Why Doesn’t God Show Up?

Not long ago, I watched a video regarding the recent “deconversion” of a number of Christian celebrities. Many reasons were given by these individuals as to why they had decided to abandon their faith, but one in particular stood out to me, “Why doesn’t God show up? If God is so powerful, so loving, why are there so many bad things in the world?” One of these individuals said, “Why doesn’t God cure cancer? If I was omnipotent, that’s what I’d do.” How many times have you wondered that same thing?

While a strong spiritual argument to the fact that God does show up can be presented, there are two thoughts I’d like to specifically explore.

God says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways… . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8, 9. He also says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you … thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” The KJV says, “to give you an expected end.”

Our future and hope is not in this world and while God does promise blessings and provides what we need in this life, He does not promise it will always be easy or fair. He does not promise, for now, that He will remove all the obstacles or take away all the bad things. We think in terms of the here and now, but God thinks and plans in the what-is-to-come. The reason that bad things happen, that life isn’t fair, but rather is hard and painful sometimes, is because of sin and our penchant for indulging in it. Which leads to my second thought.

The entire history of this world is one of spiritual conflict. The purpose of this conflict is to prove to everyone in this world and all the universe the true heinousness and perniciousness of sin.  So then, how could God, no matter how much He may want to, remove all the consequences of sin, both the natural ones and those that come from our individual choices?

Remember where sin began. Heaven is a perfect place and Lucifer still exercised his God-given free will to be jealous and prideful, and to spread discontent and malice toward God and His Son even there, aspiring to be like and equal with God. So, if God were to make this earth some kind of perfect place, sin would still find a way in it because there are so many people who would still choose to do evil.

Once this conflict is over, everyone will know sin for exactly what it is and those who have developed and maintained a saving relationship with Jesus Christ will not want to be sinful anymore. There will be no desire for sin and the Bible says that as a result “affliction [sin] will not rise up a second time.” Nahum 1:9

In addition to these two thoughts there are two others to consider: the vindication of God’s Law—the representation of His character—and the building up of a people, a church, who follow God’s will.

“Every question of truth and error in the long-standing controversy has now been made plain. The results of rebellion, the fruits of setting aside the divine statutes, have been laid open to the view of all created intelligences. The working out of Satan’s rule in contrast with the government of God has been presented to the whole universe. Satan’s own works have condemned him. God’s wisdom, His justice, and His goodness stand fully vindicated. It is seen that all His dealings in the great controversy have been conducted with respect to the eternal good of His people and the good of all the worlds that He has created. … The history of sin will stand to all eternity as a witness that with the existence of God’s law is bound up the happiness of all the beings He has created. With all the facts of the great controversy in view, the whole universe, both loyal and rebellious, with one accord declare: ‘Just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints.’ ” Maranatha, 346

“The final judgment is a most solemn, awful event. This must take place before the universe. To the Lord Jesus the Father has committed all judgment. He will declare the reward of loyalty to all who obey the law of Jehovah. God will be honored and His government vindicated and glorified, and that in the presence of the inhabitants of the unfallen worlds. On the largest possible scale will the government of God be vindicated and exalted. It is not the judgment of one individual or of one nation but of the whole world. Oh, what a change will then be made in the understanding of all created beings. Then all will see the value of eternal life.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 349

At long last, the universe will clearly see the insidiousness of Satan’s efforts to destroy God’s character and his insinuations that His law is one of tyranny rather than love. But Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross to save the souls of all mankind, and every word and deed of His life, proved that God’s law was crafted in love, that the happiness and well-being of man is bound up with it.

“God is omnipotent, omniscient, immutable. He always pursues a straightforward course. His law is truth—unchanging, eternal truth. His precepts are consistent with His attributes. But Satan makes them appear in a false light. By perverting them he seeks to give human beings an unfavorable impression of God. Throughout his rebellion he has sought to represent God as an unjust, tyrannical being.

“But Satan’s hypocrisy has been unmasked by Christ’s life, trial, and death. Christ took upon Himself human nature, and by His perfect life demonstrated the falsity of the claims of him who constantly accuses those who are trying to obey God’s law. And the blood of Christ shed on the cross is the everlasting, incontrovertible testimony that God’s law is as immutable as is His own character.” Christ Triumphant, 291

And then there is the church of God. What, or more accurately who are God’s people?

“The church on earth is God’s temple, and it is to assume divine proportions before the world. This building is to be the light of the world. It is to be composed of living stones laid close together, stone fitting to stone, making a solid building. All these stones are not of the same shape or dimension. Some are large and some are small, but each one has its own place to fill. In the whole building there is not to be one misshapen stone. Each one is perfect. And each stone is a living stone, a stone that emits light. The value of the stones is determined by the light they reflect to the world.

“Now is the time for the stones to be taken from the quarry of the world and brought into God’s workshop, to be hewed, squared, and polished, that they may shine. This is God’s plan, and He desires all who profess to believe the truth to fill their respective places in the great, grand work for this time.

“The angelic architect has brought his golden measuring rod from heaven, that every stone may be hewed and squared by the divine measurement, and polished to shine as an emblem of heaven, radiating in all directions the bright, clear beams of the Sun of Righteousness.

“In this world we are to shine in good works. The Lord requires His people … to reflect the light of God’s character, God’s love, as Christ reflected it. As we look unto Jesus, all our lives will be aglow with that wondrous light. Every part of us is to be light; then whichever way we turn, light will be reflected from us to others. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. In Him is no darkness at all; therefore, if we are in Christ, there will be no darkness in us.” In Heavenly Places, 281

So why has it taken so long? Why has this controversy continued for more than 6,000 years?

“The reason why the Bridegroom delays is because He is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance. … O that each … would appreciate the value of the soul that has been purchased at infinite cost on Calvary! O that each one would place a proper estimate upon the capabilities that have been given him of God! Through Christ you may climb the ladder of progress, and bring every power under the control of Jesus. You may represent the character of Jesus. In spirit, in thought, in word, and in action, you may make manifest that you are moved by the Spirit of Christ, and your life may wield a power of influence over others.” The Youth’s Instructor, September 20, 1894

“The Light of the world is shining upon us that we might absorb the divine rays and let this light shine upon others in good works, that many souls shall be led to glorify our Father which is in heaven. He is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, and it grieves the heart of Jesus that so many refuse the offers of His mercy and matchless love.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 303

Friends, we can be absolutely certain that God has, does and will show up. The Bible says, “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth.” Psalm 145:18

It may not always look the way we think it should but, “When we are in trouble and pressed down with anxieties, the Lord is near, and He bids us cast all our care upon Him, because He cares for us. …

“He comes to all His children in their affliction. In time of danger He is their refuge. In sorrow, He offers them joy and consolation. … He utters the gracious invitation, ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ …

“Those who turn to God with heart and soul and mind will find in Him peaceful security. …

“He knows just what we need, just what we can bear, and He will give us grace to endure every trial and test that He brings upon us. …

“Every provision has been made to meet the needs of our spiritual and our moral nature.” Our Father Cares, 17, 18

Doesn’t that sound like a God who shows up? And if we can’t clearly see that God is present, available, powerful and patiently waiting on us, then it is because we are looking somewhere else, or we want Him to respond in a way we expect or even demand, or we think we know better what to do and how to do it.

If you are concerned that maybe God hasn’t shown up, think about this. From the beginning God knew that evil would spread across this world and its people. He knew that they would choose to follow another. Yet, instead of abandoning the idea of creating this world, He made a plan to restore its people to their rightful place as His created children, if they chose Him to be their Father. He provided the Holy Spirit to speak to hearts and effect transformation in the lives of those seeking it. He provided the Lamb as our life pattern and ultimately as a sacrifice to pay the penalty, one we could not pay, for the sins of the whole world. He provides love, forgiveness, restoration, atonement, rest, faith, peace and opportunity. Whatever is necessary is provided to bring even a single one of His children back into a right relationship with Himself, including the entire host of heaven, if needed.

God doesn’t have to show up. He’s never been away. He’s always been right here. We may not understand why and how things happen in this world, but it isn’t because God has failed to be present. I know that there are a lot of terrible things going on in the world and a lot of innocent people are hurt. And that is why we ask the question “Why doesn’t God show up?” But I have faith that when this world finally comes to an end, when sin and Satan are gone, that God will make everything come out right for those who put their trust in Him. We must always remember what God has promised us: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

The question isn’t whether God will show up, but will we?

Judy Rebarchek is a member of the LandMarks team. She can be contacted at: judyrebarchek@stepstolife.org


MEMORY VERSE: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Matthew 24:24.

STUDY HELP: The Great Controversy, 624, 625.

INTRODUCTION: “Satan’s superstitions will assume new forms. Errors will be presented in a pleasing and flattering manner. False theories, clothed with garments of light, will be presented to God’s people. Thus Satan will try to deceive, if possible, the very elect. Most seducing influences will be exerted; minds will be hypnotized.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 293.


  1. What warning against impersonation does Christ give? John 10:1–5. (See Matthew 24:5, 24.)

NOTE: “He has power to bring before men the appearance of their departed friends. The counterfeit is perfect; the familiar look, the words, the tone, are reproduced with marvelous distinctness. Many are comforted with the assurance that their loved ones are enjoying the bliss of heaven, and without suspicion of danger, they give ear ‘to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.’” The Great Controversy, 552.

“These evil angels, who assume to be dead friends, will either utterly reject God’s word as idle tales, or, if it suit their purpose best, will select the vital portions which testify of Christ and point out the way to heaven, and change the plain statements of the word of God to suit their own corrupt nature and ruin souls.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 298.

“The apostles, as personated by these lying spirits, are made to contradict what they wrote at the dictation of the Holy Spirit when on earth. They deny the divine origin of the Bible, and thus tear away the foundation of the Christian’s hope and put out the light that reveals the way to heaven.” The Great Controversy, 557.

“Satan is a cunning foe. And it is not difficult for the evil angels to represent both saints and sinners who have died, and make these representations visible to human eyes. These manifestations will be more frequent, and developments of a more startling character will appear as we near the close of time.” Review and Herald, April 1, 1875.

  1. What will be the greatest deception of all? 2 Corinthians 11:14. (Compare Matthew 24:5, 23–27.)

NOTE: “As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. The . . . great deceiver will make it appear that Christ has come. In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness, resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in the Revelation. Revelation 1:13–15. The glory that surrounds him is unsurpassed by anything that mortal eyes have yet beheld. The shout of triumph rings out upon the air: ‘Christ has come! Christ has come!’ The people prostrate themselves in adoration before him, while he lifts up his hands and pronounces a blessing upon them, as Christ blessed His disciples when He was upon the earth. His voice is soft and subdued, yet full of melody. In gentle, compassionate tones he presents some of the same gracious, heavenly truths which the Savior uttered; he heals the diseases of the people, and then, in his assumed character of Christ, he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed. He declares that those who persist in keeping holy the seventh day are blaspheming his name by refusing to listen to his angels sent to them with light and truth. This is the strong, almost overmastering delusion.” The Great Controversy, 624.

  1. What Bible verses protect us against a current impersonation? Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6.

NOTE: “Statues weep human tears and blood, the young prophesy, religious communities sprout up, messengers receive warnings, Mary raises up an army of the devout and reported apparitions of Mary appear at a frequency never before seen in all recorded history.The Thunder of Justice, Ted and Maureen Flynn, 4. The 55,000 strong Marian Movement of Priests began in 1972. “The current Marian times had their beginning in 1830 when Our Blessed Mother appeared to Catherine Laboure in the convent at Rue de Bac in Paris. . . .Sixteen years after Rue de Bac, on September 19, 1846, Our Blessed Mother appeared to children at LaSalette in the French Alps . . . In 1858, Our Blessed Mother appeared to a peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, France. . . . Mary’s next major apparition was at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917 to three children. . . . In 1961, Mary appeared in Garabandal, Spain. . . . In 1973, at Akita, Japan, Mary repeated that message. . . . In Medjugorje, in former Yugoslavia, six children in a rural village have been seeing Mary daily and receiving messages from the Blessed Mother since 1981.” The Thunder of Justice, 7, 8.

“Mary” claims to be the Virgin of Revelation [see Revelation 12:1] and to explain the Book of Revelation. She says the Red Dragon is Marxist atheism, the first beast of Revelation 13 is secular freemasonry and the two-horned beast is ecclesiastical freemasonry. The number 666 represents the date when freemasonry began through Islam! The apparition speaks of the mark of the beast and the Three Angels’ Messages. (Thunder of Justice, 100 – 102.) She even speaks of the appearance of Satan in human form. The remedy for the ills of the world, proposed on page 389, is restoration of Sunday observance. (Sunday is equated with the Sabbath, and the book reminds the reader that, in Old Testament times, Sabbath desecration was punishable by death.)


  1. What move to establish a single worldwide worship is foretold in God’s Word? Revelation 13:8, 12.

NOTE: “Those religious bodies who refuse to hear God’s messages of warning will be under strong deception and will unite with the civil power to persecute the saints. The Protestant churches will unite with the papal power in persecuting the commandment-keeping people of God.” Last Day Events, 145.

“When Protestant churches shall unite with the secular power to sustain a false religion, for opposing which their ancestors endured the fiercest persecution, then will the papal sabbath be enforced by the combined authority of church and state. There will be a national apostasy, which will end only in national ruin.” Last Day Events, 134.

“When the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine as are held by them in common, shall influence the state to enforce their decrees and to sustain their institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman hierarchy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result.” The Great Controversy, 445.

  1. What penalties will be imposed on those who refuse to conform to this worship? Revelation 13:15–17.

NOTE: “We ought now to be heeding the injunction of our Savior: ‘Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not.’ It is now that our brethren should be cutting down their possessions instead of increasing them. We are about to move to a better country, even a heavenly. Then let us not be dwellers upon the earth, but be getting things into as compact a compass as possible. The time is coming when we cannot sell at any price. The decree will soon go forth prohibiting men to buy or sell of any man save him that hath the mark of the beast.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 152.

“We Ought to Obey God Rather Than Men”

  1. What should be the Christian’s attitude towards earthly governments? Romans 13:1–7; Titus 3:1.

NOTE: “He who obeys the divine law will most truly respect and obey the laws of his country. He who fears God will honor the king in the exercise of all just and legitimate authority.” The Great Controversy, 278.

  1. What principle will on occasion overrule our duty to obey the laws of our country? Acts 4:19; Acts 5:29.

NOTE: “When the laws of men conflict with the word and law of God, we are to obey the latter, whatever the consequences may be . . . it is our duty in every case to obey the laws of our land, unless they conflict with the higher law which God spoke with an audible voice from Sinai, and afterward engraved on stone with His own finger.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 201, 361.

  1. Of what may those be accused who obey God rather than men? 1 Kings 18:17; Acts 17:6.

NOTE: “It is the same policy which has been pursued in all ages. Elijah was declared to be a troubler in Israel, Jeremiah a traitor, Paul a polluter of the temple. From that day to this, those who would be loyal to truth have been denounced as seditious, heretical, or schismatic. Multitudes who are too unbelieving to accept the sure word of prophecy will receive with unquestioning credulity an accusation against those who dare to reprove fashionable sins. This spirit will increase more and more. And the Bible plainly teaches that a time is approaching when the laws of the state will so conflict with the law of God that whosoever would obey all the divine precepts must brave reproach and punishment as an evildoer.” The Great Controversy, 459.


  1. What precious promises are for those who put their trust in the Lord? Psalm 91:1–4; Psalm 32:7.

NOTE: “The truth of God received into the heart is able to make you wise unto salvation. In believing and obeying it you will receive grace sufficient for the duties and trials of today. Grace for tomorrow you do not need. You should feel that you have only to do with today. Overcome for today; deny self for today; watch and pray for today; obtain victories in God for today. Our circumstances and surroundings, the changes daily transpiring around us, and the written word of God which discerns and proves all things, these are sufficient to teach us our duty and just what we ought to do, day by day.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 333.

  1. If we are called to testify for our faith what promise may we claim? Matthew 10:19.

NOTE: “As the Spirit of God illuminates the minds of His servants, the truth will be presented in its divine power and preciousness. Those who reject the truth will stand to accuse and oppress the disciples. But under loss and suffering, even unto death, the Lord’s children are to reveal the meekness of their divine Example. Thus will be seen the contrast between Satan’s agents and the representatives of Christ. The Savior will be lifted up before the rulers and the people. . . . The servants of Christ were to prepare no set speech to present when brought to trial. Their preparation was to be made day by day in treasuring up the precious truths of God’s word, and through prayer strengthening their faith. When they were brought into trial, the Holy Spirit would bring to their remembrance the very truths that would be needed.” Desire of Ages, 354, 355.

  1. What promises are we given of food and protection? Isaiah 33:15–16; Psalm 37:3; Psalm 111:5; Matthew 6:26.

NOTE: “In the last great conflict of the controversy with Satan those who are loyal to God will see every earthly support cut off. Because they refuse to break His law in obedience to earthly powers, they will be forbidden to buy or sell. It will finally be decreed that they shall be put to death. See Revelation 13:11–17. But to the obedient is given the promise, ‘He shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.’ Isaiah 33:16. By this promise the children of God will live. When the earth shall be wasted with famine, they shall be fed. ‘They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.’ Psalm 37:19.” Desire of Ages, 121.

  1. What promise do we have of protection during the plagues? Psalm 91:4–10; Psalm 34:6.

NOTE: “The people of God will not be free from suffering; but while persecuted and distressed, while they endure privation and suffer for want of food they will not be left to perish. That God who cared for Elijah will not pass by one of His self-sacrificing children. He who numbers the hairs of their head will care for them, and in time of famine they shall be satisfied.” The Great Controversy, 629.

  1. Who will protect us? Psalm 91:11, 12; Psalm 34:7.

NOTE: “While the wicked are dying from hunger and pestilence, angels will shield the righteous and supply their wants . . . Could men see with heavenly vision, they would behold companies of angels that excel in strength stationed about those who have kept the word of Christ’s patience. With sympathizing tenderness, angels have witnessed their distress and have heard their prayers. They are waiting the word of their Commander to snatch them from their peril.” The Great Controversy, 629, 630.

  1. What promise of Jesus may we especially depend on? Matthew 28:20, last part.

NOTE: “With intense interest the loyal angels and the inhabitants of the unfallen worlds are watching the controversy going on on this earth. Soon the conflict will be forever ended. Soon Christ will come to take to Himself those who have fought the good fight of faith.” Bible Training School, October 1, 1902.

“The world is enshrouded in the darkness of error. Satan and his angels are urging on their warfare against the truth. We must have help. But the help we need will not come from human beings. We must look to Him who has said, ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’ Claim this promise. There stands among you the Mighty Counselor of the ages, inviting you to place your confidence in Him.” Signs of the Times, January 3, 1906.

Bible Study Guides – Heaven’s Government

September 28, 2002 – October 5, 2002

MEMORY VERSE: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” Psalm 33:6.

SUGGESTED READING: Patriarchs and Prophets, 33–43; The Story of Redemption, 13–19.

INTRODUCTION: “The Son was seated on the throne with the Father, and the heavenly throng of holy angels was gathered around them. The Father then made known that it was ordained by Himself that Christ, His Son, should be equal with Himself; so that wherever was the presence of His Son, it was as His own presence. The word of the Son was to be obeyed as readily as the word of the Father. His Son He had invested with authority to command the heavenly host. Especially was His Son to work in union with Himself in the anticipated creation of the earth and every living thing that should exist upon the earth. His Son would carry out His will and His purposes but would do nothing of Himself alone. The Father’s will would be fulfilled in Him.” The Story of Redemption, 13, 14.

“The Son of God had wrought the Father’s will in the creation of all the hosts of heaven; and to Him, as well as to God, their homage and allegiance were due.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 36.

1 How and by Whom were all things in the universe created? Psalm 33:6, 9; John 1:1–3.

NOTE: “The Sovereign of the universe was not alone in His work of beneficence. He had an associate—a co-worker who could appreciate His purposes, and could share His joy in giving happiness to created beings. . . .

“The Father wrought by His Son in the creation of all heavenly beings. [Colossians 1:16 quoted.] Angels are God’s ministers, radiant with the light ever flowing from His presence and speeding on rapid wing to execute His will. But the Son, the anointed of God, the ‘express image of His person,’ ‘the brightness of His glory,’ ‘upholding all things by the word of His power,’ holds supremacy over them all. Hebrews 1:3.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 34.

2 In the Bible, what are we told about the throne of God? Jeremiah 17:12.

NOTE: “The Son of God shared the Father’s throne, and the glory of the eternal, self-existent One encircled both. About the throne gathered the holy angels, a vast, unnumbered throng—‘ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands’ (Revelation 5:11), the most exalted angels, as ministers and subjects, rejoicing in the light that fell upon them from the presence of the Deity.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 36.

3 How enduring is the throne of God? Hebrews 1:8, first part.

NOTE: “If Christ made all things, he existed before all things. The words spoken in regard to this are so decisive that no one need be left in doubt. Christ was God essentially, and in the highest sense. He was with God from all eternity, God over all, blessed forevermore.” Review and Herald, April 5, 1906.

4 What are some characteristics of the government of heaven? 1 John 4:16; Psalm 89:14.

NOTE: “The law of love being the foundation of the government of God, the happiness of all intelligent beings depends upon their perfect accord with its great principles of righteousness. God desires from all His creatures the service of love—service that springs from an appreciation of His character. He takes no pleasure in a forced obedience; and to all He grants freedom of will, that they may render Him voluntary service.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 34.

“God’s love has been expressed in His justice no less than in His mercy. Justice is the foundation of His throne, and the fruit of His love.” The Desire of Ages, 762.

5 What is the relationship between the created beings of heaven and their Creator? Psalm 103:20, 21.

NOTE: “It was the joy of the heavenly host to fulfill the purpose of their Creator. They delighted in reflecting His glory and showing forth His praise. And while love to God was supreme, love for one another was confiding and unselfish. There was no note of discord to mar the celestial harmonies.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 35.

6 How was Lucifer, the highest created being, described prior to his fall? Ezekiel 28:14, 15.

NOTE: “Lucifer in heaven, before his rebellion, was a high and exalted angel, next in honor to God’s dear Son. His countenance, like those of the other angels, was mild and expressive of happiness. His forehead was high and broad, showing a powerful intellect. His form was perfect; his bearing noble and majestic. A special light beamed in his countenance and shone around him brighter and more beautiful than around the other angels . . . .” The Story of Redemption, 13.

“Lucifer had been the covering cherub. He had stood in the light of God’s presence. He had been the highest of all created beings, and had been foremost in revealing God’s purposes to the universe.” The Desire of Ages, 758.

7 What was Lucifer’s secret ambition? Isaiah 14:13, 14.

NOTE: “Little by little Lucifer came to indulge the desire for self-exaltation. . . . Though all his glory was from God, this mighty angel came to regard it as pertaining to himself.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 35.

“Satan was jealous of Jesus. He wished to be consulted concerning the formation of man, and because he was not, he was filled with envy, jealousy, and hatred. He desired to receive the highest honors in heaven next to God.” Early Writings, 145.

8 What was the real cause of Lucifer’s dissatisfaction? Proverbs 13:10. Compare Psalm 10:4.

NOTE: “Not content with his position, though honored above the heavenly host, he [Lucifer] ventured to covet homage due alone to the Creator. Instead of seeking to make God supreme in the affections and allegiance of all created beings, it was his endeavor to secure their service and loyalty to himself. And coveting the glory with which the infinite Father had invested His Son, this prince of angels aspired to power that was the prerogative of Christ alone.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 35.

9 How was God’s character revealed in His dealings with Lucifer? Isaiah 1:18–20. What was Lucifer’s attitude?

NOTE: “The Son of God presented before him [Lucifer] the greatness, the goodness, and the justice of the Creator, and the sacred, unchanging nature of His law. God Himself had established the order of heaven; and in departing from it, Lucifer would dishonor his Maker and bring ruin upon himself. But the warning, given in infinite love and mercy, only aroused a spirit of resistance. Lucifer allowed his jealousy of Christ to prevail, and became the more determined.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 36.

10 What techniques did Lucifer use to persuade many angels to join him in his rebellion? Psalm 55:21.

NOTE: “Leaving his place in the immediate presence of the Father, Lucifer went forth to diffuse the spirit of discontent among the angels. He worked with mysterious secrecy, and for a time concealed his real purpose under an appearance of reverence for God. He began to insinuate doubts concerning the laws that governed heavenly beings, intimating that though laws might be necessary for the inhabitants of the worlds, angels, being more exalted, needed no such restraint, for their own wisdom was a sufficient guide. They were not beings that could bring dishonor to God; all their thoughts were holy; it was no more possible for them than for God Himself to err. The exaltation of the Son of God as equal with the Father was represented as an injustice to Lucifer, who, it was claimed, was also entitled to reverence and honor.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 37.

“While claiming for himself perfect loyalty to God, he urged that changes in the order and laws of heaven were necessary for the stability of the divine government. Thus while working to excite opposition to the law of God and to instill his own discontent into the minds of the angels under him, he was ostensibly seeking to remove dissatisfaction and to reconcile disaffected angels to the order of heaven. While secretly fomenting discord and rebellion, he with consummate craft caused it to appear as his sole purpose to promote loyalty and to preserve harmony and peace.” Ibid., 38.

11 Describe the end result of Lucifer’s (Satan’s) rebellion in heaven. Revelation 12:7–9.

NOTE: “He [Satan] nearly reached the decision to return, but pride forbade him. It was too great a sacrifice for one who had been so highly honored to confess that he had been in error, that his imaginings were false, and to yield to the authority which he had been working to prove unjust.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 39.

“Some of the angels sympathized with Satan in his rebellion, and others strongly contended for the honor and wisdom of God in giving authority to His Son. There was contention among the angels. Satan and his sympathizers were striving to reform the government of God. They wished to look into His unsearchable wisdom, and ascertain His purpose in exalting Jesus and endowing Him with such unlimited power and command. They rebelled against the authority of the Son. All the heavenly host were summoned to appear before the Father to have each case decided. It was there determined that Satan should be expelled from heaven, with all the angels who had joined him in the rebellion. Then there was war in heaven. Angels were engaged in the battle; Satan wished to conquer the Son of God and those who were submissive to His will. But the good and true angels prevailed, and Satan, with his followers, was driven from heaven.” Early Writings, 145, 146.

12 How is Satan’s fall summarized? Isaiah 14:12–15.

NOTE: “He [Satan] began his work of rebellion with the angels under his command, seeking to diffuse among them the spirit of discontent. And he worked in so deceptive a way that many of the angels were won to his allegiance before his purposes were fully known. Even the loyal angels could not fully discern his character, nor see to what his work was leading. When Satan had succeeded in winning many angels to his side, he took his cause to God, representing that it was the desire of the angels that he occupy the position that Christ held.

“The evil continued to work until the spirit of disaffection ripened into active revolt. Then there was war in heaven, and Satan, with all who sympathized with him, was cast out.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 222.

13 Why did God not immediately destroy Satan? Ezekiel 28:17, 19.

NOTE: “God could have destroyed Satan and his sympathizers as easily as one can cast a pebble to the earth; but He did not do this. Rebellion was not to be overcome by force. Compelling power is found only under Satan’s government. The Lord’s principles are not of this order. His authority rests upon goodness, mercy, and love; and the presentation of these principles is the means to be used. God’s government is moral, and truth and love are to be the prevailing power.” The Desire of Ages, 759.


Freedom of Choice, Part I

Religious liberty, freedom of choice, is of the utmost importance to God. The very thing that makes our love valuable to God is the fact that we do not have to give it. When we choose to give it, it makes it very valuable to Him. He gave us that freedom, that choice.

1888 Sunday Law

As some of you that are familiar with history—especially Seventh-day Adventist history—know, a lot of interesting things were going on during the late 1800s. In secular history, Senator Henry William Blair introduced a national Sunday law in the United States Senate. This proposed law was being discussed, and was ready to be voted upon. In church history, God had sent to E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones what the prophet called “the most precious message” that was to prepare God’s people for translation. (See Manuscript Releases, vol. 14, 128.) Because the church did not accept this “most precious message,” the message of righteousness by faith, God stopped what was going on in the Senate. A. T. Jones went before the Senate and argued against Senator Blair’s Sunday law. His arguments were so effective that even Senator Blair decided that Sunday laws were a bad idea.

The next large event that happened in the church, after the 1888 General Conference session, was a camp meeting held at Ottawa, Kansas, in 1889. In those days, camp meetings were a big deal; thousands and thousands of people would attend. So many people attended that sometimes the railroad companies would actually run tracks to the campsite so the people could ride the train right to that area! It was also common for the media to report the news of the camp meetings. At this camp meeting in Ottawa, Kansas, the Topeka Capital-Journal (Topeka, Kansas) published in its newspaper every sermon that was preached. A. T. Jones was one of the main speakers, and of the 31 sermons he preached during that camp meeting, at least 15 of them were on religious liberty. Other presentations included the topic of righteousness by faith. The message of righteousness by faith and the message of religious liberty were closely tied together.

Today, some of the laws that are introduced by our government leaders may come from good intentions. At times it is possible to see the logic in them, but it is a bit confusing to understand whether the proposed law is a good law or whether it is a bad law, whether it is going to take away personal freedom, or whether it is going to enhance the situation for everyone. In this article, we will study some principles in God’s Word that will help us to be able to judge these laws, to see where they are heading and the principles behind them. We are going to look at the subject of government through God’s Word. We are going to see what God thinks about civil government. Does He approve of it, and if He does, how much authority has He given it? What is its purpose? What should it regulate, and what should it leave alone?

Civil Government

First, let’s answer the question, Does God approve of civil government? Paul had some strong things to say about this in Romans 13:1–4: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

That makes it pretty plain that God definitely approves of government, does it not? He has ordained it and those who are in civil government, doing what they are supposed to do, He calls His ministers. But it seems that most of the governments in the world today are more evil than good. How can God condone that? As we look at history, perhaps we will find the answer to this question and others that have already been asked.


To start with, at some point of time in this universe, there may have been only one creature. What fact is evident if only one creature exists? If there is one creature, there has to not interfere, not try to force each other into their own belief system.

So a second creature called for a second principle of government, and Jesus stated this as the second commandment: “And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31.

Two = Ten

These two principles of government are just the simple dictates of reason and of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3–17). The Ten Commandments expand on these two principles, but they do not change them. The first four commandments basically tell us how to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We do not have other gods before Him; we do not set up idols in His place; we do not use His name in vain; and we remember His Sabbath to keep it holy. The Sabbath is a memorial to creation. If we remember the Sabbath, the memorial to creation, we do not forget our Creator.

The last six commandments tell us how to love our neighbors as ourselves. They tell us not to steal, not to kill, and not to commit adultery, not to lie, not to covet, and to honor our parents. They tell us how to handle this secondary relationship.

Original Government

These two principles are the original government. They are perfect government. They are the ultimate. People that live according to these principles live by self-government. Self-government does not mean that we let self do whatever it wants. Self-government means that we choose to be governed by reason—reason educated by the Word of God. That is the principle by which we live. God created all beings that He has ever made with freedom of choice. (Patriarchs and Prophets, 331, 332.) Men are free to choose. (See In Heavenly Places, 361.) God made us that way, and He always respects that freedom. When these created beings choose of their own free will to be in subjection to God, to His will and His design, then they are considered to be self-governed people. They choose it. It is a voluntary thing. It is government by the consent of the governed. It is a perfect government. It is self-government. The self-governed ones see the wisdom in God’s will, and they choose to be in subjection to it.

This perfect government ruled for an undisclosed period of time during eternity past. We do not know exactly how long it existed, but we know that the universe ran under this principle until the fall of Adam and Eve and that the rest of the unfallen universe—everywhere except this world—still operate under this principle. This planet is the only place where this principle is not in effect.

Everything went along fine as long as this principle governed. God did not use force to get His created beings to be in subjection to Him; it was voluntary. The beings saw the wisdom in it, and they submitted to Him and were governed by love.

Self-government Ends

But something went wrong. Someone chose not to give the Creator the love and honor that He deserved, and introduced a new and strange thing—selfishness—that led to rebellion, sin, and apostasy. It was the origin of evil. Any created being could have originated it, but Lucifer was the one who did. The important thing to realize is that everybody that follows his rebellion puts his or her stamp of approval on that type of government. A third of the angels changed rulers at that time and followed Lucifer. They put their stamp of approval on evil.

There would have been no way to ever return into God’s self-government, to choose Him as a ruler again, except He said to Lucifer, “I’m going to put enmity between you and the woman”—the woman being the church, and the church being those who choose self-government over rebellion. (Genesis 3:15.) God offered this enmity, but there was and is still the power of choice.

God had never before used force, but we are told that God had to use this new and strange thing that had never been used before in the universe. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Revelation 12:7–9.

God does not believe in forcing anybody to do anything. He does believe in removing people from society when they threaten the lives of self-governed beings. That is how He handles such situations. He does not force them to behave; He does not force them to obey; but He does remove them from society. That is what civil government is supposed to do. That is what it has been ordained of God to do. Civil government’s purpose is to protect God’s self-governed people from the rebels who choose not to be self-governed. Only those who again learn self-government will be safe to save for eternity, because God is not going to allow rebellion to happen again in heaven.

God is very patient in His dealings with us. He has dealt patiently with the human race for 6,000 years, and He dealt patiently with Satan for an unknown length of time in eternity past. God gave Satan every opportunity to turn around, to repent, and to come back into line with the two original principles of government that we have studied. He has tried through many generations to bring us back. Some people have learned, but most have chosen to not be self-governed.


In the lives of Cain and Abel, the first children of Adam and Eve, we see that one chose the way of self-government and the other chose the way of rebellion. We see the two principles at work in their lives. Abel, who chose self-government, worshipped God the way God had outlined. Cain did a thing that the Spirit of Prophecy calls partial obedience. He built the altar, kind of like what God said; he brought the sacrifice, kind of like what God said; but it was not right. (See Patriarchs and Prophets, 72.) He decided that he would do things his own way. Partial obedience is disobedience. That is what he chose. God accepted Abel’s worship, and He rejected Cain’s. Abel tried to persuade Cain to do things the right way. It is a good thing to try to persuade people; it is a bad thing to try to force people. Cain became very angry. He did not like being reproved. He became so angry that he killed Abel. That is the ultimate step in trying to force people.

It is interesting that people who do not want to obey God do not want anybody else to obey either. That may be hard for us to understand, but people are not satisfied just to be in disobedience themselves. They want everybody else to be disobedient, too. It seems that Cain did not want to govern himself—he did not want to be self-governed—but he wanted to govern others. That is another principle we notice. People that cannot govern themselves always want to govern other people. That is what Cain did. That is how sinful human nature works.

Anarchy Reigns

Adam and Eve had another son after Cain and Abel. His name was Seth, and he chose the way of self-government. They then had many other sons, and the majority of them chose the way of rebellion. The history of this world before the flood is mostly a history of no government at all. Everybody just kind of did what he or she felt like, except for the few, the little group of those who chose to be self-governed. There was no civil government; there was no law. You just did whatever you felt like—unless you were governed by God.

If all of Adam’s children had chosen self-government, there never would have been any kingdoms on this earth except God’s. There would not have been civil government; there would have been no need for it. Obviously that did not happen. Before the flood there was not any government. There were societies; there were enlarged families; there were tribes; but there was no organized government. Everybody pretty much did what he or she wanted. It was kind of the law of the jungle; the strongest survived. That is the way it went up until the flood.

God will put up with that kind of thing for a period of time, but after a certain point, He says, “No more,” and He puts a stop to it. Genesis 6:11–13 tells about that: “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; and all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”

So we are told that God will allow so much, and then He will quench it, and that is what He did. The first time God destroyed the earth because of anarchy; there was no government. In the end of time He will destroy it because of too much government and too much law, contrary to His Law.


God restarted the earth again with Noah and his family, eight people total. He started it again on the principle of self-government, but in spite of the awful demonstration of God’s wrath, it was not very long before the way of rebellion rose up again. Some chose the way of self-government, but the vast majority chose the way of rebellion. They even chose other gods and set up idols in God’s place.

Men would take the title of God and His authority and place it upon an idol, and they would make that idol their god and their king. But they had not gone so far in apostasy as to take that title and authority from that idol and put it on a man. The idol was god and king, and the people worshipped that idol, but they had not yet gone so far as to set themselves up in place of God.

An idol is nothing more than a reflection of the one that made it, the devotee. Therefore, it would follow that the idolater is really his own god. The idol is just a symbol of that. With each idolater being his own god, it becomes plain that all idolatry is more than just false worship, it is self-worship. The character of the false god is the character of the one that made it. Obviously it has no character of its own; it can only have what the worshipper gives it. Since its character comes from man, Mark 7:21, 22 tells us that “Out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness.” So it only follows that this describes the character of the idol, because it came from man, and that is what is in the heart of men. In Psalm 135:18 we are told, “They that make them [idols] are like unto them.” Men, being evil, build evil gods, and because of the law of beholding, they become more evil. It is a downward spiral. On the other hand, self-government beholds God, so it leads upward.


What happens when you have organized idol worship disguised as Christianity? What happens when you combine paganism and Christianity, build an idol, and worship that idol? You have created an evil god in your own image. You think that this god is good, but this god is actually so evil that he would burn people forever and ever and ever, just because they messed up on this planet for 70 years, give or take a few years. This god is so evil that he would torture people throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. It automatically follows that as you create that kind of god, and behold that kind of god, that it is nothing for you to kill a few people to help him. That is why it says in John 16:2 that “the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” That is the result of organized idolatry disguised as Christianity.

If the idol is nothing but the representation of the one that made it, it is logical that eventually someone would take the authority and title from that idol and place it upon himself. Obviously an idol cannot make anybody do anything, so somebody has to become the executor of the idol’s will. Somebody has to take it upon himself to enforce what this idol, this fake god, wants done. In other words, he is going to enforce what he wants done, because he made the idol. That is the origin of monarchies.

One man did set himself up to be the executor of the idol’s will, to enforce what the idol wanted. He had to rule over men by force in order to accomplish that. The strongest man prevailed, ruled over others, and became the monarch. For a time, that monarch was not called god. He was called a viceroy; he was in place of a god. The idol was still the king for quite some time. They had not gone so far as to be bold enough to actually take the title and authority from the god and place it upon themselves. They were just kind of standing in place of this idol, doing its will.


It was not until Nimrod that somebody finally got bold enough to step up another notch in apostasy and actually take the title and authority from an idol upon themselves. Genesis 10:8–10 talks about him: “And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel . . . .” It says there that Nimrod was a mighty hunter before the Lord. He was not just a hunter of animals and beasts, but he was actually a hunter and a pursuer and a crusher of the souls of men. That is the kind of hunter he was. From the time of the flood until Nimrod there had been tribes, but this thing that Nimrod set up was a whole new relationship that had never been done before—to have this man be in the place of God over all these people. Nimrod was the first to establish an organized kingdom. His kingdom was Babel, or Babylon. He became an overbearing tyrant. He crushed people and oppressed them, and he worked to enlarge his kingdom.

Nimrod worked to expand his empire by conquering men. He conquered other of Noah’s descendants, and he sought to crush and oppress everybody with whom he came in contact. He wanted to take everybody. Everybody was to be under his control. But there was a problem. God placed in the heart of men a desire to be free, a very strong desire. Because of Nimrod’s efforts to crush and expand his kingdom by crushing men, and by men resisting, the history of the world is largely a story of war—war between oppression and the fight for freedom.

Assyria, one of the oldest kingdoms in the world, found that every year, for approximately 800 years, they would go out and conquer some territory, and the next year they would have to go back and re-conquer it. The conquered would be ready the next year to fight again, because of that strong desire for freedom that God has placed in the hearts of men. Tyrants have continued to try to control the world throughout history, and others have fought for freedom throughout history.

To be continued . . .


Steve Currey is a Bible worker for Steps to Life Ministry.

Freedom of Choice, Part II

How did the human race ever go so far from God’s original plan of self-government to the thing that Nimrod did—having a man be in the place of God? In Romans 1:21–23, Paul tells us how it happened. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [Him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” These verses give us an idea of what some of the idols looked like. It also gives us some principles, kind of a step-by-step process, of how this thing got so far.

It says, for one thing, that they did not retain God in their knowledge. Then they made idols in the place of God. Then they put themselves in the place of the idols, and to hold this position, they had to use force. That is how the monarchy came to be. God has always been opposed to kingdoms. Yet He has allowed them, and He has even approved of them to a point. Why would that be? Because even bad government is better than no government at all. As we learned in part one of this article, God had to destroy the earth with a flood because there was no government. So He allows governments or kingdoms, and He even sanctions them. He will tolerate them for so long, and then He does something different.

Governments After the Flood

The first phase of history after the flood was the development of empires changing over from the government of the individual to the establishment of kingdoms, from Nimrod up until the time of Nebuchadnezzar. It was called Imperialism, that is another name for men in subjection to other men.

The second phase of history was empire, with full and undisputed sway, a world empire where one nation ruled the whole world. Four empires, in the history of the world, ruled the whole world. Only four, and there will never be another one, according to Daniel. These four empires were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and pagan Rome. When Babylon got wicked enough, God manifested His protest against Babylon by handing it over to the Medes and the Persians with a writing on the wall, apparently by His own hand—MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. (See Daniel 5:25.) God gave Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson a warning and basically told him it was over. He turned the kingdom over, because it had become so wicked. God continued to hand these kingdoms over until it got down to Rome.

Pagan Rome was the last of these world empires. During the time of this last world empire, God did something really special. He gave the ultimate demonstration of what self-government looks like. He did that by sending His Son.

Way of Self-government

Everything Christ did He did of His own free will. That is part of self-government. You choose to do it. He was not forced by His Father to do it. He chose to do it, but He helped identify some interesting principles of self-government through His life. Those principles include “I am thy servant” (Psalms 116:16; 119:125); “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law [is] within my heart” (Psalm 40:8); “I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5:30); “The Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the work” (John 14:10); “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me” (John 7:16). Jesus even spoke what His Father wanted! His words were not His own; He got them from His Father. “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me,” “and to finish his work” (John 6:38; 4:34). All these things Jesus did by His own free choice. He was governed with His own consent. He volunteered. He not only showed the way of self-government but He became the way of self-government.

The last of the world governments, Rome, fell. Something happened about that time. The apostate church of that day wondered why on earth all these great governments fell. They thought these kingdoms were great. They thought they could see the power involved. They watched these kingdoms take over cities, control men, oppress people, and conquer the world. Of course they did not see things from God’s perspective, so they thought all these actions were great.

They did not know that “[He that is] slow to anger [is] better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” Proverbs 16:32. Neither did they understand that the people of God are overcomers, because “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4. If you want to be great in God’s eyes, you do not conquer cities, you conquer self. Self-government is what is really great and powerful. These leaders of the apostate church did not understand all that, so they stood back and wondered why these great empires fell.

Ecclesiastical Empire

As they analyzed the situation, they came to a logical conclusion. They thought, “You know, the reason these empires fall is because bad men control them. But what if we had an empire that had good and godly men in control of it. Why this would be heaven on earth!” That was their logical thinking. So thus began the third phase of civil government on this earth since the flood. It is called ecclesiastical empire. It is the church controlling the state. It sounded like a good idea; it looked good on paper. But the results are in, and we now know what those results are. We know that it is the worst form of government that has ever happened on this planet. It resulted in the worst oppression, the fiercest tyranny that this world has ever seen. It was an unequaled curse—politically, morally, and socially—and it resulted in what is now known as The Dark Ages.

This combining of church and state was so terrible that God gave it several labels throughout His Word: “that man of sin,” “the son of perdition,” “the mystery of iniquity,” “that Wicked,” “Babylon the Great,” “the mother of harlots,” and “abominations.” (11 Thessalonians 2:3, 7, 8; Revelation 17:5.) It was organized Christian idolatry. It was organized apostasy by force. It was a formation of the beast that we read about in Revelation 13, that first beast that came up. It was the one that would, “wear out the saints of the most High.” Daniel 7:25. It was Roman Catholicism controlling the governments.

Protestant Reformation

God sent Christ and Christianity into the world to save the world from pagan Rome, but then Christianity became corrupt. God sent Christianity in its purified form to save the world from Rome the second time. Christianity in its purified form is known as the Protestant Reformation. Through the Protestant Reformation, God gave again to the world the opportunity to see the way of self-government and the way of rebellion, side by side, so people could choose.

Protestantism and Republicanism

About this time, just shortly after the Reformation began, God did something really special once again. He raised up a special nation. That nation was to be a safe haven for God’s self-governed people. People were to be able to escape ecclesiastical oppression in this country. It was to be a safe haven from the union of church and state. This nation’s laws would protect the two principles of self-government, Protestantism and Republicanism.

The United States of America was formed as a republic. Now many of its citizens brag that it is a democracy. If that is true, we have taken a step backwards. In a democracy, the majority rules. In a republic, the rights of the minority are protected. We need to become a republic again. That’s what we started as, a Protestant republic.

The founders of this country stated some strange things that the world had not heard before. They stated things like all men are created equal with inalienable rights. It blew people’s minds, because no one had been born equal for thousands of years—you were either born royalty or you were born in subjection to royalty, and there was not much in between. To say that all men were created equal was a very unique and strange thought. They said some other things that all the other nations looked at and said, “There is no way that this can work. You guys are crazy.”

The founders said things like the government is going to be the servant of the people. All through history, as long as there have been governments, the people have been servants of the government. But this was to be a new experiment—a government that was of the people, by the people, for the people instead of the people being for the government. That was a very new thought; it was a strange idea to the rest of the world.

There was a wall of separation between church and state in this new government. That was a new thing, too. For the last 1,200 years, the church and the state had been combined, bringing a horrible curse on the earth. Some people today do not understand these things, and they are trying to make it look like that wall of separation never even existed. The Bible makes it very clear that God wants that wall of separation there, because we learned earlier that He ordained civil government. The question is, How much authority do they have?

Paul gives us some principles in Romans 13:6–9: “For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute [is due]; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Here Paul is talking about the last part of God’s Law. He is talking about the ones that deal with relationships between created beings, but he does not even mention one that deals with the relationship between the creature and his Creator.

Civil vs. Moral

Actually, Paul lists the last five commandments, not the last six. The one dealing with the relationship between parents and children has not been included. I will leave you to make your own conclusion about that, but it is something to think about. Why did he leave that out? There is no way that Paul just could not remember this one commandment. Paul was making a line of demarcation right there between what civil government has authority to do and what they have authority not to do. He was making very clear a principle. Civil government is responsible for keeping people civil; it is not responsible for keeping people moral. It is not moral government; it is civil government. Government does not have the authority to make people moral.

There is a big movement to bring this nation back to God. You hear about it all the time, if you listen to any Christian radio stations. They do not understand that this nation was raised up to protect us from such a movement. It is to keep government and religion separate. The founders realized that this nation’s form of government would only work as long as the people were self-governed. They realized that as soon as people stopped being self-governed, we would not be able to build jails fast enough to hold them all. Nevertheless, they still were never to force people to be moral. They were to keep them civil. They were to protect God’s self-governed people from those who chose not to be self-governed. Church and state were never to be combined. We were always to have that wall of separation between church and state.

Image of the Beast

Just as a great apostasy from Christianity led to the formation of the first beast, apostasy from Christianity the second time is going to lead to the image of the beast. Apostate Protestantism and Catholicism are going to combine.

Have you ever thought about, when natural disasters hit the United States, how little the damage is compared to other nations? We have some serious stuff, but we do not have anything compared to other nations. The actual physical damage to the buildings is not as great; the death toll is a smidgen compared to what happens in other parts of the world. There are thousands and thousands of people killed in other nations when an earthquake, a hurricane, or another disaster hits. In the United States, we might lose 20 or 30 people. That is a lot of people, and it is always sad to learn about such loss, but that is nothing compared to thousands and thousands. The only reason that happens is because God has His hand of protection over this nation because of the principles of religious liberty.

We are told that, as soon as this nation turns around, that national apostasy will be followed by national ruin. “The people of the United States have been a favored people; but when they restrict religious liberty, surrender Protestantism, and give countenance to popery, the measure of their guilt will be full, and ‘national apostasy’ will be registered in the books of heaven. The result of this apostasy will be national ruin.

“By the decree enforcing the institution of the papacy in violation of the law of God, our nation will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.” Maranatha, 216.

Sealed . . . or not

In Revelation 7:1–3, we are told that the four angels are holding back the four winds, protecting this world until God’s people are sealed in their foreheads. We are told that the sealing means to settle into the truth intellectually and spiritually to where we cannot be moved. The four angels are holding back all this strife that is going to come upon this world, including this nation, until God’s people are sealed. Everyone on this planet right now is making a decision. We are either settling into the truth intellectually and spiritually to where we cannot be moved, or we are settling into rebellion against the truth to where we cannot be moved.

Soon probation will close, because everybody on this planet will have made a decision from which they cannot be moved. There will not be a reason for probation to be available any longer. If it went on another thousand years, nobody would switch sides, because they are settled, they are sealed, either in rebellion or truth.


Soon the Sabbath–Sunday issue is going to be agitated, and it is going to come under civil law. The image to the beast will be formed over that issue.

In Mark 12, Jesus gave some principles of how to discern between what civil government can do and what it cannot do. “When they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see [it]. And they brought [it]. And he saith unto them, Whose [is] this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.” Mark 12:14–17. Whose inscription was on the coin? Caesar’s. And so He said, “Give it to Caesar, it’s his. It’s got his inscription on it.” That is an important principle, when you think about it.

Whose inscription is on the Sabbath? In Exodus 20:10 it says, “The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God . . . .” God’s inscription is on it. Civil government needs to keep their hands off of it. They do not have any rights regarding it. God forbids that civil government deal with it, because it does not have their inscription on it.

Protest Again

We need to finish the Reformation. We need to protest again. We need to help people understand the principles in God’s Word. There is no reason to be deceived. We need to help people that are open-minded to understand these things, so they can make intelligent decisions and not join the group enforcing the mark of the beast. They can become the eleventh hour workers who take the place of the Adventists that apostatize when the heat is turned up. As Ellen White wrote, “The law of God is made void, and even among those who advocate its binding claims are some who break its sacred precepts. The Bible will be opened from house to house, and men and women will find access to these homes, and minds will be opened to receive the Word of God; and, when the crisis comes, many will be prepared to make right decisions, even in the face of the formidable difficulties that will be brought about through the deceptive miracles of Satan. Although these will confess the truth and become workers with Christ at the eleventh hour, they will receive equal wages with those who have wrought through the whole day. There will be an army of steadfast believers who will stand as firm as a rock through the last test. . . .” Selected Messages, Book 3, 390.

We have been given the great privilege to understand these things, but with information comes responsibility. We have a God-given duty to make these things known to anyone who will listen. We need to ask God to give us the strength and the willingness and the burden for souls to do what He has called us to do.

Steve Currey is a Bible worker for Steps to Life Ministry. He may be contacted by e-mail at: stevecurrey@stepstolife.org or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Bible Study Guides – The Government of Heaven

December 31, 2006 – January 6, 2007

Key Text

“By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” Psalm 33:6.

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 33–43.


“The Son of God had wrought the Father’s will in the creation of all the hosts of heaven; and to Him, as well as to God, their homage and allegiance were due.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 36.

1 What characteristic is unique to the Godhead? Psalm 33:6, 9. How—and by Whom—were all things in the universe created? John 1:1–3.

note: “The Sovereign of the universe was not alone in His work of beneficence. He had an associate—a co-worker who could appreciate His purposes, and could share His joy in giving happiness to created beings. . . .

“The Father wrought by His Son in the creation of all heavenly beings. ‘By Him were all things created, . . . whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him.’ Colossians 1:16. Angels are God’s ministers, radiant with the light ever flowing from His presence and speeding on rapid wing to execute His will. But the Son, the anointed of God, the ‘express image of His person,’ ‘the brightness of His glory,’ ‘upholding all things by the word of His power,’ holds supremacy over them all. Hebrews 1:3.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 34.

2 What does Inspiration reveal about the throne of God? Jeremiah 17:12. How does this relate to the Son of God? Hebrews 1:8.

note: “The Son of God shared the Father’s throne, and the glory of the eternal, self-existent One encircled both. . . . The Son of God had wrought the Father’s will in the creation of all the hosts of heaven; and to Him, as well as to God, their homage and allegiance were due.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 36.

3 What are some of the fundamental characteristics of the government of Heaven? Psalm 89:14; 1 John 4:16.

note: “The law of love being the foundation of the government of God, the happiness of all intelligent beings depends upon their perfect accord with its great principles of righteousness. God desires from all His creatures the service of love—service that springs from an appreciation of His character. He takes no pleasure in a forced obedience; and to all He grants freedom of will, that they may render Him voluntary service.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 34.

4 What characterized the relationship between the entire host of heavenly creatures and their beneficent Creator? Psalm 103:20, 21.

note: “It was the joy of the heavenly host to fulfill the purpose of their Creator. They delighted in reflecting His glory and showing forth His praise. And while love to God was supreme, love for one another was confiding and unselfish. There was no note of discord to mar the celestial harmonies.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 35.

5 What ambition was nourished by Lucifer, the highest created being? Ezekiel 28:12–15.

note: “There was one who perverted the freedom that God had granted to His creatures. Sin originated with him who, next to Christ, had been most honored of God and was highest in power and glory among the inhabitants of heaven. . . .

“Little by little Lucifer came to indulge the desire for self-exaltation. . . . Though all his glory was from God, this mighty angel came to regard it as pertaining to himself.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 35.

6 What was the real cause of Lucifer’s dissatisfaction? Proverbs 13:10; Psalm 10:4.

note: “Not content with his position, though honored above the heavenly host, he ventured to covet homage due alone to the Creator. Instead of seeking to make God supreme in the affections and allegiance of all created beings, it was his endeavor to secure their service and loyalty to himself. And coveting the glory with which the infinite Father had invested His Son, this prince of angels aspired to power that was the prerogative of Christ alone.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 35.

7 How did Heaven’s reasoning with Lucifer exemplify God’s tender appeals to His erring creatures throughout all ages? Isaiah 1:18–20. What was Lucifer’s attitude?

note: “In heavenly council the angels pleaded with Lucifer. The Son of God presented before him the greatness, the goodness, and the justice of the Creator, and the sacred, unchanging nature of His law. God Himself had established the order of heaven; and in departing from it, Lucifer would dishonor his Maker and bring ruin upon himself. But the warning, given in infinite love and mercy, only aroused a spirit of resistance. Lucifer allowed his jealousy of Christ to prevail, and became the more determined.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 36.

8 In sharp contrast to God’s methods, what techniques did Lucifer use to subtly dissuade many angels from their trustful allegiance to God? Psalm 55:21.

note: “Leaving his place in the immediate presence of the Father, Lucifer went forth to diffuse the spirit of discontent among the angels. He worked with mysterious secrecy, and for a time concealed his real purpose under an appearance of reverence for God. He began to insinuate doubts concerning the laws that governed heavenly beings, intimating that though laws might be necessary for the inhabitants of the worlds, angels, being more exalted, needed no such restraint, for their own wisdom was a sufficient guide. They were not beings that could bring dishonor to God; all their thoughts were holy; it was no more possible for them than for God Himself to err. The exaltation of the Son of God as equal with the Father was represented as an injustice to Lucifer, who, it was claimed, was also entitled to reverence and honor.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 37.

“While claiming for himself perfect loyalty to God, he urged that changes in the order and laws of heaven were necessary for the stability of the divine government. Thus while working to excite opposition to the law of God and to instill his own discontent into the minds of the angels under him, he was ostensibly seeking to remove dissatisfaction and to reconcile disaffected angels to the order of heaven. While secretly fomenting discord and rebellion, he with consummate craft caused it to appear as his sole purpose to promote loyalty and to preserve harmony and peace.” Ibid., 38.

9 Trace the final stages of Lucifer’s (Satan’s) rebellion in heaven. Revelation 12:7–9.

note: “He [Satan] nearly reached the decision to return, but pride forbade him. It was too great a sacrifice for one who had been so highly honored to confess that he had been in error.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 39.

“Satan exultingly pointed to his sympathizers, comprising nearly one half of all the angels, and exclaimed, ‘These are with me! Will you expel these also, and make such a void in heaven?’ He then declared that he was prepared to resist the authority of Christ and to defend his place in heaven by force of might, strength against strength.” The Story of Redemption, 18.

“Then there was war in heaven. The Son of God, the Prince of heaven, and His loyal angels engaged in conflict with the archrebel and those who united with him. The Son of God and true, loyal angels prevailed; and Satan and his sympathizers were expelled from heaven.” Ibid., 19.

10 How is Satan’s fall summarized? Isaiah 14:12–15. Why did the Lord not immediately destroy Satan? Ezekiel 28:17, 19.

note: “Even when he was cast out of heaven, Infinite Wisdom did not destroy Satan. Since only the service of love can be acceptable to God, the allegiance of His creatures must rest upon a conviction of His justice and benevolence. The inhabitants of heaven and of the worlds, being unprepared to comprehend the nature or consequences of sin, could not then have seen the justice of God in the destruction of Satan. Had he been immediately blotted out of existence, some would have served God from fear rather than from love. The influence of the deceiver would not have been fully destroyed, nor would the spirit of rebellion have been utterly eradicated. For the good of the entire universe through ceaseless ages, he must more fully develop his principles, that his charges against the divine government might be seen in their true light by all created beings, and that the justice and mercy of God and the immutability of His law might be forever placed beyond all question.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 42.

The Fall of Lucifer

“Lucifer in heaven, before his rebellion, was a high and exalted angel, next in honor to God’s dear Son. His countenance, like those of the other angels, was mild and expressive of happiness. His forehead was high and broad, showing a powerful intellect. His form was perfect; his bearing noble and majestic. A special light beamed in his countenance and shone around him brighter and more beautiful than around the other angels; yet Christ, God’s dear Son, had the pre-eminence over all the angelic host. He was one with the Father before the angels were created. Lucifer was envious of Christ, and gradually assumed command which devolved on Christ alone.

“The great Creator assembled the heavenly host, that He might in the presence of all the angels confer special honor upon His Son. The Son was seated on the throne with the Father, and the heavenly throng of holy angels was gathered around them. The Father then made known that it was ordained by Himself that Christ, His Son, should be equal with Himself; so that wherever was the presence of His Son, it was as His own presence. The word of the Son was to be obeyed as readily as the word of the Father. His Son He had invested with authority to command the heavenly host. Especially was His Son to work in union with Himself in the anticipated creation of the earth and every living thing that should exist upon the earth. His Son would carry out His will and His purposes but would do nothing of Himself alone. The Father’s will would be fulfilled in Him.

“Lucifer was envious and jealous of Jesus Christ. Yet when all the angels bowed to Jesus to acknowledge His supremacy and high authority and rightful rule, he bowed with them; but his heart was filled with envy and hatred. Christ had been taken into the special counsel of God in regard to His plans, while Lucifer was unacquainted with them. He did not understand, neither was he permitted to know, the purposes of God. But Christ was acknowledged sovereign of heaven, His power and authority to be the same as that of God Himself. Lucifer thought that he was himself a favorite in heaven among the angels. He had been highly exalted, but this did not call forth from him gratitude and praise to his Creator. He aspired to the height of God Himself. He gloried in his loftiness. He knew that he was honored by the angels. He had a special mission to execute. He had been near the great Creator, and the ceaseless beams of glorious light enshrouding the eternal God had shone especially upon him. He thought how angels had obeyed his command with pleasurable alacrity. Were not his garments light and beautiful? Why should Christ thus be honored before himself?

“He left the immediate presence of the Father, dissatisfied and filled with envy against Jesus Christ. Concealing his real purposes, he assembled the angelic host. He introduced his subject, which was himself. As one aggrieved, he related the preference God had given Jesus to the neglect of himself. He told them that henceforth all the sweet liberty the angels had enjoyed was at an end. For had not a ruler been appointed over them, to whom they from henceforth must yield servile honor? He stated to them that he had called them together to assure them that he no longer would submit to this invasion of his rights and theirs; that never would he again bow down to Christ; that he would take the honor upon himself which should have been conferred upon him, and would be the commander of all who would submit to follow him and obey his voice.

“There was contention among the angels. Lucifer and his sympathizers were striving to reform the government of God. They were discontented and unhappy because they could not look into His unsearchable wisdom and ascertain His purposes in exalting His Son, and endowing Him with such unlimited power and command. They rebelled against the authority of the Son.

“Angels that were loyal and true sought to reconcile this mighty, rebellious angel to the will of his Creator. They justified the act of God in conferring honor upon Christ, and with forcible reasoning sought to convince Lucifer that no less honor was his now than before the Father had proclaimed the honor which He had conferred upon His Son. They clearly set forth that Christ was the Son of God, existing with Him before the angels were created; and that He had ever stood at the right hand of God, and His mild, loving authority had not heretofore been questioned; and that He had given no commands but what it was joy for the heavenly host to execute. They urged that Christ’s receiving special honor from the Father, in the presence of the angels, did not detract from the honor that Lucifer had heretofore received. The angels wept. They anxiously sought to move him to renounce his wicked design and yield submission to their Creator; for all had heretofore been peace and harmony, and what could occasion this dissenting, rebellious voice?

“Lucifer refused to listen. And then he turned from the loyal and true angels, denouncing them as slaves. These angels, true to God, stood in amazement as they saw that Lucifer was successful in his effort to incite rebellion. He promised them a new and better government than they then had, in which all would be freedom. Great numbers signified their purpose to accept him as their leader and chief commander. As he saw his advances were met with success, he flattered himself that he should yet have all the angels on his side, and that he would be equal with God Himself, and his voice of authority would be heard in commanding the entire host of heaven. Again the loyal angels warned him, and assured him what must be the consequences if he persisted; that He who could create the angels could by His power overturn all their authority and in some signal manner punish their audacity and terrible rebellion. To think that an angel should resist the law of God which was as sacred as Himself! They warned the rebellious to close their ears to Lucifer’s deceptive reasonings, and advised him and all who had been affected by him to go to God and confess their wrong for even admitting a thought of questioning His authority.

“Many of Lucifer’s sympathizers were inclined to heed the counsel of the loyal angels and repent of their dissatisfaction and be again received to the confidence of the Father and His dear Son. The mighty revolter then declared that he was acquainted with God’s law, and if he should submit to servile obedience, his honor would be taken from him. No more would he be intrusted [sic] with his exalted mission. He told them that himself and they also had now gone too far to go back, and he would brave the consequences, for to bow in servile worship to the Son of God he never would; that God would not forgive, and now they must assert their liberty and gain by force the position and authority which was not willingly accorded to them. [“Thus it was that Lucifer, ‘the light-bearer,’ the sharer of God’s glory, the attendant of His throne, by transgression became Satan, ‘the adversary.’ ” Patriarchs and Prophets, 40.]

“The loyal angels hastened speedily to the Son of God and acquainted Him with what was taking place among the angels. They found the Father in conference with His beloved Son, to determine the means by which, for the best good of the loyal angels, the assumed authority of Satan could be forever put down. The great God could at once have hurled this archdeceiver from heaven; but this was not His purpose. He would give the rebellious an equal chance to measure strength and might with His own Son and His loyal angels. In this battle every angel would choose his own side and be manifested to all. It would not have been safe to suffer any who united with Satan in his rebellion to continue to occupy heaven. They had learned the lesson of genuine rebellion against the unchangeable law of God, and this is incurable. If God had exercised His power to punish this chief rebel, disaffected angels would not have been manifested; hence, God took another course, for He would manifest distinctly to all the heavenly host His justice and His judgment.

War in Heaven

“It was the highest crime to rebel against the government of God. All heaven seemed in commotion. The angels were marshaled in companies, each division with a higher commanding angel at its head. Satan was warring against the law of God, because ambitious to exalt himself and unwilling to submit to the authority of God’s Son, heaven’s great commander.

“All the heavenly host were summoned to appear before the Father, to have each case determined. Satan unblushingly made known his dissatisfaction that Christ should be preferred before Him. He stood up proudly and urged that he should be equal with God and should be taken into conference with the Father and understand His purposes. God informed Satan, that to His Son alone He would reveal His secret purposes, and He required all the family in heaven, even Satan, to yield Him implicit, unquestioned obedience; but that he (Satan) had proved himself unworthy of a place in heaven. Then Satan exultingly pointed to his sympathizers, comprising nearly one half of all the angels, and exclaimed, ‘These are with me! Will you expel these also, and make such a void in heaven?’ He then declared that he was prepared to resist the authority of Christ and to defend his place in heaven by force of might, strength against strength.

“Good angels wept to hear the words of Satan and his exulting boasts. God declared that the rebellious should remain in heaven no longer. Their high and happy state had been held upon condition of obedience to the law which God had given to govern the high order of intelligences. But no provision had been made to save those who should venture to transgress His law. Satan grew bold in his rebellion, and expressed his contempt of the Creator’s law. This Satan could not bear. He claimed that angels needed no law but should be left free to follow their own will, which would ever guide them right; that law was a restriction of their liberty; and that to abolish law was one great object of his standing as he did. The condition of the angels, he thought, needed improvement. Not so the mind of God, who had made laws and exalted them equal to Himself. The happiness of the angelic host consisted in their perfect obedience to law. Each had his special work assigned him, and until Satan rebelled, there had been perfect order and harmonious action in heaven.

“Then there was war in heaven. The Son of God, the Prince of heaven, and His loyal angels engaged in conflict with the archrebel and those who united with him. The Son of God and true, loyal angels prevailed; and Satan and his sympathizers were expelled from heaven. All the heavenly host acknowledged and adored the God of justice. Not a taint of rebellion was left in heaven. All was again peaceful and harmonious as before. Angels in heaven mourned the fate of those who had been their companions in happiness and bliss. Their loss was felt in heaven.

“The Father consulted His Son in regard to at once carrying out their purpose to make man to inhabit the earth. He would place man upon probation to test his loyalty before he could be rendered eternally secure. If he endured the test wherewith God saw fit to prove him, he should eventually be equal with the angels. He was to have the favor of God, and he was to converse with angels, and they with him. He did not see fit to place them beyond the power of disobedience.” The Story of Redemption, 13–19.

Reprinted with permission, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke Virginia, 2003.

Editorial – A look at the Future

“From that which God has shown me, a great number will be saved from among the Catholics. There has been but little done for them except to make them appear in the worst light.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, 41.

The future will be much different than many have supposed, and the only way to understand what is really going to happen is to study inspired writings. Here is some of the counsel that we have received:

“First of all then, I urge that supplications and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men for kings and all who are in authority.” I Timothy 2:1, 2, first part.

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority … Honor the king.” I Peter 2:13, 17.

It is not our work to attack individuals or institutions.

“The time will come when unguarded expressions of a denunciatory character, that have been carelessly spoken or written by our brethren, will be used by our enemies to condemn us. These will not be used merely to condemn those who made the statements, but will be charged upon the whole body of Adventists. Our accusers will say that on such and such a day one of our responsible men said thus and so against the administration of the laws of this government. Many will be astonished to see how many things have been cherished and remembered that will give point to the arguments of our adversaries. Many will be surprised to hear their own words strained into a meaning that they did not intend them to have. Then let our workers be careful to speak guardedly at all times and under all circumstances. Let all beware lest by reckless expressions they bring on a time of trouble before the great crisis which is to try men’s souls.” Counsels to Writers and Editors, 69.

The less we make direct charges against authorities and powers, the greater work we shall be able to accomplish, both in America and in foreign countries.

Do not speak to them one word of censure. Do not blame and condemn them. “We have nothing whereof to boast. We grieve the Lord Jesus Christ by our harshness, by our unchristlike thrusts. We need to become complete in Him.” Ibid, 63.

The world is becoming more and more violent, and soon God’s people will have to endure suffering as a result, but we need to be sure that we do not unnecessarily increase the suffering of God’s people in the world by communicating even the truth in a spirit that will be interpreted as follows:

“We shall force them to the conclusion that the doctrine, we profess cannot be the Christian doctrine since it does not make us kind, courteous, and respectful.” Ibid,71.

How much has been said that has turned souls to bitterness and gall against the truth.

“Words that should have been a savor of life unto life have been made a savor of death unto death by the spirit which accompanied them.” Ibid., 66.

A Better Place

Why have our cities become so dangerous? Is it because of foreign terrorism, or does the fault lie a little closer to home? Why has the moral standard seen such a rapid decline? It was not so long ago when children could safely go to play on the playgrounds and women could walk city streets at night with little personal risk.

An elderly woman once reminisced on a friendlier time while growing up on the family ranch in Oklahoma. Doors were seldom locked. Indeed, people would leave their homes unlocked while traveling so others who may be passing through the area could make themselves at home. A note of thanks would be left, along with some money to pay for food and any other incurred expenses.

This describes the world in which we used to live. Unfortunately, a cloud of turmoil has passed over this lovely scene. We have beautified our buildings and our streets, upgraded our transportation and communication systems, and skyrocketed in the world of technology, yet we have regressed terribly in ethics. Because of this, people have become the most dangerous threats in our world.

In a civilized country, when driving on the road, each person depends on the other drivers to abide by laws of traffic. Disobedience to these rules endangers the lives of others on the road. A yellow traffic light warns a moving vehicle that it will have to stop, but what if there were no brakes? What if there were no yellow lights—nothing to indicate that it is time to stop?

This is the condition of today’s society. God gave humanity laws by which to abide and “yellow lights” of warning to assist us in walking in His path. God did not provide any disclaimers to the law, yet people have felt at liberty to add some themselves, teaching that it is okay not to keep the Ten Commandments under certain conditions. People who add ifs, ands, or buts to the law leave the law open to the interpretation of each person’s faulty conscience and perception of right and wrong. Thus the result is all around us in crime and chaos and fear.

What is the cause of the depravation that we hear so much of on the news and see all around us? The answer is plain and simple—ignoring God’s law of love. This disregard of divine guidance is not just found in the lives of individuals, but also in churches and schools. People discount the Ten Commandments and add their own disclaimers—a practice which is known as “situation ethics.” The effect on our society is that there is no more right or wrong. Since nothing is defined as absolutely wrong, or absolutely right, young people growing up today do not have a clear idea at all about standards.

When young people in high schools and colleges have been quizzed about subjects such as cheating, e.g. cheating on your taxes, or cheating at school, they define it as being right or wrong, depending on what kind of a situation you find yourself in because there are no absolute rules, and in short, you become your own god. In this sort of society, moral comforts are lost, there is no sense of moral direction, and there is nothing anymore that is absolute.

The Bible uses very strong language to describe people who try to figure out what is right and wrong on the basis of their own conscience: “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.” Proverbs 28:26. And yet society has turned over the decision of right and wrong to the sinful individual rather than trusting in the moral outline provided by a perfect God. God defined morality; something He would not have had to do were we able to do so on our own accord. Not once did He ever give human beings the right or the authority to decide what is right or wrong.

History demonstrates the result of people, churches, or a government deciding what is right or wrong. Some of the most awful crimes ever recorded are the result of human beings taking this authority.

Repeatedly, when church and state unite, the rights of the minority are trampled upon. In the early days of the United States of America, the citizens of this country were well acquainted with this because many people had fled to the United States of America to escape the religious persecution in Europe and other countries.

God Governs His Territory

The only dependable moral standard of right and wrong is found in God’s word. The word of God contains a simple and complete standard for determining ethics. This is what the Bible says about the commandments of God:

“The works of his hands [are] verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and [are] done in truth and uprightness.” Psalm 111:7, 8.

Notice in these two verses, that God’s commandments have the following characteristics:

They are sure. In other words, they are certain and solid. There is no guess work. It says that they are eternal. They will last forever—a million years from now the law of God will still be in force.

They are true. There is no deceit or falsehood.

They are right.

They have stood the test of time, having been given thousands of years ago. The effects of both obedience and disobedience to the commandments have been demonstrated repeatedly over the course of earth’s history.

“Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin [is] a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34.

The United States is one of the leading nations today, not because of natural resources but because people came here to find happiness and freedom to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience. This country, more than any other country on the earth, has the largest percentage of the population attempting to keep the law of God.

God’s Law Has No Flaws

God’s law is not of human composition. It was first given by God to His people. If they would obey, it would be a safeguard, a protection against all kinds of crime. “The law of the Lord [is] perfect.” Psalm 19:7. If something is perfect, can you improve on it?

God’s law is one law but it contains ten sections. It was written on two tables of stone by the finger of God and given to Moses. Remember, it was one law, it had ten sections, and it was written on two tables of stone.

Men make laws too and it is essential to have laws. Anyone who has been in a foreign, developing country that does not have enforced traffic laws and has gotten into a traffic jam where nobody keeps any kind of traffic laws will know what a terrible thing it is to not have law and order. However, it has been estimated that there have been 35 million laws to control human behavior. The Almighty has given us just ten, and these ten precepts in His law cover everything having to do with morality.

The Principles of God’s Law are Eternal

Nothing can be done morally wrong without breaking one of the Ten Commandments. God wrote them on two tables of stone with His own finger—they are immutable. “This covenant that I gave, I am not going to change it. And what’s gone out of my lips I won’t alter.” Psalm 89:34. His law is of imperishable obligation. It will be in effect as long as God exists, not only in this world, but throughout the universe for eternity. There will never be a time when this law is not in force.

God Writes His Law Himself

When God gave this law, He did not entrust it to be written down by a human being, even Moses. Moses did write the Pentateuch, and we have prophets who wrote the rest of the Old Testament, and apostles who wrote the New Testament, but God’s law is so holy and eternal, it was not entrusted to any human being to write it down. It was written with His own finger on tables of stone.

God has a government, and there is a territory over which He rules. The children of Israel were told: “All the world [is] mine.” Exodus 19:5. No government can exist without law. God has a government also, and His law is the basis of His heavenly government.

A War Broke Out in Heaven

There came a time though when an intelligent being decided that he did not need to be governed by God’s law and rebellion broke out in heaven. It was Satan’s claim that the angels did not need restriction—that they were wise enough to decide by their own intelligence, what was right and wrong. In Isaiah 14:12–14, it says that this rebellious angel wanted to be like God. This was the same as asking God to change the first commandment which says, “You shall not have any other gods beside me.” Exodus 20:3.

This angel was a leading angel and the highest of all the created beings. When he rebelled he attempted to deceive all the angels into rebelling with him. He succeeded in persuading one third of the angels to fight against the law of God. “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, But they did not prevail; nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil, and Satan, who deceives the whole world: he was cast to the earth and his angels were cast out with him.” Revelation 12:7–9.

Rebellion Not Tolerated

This passage of Scripture gives us, in panoramic view, the history of the great controversy between Christ and His angels, and Satan and his angels. The dragon is Satan. God could not tolerate rebellion in heaven—it would threaten the happiness and peace of every being, thus they were cast out.

God is not going to tolerate rebellion in this earth anymore than He tolerated a rebellion against His government in heaven. The rebellion on this earth is temporary and is going to be brought to an end. If we rebel against the authority of the law of God, we rebel against the government of God. It is the same as if one was to rebel against the laws of the United States, they would be rebelling against the government.

When the devil was cast into this world, not only was he successful in the destruction of one third of heaven’s angels, he also succeeded in deceiving the human race and beginning a rebellion on the earth. When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, God visited them in the Garden of Eden saying that because they had eaten of the forbidden fruit, they would die and return to dust.

Satan Claims His Own Territory

Adam and Eve had to leave their beautiful home, but before they left the Garden of Eden, God gave them the single most wonderful promise in the Bible. He promised them that a descendant of Eve would destroy the serpent that had deceived her. (Genesis 3:15.)

Although this was foremost in their minds, Adam and Eve had a divided family. Their two sons, Cain and Abel were very different in character. Abel worshipped God in the way that God had told them, through the sacrifice of a perfect lamb. The lamb represented the coming Lamb of God, the Son of God who would come and offer His life for the sins of the world. It was necessary for mankind to keep in focus the coming Redeemer who would give His life to save them from their sins. The way to keep this in mind was by offering animal sacrifices. At that time they had no idea it would take another four thousand years for that promise to be realized.

Cain worshipped the Lord too, but he did so in a way that a lot of people worship the Lord today, according to his own rules and beliefs of what was right. He did not bring a lamb, but a bloodless offering. The Bible says in Hebrews 9:22, “That without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.” God did not have respect for Cain and his offering. The elder brother became so irate over the favor shown to Abel for his obedience that Cain killed him.

God’s Law Eternal

There are some people who are very confused and say that the law did not exist until Mt. Sinai. However, it says in Romans 4:15, “Where there is no law, [there is] no transgression.” If there had been no law, there could be no transgression for Adam and Eve or Cain. I John 3:4 says, “Sin is the transgression of the law.”

Adam and Eve broke the first, the fifth, and the tenth commandment in the Garden of Eden. In addition to that, Cain broke the sixth commandment. Had there been no law to break, there would have been no sin. It is clear here that the law existed from the time of creation. It was formally given to the children of Israel from Mt. Sinai when they had forgotten it. However, it has existed for eternity. The angels followed God’s commandments out of love and devotion until one angel questioned them and rebelled. Had there been no law, Satan would have nothing to rebel against.

A careful study of the book of Genesis will find every one of the principles of the Ten Commandments before it was written in stone.

In the Bible, Abraham is called the father of the faithful. The reason is given in Genesis 26:5:

“Because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” He is a prototype of all sinners who find salvation. If you are accounted as a descendant of Abraham, then according to the New Testament, you will be an heir of the world.

God’s law has always been the standard of right and wrong. Adam and Eve broke the first, the fifth and the tenth commandment in Eden. Cain broke the sixth. Joseph refused to break the seventh commandment. Joseph also knew about the eighth and ninth commandment as shown when you read in Genesis 44 about the cup he had placed in his brother Benjamin’s sack in Egypt. Adam and Eve also knew about the fourth commandment according to Genesis 2:1–3. Jacob knew about the second commandment. All of these people knew and understood all of the Ten Commandments. Joseph knew that it was wrong to commit adultery and because he refused the advances of Potipher’s wife, he was put into prison for many years. Jacob knew that it was wrong to worship idols (Genesis 35:2), referring to the second commandment.

God’s servants know His law and abide by it. They know that His law, His word, is the same yesterday, today and forever. Yet people today argue against this, saying that we are not living in Old Testament times now but in New Testament times. However, in response, Jesus says, “Do not think that I came to destroy the law, or the prophets: I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For assuredly I say to you that till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle (a jot is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet, and a tittle is just part of a letter) will by no means pass from the law, till all is fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17, 18.

Actually, Jesus stated it even stronger in Luke 16:17: “It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear, than for the least stroke of the pen to drop out of the law.”

Think about that and remember Who is talking. The One who the Bible says created everything in the universe, and Who upholds everything by the word of His power. He has the authority to make it pass away. He could decide to destroy the whole universe and there is nothing anybody could do to stop it. And He said that it would be easier for the whole universe to pass away than for a part of a letter of the Law to fail. This leaves no doubt in the immutability of His commandments.

Jesus Fulfilled the Law

Did you ever wonder why Jesus had to die on the cross? He said to His Father in the garden of Gethsemane, “All things are possible with you, so if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39.)

God the Father said, “No. You have to go to the cross.” In I Corinthians 15:3 we are told that Christ died for our sins. If He had not gone to the cross of Calvary, there would be no hope for you and me and we would face eternal death.

Some may argue that the law was abolished at the cross using Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:15 as support for their claim: “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, that is the law of commandments contained in ordinances; so as to create in himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.”

Here it talks about “the commandments contained in ordinances.” What commandments were those? At the cross, the ceremonial system of sacrifices came to an end. There is no more need for ceremonial sacrifices or the Levitical priesthood since there is no more earthly sanctuary. God’s sanctuary today is in heaven, not on earth.

But did the moral law come to an end at that time also? Absolutely not! The handwritten ordinances came to an end but the moral law remained intact in its entirety. Jesus said, “Go and sin no more.” John 8:11. [If the moral law had been abolished, there would be no definition of sin.]

“Go and sin no more”

If Jesus says, “Go and sin no more,” that means, go and abide by the law.

Some say that they cannot do that. We live in a pessimistic age, but the Bible says. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” II Corinthians 12:9.

Everyone who is struggling with sin in their life, can say, “Lord, I want to go and sin no more, but I am helpless.” And in response, the Lord says, “I have enough grace for you. The weaker you are, the more grace you are going to receive.” (II Corinthians 12:9.)

The devil is still in opposition to God’s law though. He is trying with all his might to lead every descendant of Adam and Eve to eternal destruction. A powerful method by which to do this is through discounting the same law that he rebelled against in heaven. Rebellion against God’s commandments does not happen just by deliberate action against them, but also in taking the unwarranted authority to change any single precept of His divine commands.

Jesus always leads people to obedience. He never ever told anybody to go and sin another day. He never said to go and try to work on it and see if you can slowly quit. Jesus said, “Go, and don’t sin any more.” The Lord can give strength to live a new life. You don’t have to wait and go through some program for months or years. Jesus said to the woman, “Go, and don’t sin any more.” That experience was the beginning of her new life of purity.

Jesus offers new life today. He says go and sin no m ore and He has enough grace to give you the power so that you will not have to sin anymore. He says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15. According to Jesus, keeping the commandments is a test of love and faith to Him. “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love; just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” John 15:10.

A question was sent to Billy Graham asking which of the Ten Commandments still apply to us today. The answer: “The Ten Commandments are never out of date. They express the unchanging will of God for our lives, regardless of changes in human society. If you look at them closely, you will see that the first few commandments deal with our relationship with God. [That’s the first four.] The other commandments deal with our relationship with other people and with things. Our lives would be much happier if we followed God’s commandments.” The Ten Commandments are never out of date; they are eternal. The law of God and the love of God are not two separate things. This is love for God—to obey His commandments.

The Commandments Are About Relationships

Many people today do not understand the relationship between the law and love that the Bible teaches.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37, 38.

Everything in the Bible, everything in the law and the prophets hang on those two principles. You see, love always leads to obedience—never leads to disobedience. We cannot be saved if we persist in disobeying God’s law and live lawless and rebellious lives. If we refuse to keep God’s law, we are placing ourselves on the devil’s side of the great controversy.

This is not to be mistaken for the law being the basis of our salvation. If you could earn salvation by keeping the law, then Jesus would not have needed to come and die on the cross. “For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9. These are the merits that give you the gift of eternal life. Salvation is by grace alone and grace always leads to obedience, never to disobedience.

Consider what the apostle Paul says: “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? Certainly not.” Romans 6:15.

There are many who read this verse and do not get the main point. Notice what it says: “You are not under the law but under grace.” Then it says, “What then, shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace?” Who would take the gift of grace without showing due gratitude through the obedience of the law also? For if it were not for the transgression of the law, there would be no need for grace and the price that grace cost heaven.

To be under the law means to be under the law as a system of salvation. Since I have broken God’s law, this means death. How can I escape that?

“Now, we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God, therefore by the deeds of the law, no flesh will be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:19, 20.

This verse says that the whole world was under the law, and we are all guilty before God. The law condemns and “the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23.

The only way to pay the price for your sins is to die. The death of Jesus upon the cross, however, can forgive you of your past sins, but it does not give you the license to sin in the future. That is not the purpose of the death on the cross.

Forsaking the law of God is the root cause of the loss of law and order in the world today. Jesus died in the sinner’s place on the cross of Calvary so that by His blood our sins can be forgiven and we have the opportunity to live in Paradise. To be under grace means to accept God’s grace as a means of salvation. By faith I accept Christ’s death in the place of my sins.

Being under grace, does not do away with the law, meaning that I do not have to keep it. Notice what Paul says: “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not, on the contrary, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31.

If the law could have been changed, Jesus would not have had to die on the cross. If the law could have just been suspended for a few minutes, or a few hours, in the Garden of Eden, then Jesus would not have had to die on the cross. But the law is of eternal, imperishable obligation. That is why Jesus had to die on the cross. The law is so sacred and holy, that even the penalty for breaking the law cannot be remitted. The penalty had to be paid and Jesus paid that penalty so the human race would not have to.

“But the person who says, I know God, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him.” I John 2:4.

On the Isle of Patmos, John the beloved disciple was given visions that are written down in the book of Revelation. He was shown things that would happen from that time until the end of the world. Concerning the time of the end he writes:

“And the dragon, (the devil) was enraged with the woman (the church, a harlot woman is symbol of a corrupt church, and a pure woman is symbol of a true and faithful church.) The dragon was enraged with the woman,” (a pure woman, Revelation 12, first part; in other words, the devil was enraged with the church) and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring. He went to make war with the last people on the face of the earth who were following God.

Who would these people be? The last of the woman’s offspring would be the Christians who would be alive at the close of the age, when Jesus comes back to this world and takes His people to be with Him. This last generation of Christians will be those “who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17. They will not be part of the lawless element in society. They will not be a part of the terrorists and the violence in society. They will be people who will be keeping God’s commandments, and people who have the testimony of Jesus.

Again in Revelation 14:12, John says, “Here is the patience of the saints. Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”

Our purpose on earth is to get ready for Jesus’ second coming. For what good is our life if we cannot go home with our Creator in the end? Acceptance of God’s grace in our lives is the starting point from which we prepare ourselves for His arrival. We must be a part of the people who keep God’s commandments and have the faith of Jesus. Jesus died to pay the price of our sins. If we love Him, our love for Him will compel us to obey Him. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

Pastor John Grosboll is director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Bible Study Guides – The Influence of the World

January 30, 2011 – February 5, 2011

The Church Militant

Key Text

“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4:4.

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 331–342; Gospel Workers, 391–396.


“Where the message of divine truth is spurned or slighted, there the church will be enshrouded in darkness.” The Great Controversy, 378.

1 What led to past apostasy in the church, and how did it reveal her condition? Revelation 18:3; James 4:4.

Note: “When the church begins to seek for the support of secular power, it is evident that she is devoid of the power of Christ—the constraint of divine love.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 127.

“As the Christian religion secured the favor and support of secular rulers, it was nominally accepted by multitudes.” The Great Controversy, 385.

2 What are the consequences of seeking forbidden support? II Chronicles 15:2, last part; Hosea 4:17.

Note: “The union of the church with the state, be the degree never so slight, while it may appear to bring the world nearer to the church, does in reality but bring the church nearer to the world.” The Great Controversy, 297.

“This union is weakening all the power of the churches. This investing the church with the power of the state will bring evil results. Men have almost passed the point of God’s forbearance. They have invested their strength in politics, and have united with the papacy.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 51.

3 What should be our role with regard to the politics of the land in which we live? II Corinthians 6:17; I Timothy 5:22; Acts 5:29.

Note: “His [God’s] children are to separate themselves from politics, from any alliance with unbelievers. They are not to link their interests with the interests of the world. ‘Give proof of your allegiance to Me’ He says, ‘by standing as My chosen heritage, as a people zealous of good works’ [Titus 2:14]. Do not take part in political strife.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 483.

4 What will be the end of those who ignore the call to separate from worldly politics? II Thessalonians 1:7–9.

Note: “The Lord desires all who bear the message for these last days to understand that there is a great difference between professors of religion who are not doers of the word, and the children of God, who are sanctified through the truth, who have that faith that works by love and purifies the soul. The Lord speaks of those who claim to believe the truth for this time, yet see nothing inconsistent in their taking part in politics, mingling with the contending elements of these last days, as the circumcised who mingle with the uncircumcised, and He declares that He will destroy both classes together without distinction. They are doing a work that God has not set them to do. They dishonor God by their party spirit and contention, and He will condemn both alike.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 482.

“What are we to do, then?—Let political questions alone. [II Corinthians 6:14 quoted.] ‘And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel’ [II Corinthians 6:15]? What can there be in common between these parties? There can be no fellowship, no communion. The word fellowship means participation, partnership. God employs the strongest figures to show that there should be no union between worldly parties and those who are seeking the righteousness of Christ. What communion can there be between light and darkness, truth and unrighteousness?—None whatever. Light represents righteousness; darkness, error, sin, unrighteousness. Christians have come out of darkness into the light. They have put on Christ, and they wear the badge of truth and obedience. They are governed by the elevated and holy principles which Christ expressed in His life. But the world is governed by principles of dishonesty and injustice.” Ibid., 476.

5 What warning comes to the church with regard to the adopting of worldly policies? Proverbs 4:14, 15.

Note: “The religion of Jesus is endangered. It is being mingled with worldliness. Worldly policy is taking the place of the true piety and wisdom that comes from above, and God will remove His prospering hand from the conference. Shall the ark of the covenant be removed from this people? Shall idols be smuggled in? Shall false principles and false precepts be brought into the sanctuary? Shall antichrist be respected? Shall the true doctrines and principles given us by God, which have made us what we are, be ignored? Shall God’s instrumentality, the publishing house, become a mere political, worldly institution? This is directly where the enemy, through blinded, unconsecrated men, is leading us.” Counsels to Writers and Editors, 95, 96.

6 What does the Lord expect of His faithful servants? Ezekiel 3:17.

7 How does a lowering of God’s standards by men affect their qualifications to perform His work today? I Corinthians 14:8.

Note: “Men will employ every means to make less prominent the difference between Seventh-day Adventists and observers of the first day of the week. A company was presented before me under the name of Seventh-day Adventists, who were advising that the banner, or sign, which makes us a distinct people should not be held out so strikingly; for they claimed that this was not the best policy in order to secure success to our institutions. But this is not a time to haul down our colors, to be ashamed of our faith. This distinctive banner, described in the words, ‘Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus’ [Revelation 14:12], is to be borne through the world to the close of probation. While efforts should be increased to advance in different localities, there must be no cloaking of our faith to secure patronage. Truth must come to souls ready to perish; and if it is in any way hidden, God is dishonored, and the blood of souls will be upon our garments.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 144.

8 What effect will modern worldly philosophies have if heeded? Colossians 2:8.

Note: “There are men among us in responsible positions who hold that the opinions of a few conceited philosophers, so called, are more to be trusted than the truth of the Bible, or the testimonies of the Holy Spirit. Such a faith as that of Paul, Peter, or John is considered old-fashioned and insufferable at the present day. It is pronounced absurd, mystical, and unworthy of an intelligent mind.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 79.

9 What role does the ministry have in protecting the church from ungodly philosophies? I Timothy 6:20; Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:2, 3.

Note: “There is a spirit of opposition to the plain word of God and to the testimony of His Spirit. There is a spirit of idolatrous exaltation of mere human reason above the revealed wisdom of God.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 79.

“There are those who know the truth but do not practice it. These greatly long for some new, strange thing to present. In their great zeal to become original some will bring in fanciful ideas which are but chaff. Even now there is a descending from the sublime and living issues for this time to the ridiculous and fanciful, and sensational minds stand ready to catch up suppositions and guesses and human theories and false science as truth to be accepted and taught.

“These put the test of salvation on speculation without one plain, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ They thus bring in a mass of rubbish, wood, hay, and stubble, as precious material to be laid upon the foundation stone. This will not stand the test of fire, but will be consumed, and if the ones who have made themselves believe these theories are so self-deceived and know not the truth yet are converted, their life is saved as by fire through repentance and humiliation before God. They have been dealing in common things in place of the sacred. Many catch up ideas which are of no consequence and place them before the flock of God as food, when they are only chaff which will never benefit or strengthen the flock of God, but will keep them in the lowlands, because they are feeding upon that which contains not the least virtue or nourishment.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1157.

10 How does Satan boast of his ability to deceive people concerning the message of reformation? I Kings 22:21, 22.

Note: “ ‘I [Satan] will also have unbelieving ones present who will express doubts in regard to the Lord’s messages of warning to His church. Should the people read and believe these admonitions, we could have little hope of overcoming them. But if we can divert their attention from these warnings, they will remain ignorant of our power and cunning, and we shall secure them in our ranks at last.’ ” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 475.

“Satan has laid every measure possible that nothing shall come among us as a people to reprove and rebuke us, and exhort us to put away our errors. But there is a people who will bear the ark of God.” Ibid., 411.

11 What will happen to a church that rejects the Lord’s message? Matthew 6:23.

Note: “Let all who read these lines, take heed. Satan has made his boast of what he can do. He thinks to dissolve the unity which Christ prayed might exist in His church. He says, ‘I will go forth and be a lying spirit to deceive those that I can, to criticize, and condemn, and falsify.’ Let the son of deceit and false witness be entertained by a church that has had great light, great evidence, and that church will discard the message the Lord has sent, and receive the most unreasonable assertions and false suppositions and false theories.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 409.

“Where the message of divine truth is spurned or slighted, there the church will be enshrouded in darkness.” The Great Controversy, 378.

Review and Thought Questions:

1 What results from a union between church and state?

2 What must the Christian realize about politics?

3 What is the result of lowered standards?

4 While Satan is working to prevent the spreading of the truth, what should the little remnant be doing?

5 What is Satan’s plan to lead the church into apostasy?

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.


There are a number of definitions of freedom, so before looking at this subject we must make sure we understand about what we are talking.

From www.dictionary.com we learn that freedom is a noun, defined as

  1. the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint: He won his freedom after a retrial.
  2. exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
  3. the power to determine action without restraint.
  4. political or national independence.
  5. personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery: a slave who bought his freedom.

True freedom from anything begins in the mind. Remember what Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28. In other words, a person may even be killed but no one can take away his freedom of soul, which comes from within.

First let’s look at freedom from the broad perspective and work our way to how freedom applies to each one of us individually.

God’s Government

God’s government promotes freedom. It can be seen from the very beginning of our world. God could have forced Adam and Eve to obey Him, but He did not; He gave them freedom of choice. God’s servants serve Him because they want to, not because they are forced.

“The earth was dark through misapprehension of God. That the gloomy shadows might be lightened, that the world might be brought back to God, Satan’s deceptive power was to be broken. This could not be done by force. The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened. To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan.” The Desire of Ages, 22.

“The government of God is not, as Satan would make it appear, founded upon a blind submission, an unreasoning control. It appeals to the intellect and the conscience. ‘Come now, and let us reason together’ is the Creator’s invitation to the beings He has made. Isaiah 1:18. God does not force the will of His creatures. He cannot accept an homage that is not willingly and intelligently given. A mere forced submission would prevent all real development of mind or character; it would make man a mere automaton. Such is not the purpose of the Creator. He desires that man, the crowning work of His creative power, shall reach the highest possible development. He sets before us the height of blessing to which He desires to bring us through His grace. He invites us to give ourselves to Him, that He may work His will in us. It remains for us to choose whether we will be set free from the bondage of sin, to share the glorious liberty of the sons of God.” Steps to Christ, 43, 44.

“In striking contrast to the wrong and oppression so universally practised were the mission and work of Christ. Earthly kingdoms are established and upheld by physical force, but this was not to be the foundation of the Messiah’s kingdom. In the establishment of His government no carnal weapons were to be used, no coercion practised; no attempt would be made to force the consciences of men. These are the principles used by the prince of darkness for the government of his kingdom. His agents are actively at work, seeking in their human independence to enact laws which are in direct contrast to Christ’s mercy and loving-kindness.” The Review and Herald, August 18, 1896.


Righteousness promotes freedom—Proverbs 14:34. The prosperous countries of the world have all, at some recent time, followed religious principles. The United States of America was founded on the principle of freedom, which has made it a great nation. In contrast is the country that tried to stamp out religion, and the disaster that followed was the French Revolution.

“It was the desire for liberty of conscience that inspired the Pilgrims to brave the perils of the long journey across the sea, to endure the hardships and dangers of the wilderness, and with God’s blessing to lay, on the shores of America, the foundation of a mighty nation. Yet honest and God-fearing as they were, the Pilgrims did not yet comprehend the great principle of religious toleration. The freedom which they sacrificed so much to secure for themselves, they were not equally ready to grant to others.” The Great Controversy (1888), 292.

These early reformers, though they had rejected the creed of Rome, were still not free from the spirit of intolerance, ruling that only church-members should have a voice in civil government. This led to a State church being formed and the inevitable result was persecution to non-conformists.

It was not until Roger Williams came to the New World eleven years after the first colony was established that true liberty of conscience was promoted. He declared it to be the duty of the magistrate to restrain crime, but never to control the conscience. He regarded it as an open violation of their natural rights, to drag to public worship the irreligious and the unwilling. He said that no one should be forced to worship, or to maintain a worship, against his own consent.

For his stand on liberty of conscience, Roger Williams was sentenced to banishment from the colonies, and finally, to avoid arrest, he was forced to flee, amid the cold and storms of winter, into the unbroken forest.

“ ‘For fourteen weeks,’ he says, ‘I was sorely tossed in a bitter season, not knowing what bread or bed did mean.’ ‘But the ravens fed me in the wilderness;’ and a hollow tree often served him for a shelter. Thus he continued his painful flight through the snow and the trackless forest, until he found refuge with an Indian tribe whose confidence and affection he had won while endeavoring to teach them the truths of the gospel.

“Making his way at last, after months of change and wandering, to the shores of Narragansett Bay, he there laid the foundation of the first State of modern times that in the fullest sense recognized the right of religious freedom. The fundamental principle of Roger Williams’ colony, was ‘that every man should have the right to worship God according to the light of his conscience.’ His little State, Rhode Island, became the asylum of the oppressed, and it increased and prospered until its foundation principles—civil and religious liberty—became the corner-stones of the American Republic.

“In that grand old document which our forefathers set forth as their bill of rights—the Declaration of Independence—they declared: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ And the Constitution guarantees, in the most explicit terms, the inviolability of conscience: ‘No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office of public trust under the United States.’ ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’

“The framers of the Constitution recognized the eternal principle that man’s relation to his God is above human legislation, and his right of conscience inalienable. Reasoning was not necessary to establish this truth; we are conscious of it in our own bosom. It is this consciousness, which, in defiance of human laws, has sustained so many martyrs in tortures and flames. They felt that their duty to God was superior to human enactments, and that man could exercise no authority over their consciences. It is an inborn principle, which nothing can eradicate.

“As the tidings spread through the countries of Europe, of a land where every man might enjoy the fruit of his own labor, and obey the convictions of his conscience, thousands flocked to the shores of the New World. Colonies rapidly multiplied.” Ibid., 294, 295.

“The Bible was held as the foundation of faith, the source of wisdom, and the charter of liberty. Its principles were diligently taught in the home, in the school, and in the church, and its fruits were manifest in thrift, intelligence, purity, and temperance. One might be for years a dweller in the Puritan settlements, and not ‘see a drunkard, nor hear an oath, nor meet a beggar.’ It was demonstrated that the principles of the Bible are the surest safeguards of national greatness. The feeble and isolated colonies grew to a confederation of powerful States, and the world marked with wonder the peace and prosperity of ‘a church without a pope, and a State without a king.’ …

“The great principle so nobly advocated by Robinson and Roger Williams, that truth is progressive, that Christians should stand ready to accept all the light which may shine from God’s Holy Word, was lost sight of by their descendants. The Protestant churches of America—and those of Europe as well—so highly favored in receiving the blessings of the Reformation, failed to press forward in the path of reform.” Ibid., 296, 297.


Example of Daniel – by following God’s principles Daniel gained the freedom to worship God but not without trial. “Those who honor Me I will honor.” I Samuel 2:30.


In looking at freedom in the church example of what it is not, would be the Pharisees. They thought they were free but in reality they were not. “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Luke 11:42. A Pharisee is a self-righteous, sanctimonious, hypocrite who makes outward observance to laws that cannot save him. The person who in a Pharisee’s eye is a very great sinner can be living a life of service to God, overcoming his/her sins and go to Heaven while the Pharisee is lost making the commandment of God of no effect by their tradition. Jesus told them that the publicans and sinners would go into the Kingdom of God before them. The irony was, while they were in bondage to the Romans and sin, they thought they were Abraham’s seed and free. Is it possible to think that you are free and yet be in bondage?

“Christ ever rebuked the Pharisees for their self-righteousness. They extolled themselves. They came forth from their religious services, not humbled with a sense of their own weakness, not feeling gratitude for the great privileges that God had given them. They were exalted to heaven in point of opportunity, in having the Scriptures, in knowing the true God, but their hearts were not filled with thankfulness to God for his great goodness toward them. They came forth filled with spiritual pride, and their theme was self—‘myself, my feelings, my knowledge, my ways.’ Their own attainments became the standard by which they measured others. Putting on the robes of self-dignity, they mounted the judgment seat to criticise and to condemn. But no human being has been authorized of God to do this work. It is the very essence of Phariseeism.” The Signs of the Times, December 17, 1894.

Notice that thinking you are better than everyone else and pointing out all the faults of others compared to you is the essence of Phariseeism.

“The soil of the hearts of the Pharisees is a hopeless and profitless soil, where the seeds of heavenly truth cannot take root. Oh, how self-deluding is this feeling of superiority that all Pharisees cherish!” Ibid.

Modern Pharisees

It will not help us to talk of people in the Bible unless we can make practical application to our lives. Modern day Pharisees are a very big problem today. The modern Pharisees are those who tell others that they are going to hell if they do not believe and follow what the Pharisee thinks is a major point of doctrine. People will tell you, if you eat that, you are going to hell. They make God out to be a cruel and hard taskmaster ready to strike with lightening if you do something “wrong.” Tests are often made of what God has never made a test. It would be more profitable to dwell on the real salvational issues, allowing God to change hearts and those little things that need change will be changed. We have not been called to be judge, condemning our fellow man. For clarification, this does not refer to some major point of doctrine or the eating of unclean food but about minor issues that people make into mountains. Jesus said, “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” Matthew 23:24.

“Suppose a brother held a view that differed from yours, and he should come to you, proposing that you sit down with him and make an investigation of that point in the Scriptures; should you rise up, filled with prejudice, and condemn his ideas, while refusing to give him a candid hearing? The only right way would be to sit down as Christians, and investigate the position presented, in the light of God’s word, which reveals truth and unmasks error. To ridicule his ideas would not weaken his position in the least if it were false, or strengthen your position if it were true. If the pillars of our faith will not stand the test of investigation, it is time that we knew it. There must be no spirit of Phariseeism cherished among us.” Gospel Workers, 127.

“As soon as you gain a clear view of the power and goodness of Christ, your murmuring will cease. You will not pick at the faults of others. It is Phariseeism that leads men to exalt themselves by depreciating their brethren.” The Review and Herald, June 11, 1889.

There are a lot of people in the church who believe that if you do not see everything the way they see it you are wrong, and if you would just study you would see that they are right. Then something is thrown in to give it authority because they said God said it. The problem with that is, people are looking too much at others instead of looking in the mirror to see what needs to be changed in themselves. It is always a great marvel that those who are the most critical of others often have blatant faults themselves that are glaring to others. The spirit of Phariseeism is to look for faults in others as compared with themselves.

“You belong to God, soul, body, and spirit. Your mind belongs to God, and your talents belong to Him also. No one has a right to control another’s mind and judge for another, prescribing what is his duty. There are certain rights that belong to every individual in doing God’s service. No man has any more liberty to take these rights from us than to take life itself. God has given us freedom to think, and it is our privilege to follow our impressions of duty. We are only human beings, and one human being has no jurisdiction over the conscience of another human being. … Each one of us has an individuality and identity that cannot be surrendered to any other human being. We are individually the workmanship of God.” Mind, Character and Personality, vol. 2, 708, 709.

It is the spirit of Phariseeism in the church that does not allow a person freedom, the freedom to think and study a subject and come to a conclusion but forbids others that right. This is not referring to any major points of doctrine such as the Sabbath, but little things that people make into big issues.


“Few have correct views of marriage. … Ignoring the personal rights of women, the husband becomes unkind and authoritative. The individuality of the wife is submerged in that of the husband. … He quotes texts of scripture to show that he is the head, and that he must be obeyed in all things, claiming that his wife must have no will separate from his. He acts the tyrant. But the same Bible that prescribes the duty of the wife prescribes also the duty of the husband. He is to be kind and affectionate, to love his wife as a part of himself, and to cherish her as Christ does His church.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 18, 312.

“In trying to force others to carry out your ideas in every particular, you often do greater harm than if you were to yield these points. This is true even when your ideas are right in themselves, but in many things they are not correct; they are overstrained as the result of the peculiarities of your organization; therefore you drive the wrong thing in a strong, unreasonable manner.

“You have peculiar views in regard to managing your family. You exercise an independent, arbitrary power which permits no liberty of will around you. You think yourself sufficient to be head in your family and feel that your head is sufficient to move every member, as a machine is moved in the hands of the workmen. You dictate and assume authority. This displeases Heaven and grieves the pitying angels. You have conducted yourself in your family as though you alone were capable of self-government. It has offended you that your wife should venture to oppose your opinion or question your decisions.” The Adventist Home, 225, 226.

“To direct the child’s development without hindering it by undue control should be the study of both parent and teacher. Too much management is as bad as too little. The effort to ‘break the will’ of a child is a terrible mistake. Minds are constituted differently; while force may secure outward submission, the result with many children is a more determined rebellion of the heart. Even should the parent or teacher succeed in gaining the control he seeks, the outcome may be no less harmful to the child. The discipline of a human being who has reached the years of intelligence should differ from the training of a dumb animal. The beast is taught only submission to its master. For the beast, the master is mind, judgment, and will. This method, sometimes employed in the training of children, makes them little more than automatons. Mind, will, conscience, are under the control of another. It is not God’s purpose that any mind should be thus dominated. Those who weaken or destroy individuality assume a responsibility that can result only in evil. While under authority, the children may appear like well-drilled soldiers; but when the control ceases, the character will be found to lack strength and steadfastness. Having never learned to govern himself, the youth recognizes no restraint except the requirement of parents or teacher. This removed, he knows not how to use his liberty, and often gives himself up to indulgence that proves his ruin.” Education, 288.

Another danger is to follow Eli’s example where there was no restraint at all. If a child in the family has committed a wrong, the child needs to be held accountable. Some people want to blame every adult around them for the problems of their children when really the child needs to be held accountable for their actions no matter what anyone else did or did not do.


  • This is the most important freedom because it affects families, churches, and nations.
  • Freedom involves responsibility – How does freedom involve responsibility?
  • Authority does not give the right to treat subordinates disrespectfully.
  • A ruler may have liberty to do an action but he does not always have the moral right to do it.
  • The blessing of freedom places you under obligation to pass on that blessing to others.
  • Freedom involving responsibility is a Bible principle. A man was forgiven a great debt, but himself refused to forgive a lesser debt. (See Matthew 18:23–33.)
  • Freedom does not give us the liberty to do anything that we please. Galatians 5:13, I Peter 2:16–19.
  • Those in positions of leadership are not to lord it over others. I Peter 5:2, 3.

“God will not vindicate any device whereby man shall in the slightest degree rule or oppress his fellow-men. The only hope for fallen man is to look to Jesus, and receive Him as the only Saviour. As soon as a man begins to make any iron rule for other men, as soon as he begins to harness up and drive men according to his own mind, he dishonors God, and imperils his own soul, and the souls of his brethren. Sinful man can find hope and righteousness only in God; and no human being is righteous any longer than he has faith in God, and maintains a vital connection with Him. A flower of the field must have its roots in the soil; it must have air, dew, showers, and sunshine. It will flourish only as it receives these advantages, and all are from God. So with men. We receive from God that which ministers to the life of the soul. We are warned not to trust in man, not to make flesh our arm.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 366, 367.

“All our workers must have room to exercise their own judgment and discretion. God has given men talents which He means that they should use. He has given them minds and He means that they should become thinkers, and do their own thinking and planning rather than depend upon others to think and plan for them.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 9, 162.

Why does keeping God’s Law promote freedom? James 1:25 – if everyone kept God’s law you would not have to have all the papers that we have to have because everyone would keep their word. You would not have to lock your house. You would not have to worry about someone taking anything that belongs to you. You would not have to worry about anyone killing another person. Does that liberty mean you can do anything that you please? No, it makes you responsible to look out for your fellow human beings.

Where God’s spirit is there is liberty. II Corinthians 3:17. It is really a crazy thing that people want to put God in a box (not give Him liberty either). They will say God has to do it this way. Whoever said God has to do something a certain way? God is at liberty to decide what He wants to do.

The greatest freedom of all is that which we receive from Jesus—to be freed from our sins. Luke 4:18; Galatians 5:1; John 8:36.

We must remember that with freedom comes responsibility. We have a responsibility to forgive others because Jesus has forgiven us for more than anyone in this world could have sinned against us. We cannot be holding a grudge against anyone, no matter what they have or have not done to us, because Jesus has forgiven us for our sins. If we are holding a grudge against anyone for any reason, we need to ask Jesus to set us free. If you are not free, please ask Jesus and “Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36.

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

A network engineer, Jana Grosboll lives in Derby, Kansas.