcoming, and then he will be partaker with Christ of His glory.” Review and Herald, November 21, 1882.

One of my favorite statements is, “Jesus knows the circumstances of every soul. The greater the sinner’s guilt, the more he needs the Saviour. His heart of divine love and sympathy is drawn out most of all for the one who is the most hopelessly entangled in the snares of the enemy. . . .

“Today He is standing at the altar of mercy, presenting before God the prayers of those who desire His help. He turns no weeping, contrite one away.” Temperance, 124.

If you are trapped, keep praying! Jesus is not going to leave His children to be overcome and perish, even if they are weak and very sinful, as long as they continue asking for help, saying “Lord, I am stuck.” Friend, when we are referring to this problem of appetite, you and I are stuck. Unless we receive divine help, we are never going to get control of it, and if we do not get control of it, we are not going to get control of our passions. We are not going to be in control of our thoughts, and we are not going to be in control of our feelings. Then we will not stand in the time of trouble.

The Lord has made provision so that we can be overcomers, if we cooperate with Him. “What a work is before the Christian! Yet, however great the struggle, he may overcome. By the help of that divine power which withstood the fiercest temptations that Satan could invent, he, too, may be entirely successful in his warfare with evil, and at last may wear the victor’s crown in the kingdom of God.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 167.

I need help, do you? We might as well face it, we all need help. Unless the Lord helps us, we are not going to gain control, and we have to have control if we are going to go through to the kingdom.

Question 7

It is human nature to go to extremes, and we want to be sure that we do not go to extremes. What are the two errors that the beginning temperance reformer must avoid with regard to diet?

Those who understand the laws of health and who are governed by principles will shun the extremes of both indulgence and restriction. “Health reformers, above all others, should be careful to shun extremes.” Ibid., 207.

There are different kinds of people in the world. When this subject is studied, some people recognize they have been overeating and determine to eat less. Other people are so gung ho that they restrict themselves until, Ellen White states, they damage their health.

“Some of our people, while conscientiously abstaining from eating improper foods, neglect to supply themselves with the elements necessary for the sustenance of the body.” Ibid. Diseases caused by improper nourishment are some of the most difficult with which the physician deals.

Mrs. White wrote to an aged minister about his extremes: “I have been informed that you have taken but one meal a day for a period of time; but I know it to be wrong in your case, for I have been shown that you needed a nutritious diet, and that you were in danger of being too abstemious. Your strength would not admit of your severe discipline. . . .

“I think that you have erred in fasting two days. God did not require it of you. I beg of you to be cautious and eat freely good, wholesome food twice a day. You will surely decrease in strength and your mind become unbalanced unless you change your course of abstemious diet.” Ibid., 191.

We are talking about temperance. We are not talking about restricting the nourishment our bodies need. Health reform, dietary reform in regards to getting control of our appetites does not mean that we restrict ourselves until we damage our bodies. God wants us to get all of the nutrition that our bodies need; He does not want us to deprive ourselves. We are to avoid the extremes of doing like the monks and the nuns and the priests during the Middle Ages.

Martin Luther wrecked his health fasting. He said if he had kept on doing it much longer, he would have died. He damaged his health for the rest of his life and shortened his life because he fasted so much. That is one extreme.

The other extreme is to eat so much that you damage your health because of your overeating. What if we are getting twice what we need? “We ought always to eat the most simple food. Often twice as much food as the system needs is eaten. Then nature has to work hard to get rid of the surplus.” Medical Ministry, 295. Have you ever done that? I am sure I have done it more than once, but I am determined that I am not going to live in this way any more. The Lord wants to deliver us from both extremes.

We have to have control of the appetite if we are going to have control of the thoughts and the passions. Remember, “The reason why many of us will fall in the time of trouble is because of laxity in temperance and indulgence of appetite.” Temperance, 150.

True Repentance

We need Christ’s righteousness to stand in the last days. An important step in obtaining this righteousness is repentance.

Matthew 4:17 says, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Recorded in Luke 5:32 are Jesus’ words: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Another well-known repentance verse is Luke 13:3: “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Jesus repeats these words in verse 5.

Repentance is one of the responses we make to God. Response means that we are reacting to something. It is not something we come up with on our own. God takes the initiative, and we, then, respond to His initiative. Faith, obedience, confession, and submission are some of the other responses we make to God. Man is responsible to make these kinds of responses to what God does for us.

God Winked

“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by [that] man whom he hath ordained; [whereof] he hath given assurance unto all [men], in that he hath raised him from the dead.” Acts 17:30, 31.

God has winked at our ignorance in the past, but He is calling us now to repent, because the hour of judgment is at hand. It is God’s purpose to save people from their sins, to reconcile us to Him and to restore us in His image. All of our knowledge of God and His plan of redemption for us are really useless, unless they lead us to make a proper response. Repentance brings the Christian into harmony with the mind of Christ and His reaction to sin. As we have already read, Jesus emphasized repentance. The disciples emphasized repentance. Though their emphasis was to the nation of Israel, rather than to individuals only, the Old Testament prophets emphasized repentance.

Repentance Brings Joy

Jesus said, “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” Luke 15:7. What a wonderful thought! Repentance brings joy to God!

If we listen to the radio or read the newspaper, we learn of many distressing things that are occurring. If we watch the news on television, we see the reporting of a lot of evil things. We learn of murders, rapes, and accidents, yet we hear only a little smidgen of what actually goes on, but God sees it all. He sees all the evil, but we have the privilege of bringing joy to God when we repent.

Meaning of Repentance

What does repentance mean? The usual definition given is, “sorrow for sin and a turning away from it.” It definitely is that, but in my quest to understand the deeper meaning of repentance and righteousness by faith, I searched beyond that definition.

The English word repentance comes from the Latin word repoenitere.

A closer translation would be the English word penance. But that is not the Greek translation. The Greek word for repentance in the Bible is either metanoia or metanoeo. It is basically a combination of two Greek words—meta, which means “after,” and nuos, meaning “mind.” Repentance is literally “aftermind,” a changing of the mind that has entered onto a new path. It is a reformation or a revolutionary change of the mind. When one experiences repentance, every faculty of the mind is enlightened. The intellect is convicted. Every feeling is made sorry for sin, and the will is decided for Christ.

Repent—change your mind—is the cry that rings all through the New Testament. We are being called to bring our wayward minds back into harmony with God. This is what repentance is all about. The initial call of the gospel is to make a complete turn from self and sin back to God.

Repent or Penance

As mentioned before, the English word repent comes from the Latin word for penance. In the Catholic Douay Version of the Bible, Luke 13:3 is literally translated—“unless you do penance you shall likewise perish.” Penance emphasizes an emotional experience. It is remorse and grief over past sin. An emotional reaction is not enough. It may be a starting point, but it is not all. We need a basic change of mind and purpose. The Greek word calls for a change in our attitude and motive. The Latin word for penance calls for a superficial abasement of self.

We may deserve beating ourselves up, but that would not fix anything. This, certainly, is not what God had in mind. When God calls men to repent, He is not looking simply for an expression of grief or mourning over our past sins. He desires a change of the whole mind. Just as fear, though a good motivator, lasts for just a short time, this penance type of repentance—emotional grief—lasts only for a brief time. God has in mind a change of the mental patterns so the whole life is transformed, not just for a temporary time but for a lifetime—for eternity.

Without new mental patterns, human behavior and character are not really changed. Life is changed only when the attitudes are changed. True repentance goes right to the root of the problem; penance deals only with the leaves and the foliage.


True repentance includes sorrow for sin, but it goes far beyond that point. “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” 11 Corinthians 7:10. In this text, repentance is translated from the Greek metanoia, meaning “a complete change of heart,” referring to the change that actually makes a person a Christian. The change is to be permanent. The whole attitude is changed. The word repented is translated from the Greek word ametameletos, meaning the worldly type of regret or sorrow. It is a temporary, emotional reaction with no permanent change of mind.

Judas experienced that kind of repentance. He was very sorry, and he suffered such deep, emotional anguish over what he had done that he went out and killed himself. If he had just waited a little while, that emotional reaction probably would have gone away. It was a short-lived, emotional experience. That kind of sorrow, that kind of repentance, worketh death.

Keeping that in mind, let us look at Acts 11:18. “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” When we compare the two types of repentance, we see that the worldly type of repentance presented in 11 Corinthians 7:10 worketh death, and the kind of repentance that God granted these Gentiles was repentance unto life.

Peter experienced that kind of repentance, and it was life-changing for his whole lifetime. It was a permanent change. It changed his whole mind, his personality, and his conduct. When we present the everlasting gospel, we need to be careful to which kind of repentance we lead people. Both involve the element of sin but bring about different reactions and affect people for different lengths of time. The effect is either a temporary thing or a permanent, long-term change of mind. We are leading them to one or the other, and we need to be careful which one it is. If a man is very sorry about his sin, it may bring death and not salvation, as in the case of Judas. It may bring deep remorse and grief but no decisive break from sin.

Look Forward

We must be not only sorry for sin but, by the grace of God, we need to do something about it. Repentance in the world only looks back in sorrow. True repentance not only looks backward, but it also looks forward—forward to a life lived in the power of God where sin is not only grieved over but is actually overcome and forsaken.

In Exodus 10:16, we read: “Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you.” Pharaoh, when confronted with tragedy and pressure and plagues, confessed to Moses, “I have sinned.” His response was due to fear. No change of mind actually took place in him, as later confirmed by his actions. Obviously, it was not a genuine repentance, because he turned right back on the commitment he had made to Israel and attacked them. Character is not changed by temporary, emotional concern. Sorrow for past sins is only part of the total experience of repentance.

Paul, in Acts 26:20, stated: “But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judæa, and [then] to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.” John the Baptist declared, in Matthew 3:8: “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.” Many times, in revival and evangelistic efforts, a call is made for an emotional response, rather than a turning of the whole life away from sin and back to God. No wonder the commitments do not last!

Beating up one’s self, trying to punish one’s self, or going around in a state of dark distress is not the answer. It may be the natural response, if we are truly sorry, but if it goes on too long, it actually is a sign of not understanding and trusting the love and the power of God. When guilt becomes more distressful than we can bear, we need to go to the Psalms and read some of the experiences David went through. Christianity is not to be a religion of continual guilt but of peace and strength. That guilt should drive us to the Saviour so He can give us victory and newness of life. As we saw in Acts 11:18, repentance is unto life. It purges us of guilt and of the sin that caused the guilt. It does not increase.

Cost of Repentance

Often men rejoice in the fact that God has done it all; however, He expects a proper response to what He has done. We are called to trust Him as Saviour and enthrone Him as Lord. Many people like the Saviour part, but they do not like the Lord part, but we have to have both. It is a complete package—Saviour and Lord.

Repentance is the most costly business in the world. It cost God everything to forgive man, and it costs man everything to be reconciled to God. We have to give up our own strength and depend on God. Human pride just hates that idea. A special gift from God is needed before we can even realize the necessity of it, and there are sins of which we are not aware that must be brought to our attention before we can repent of them. We have to know with what we are dealing. We have to understand the guilt before we can go to God in repentance or for repentance, either one, and receive forgiveness.

Sometimes we do not even see what is in our life as sin, until God points it out. The present-day conscience has been trained to be quite easy on sin. It is difficult these days to even make people feel guilty. People seem to think—and some churches teach—that you can drift right into heaven—sins and all. The cross, of course, reveals otherwise. It shows that God cannot and does not take sin lightly. Someone has to pay the price and bear the judgment. Only as we study the cross can we get a right perception of sin and its cost, the sinfulness of sin. Repentance comes from continually thinking of that theme of the cross.

The Experience

Just because we understand what repentance is does not necessarily mean that we can experience it in its genuine form. So how do we repent? Well, the natural man has no power to make the change that true repentance brings unless God works in him and leads him to it. We read, in Romans 2:4, “Or despiseth thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” So it is the goodness of God that actually leads us to repentance.

Ellen White quoted Psalm 51:1–14 and then wrote, regarding that Psalm, “A repentance such as this, is beyond the reach of our own power to accomplish; it is obtained only from Christ, who ascended up on high and has given gifts unto men.

“Just here is a point on which many may err, and hence they fail of receiving the help that Christ desires to give them. They think that they cannot come to Christ unless they first repent, and that repentance prepares for the forgiveness of their sins. It is true that repentance does precede the forgiveness of sins; for it is only the broken and contrite heart that will feel the need of a Saviour. But must the sinner wait till he has repented before he can come to Jesus? Is repentance to be made an obstacle between the sinner and the Saviour?

“The Bible does not teach that the sinner must repent before he can heed the invitation of Christ, ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.’ Matthew 11:28. It is the virtue that goes forth from Christ, that leads to genuine repentance. Peter made the matter clear in his statement to the Israelites when he said, ‘Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.’ Acts 5:31. We can no more repent without the Spirit of Christ to awaken the conscience than we can be pardoned without Christ.

“Christ is the source of every right impulse. He is the only one that can implant in the heart enmity against sin. Every desire for truth and purity, every conviction of our own sinfulness, is an evidence that His Spirit is moving upon our hearts.” Steps to Christ, 25, 26.

I would encourage you to read the entire chapter entitled “Repentance” in Steps to Christ. Through the Holy Spirit and the Word, we realize our need to experience the true repentance to which His goodness will lead us. It should bring us to cry out, “What must I do to be saved?”

As long as we are satisfied with our own good, abilities, and moral achievements, there will be no true repentance. When we do not see that self is an idol, how can we repent of it? We have to see it; otherwise there is no repentance. If we do not see that self and not God is the center of our lives, how can we repent of it? We have to see our need.

The law and the gospel must be presented together, because the law exposes our guilt and our need. “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” Romans 3:19. Modern-day psychologists tell us that it is not good to feel guilty, but if we do not feel guilty, of what use is the promise in 1 John 1:9? “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If we do not ever feel guilty, we might as well throw that promise out the window. It is worthless to us, because we will not know what to confess. That promise has a condition: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us. There is no use giving someone the good news, unless they have the bad news first!

Present and Future

If repentance is only concerned with our past sins, then it would seem that the time to repent is after we sin. This seems to be the standard understanding in the Christian world—after we sin, we repent of it. That is the way we operate. But if repentance includes man’s identification with God’s attitude towards sin, the primary time reference is the present and the future. The Christian will appraise his thoughts and motives before committing the outward action of sin. We come to see our sinful tendencies as they are in the present with a view of what their possible future actions could be. We learn to detect and judge the very seed of sin. Just as the oak is in the acorn, the sin is in the seed thought. It starts with a little seed thought in the mind.

Sin is not simply an act. It is an attitude of transgression and rebellion, of selfishness. For example, sin is hatred. Repentance treats hatred as it would the end result of it—murder. The Bible tells us that the end result of hatred is murder. (See 1 John 3:15.) Sin is deceit; it is crooked thinking, and repentance reacts to deceit like it would to dishonesty or embezzlement, because that is the end result. True repentance deals with the sin before it becomes an actual event or even a mature thought in the mind. That is the kind of repentance to which we need to come. It is the state of mind that sees the seed of murder already planted in envy and hostility. Adultery is already in the experience of lust.

To stand in the last days, we need a repentance that does not wait until after the fact. We need a repentance that nips the sin in the bud, before it ever turns into a mature thought. The time for Cain to repent was when hatred began to rise in his heart against his brother, not after he killed him. The time for Esau to repent was when he began to give priority to carnal things, not after he sold his birthright. The time for Pharaoh to repent was when he first started to resist the Lord, not after his first-born son was dead. The time for Judas to repent was when he first began to doubt Jesus, not after he was trying to give back the 30 pieces of silver to the Jewish leaders.

Repentance conditions the mind to discern wrong thoughts before they become mature thoughts or deeds. Christ’s call to repentance is a call to think like Christ does regarding sin.

“Not even by a thought did He yield to temptation. So it may be with us.” The Desire of Ages, 123. God intends that repentance will lead us to discern His attitude and react to it. “Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:12–15.

In verse 12, we see that “the man that endureth temptation” is blessed! This is not just a passive putting up with temptation, as we may think of enduring as meaning. This is an active, staying power that makes us triumphant over temptation. By faith, we believe that God is with us in the process of overcoming and that gives us a hearty steadfastness that will not submit to defeat. It gives us confidence to believe that we can overcome this temptation, knowing that Christ is with us.

We are told, in verse 13, that God is not the one that tempts people. If He is not the one, from where does temptation come? Well, verse 14 explains that “every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust.” Mark 7:21–23 gives further understanding: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these things come from within.” All of these things defile us, and they come from our own lusts.

Natural Desires

The word lust is defined as “desires or cravings or longings.” In the Bible, lust can be good lust or bad lust. In Luke 22:15, desire is the same word. God has put desires in us for food, for comfort, for social activity, so it can be for good, but Satan, the tempter, knows how to play on our weaknesses. He knows how to entice us in those areas where we are weak so the desires become sinful indulgences. He tries to move us to fulfill those natural desires in an evil way. That is how he works.

When these natural desires first begin to head in the wrong direction, when our thoughts first start to become evil, that is the time to repent—not after they become mature thoughts or even actions. When those seed thoughts begin to germinate and mature, they need to be nipped right then, just as quickly as we can discern them. Evil thoughts are like snowballs rolling down a hill. The farther they go, the faster they go; the bigger they get, the more destructive they are when they hit us. We need to stop them when they are still moving slowly enough that we can control them, before they get big and out of control.

Some people have real sensitive consciences or even oversensitive consciences. They easily feel guilty. There is good news for such people. Ellen White wrote, “There are thoughts and feelings suggested and aroused by Satan that annoy even the best of men; but if they are not cherished, if they are repulsed as hateful, the soul is not contaminated with guilt, and no other is defiled by their influence.” Review and Herald, March 27, 1888. That is good news, is it not? In other words, we are not guilty for evil desires, if we nip them in the bud as soon as they start to come up.

It is never wise to wait until evil thoughts have brought a harvest of evil actions before we repent. Many of us would probably say, “But my thoughts are out of control before I even realize what is happening.” That may happen, but the kind of repentance that we need to stand in the last days can be ours as a gift from God. It is not something that we can grit our teeth and muster up on our own. Acts 5:31 tells us: “Him hath God exalted with his right hand [to be] a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”

The Gift

God gives us repentance. We know from James 4:2 that “ye have not, because ye ask not.” We really need to be asking for this gift. We need to ask for the fast-acting repentance that picks up on the seed thoughts before they can germinate.

Look at Acts 11:18 from a different angle. “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” God gave repentance even to the Gentiles. It is a gift. God gives it. We need to be asking for it.

It is a gift from God, and as we read in Luke 15:7, it brings God joy when His gift is accepted. It is like the little child who asks his dad for some money so he or she can buy him a birthday present. It is dad’s money, but he is happy to receive the gift!

Change of Thoughts

Repentance is a change of thoughts. “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Revelation 3:14–17. We know that Laodicea is the period of church history in which we live. Laodicea does not know its true condition, so that is a real danger for us.

The problem with Laodicea is that most Laodiceans are not willful, out-in-the-open sinners. Most of the Laodicean sins are in the thoughts. Laodicea does not know her true condition; she feels no need, and she is rather proud of herself. Historic Adventists are in great danger of those Laodicean characteristics. We can become proud of the knowledge that we have. Most of us study God’s Word more than the average Christian. Laodiceans know more about the kingdom of God than others, and they think they know God better than other people. They are more sincere and knowledgeable than others. Laodicea’s self-sufficiency and self-exaltation is difficult to detect. Laodiceans have learned to cover it up. Men in their self-sufficiency and self-esteem depend on themselves instead of on God.

For about 6,000 years, men have been trying, without God, to be like God. We are about to see the climax of that condition, and it is not going to be a pretty sight. One of the main things from which Laodiceans need to be saved is their own self-dependence. There is great danger in forgetting that we are dependent on God, every moment, for everything—just as Jesus was. We tend to easily forget that.

A self-sufficient life is the most perilous way a person can live. Self-sufficiency could actually be more dangerous than sins of the flesh. Usually, when we have sins of the flesh, we know we are guilty. We feel guilty. But when we are self-sufficient, we do not always know it. We do not repent of sins we do not know we have or acknowledge we have.

The Pharisees were not willing to see themselves in the light of Christ. Their superiority complex made repentance impossible for them. If someone had approached the majority of Pharisees and told them they needed to repent, they would have asked, “Of what? We did not do anything.” They did not realize their true condition.

Compare to Christ

Job 42:5, 6 says, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor [myself], and repent in dust and ashes.” True repentance comes from comparing ourselves with Christ. We cannot know what we are really like from inside ourselves. That knowledge comes from a comparison between Christ and us. It comes from within the circle of God’s presence and love. We are not to be comparing ourselves among ourselves, which Paul says, in 11 Corinthians 10:12, is not wise. But this is often what we do. We can always find people who make us look pretty good, but try comparing ourselves to Christ and see how good we look. Such a comparison leads to real repentance.

We need to ask God daily for that kind of repentance. When we get up in the morning, we need to tell God that throughout the day our thoughts may run wild, but that our desire is for Him to show us as soon as they start to go that way, so we can stop them immediately. That is the kind of repentance, the kind of experience we must have. Our thoughts must be as pure as were Christ’s thoughts. Not even by a thought did He sin. Before long, we are going to have to stand in the last days without the safety net of a Mediator in heaven. We are going to need an experience in which our thoughts do not go in the wrong direction, because there is coming a time when we can repent all we want, but when there is no Mediator, repenting will do us no good. Before that day comes, we must have an experience of purification, even of our thoughts, to enable us to stand in that day. We need to be praying for it. We need to be learning of it every day. We need to be ready now, because we do not know how much time we have left.

Jesus’ Life of Dependence

A great controversy has been going on for quite some time. In the beginning of that great controversy, God’s Law, His government, and His character were brought into question. Satan has claimed that God’s law is not possible to keep. He knew God could keep it because He is God, but he insisted that nobody else could keep it.

Certainly Satan understood what was recorded in James 1:13: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” When it says that God cannot be tempted, basically, Satan challenged God to come down and fight like a man—a created man to be exact. Christ answered that challenge. He did come down—as a fallen man—and He did fight like a man.

Christ came to redeem us—fallen man. We all have fallen natures, and that is where the battle had to take place. To be our example, He had to deal with sin the same way we have to deal with sin.

“Christ secured probation for man at an infinite cost. He must suffer for the sins of the world, that the purposes of God might not be defeated. . . . Nothing less than the life of Christ would atone for man’s transgression. He must restore man by placing on vantage ground every one who would believe in Him as a personal Saviour. When there was no heart to pity, His arm brought salvation. God laid help on One that was mighty, saying, ‘Save man from destruction.’ The Son of God accepted the work joyfully, becoming man’s substitute and surety, that He might save him from his sin, and call him from transgression to obedience. He pledged Himself to take man’s nature, and stand at the head of the human race, to satisfy every claim made against them as a people bound in the slavery of sin. Through this gift of God to the world man has been given every opportunity of knowing God and the laws of His government.” The Signs of the Times, November 15, 1899.

Righteousness by Faith

Christ not only proved Satan wrong but He paved the way so that anyone, who chooses to, can follow in His footsteps. How did Jesus do that? How did He fight that battle? How can we fight that battle?

A little over 100 years ago, God sent a message to the Seventh-day Adventist Church that would prepare a people to not only stand in the last days but to stand every day of their lives. This message has been called by several different names—Christ our righteousness, righteousness by faith, justification by faith. Sometimes it is called the 1888 Message, because that is the year it was given.

The 1888 Message was rejected at that time, and we have been suffering the results of that rejection ever since. That is why we are still in this world. We have been here for 100 years longer than we should have, but until a group of people understands and experiences this message, the great controversy will continue. I believe this message is the key to how we will stand in the last days.

Same Battle

Over the years, the Lord has given me many victories in my life, but I could not tell you exactly how I gained them. Most Seventh-day Adventists understand that victory over self, sin, and Satan involves conflicts, struggles, and battles, but I am not sure that we understand all the rules of engagement in those battles or if we even understand where the battles are all the time. We know there is a battle, but do we know where to battle?

It seems to me that, with the exception of a few people, we have been doing the same thing—fighting the same battle—repeatedly for about 6,000 years, with similar results over and over and over again. That is why we are still here. God wants us to quit repeating history. He wants us to understand what was rejected and missed in 1888 and bring it into our lives so we can stop doing the same thing over and over and get beyond our failures into the perfection to which God has called us to. At some point in time, there will be a group of people who will have that experience. I want to be part of that group! Do you?

That group will experience righteousness by faith, and that message and experience will unite with and give power to the third angel’s message. We will not only be able to tell people about the downtrodden law, but we will be able to tell them how to experience the victory that accompanies that law. At that time, the latter rain will be poured out, and that other angel of Revelation 18 will join the third angel’s message. In Revelation 18, we are told that the whole world will be lighted with his glory.

Cooperation Needed

As I have analyzed the times when God has given me the greatest victories—and I do not mean the ability to stop some outward action but a change of mind and heart so the temptation held no appeal to me—it has occurred to me that such victories came when I gave up on my own abilities and strength and turned to God in absolute desperation. When I have reached that point and cried out to Him, He has every time given me the victory.

Now do not misunderstand me; turning to God does not do away with our part in the battle. We are told that the greatest lesson to be learned is cooperation with Christ in the work of salvation. (See Lift Him Up, 217; Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 434.) In Education, 29, we are told that cooperation with the power of Christ is man’s greatest need. Selected Messages, Book 1, 380, 381, says: “Man is to cooperate with God, employing every power according to his God-given ability.” “Let no man present the idea that man has little or nothing to do in the great work of overcoming; for God does nothing for man without his cooperation.” These statements make our cooperation sound pretty important! In Testimonies, vol. 6, 236, we are told: “For all created beings there is the one great principle of life—dependence upon and co-operation with God.”

Consider the story given in John 11 about the death of Lazarus. Jesus went to the tomb of Lazarus with Martha and Mary. The tomb was a cave with a stone covering its entrance, and Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” That sounds like a simple request, but it was full of meaning. In writing of this, Ellen White said: “Christ could have commanded the stone to remove, and it would have obeyed His voice. He could have bidden the angels who were close by His side to do this. At His bidding, invisible hands would have removed the stone. But it was to be taken away by human hands. Thus Christ would show that humanity is to co-operate with divinity. What human power can do divine power is not summoned to do. God does not dispense with man’s aid. He strengthens him, co-operating with him as he uses the powers and capabilities given him.” The Desire of Ages, 535.

What an important lesson! Combining His power with our effort equals victory! The two work together—His part and our part—in perfect unity. The question that should be asked is, What is His part, and what is our part?

In this study, we will look at verses in the Book of John that show how Jesus lived when He dwelt on this earth in our fallen nature and how He maintained the victory over self and sin. As our Example, if we understand His method, we should be able to have that same victorious experience.

Background of the Gospels

The four Gospels were written for different reasons, for different groups of people with different mindsets. Matthew wrote mostly to the Jews, and his concern was with Christ’s right to the throne of David—Jesus as king. Of the four writers, Matthew was the sermon reporter. Mark wrote mostly to the Gentiles, and his main theme was Jesus as servant. Luke was the careful historian. His main emphasis was Jesus as the Son of man.

John was the theologian of the four. His main emphasis was on Jesus’ words, and he was very careful to record exactly what Jesus said. His favorite themes were the infinite love of Christ and Jesus as God.

No genealogy is given by John. He starts at the very beginning of his book by saying, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” That verse is, of course, talking about Jesus. John was interested in Jesus as God.

John’s account is the most chronologically correct of the four Gospels. He records none of Christ’s parables, and approximately 92 percent of his book is not recorded anywhere in the other Gospels.

Total Dependency

“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” John 4:34. This verse confirms that the Father sent Jesus. John 7:28 says, “Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not.” Again, Jesus is saying that He did not come on His own behalf. He was sent. The Father sent Him.

The words of Jesus, “sent me,” are found 23 times in the Book of John. It is interesting that Jesus did not just come on His own—His Father sent Him. Do we go where the Father sends us? We should be so in harmony with the Father that we know where He wants to send us—and go willingly. Jesus knew, and He went where the Father sent Him.

“Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” John 5:19. These are not words Jesus would have said before His incarnation. He would not have said, before the incarnation, that the Son can do nothing of Himself. The Son could do everything the Father could do, before the incarnation. This shows us that Jesus had laid down His divinity when He became a man. He came to fight the battle as we have to fight it, and He laid aside the power not available to us except as we obtain it the way He did. In other words, He laid aside His omnipotence.

“For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” John 5:26. Jesus received life from the Father. From the time He came to this earth until His resurrection, all the life He had and all the life He gave to others—the raising of people from the dead—He got from the Father. Christ’s power was restored at His resurrection, when He raised Himself by His own power. (See Christ’s Object Lessons, 357, 358.)

Will of the Father

Verse 30 says, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” A similar statement is recorded in John 6:38: “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” Jesus stated three different times that of His own self He could do nothing.

Interesting insight is given to this by Ellen White: “Before He came to earth, the plan lay out before Him, perfect in all its details. But as He walked among men, He was guided, step by step, by the Father’s will.” The Desire of Ages, 147. That is something that would not have concerned Christ before He came to the earth, because His will was in perfect harmony with the Father, but as He took on the nature of fallen man, He could no longer trust His will. He had to depend on the Father’s will completely to guide His will.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had to pray three times to bring His will into harmony with God’s will. He agonized so in His struggle to accomplish that that His sweat was as drops of blood. (See Matthew 26:36–45; Luke 22:44.) In Hebrews 12:4 we are told that, “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” The key to that verse is the little word yet. We have not yet done it, but we may have to before our lives on this world end. Overcoming sin is a battle, and we may come to the point of sweating blood to bring our wills into harmony with God’s will.

“Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.” John 7:16. His doctrine was not His own. Even it came from the Father. A lot of the world makes up its own doctrine. We need to make sure that, like Jesus, we get our doctrine from the Father.

Words and Works

“I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.” John 8:26. Jesus got His words from the Father. Continuing in verse 28, “Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am [he], and [that] I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” John 12:49, 50. Do we want our words to be words of life like Jesus’ words were? Then we need to speak the words of the Father, not our own. We need to watch our words, and speak only those things that are pleasing to God, as did Jesus.

Jesus’ words and works came from the Father. “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” John 14:10. “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” John 9:4. John 10:17, 18 says, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power [or authority] to lay it down, and I have power [or authority] to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” Verse 37 says, “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.”

Obedience of Love

“And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” John 8:29. Jesus was seeking to please the Father. No feeling of satisfaction can compare to knowing that we have God’s approval—of what we are doing, saying, seeing, reading . . . The list could go on and on.

In verse 42, Jesus said, “If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.”

“He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” John 14:24. And verse 31 says, “But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.” The Father gave the commandment, and He obeyed.

Totally Dependent

From the beginning to the end of Christ’s life on this earth, everything was the Father’s—the will, the works, the words, the mission, the teaching, the doctrine, the decisions. All were His. The Son did not do anything on His own. He was totally dependent upon the Father. What an important lesson for us to learn! If Jesus needed to depend totally upon the Father to get through the battles He encountered on this earth, without falling into sin, how much more do we need to depend on the Father? This is a major key to righteousness by faith—total dependence on the Father for everything.

As stated previously, Jesus had to lay down His omnipotence when He took on the nature of fallen man. He did not have His omnipresence while on earth either. He was confined to a human body.

He also, apparently, laid down His omniscience. In Mark 13:32, Jesus said, “But of that day and [that] hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” only. Jesus even laid down His all-knowing. In Luke 2:52, it says He grew in knowledge. It would be impossible for Him to grow in knowledge, if He already knew everything. While on earth, He did not know everything.

“Christ in His life on earth made no plans for Himself. He accepted God’s plans for Him, and day by day the Father unfolded His plans.” The Ministry of Healing, 479. How nice it would be to get up in the morning and have the Father lay all our plans out for the day! That is the point to which He wants us to come. We must come to be so in harmony with God that we know exactly what He wants us to do every step of the way.

Unbroken Intimacy

“He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” John 8:29. The Father was with Jesus all the time. We need to experience that same closeness.

John 10:15 says, “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” The Father knew Him. What a wonderful privilege to have the Father actually know us, to have a personal relationship with Him. We get to know the Father by spending time in His Word every day and in talking with Him through prayer. We get to know God just like we get to know a friend—by spending time with him or her, talking to them, listening to them, and doing things together.

If we are not spending time with God and His Word, we are not getting to know Him. We do not put enough emphasis on how much time we need to spend with God and His Word, in prayer, and in doing things together. God speaks to us in His Word. We speak to Him through prayer. We do things together such as overcoming sin and witnessing to others. We do things with God, as we become co-workers with Him in saving others—and ourselves—from sin.

If we are not spending time doing those things, we really are not Christians. We are in a lost condition. Jesus said, in John 6:53, that unless we eat the bread and drink the blood of the Son of man, there is no life in us. If there is no life in us, we are in a lost condition.


We are told, in John 10:17, that the Father loves us: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.”

In verse 30, we read, “I and [my] Father are one.” That is a truly intimate relationship. That is the kind of relationship the Bible describes between a husband and wife. They become one. (See Genesis 2:24.)

Description of this close relationship continues in verses 37 and 38: “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father [is] in me, and I in him.” And in John 14:11, Jesus said, “Believe me that I [am] in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.” The Father was in Jesus, and Jesus was in Him.

“And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said [it], that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” John 11:42. The Father heard Jesus, and He hears us. Is it not a nice thing to know that the Father hears us when we speak? He listens! If we take time to pray, He will take time to listen.

John 17:21 also talks about the intimacy of being one: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” Jesus experienced that oneness with the Father, and He wants us to experience it with Him and the Father.

Incredible Privilege

“Human language is being stretched to its utmost limits to describe the unbroken intimacy between the Father and the Son. The Father is with me, He does not leave me alone, He knows me, He loves me, He always hears me, He is in me, and I am in Him. We are one.

“We read and marvel. We look at the picture with the wistful longing of a boy staring at toys through a storefront window. What might it be to live like that! What confidence, security, trust—what freedom from fear, from stress! What an incredible privilege!

“As we look with longing, we hear Him say, ‘Would you like to go through life the way I did?’

“We answer, ‘Why do you mock us, Lord? You know we can’t do that. We were born of earthly fathers and your Father was God. We can’t live the way you did. Why do you mock us?’

“He answers, ‘I am not mocking you. I am telling you the truth. You can live on this earth in the same way that I did. The Heavenly Father is willing to be with you, to hear you, to know you, to love you, and to be one with you, just as He was one with Me.’

“Again we protest, ‘Lord, how can this be? We had earthly fathers, and you – —.’

“But He says, ‘You are greatly mistaken. You are asking the wrong questions, and you are looking to the wrong place. Get your mind off my birth. That is not “where it’s at.” ’ Then He challenges us with some questions:

“ ‘Have you read the story of my life on earth?’

“ ‘Yes, Lord, we have.’

“ ‘Have you found one place, even one place, in that life story in which I explained any of my works by a reference to my birth?’

“ ‘No, Lord, we have not.’

“ ‘Then, how do I explain them?’

“ ‘Well, you always explained them in terms of your ongoing relationship with the Father.’

“ ‘Exactly. Why then do you continue to look to the wrong place and ask the wrong questions? My life of victory on earth was not made possible by the circumstances of my birth. It was made possible by my ongoing relationship with the Father, and you can have exactly the same relationship if you want it. Go to the scriptures and read!’

“And so we read of the Incredible Privilege that is extended to us in Christ’s words reported in the Gospel of John.” Ralph Larson, Tell of His Power, Cherry Stone Press, Cherry Valley, California, 1988, 14, 15.

Eat and Drink of the Son

As we study the Incredible Privilege, read John 6:57: “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” Unless we eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God, there is no life in us.

Ellen White wrote: “In the study of the Bible the converted soul eats the flesh and drinks the blood of the Son of God, which He himself interprets as the receiving and doing of His words, that are spirit and life. The Word is made flesh, and dwells among us, in those who receive the holy precepts of the word of God.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 378.

The people in Jesus’ day did not like hearing those words any more than people like hearing them today. When He said those words, there were about 5,000 people ready to follow Him and be His disciples, but when they heard those words, so many left that He turned to the 12 disciples and asked, “Are you going to leave also?” And they said, “Where would we go? You have the words of life.” (John 6:67, 68.) It has never been popular to talk about devotional time, but it is absolutely a necessity.

Experience Oneness

“At that day ye shall know that I [am] in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” John 14:20. Jesus offers us the incredible privilege of being in them just as they were in each other!

The incredible privilege of being one with Christ and the Father is offered again in John 17:11: “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we [are].”

Jesus also offers us the incredible privilege of being sanctified through the truth, just as He was. “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world [talking about the disciples—about us]. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” Verses 18, 19.

The incredible privilege of being one with Him is given again in verse 21: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” That intimate relationship that Jesus experienced with the Father is offered to us. What a privilege!

“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” Verses 22, 23.

Love as He Loved

In addition to addressing oneness, Jesus talked about how the Father has love for us just as much as He had love for Christ. It is almost incomprehensible that the Father can love us as much as He loved Jesus, but that is what the Bible tells us, and we need to believe it.

“And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare [it]: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” Verse 26. The incredible privilege of having that love in us that was in Him is being offered to us. We can learn to love as He loved. When we read 1 Corinthians 13, we realize how important that is. If we do not have love, we are not going to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Unbelievable Words

Dr. Larson goes on to say, “There it is. These are the words of Jesus—in unmistakable clarity. Do we believe them?” That is the question. They sound almost unbelievable, but we need to believe them. That is what faith is all about.

“The apostle Paul believed them. Their full significance was not lost on Him. The words ‘in Christ,’ or ‘in the Lord’ appear in his epistles 90 times.

“According to Paul we are baptized into Christ, we are new creatures in Christ, we have no condemnation in Christ, we are established in Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we speak in Christ, we say the truth in Christ, we have liberty in Christ, we have wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption, and consolation in Christ, we are rooted and built up in Christ, we have persecution in Christ, and when we die we are the dead in Christ!

“He wraps it up in two beautiful summary statements:

“Galatians 2:20 ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.’

“Philippians 1:21 ‘For to me to live is Christ.’

“The pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist church believed the words of Jesus too. They did not regard them as simply rhetorical devices such as a politician might use, spoken for effect and not meant to be taken seriously.” Larson, 15, 16.

Literal Words

We are to take these words literally. Even though they stretch our minds, we still are to believe them literally. If we never really believe these words, not only will we not experience them but we will not be able to teach them to others with power. They have got to become part of our thought processes. Just as our bodies assimilate food that becomes part of our physical makeup, we need to assimilate the Word of God until it becomes part of our thought processes, and our minds are brought into harmony with Christ.

If you have not made it your habit to study the life of Christ, I want to challenge you to make the decision right now to do so every day from this day forward. If you do not make it a part of your daily life, there will be no life in you.

If we are going to have the mind of Christ in us, we must meditate on His words. Our minds, by beholding, will become changed. Our characters are our thoughts and feelings combined, and if we are going to have Christ’s character perfectly reproduced in us, we must learn to think and feel as He does—to see things from His perspective instead of our perspective. We must come into harmony with Him in all our thoughts.

The Testing Process

Moses admonished the children of Israel, in Deuteronomy 8:2, with these words: “Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness to humble thee, [and] to prove thee, to know what [was] in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.”

That is the test that every one of us will have to face. Will we stand the test? That is the question we each individually must answer. We have to rely upon our experiences of history to benefit us for our present experiences and to carry us on into the future.

We need to remember the way the Lord has led us. Some of us are younger in the faith than others, but we are all going to be veterans before we get through. We will be well experienced in the things of God. Our experience is really all about growing up and maturing.

In this charge that Moses gave to the people, he said that God would humble them and prove what was in their hearts. What is in our hearts? We seriously need to consider this, because what is in our hearts will determine whether or not we will keep God’s commandments.

The Proving Process

“God will prove His people.” Maranatha, 43. How will He do that? “God will test us and prove us by placing us in positions to develop the most enduring strength, purity, and nobility of soul, with perfect patience on our part, and entire trust in a crucified Saviour. We shall meet with reverses, affliction, and severe trials; for these are God’s tests. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and purge his people as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.” Review and Herald, April 15, 1875.

“The Lord has placed every human being on test and trial. He desires to prove and to try us, to see if we will be good and do good in this life, to see if he can trust us with eternal riches, and make us members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King.” My Life Today, 54.

“Let us remember that we are living in review before God, that we shall have tests to bear, and that our faith in God is to be so cultivated that we can reach up to heaven in full confidence for sanctification of body, soul, and spirit.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, 317.

“It is coming in contact with difficulties that will give you spiritual muscle and sinew. You will become strong in Christ if you endure the testing process, and the proving of God. But if you find fault with your situation, and with everybody around you, you will only grow weaker. I [Ellen White] have seen people who were always finding fault with everything and everybody around them, but the fault was in themselves. They had need to fall upon the Rock and be broken. They felt whole in their own self-righteousness. The trials that come upon us, come to prove us. The enemy of our souls is working against us continually, but our defects of character will be made manifest to us, and when they are made plain, instead of finding fault with others, let us say, ‘I will arise and go to my Father.’ [Luke 15:18.]” Review and Herald., August 6, 1889.

What are some ways that God proves us?

“Christ gives the test by which to prove our loyalty or disloyalty. ‘If ye love Me,’ He says, ‘keep My commandments. . . . He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me. And he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him. . . . He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings; and the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.’ ‘If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.’ John 14:15–24; 15:10.” Ibid., June 23, 1910.

“The very test that was brought upon Adam in Eden will be applied to every member of the human family. We stand as Adam did, with opportunity for a second trial, to prove our allegiance to the Government of God.” The Signs of the Times, November 24, 1887.

“A saint in heaven is just what he is in his own family at home. If he is a Christian at home he is a Christian in the church. He will be a good Christian in heaven. Now, God has placed us on trial here. How is it with you? Are you going to stand the test? He will bring circumstances around you to prove you and see whether there is any defilement of character in you. If there is any debasement, if there is any carnality, if there is any satanic tendency, He will bring you over the ground in one way, and then He will bring you over the ground in another way, and then He will test you upon one point, and then He will test you upon another. We are here to be tested and proved.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, 186.

“He [God] tests the love of His professed followers by committing to their tender mercies the afflicted and bereaved ones, the poor and the orphan.” Review and Herald, June 27, 1893.

“The sanctifying power of truth is to abide in the soul, and be carried with us to our business, there to apply its continual tests to every transaction of life, especially to our dealings with our fellow-men.” Ibid., April 14, 1885.

“The Lord has placed every human being on test and trial. He desires to prove and to try us, to see if we will be good and do good in this life, to see if he can trust us with eternal riches, and make us members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King.” My Life Today, 54.

The proving that we are experiencing is the various issues that we encounter along life’s highway. Will we all be proved in the same way? Probably not in all things—we may have some similar tests, but our tests will not be identical. God does not prove us corporately; He proves us individually.

Temptations are Tests

Satan places temptations before us that will test and prove us.

“Satan is constantly presenting inducements to God’s chosen people to attract their minds from the solemn work of preparation for the scenes just in the future. He is in every sense of the word a deceiver, a skillful charmer. He clothes his plans and snares with coverings of light borrowed from heaven. He tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit by making her believe that she would be greatly advantaged thereby. Satan leads his agents to introduce various inventions and patent rights and other enterprises, that Sabbathkeeping Adventists who are in haste to be rich may fall into temptation, become ensnared, and pierce themselves through with many sorrows. He is wide awake, busily engaged in leading the world captive, and through the agency of worldlings he keeps up a continual pleasing excitement to draw the unwary who profess to believe the truth to unite with worldlings. The lust of the eye, the desire for excitement and pleasing entertainment, is a temptation and snare to God’s people. Satan has many finely woven, dangerous nets which are made to appear innocent, but with which he is skillfully preparing to infatuate God’s people. There are pleasing shows, entertainments, phrenological lectures, and an endless variety of enterprises constantly arising calculated to lead the people of God to love the world and the things that are in the world. Through this union with the world, faith becomes weakened, and means which should be invested in the cause of present truth are transferred to the enemy’s ranks. Through these different channels Satan is skillfully draining the purses of God’s people, and for it the displeasure of the Lord is upon them.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 550, 551.

Character Development Takes Time

“If the message [the 1844 proclamation] had been of as short duration as many of us supposed, there would have been no time for them to develop character.” Maranatha, 43.

Most of us can put up with anything for a short period of time. It is when trials and testing go on for days and days and days that the true character is revealed.

“The rejecters of [God’s] mercy reap that which they have sown. . . . God gives them existence for a time that they may develop their character and reveal their principles. This accomplished, they receive the results of their own choice. By a life of rebellion, Satan and all who unite with him place themselves so out of harmony with God that His very presence is to them a consuming fire. The glory of Him who is love will destroy them.” The Desire of Ages, 764. [Emphasis supplied.]

“It will take time to develop the true missionary spirit, . . . and develop well-balanced characters.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 324.

“The Lord bears long with his erring people. The truth will be brought to bear closer and closer, and will cut off one idol after another, until God reigns supreme in the hearts of his consecrated people. . . . Give the people of God time to develop character.” Gospel Workers (1892), 269.

Proving and Character Development

How does the proving process relate to the development of character?

“The proving time has come, and angels are watching the development of character. How many, since they have professed Christ, have changed for the better? My brother, my sister, are you becoming more and more like Jesus, who is pure, holy, undefiled? Can your associates see in you the likeness of Christ? Can they see that you maintain in your dress, in your conversation, your daily life, the simplicity of your Master?” Review and Herald, December 29, 1896.

“Angels are watching the development of character, and are weighing moral worth. They are bidden to place a mark upon those who are loyal to God’s commandments; such will have special help from God to endure the test and proving of the time of trouble.” Historical Sketches, 196.

Matter of Habit

Character is a result of habits, and habits are the result of doing something over and over again. The proving actually forces us to develop habits one way or the other.

“Actions repeated form habits, habits form character, and by the character our destiny for time and for eternity is decided.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 356.

“Any one act, either good or evil, does not form the character; but thoughts and feelings indulged prepare the way for acts and deeds of the same kind.

“It is . . . by a repetition of acts that habits are established and character confirmed.” Child Guidance, 199.

“Once formed, habits become more and more firmly impressed upon the character. The intellect is continually receiving its mold from opportunities and advantages, ill or well improved. Day by day we form characters which place . . . [us] as well-disciplined soldiers under the banner of Prince Emmanuel, or rebels under the banner of the prince of darkness. Which shall it be?” Ibid., 200.

“Those who form habits that weaken the nerve power and lessen the vigor of mind or body, make themselves inefficient for the work God has given them to do. On the other hand, a pure, healthy life is most favorable for the perfection of Christian character and for the development of the powers of mind and body.” Counsels on Health, 41.

“If we would develop a character which God can accept, we must form correct habits in our religious life. Daily prayer is as essential to growth in grace, and even to spiritual life itself, as is temporal food to physical well-being. We should accustom ourselves to often lift the thoughts to God in prayer. If the mind wanders, we must bring it back; by persevering effort, habit will finally make it easy. We cannot for one moment separate ourselves from Christ with safety. We may have His presence to attend us at every step, but only by observing the conditions which He has Himself laid down.” Review and Herald, May 3, 1881.

Moved From Feeling

“Many moved from feeling, not from principle and faith.” Maranatha, 43. Can we develop character by moving from feeling? Ellen White tells us that “thoughts and feelings combined make up the moral character.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 310. She also counsels that our “thoughts must be brought into subjection to the will of God, and [our] feelings under the control of reason and religion.” Ibid.

We also read that, “God’s children are not to be subject to feelings and emotions. When they fluctuate between hope and fear, the heart of Christ is hurt; for He has given them unmistakable evidence of His love. . . . He wants them to do the work He has given them; then their hearts will become in His hands as sacred harps, every chord of which will send forth praise and thanksgiving to the One sent by God to take away the sins of the world.” Messages to Young People, 110.

How do our feelings work in the development of our characters?

“There are obligations which bring us into conflict with natural feelings and propensities, and in fulfilling these obligations, we gain victory over every objectionable feature of our character. The warfare goes on, and thus we grow in grace. Thus our character is developed in the likeness of Christ, and we are prepared for a place among the blessed in the kingdom of God.” Review and Herald, June 27, 1893.

We are to have Christ’s character perfectly reproduced in us before His Second Coming. That means we need to learn to think and feel about things as He does. We need to constantly bring our feelings and thoughts into harmony with His. By beholding His, ours are to become changed like His.

Hurt Feelings

Is it Christian to have hurt feelings? Can we develop character if our feelings are bruised all the time?

“We cannot pass along without sometimes having our feelings hurt and our temper tried, but as Christians we must be just as patient, forbearing, humble, and meek as we desire others to be.” Our High Calling, 237.

Feelings are not necessarily sinful—it is what we do with the feelings. We can feel hurt, that is only human, but what we do with the hurt is going to develop our character one way or the other. We are told that if we love the law, nothing shall offend us (Psalm 119:165). We have to be the ruler or the guard of our feelings in such a way that we do not become offended. Our Example suffered disappointment, but He was not offended.

“Jesus was sinless and had no dread of the consequences of sin. With this exception His condition was as yours. You have not a difficulty that did not press with equal weight upon Him, not a sorrow that His heart has not experienced. His feelings could be hurt with neglect, with indifference of professed friends, as easily as yours. Is your path thorny? Christ’s was so in a tenfold sense. Are you distressed? So was He. How well fitted was Christ to be an example!” Our High Calling, 59.

In our preparation to stand for the end, we need to deal with these feelings. We need to make sure that we have processed them in the right way and that we do not become offended because our feelings have become hurt. We can channel our feelings down the road of disappointment and overcome that disappointment, but we need to make sure that we are not offended.

“Sister F has had a spirit of retaliation, manifesting by her deportment that she was offended. This was all wrong. She has cherished bitter feelings, which are foreign to the spirit of Christ. Anger, resentment, and all kinds of unkind tempers are indulged by speaking against those with whom we are displeased, and by reciting the errors and failings and sins of neighbors. The lustful desires are gratified.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 51.

Fears of . . .

“Many moved from feeling, not from principle and faith, and this solemn, fearful message stirred them. It wrought upon their feelings, and excited their fears, but did not accomplish the work which God designed that it should.” Maranatha, 43.

Of what were the people, spoken of here, fearful—going to hell? Is fear of going to hell, as a motivation to do the right thing, wrong? Many churches, in their services, pour out the fire and brimstone and scare people to the altar. Is that a viable method of getting them to the point of salvation?

“If the love of God will not induce the rebel to yield, the terrors of an eternal hell will not drive him to repentance. Besides it does not seem a proper way to win souls to Jesus, by appealing to one of the lowest attributes of the mind, abject fear. The love of Jesus attracts, it will subdue the hardest heart.” The Signs of the Times, March 9, 1876.

It is never wrong to do the right thing, but the Lord weighs our motives. If we are going to do the right thing just for a fire escape to keep from going to hell, then it is not accounted, because love for our Lord should be the motivating point and not fear.

“It is not the fear of punishment, or the hope of everlasting reward, that leads the disciples of Christ to follow Him. They behold the Saviour’s matchless love, revealed throughout His pilgrimage on earth, from the manger of Bethlehem to Calvary’s cross, and the sight of Him attracts, it softens and subdues the soul. Love awakens in the heart of the beholders. They hear His voice, and they follow Him.” The Desire of Ages, 480.

Our Hearts

“God leads His people on, step by step. He brings them up to different points calculated to manifest what is in the heart. Some endure at one point, but fall off at the next. At every advanced point the heart is tested and tried a little closer.” Maranatha, 43.

Why is the heart mentioned so many times here? What is it that God is trying in the heart?

God desires to write His law upon our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33), but our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). He has also told us that our hearts are stony (Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26), and to fulfill His purpose of writing His commandments upon these stony hearts, He has to bring us to one test after another to soften our hearts.

“God orders our surroundings, and he will place us where we shall have test after test, to prove us and to reveal what is in our hearts. Again and again we shall be brought into strait places, that it may be known whether we are indeed crucified with Christ or full of self-love. How will this proving, testing process end with each of us?” Review and Herald, June 3, 1884.

“Be not discouraged because your heart seems hard. Every obstacle, every internal foe, only increases your need of Christ. He came to take away the heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh. Look to Him for special grace to overcome your peculiar faults.” Messages to Young People, 112.

“God proves His people in this world. This is the fitting-up place to appear in His presence. Here, in this world, in these last days, persons will show what power affects their hearts and controls their actions. If it is the power of divine truth, it will lead to good works. It will elevate the receiver, and make him noble-hearted and generous, like his divine Lord. But if evil angels control the heart, it will be seen in various ways. The fruit will be selfishness, covetousness, pride, and evil passions.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 188.

“In requiring obedience to the laws of His kingdom, God gives His people health and happiness, peace and joy. He teaches them that the perfection of character He requires can be attained only by becoming familiar with His word.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 454.


Ultimately, then, we can develop the habits necessary for the building of good character. That is a process of choosing to do what God wants us to do, knowing what Christ would do, and realizing that regardless of what is done to us, we will always choose to do what is right. That is the purpose of God’s testing and proving of us now.

“Let the human agent compare his life with the life of Christ. . . . Those who follow Christ will be continually looking into the perfect law of liberty, and through the grace given them by Christ, will fashion the character according to the divine requirements.” Sons and Daughters of God, 137.

“Everything must be viewed in the light of the example of Christ. He is the truth. He is the true Light that lighteth every man who cometh into the world. Listen to His words, copy His example in self-denial and self-sacrifice, and look to the merits of Christ for the glory in character which He possesses to be bestowed on you. Those who follow Christ live not to please themselves. Human standards are like feeble reeds. The Lord’s standard is perfection of character.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 419, 420.

Remember, “Young and old, God is now testing you. You are deciding your own eternal destiny.” Maranatha, 43.

But, “Through trials and persecution, the glory—character—of God is revealed in His chosen ones.” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 31.

And, “Those who follow Christ will overcome temptation and will receive the glorious reward of eternal life. And to Christ they will render all the praise and glory.” Counsels on Health, 590.

One Ounce is Heavier Than One Ton

The story of David and Goliath is very familiar to each of us, but I want to look at it from a different perspective. We will study it in the context of the Week of Prayer theme, “What Will it Take to Stand in the Last Days?” I personally believe that the entire Bible addresses this theme. All through history to the final culmination of the end of time, God has been and is working to bring about in His people a complete and conclusive victory over sin.

Story Setting

This story, as found in 1 Samuel 17, has as its setting the slaying of Goliath by young David. When telling this story to our children, we usually emphasize the bravery of David in taking a stand against Goliath, but that is not solely what this story is about. I wish that we could tell our children more of what God’s plan and purpose is in this whole story, but I am thankful that they do have the introduction to the story of David and Goliath.

Beginning with 1 Samuel 17:1, we read: “Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which [belongeth] to Judah.” Where were the Philistines, in relation to the children of Israel? They were almost right downtown! They were in Judah! They were not over in Philistia—the place they claimed as their own. They were in the area that belonged to Judah, and they “pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim. And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and [there was] a valley between them.” Verses 2, 3.

Imagine the setting here. On one side of the valley was a mountain, most likely not terribly steep, because one army’s encampment was located there. On the other side was the camp of another army. And down the middle was a valley. Such a setting was like an amphitheater. Voices could carry long distances in this kind of setting. The troops could probably hear what the men of the opposing side were saying.

Aggressive Enemy

The Philistines were the aggressors; they were the ones who were coming against Israel. The devil, it seems, is always on the aggressive against God’s people. The Bible tells us that we are to be the ones that are on the offensive, going forth pulling down Satan’s strongholds. But as is so often the case, we just sit back enjoying our leisure, thinking that everything is going to turn out all right; then suddenly, we realize that the devil is waging an attack against us. We find ourselves floundering because we were not on the offensive.

The burden of the writer of 1 Samuel was not only to give an account of Philistine wars but also to make known one of the steps that was necessary in the process of David becoming fitted for the office of the king of Israel. Nothing is stated as to the amount of time that had lapsed between Saul’s victories of the past and the present situation. Saul had had some victories in the past and had settled back thinking that all was well—then an invasion took place. 1 Samuel 14:52 says, “And there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul.” Apparently, the invasion that we are reading about in chapter 17 occurred many years after Saul was on the throne as the king of Israel.

A Giant in the Land

So there they were—one group on one side, the other group on the other side—with a valley between them.

1 Samuel 17:4–7 says, “And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height [was] six cubits and a span. And [he had] an helmet of brass upon his head, and he [was] armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat [was] five thousand shekels of brass. And [he had] greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. And the staff of his spear [was] like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head [weighed] six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.”

That is quite an intimidating picture painted in these verses! When the Scripture speaks of a champion going out from the Philistines, it is a literal meaning of a man between two middles, or one who enters into the space between two armies in order to decide the victory by a single combat.

From Joshua 11:22, we learn that the town of Gath, mentioned as the home of Goliath, was in the same geographical area as Gaza and Ashdod. Those towns, as we read in Joshua, still had giants living and occupying parts of that area. They were descendants from the giant, Anak. (See Numbers 13:33.)

Concerning this man, Goliath, who was the champion that went out, we are told that his height was six cubits and a span. By our measurements today, he would be about three inches short of ten feet tall! We have never seen anyone that big. We do not know how a person that big would look. The tallest person we have had record of, in the United States, was a man who stood over eight feet tall.

If we think about the tallest person that we have ever seen, he would not even begin to come close to Goliath’s height. Proportionate to his height, Goliath would have weighed approximately 1,800 to 1,900 pounds—close to a ton! I think Goliath’s measurements are given in the Bible to show how out of proportion the victory was. Here was this man, huge in size . . . and there was David.

Righteousness by Faith

The measurements are given to instruct us in regard to righteousness by faith. Many people have the idea that righteousness by faith was something originated by the apostle Paul. Well, I have news for you. Righteousness by faith is revealed all through the Bible, just as is grace. Many people have the idea that grace is a New Testament concept. No, no! Grace is indicated all the way from the Garden of Eden to the promised earth made new.

Righteousness by faith is what will allow God’s people to stand through the end times. If we do not have the concept of righteousness by faith and how to stand for the Lord Jesus Christ, we are going to fail when the pressures come. When the Goliaths come out against us, we are going to fall.

The strength of the enemy is presented in the form of Goliath. The Bible states that he was covered with a coat of mail—literally, clothed in a shirt with metal scales sewn onto the cloth so they would overlap one another. It was flexible, and it protected all sides of the body. Verse 5 of 1 Samuel 17 tells us that it weighed “five thousand shekels of brass,” which would be about 180 pounds. That was the weight of just one piece of Goliath’s armour! He had brass coverings on his legs and “a target of brass between his shoulders.” Verse 6.
We are not told how much those weighed, but brass is heavy. His spearhead weighed about 25 pounds and it topped a staff like a “weaver’s beam.” Verse 7. That was a heavy spear!

Goliath’s entire armour seems very heavy to us, but to him it was just normal gear. To those who saw him, as he rumbled down the hillside day after day and taunted Israel, he surely appeared to be an indomitable foe.

The armies were encamped on each side of the valley, because the valley was a very vulnerable place to be. Goliath knew that, so he would rumble down the mountainside and shout over to the Israelite army. The acoustics were so good that they could hear everything he said. When they saw and heard him, their hearts began to tremble. They were terrified. Israel was not used to seeing that kind of person.

Israel had not thought things through. Even though Goliath was huge and intimidating, they were not fighting alone. They should have at least considered that! Here was a giant of a man who weighed hundreds and hundreds of pounds, wore many pounds of armour, and acted as though nothing could interfere with his harassment of God’s people. But God would have worked for them—if they had allowed Him. God would have worked, even if David had not come upon the scene, if only they would have allowed righteousness by faith to prevail.


All too often, the devil comes along to taunt and harass us. He is determined to discourage us. Unfortunately, we are just as scared of him as the Israelites were of Goliath.

“And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set [your] battle in array? [am] not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us.” 1 Samuel 17:8, 9.

The interesting thing about this proclamation is that it was nothing but a great, big lie. We will see that as we study further. We are told that the devil has been a liar from the very beginning. The Philistines had no intention of being servants to Israel—but if they had won the battle, what do you think they would have expected of Israel? They would have expected Israel to become their servants. This whole setup should speak loudly and clearly to us.

Dismayed and Afraid

“When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.” Verse 11. Saul was the leader of Israel. If anyone should have responded to the challenge of Goliath, Saul should have. He should have set the example. Goliath was a giant, but so was Saul. You may not have known that, but Saul was also a giant.

1 Samuel 10 tells of the calling of Saul and how, when they went to search for him, he was hiding among the baggage. (Verse 22.) He did not even want to respond to God’s call. When the searchers finally brought him out and stood him among the people, he stood head and shoulders above all Israel. (Verse 23.) He should have been the one who went out to meet the challenge of Goliath. When this loudly boastful Goliath came out, Saul would have immediately answered the challenge and defeated him, if his heart had been right in following the call that God had given to him. The Lord would have given him the victory.

Goliath’s taunting continued. Every day, for 40 days, he blasted the whole valley of Israel with his taunts and challenges. In our normal living, 40 days can go by quite quickly, but camped on a hillside with little to do but polish a spearhead, gather a little food occasionally, and listen to the taunting of a giant—40 days can be a long time. “When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.”

A Little Background

“Now David [was] the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehem-judah, whose name [was] Jesse; and he had eight sons: and the man went among men [for] an old man in the days of Saul. And the three eldest sons of Jesse went [and] followed Saul to the battle.” 1 Samuel 17: 12. They enlisted in Saul’s army. They were a part of the organization. “And the names of his three sons that went to the battle [were] Eliab the firstborn, and next unto him Abinadab, and the third Shammah.” Ibid. David, it says in verse 14, “[was] the youngest: and the three eldest followed Saul.” This is not without significance.

This passage provides background information. It tells about David and what his position was in the family tree. He was the youngest, and it had been his task for some time to care for the sheep.

At this point, there is a flashback in the story line. Verse 15 says, “But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Beth-lehem.” This relates a little more background that is not necessarily pertinent to the story, but it is there for a purpose. It lets us know that there is more involved than just a story connecting David and Goliath.

Innocent Errand Boy

“And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days. And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this parched [corn], and these ten loaves, and run to the camp to thy brethren.” Verses 16, 17. At this point, David was in Bethlehem, and Jesse had asked him to take a care package from home to his three brothers who were serving in the Israelite army.

“And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of [their] thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge.” Verse 18. In verse 2 we read that “Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines.” In verse 19, it says, “Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, [were] in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.” All that we have looked at so far has been filler information to get to the main point, but it has given us some very important background.

“David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle.” Verse 20. Israel did not go out to battle or to shout. They were terrified. They were dismayed. They hardly knew how to open their mouths. “For Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array, army against army. And David left his carriage [the items that he brought] in the hand of the keeper of the carriage, and ran into the army, and came and saluted his brethren.” Verses 21, 22. You can imagine how glad they were to see him. Here they were drawn up in battle array and along came little brother to disrupt things. That was basically how they saw it.

Bold Giant

“And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the armies of the Philistines, and spake according to the same words: . . .” Those words he had spoken for 40 days—the taunts, the jeers, the manner of speaking against the children of Israel and Israel’s God—“David heard [them].” Verse 23.

There are times when sinners become so bold that they forget they are vulnerable. This is what gives sin its aggressiveness. In the time in which we are living, we can see that sin is very aggressive. It is taking liberties that it should never have been allowed to take. But we have acquired a lackadaisical attitude, thinking that all is well in Israel.

I want to point out that God will only allow sin to go so far. When it is time for God to bring judgment against sin, it often comes with blinding force—suddenly, quickly, with completeness, and many times with death and destruction. God’s plans know no haste and no delay. Sin will only be permitted to go so far.

Goliath thought that he was invincible. He daily paraded with all of his self-righteousness—that is what the armour represents in this story—on major display. Covered from head to foot with armour—his self-righteousness—he would shout his taunts at God’s people, and the Bible says, David heard it.

Perfect Love

“And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid.” Verse 24. There are principles that are as true today as they were back then. One of these principles is that perfect love casts out all fear. (1 John 4:18.) Where were God’s people, at the moment God needed them the most? They were terrified. If perfect love casts out all fear—and these people were very afraid—what was in their hearts? Was love there? No. There was no love for God or for man, because perfect love would have cast out that fear. God’s people were terrified of this man, Goliath. They had heard these same taunts day after day for 40 days and had done nothing.

David heard the taunting, and he began to inquire, in the hearing of his brothers, what all of this was about. “And the men of Israel said, Have ye seen this man that is come up?” How could they not have seen him? “Surely to defy Israel is he come up: and it shall be, [that] the man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father’s house free in Israel.”
1 Samuel 17:25. David was not im-pressed with the promised reward. He had heard the challenge of this man against the children of Israel and against Israel’s God, and he cared that there was no response from Israel.

“And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who [is] this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? And the people answered him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him.” Verses 26, 27.

Last Day Parallels

Here were two armies—the camp of Israel and the camp of the enemy. They were drawn up in battle array. We can draw some parallels from this with last day events.

There will be battles in the last days. There will be wars. There will be wars waged between righteousness and unrighteousness. Those on the side of righteousness will be very few in number—a little remnant, we are told. (See Early Writings, 66.) Remnant means small in number.

The great controversy is being played out right before us. On one side of the valley is the army that represents the forces of the devil, and the army on the other side represents the organized church. Pause for a moment and think about that; let it sink in, because in fact, that is the way it is—the enemies of God against the organized church. It should have been the organized church that was out there fighting the battle, because it had organization. It had captains of thousands. It had people in positions of leadership. It had money. It had armament. It had everything that counted, as far as going into battle was concerned. But there was one thing that it lacked. It lacked the power of the Holy Spirit.

King Saul should have led his troops into battle and pulled down the devil’s strongholds, but he was terrified. He had no power of the Holy Spirit operating in his life, so there they were in a standoff. Israel was too afraid to move.

This is basically where we find ourselves today. The Seventh-day Adventist denomination is too afraid to go into battle against the enemy of God and his laws. As a result, nothing is happening. There is an occupation of ground, a standoff in the hastening of the day of the Lord’s return. Scripture after Scripture would validate that statement.

Independent David

Notice that David was not a part of either group. Arriving on the scene late in time, David was small, and he was young. Does that ring any bells? David was historic. David knew the true God. He had spent time getting to know God. David was independent of Israel’s army. The Bible tells us that. He was independent of the structural forces of King Saul. Saul was supposed to do the work, but he was not doing it, so God called historic, independent David onto the scene to accomplish the work that Saul would not do.

The question needs to be asked, Who really was the church back then? Was it Saul and his forces that were the visible representation of God’s people, or was the true church represented by small David who came late on the scene?

You did not know that lesson was in the story of David and Goliath, did you? But it surely is! These accounts are written as instructions and examples to us who are living in the very end of time. They are there so we will be able to take courage and come victoriously through the time of trouble that is before us.


This account parallels what we are facing today, so much so that it almost seems prophetic. Notice verse 28: “And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he [David] spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.” That was all David needed to hear. Here he came, happy to see his brothers who, in God’s army, were fighting the battle and trying to win the victory. He began to make inquiries when he heard the big giant. The first response he heard from his own kinfolk was, “Shame on you, you naughty little boy. I know why you are down here.” What a good object lesson in family relationships! David, bless his heart, asked, “What have I now done? [Is there] not a cause?” Verse 29.

This brother, Eliab, was one of the church members, if you please, in Saul’s group. He came to David with numerous accusations, because David was not part of the group. He thought that David had come to the battleground to satisfy some curiosity on his part. He had no idea at all what was in David’s heart.

Words Travel Quickly

After David had spoken to his brother in Saul’s church, he turned to other members in the structure of Israel. Verses 30 and 31 say, “And he turned from him toward another, and spake after the same manner: and the people answered him again after the former manner. And when the words were heard which David spake, they rehearsed [them] before Saul.” David inquired, “Who [is] this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” Verse 26. So it was reported to Saul what David had said.

This tells me that the Israelites had quite a telephone campaign, so to speak, because the word got clear back to Saul—quickly. David was out in the middle of the army somewhere, and by word of mouth, his questionings got back to Saul. In verse 31, we are told that Saul “sent for him,” and verse 32 continues, “David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him [the Philistine]; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”

Just a Stripling

A little bit more of the picture is given in 1 Samuel 17:56. “The king said, Inquire thou whose son the stripling [is].” A stripling is not a Mr. America or a Mr. Universe. A stripling is a bony, skinny, teenage boy who has not yet filled out his muscular maturity. Everyone recognized that. There was Goliath, wearing hundreds of pounds of armour, and there was this little stripling, who came to the king, a giant in his own right, and said, “Don’t let anyone’s heart fail because of this giant. I’ll tell you what. I’m going to fight him.” (Verse 32.)

And Saul said, “Go for it David. We’ll sit here and watch you.” Right? Oh, no. Would that it had been that way. “Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him.”—You are just a youth. He is a man of war. “And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep . . . .” Verses 33, 34. “Here are my qualifications,” offered David. “I am a shepherd.”

This should say something to us. Of whom was David an example? Ah, yes, the Great Shepherd. David was a shepherd. And, he said, “I have kept my father’s sheep. And I will tell you what! There came in a lion . . . .” (Verse 34.) Our adversary, the devil, goes about as a roaring lion. (See 1 Peter 5:8.) Is the lion any match for Jesus? No.

There are several parallels that may be made of the beasts from which David protected his sheep. (1 Samuel 17:34.) The lion was the first beast in Daniel’s vision of chapter 7. The bear and the lion could represent Babylon and all of the things that Babylon could bring against the church in the last days. The bear, in Daniel’s vision, represented Medo-Persia. Babylon and Medo-Persia had a completely different philosophical approach by which to come at God’s people. Those things are recorded here for a reason. David said that a bear came and took a lamb from the flock. Babylon likes to come in and gather God’s people away from Him.

Shed Self-righteousness

“And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered [it] out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught [him] by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.” And, David said, besides all of this, “The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee. And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And
David girded his sword upon his armour,” and he tried in vain to move. 1 Samuel 17:35–39.

Stop and think about what we have covered so far. There was Goliath. There was Saul, a giant in his own right. There was Saul’s huge armour. There was David, a puny, little teenager, and Saul loaded all of his armour on David, then said, “Now go get him.” David tried in vain to move and could not. Let me tell you something, friends. You cannot go anywhere with self-righteousness. That is what these texts are telling us. David said, “I cannot go with this stuff,” and he removed all of it.

“And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip [that is the bag]; and his sling [was] in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield [went] before him. And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was [but] a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance.” Verses 40–42. There was probably no one that challenged good looks more than David did.


“And the Philistine said . . . [Am] I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.” Verse 43. As we go out and challenge for God, we will be confronted with every vile epithet that can come out of the mouth of a human being. With God’s help, we must ascend above those things. I know what it is like to be in the work force and hear the language that is there. I know what it is like to be standing in line and hear the conversations going on around me. But we must rise above those things, if we are going to be able to stand in these last days, and we have got to do it with the spirit of David.

“And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field. Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield . . .” With all your armour of self-righteousness you come to me. “But I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth.” Verses 44–46.

An Example

Why was this going to happen? It was going to happen as an example that there was indeed a God in Israel. This was why Daniel confronted Nebuchadnezzar. This was why the three Hebrew worthies confronted Nebuchadnezzar. They said, “You do not need to play the music again. We have already made our decision. We are going to stand for what is right.” (Daniel 3:15-20.)

Goliath had come rumbling into the valley for 40 days, casting his voice across the mountainside. When David heard him, he said, “Your time of probation is up. It is all over. Today, I am going to give you to the fowls and to the beasts that the whole earth may know that there is a God in Israel.” (1 Samuel 17:46.)

“And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle [is] the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.” Verse 47. Goliath could not stand to have the gospel preached to him. Those were fighting words, as far as he was concerned, because, verse 48 says, “And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.” David took off on a run. He hasted, it says, and he went “to meet the Philistine.”

We often have a tendency to sit back and think, “I will just watch this situation and see what happens.” But David took off on a run to meet the enemy, as the enemy was coming toward Israel. And then “David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang [it], and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him.” Verses 49, 50.

This is where the story gets kind of gruesome. I do not understand this, but it is there, and I have to accept it for what it says. David took the Philistine’s sword out of its sheath and cut off his head. “And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled.” Verse 51.


“We will be your servants! You just send someone out here, and if you can kill our giant, we will serve you.” No, they would not! They were liars! They were part of the devil’s host of liars, and they took off, fleeing.

“And the men of Israel and of Judah arose.” Verse 52. This is always the case. There are those who will go out and challenge for God. They may receive all kinds of wounds and may even sacrifice their lives, but others will try to claim the victory and the fruit. I have seen this happen repeatedly. The children of Israel, who were in a state of apostasy, attempted to claim the victory of David over the Philistines. They did do a job. They chased their enemy all the way to the gates of Ekron, and the wounded of the Philistines fell down along the way, even to Gath, and unto Ekron. (Verse 52.)

“And the children of Israel returned from chasing after the Philistines, and they spoiled their tents.” Verse 53. They were more interested in the material belongings of the world than in validating the God of heaven.

This is a wonderful story of righteousness by faith versus righteousness by works. It is a wonderful story of how we should be able to stand in these last days. It is a wonderful story of how to prepare for the last days that are coming.