Bible Study Guides – Stubbornness, a Fruit of Pride

October 11 – 17, 2020

Key Text

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6.7).

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 257–265.


“Pharaoh sowed obstinacy, and he reaped obstinacy. He himself put this seed into the soil. There was no more need for God by some new power to interfere with its growth, than there is for Him to interfere with the growth of a grain of corn.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, 1100.



  • When Moses and Aaron came before the king of Egypt, what request did they present to him, and how did he respond? Exodus 5:1–3.
  • Why is it dangerous to ignore or resist a Divine warning? Hebrews 3:12–14; John 12:35.

Note: “Those who exalt their own ideas above the plainly specified will of God, are saying as did Pharaoh, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice’ (Exodus 5:2, first part)? Every rejection of light hardens the heart and darkens the understanding; and thus men find it more and more difficult to distinguish between right and wrong, and they become bolder in resisting the will of God.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, 1100.

“Let all be warned by the messages sent from heaven that when any man shall exalt his own ways and his own judgment as supreme, he will come under Satan’s jurisdiction and will be led blindfold by him until his spirit and his methods will conform to the archdeceiver, little by little, until his whole mind is under the influence of the spell. The serpent keeps its eye fixed upon a man, to charm him, until he has no power to go from the snare.” The Publishing Ministry, 175.



  • What accusation did the king bring against Moses and Aaron? Exodus 5:4, 5. To what “rest” was he referring?

Note: “In their bondage the Israelites had to some extent lost the knowledge of God’s law, and they had departed from its precepts. The Sabbath had been generally disregarded, and the exactions of their taskmasters made its observance apparently impossible. But Moses had shown his people that obedience to God was the first condition of deliverance; and the efforts made to restore the observance of the Sabbath had come to the notice of their oppressors.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 258.

  • What was the purpose of God in bringing Israel out of Egypt? Psalm 105:43–45. What implications does this have for us?

Note: “As the Sabbath was the sign that distinguished Israel when they came out of Egypt to enter the earthly Canaan, so it is the sign that now distinguishes God’s people as they come out from the world to enter the heavenly rest. The Sabbath is a sign of the relationship existing between God and His people, a sign that they honor His law. It distinguishes between His loyal subjects and transgressors. …

“The Sabbath given to the world as the sign of God as the Creator is also the sign of Him as the Sanctifier. The power that created all things is the power that re-creates the soul in His own likeness.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 349, 350.

“And when the law of God is thus exemplified in the life, even the world will recognize the superiority of those who love and fear and serve God above every other people on the earth.” Ibid., 12.

  • What was the result of the interview with Pharaoh? Exodus 5:6–14.

Note: “The king, thoroughly roused, suspected the Israelites of a design to revolt from his service. Disaffection was the result of idleness; he would see that no time was left them for dangerous scheming. And he at once adopted measures to tighten their bonds and crush out their independent spirit.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 258.


  • With what reproach did the officers of the children of Israel come to Moses and Aaron? Exodus 5:19–21.
  • What part do trials have in preparing a people for deliverance? James 2:1–4.

Note: “The Hebrews had expected to obtain their freedom without any special trial of their faith or any real suffering or hardship. But they were not yet prepared for deliverance. They had little faith in God, and were unwilling patiently to endure their afflictions until He should see fit to work for them. Many were content to remain in bondage rather than meet the difficulties attending removal to a strange lane; and the habits of some had become so much like those of the Egyptians that they preferred to dwell in Egypt. Therefore the Lord did not deliver them by the first manifestation of His power before Pharaoh. He overruled events more fully to develop the tyrannical spirit of the Egyptian king and also to reveal Himself to His people. Beholding His justice, His power, and His love, they would choose to leave Egypt and give themselves to His service. The task of Moses would have been much less difficult had not many of the Israelites become so corrupted that they were unwilling to leave Egypt.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 260.

“The children of Israel were addicted to licentiousness, idolatry, gluttony, and gross vices. This is ever the result of slavery. But the Lord looked upon His people, and after their deliverance He educated them. They were not left uncared for.” The Southern Work, 43.

  • As Moses complained to the Lord when new trials came upon Israel, what did the Lord promise to do for His people? Exodus 5:22, 23; 6:1–8.

Note: “In mercy to us, He [God] does not always place us in the easiest places; for if He did, in our self-sufficiency we would forget that the Lord is our helper in time of necessity. But He longs to manifest Himself to us in our emergencies, and reveal the abundant supplies that are at our disposal, independent of our surroundings; and disappointment and trial are permitted to come upon us that we may realize our own helplessness, and learn to call upon the Lord for aid, as a child, when hungry and thirsty, calls upon its earthly father.” Reflecting Christ, 353.



  • When Moses spoke to the children of Israel the second time, how did they receive the message of the Lord? Exodus 6:9. What promises should have been a source of hope for all the Israelites? Genesis 15:13, 14; 50:24.

Note: “The elders of Israel endeavored to sustain the sinking faith of their brethren by repeating the promises made to their fathers, and the prophetic words of Joseph before his death, foretelling their deliverance from Egypt. Some would listen and believe. Others, looking at the circumstances that surrounded them, refused to hope. The Egyptians, being informed of what was reported among their bondmen, derided their expectations and scornfully denied the power of their God. They pointed to their situation as a nation of slaves, and tauntingly said, ‘If your God is just and merciful, and possesses power above that of the Egyptian gods, why does He not make you a free people?’ They called attention to their own condition. They worshiped deities termed by the Israelites false gods, yet they were a rich and powerful nation. They declared that their gods had blessed them with prosperity, and had given them the Israelites as servants, and they gloried in their power to oppress and destroy the worshipers of Jehovah. Pharaoh himself boasted that the God of the Hebrews could not deliver them from his hand.

“Words like these destroyed the hopes of many of the Israelites. The case appeared to them very much as the Egyptians had represented. It was true that they were slaves, and must endure whatever their cruel taskmasters might choose to inflict. Their children had been hunted and slain, and their own lives were a burden. Yet they were worshiping the God of heaven. If Jehovah were indeed above all gods, surely He would not thus leave them in bondage to idolaters. But those who were true to God understood that it was because of Israel’s departure from Him—because of their disposition to marry with heathen nations, thus being led into idolatry—that the Lord had permitted them to become bondmen; and they confidently assured their brethren that He would soon break the yoke of the oppressor.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 259, 260.

  • With what argument did Moses try to excuse himself when the Lord told him to speak to Pharaoh again? Exodus 6:10–12.



  • As the Lord encouraged Moses to return to Pharaoh, what did He say He would multiply in Egypt, and what would be the reaction of the Egyptians? Exodus 7:1–5.

Note: “Before the infliction of each plague, Moses was to describe its nature and effects, that the king might save himself from it if he chose. Every punishment rejected would be followed by one more severe, until his proud heart would be humbled, and he would acknowledge the Maker of heaven and earth as the true and living God. … God would glorify His own name, that other nations might hear of His power and tremble at His mighty acts, and that His people might be led to turn from their idolatry and render Him pure worship.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 263.

  • How were God’s and Satan’s powers contrasted before Pharaoh? Exodus 7:8–12. What was Satan’s purpose in trying to counterfeit the work of God?

Note: “By counterfeiting the work of God through Moses, he [Satan] hoped not only to prevent the deliverance of Israel, but to exert an influence through future ages to destroy faith in the miracles of Christ. Satan is constantly seeking to counterfeit the work of Christ and to establish his own power and claims. He leads men to account for the miracles of Christ by making them appear to be the result of human skill and power. In many minds he thus destroys faith in Christ as the Son of God, and leads them to reject the gracious offers of mercy through the plan of redemption.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 265.



1     How do we sometimes show the same pride as Pharaoh?

2     In what way is the Sabbath a distinguishing sign for God’s people today?

3     Why were so many of the Israelites unwilling to leave Egypt? Why are so many of us unwilling to let go of worldly customs and ideas today?

4     Why had God allowed the Israelites to become slaves?

5     Why did Satan try to counterfeit the miracles of God?

Copyright 2019, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

Bible Study Guides – “WAR IN HEAVEN”

By Gordon Anderson

MEMORY VERSE: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” John 8:44.

STUDY HELP: Patriarchs and Prophets, 33–43.

INTRODUCTION: “The question is asked, How is the existence of sin reconcilable with the government of a wise, merciful, and omnipotent God? Why was sin permitted to enter heaven? Why was it permitted to take up its abode on the earth to cause discord and suffering? It certainly was not God’s purpose that man should be sinful. He made Adam pure and noble, with no tendency to evil. He placed him in Eden, where he had every inducement to remain loyal and obedient. The law was placed around him as a safeguard. Evil originated with the rebellion of Lucifer. It was brought into heaven when he refused allegiance to God’s law. Satan was the first lawbreaker.” Review and Herald, June 4, 1901.


  1. By what name was Satan known when he was in heaven? Isaiah 14:12.

NOTE: “Lucifer, ‘son of the morning,’ was first of the covering cherubs, holy and undefiled. He stood in the presence of the great Creator, and the ceaseless beams of glory enshrouding the eternal God rested upon him.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 35.

[It is clear from this verse that the reference is not to an earthly king of Babylon.]

  1. What position did Lucifer hold in heaven? Ezekiel 28:14.

NOTE: “Lucifer was the covering cherub, the most exalted of the heavenly created beings; he stood nearest the throne of God, and was most closely connected and identified with the administration of God’s government, most richly endowed with the glory of His majesty and power.” Signs of the Times, April 28, 1890.

[Verse 14 shows clearly that the primary reference is not to an earthly king of Tyre.]

  1. When he was created, what was Lucifer like? Ezekiel 28:15.

NOTE: “The angels had been created full of goodness and love. They loved one another impartially and their God supremely, and they were prompted by this love to do His pleasure. The law of God was not a grievous yoke to them, but it was their delight to do His commandments, to hearken unto the voice of His word. But in this state of peace and purity, sin originated with him who had been perfect in all his ways.” Signs of the Times, April 28, 1890.


  1. What went wrong with Lucifer’s thinking and led him into sin? Ezekiel 28:17, first part.

NOTE: “The change from perfection of character to sin and defection did come even in heaven. Lucifer’s heart was lifted up because of his beauty, his wisdom was corrupted by reason of his brightness. Self-exaltation is the key to his rebellion, and it unlocks the modern theme of sanctification. Satan declared that he had no need of the restraints of law, that he was holy, sinless, and incapable of doing evil; and those who boast of holiness and a state of sinlessness, while transgressing the law of God, while willfully trampling under-foot the Sabbath of the Lord, are allied on the side of the first great rebel. If the sanctified, holy angels became unsanctified and unholy by disobedience to God’s law, and their place was no longer found in heaven, think you that men, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, will be received into glory who break the precepts of that law which Christ came to magnify and make honourable by His death upon the cross? Adam and Eve were in possession of Eden, and they fell from their high and holy estate by transgression of God’s law, and forfeited their right to the tree of life and to the joys of Eden.” Signs of the Times, April 28, 1890.

  1. Because of his pride, whose position did Lucifer wish to seize? Isaiah 14:13, 14.

NOTE: Notice the self-centerdness of these verses, the number of times Lucifer spoke of “I” and “my.” “Pride in his own glory nourished the desire for supremacy. The high honors conferred upon Lucifer were not appreciated as the gift of God and called forth no gratitude to the Creator. He gloried in his brightness and exaltation, and aspired to be equal with God. He was beloved and reverenced by the heavenly host. Angels delighted to execute his commands, and he was clothed with wisdom and glory above them all. Yet the Son of God was the acknowledged Sovereign of heaven, one in power and authority with the Father. In all the councils of God, Christ was a participant, while Lucifer was not permitted thus to enter into the divine purposes. ‘Why,’ questioned this mighty angel, ‘should Christ have the supremacy? Why is He thus honoured above Lucifer?’” Great Controversy, 495.

“None are too high to fall. Sin originated with Satan, who was next to Christ. Lucifer became the destroyer of those whom heaven had committed to his guardianship. Satan has a church in our world today. In his church are all the disaffected ones and the disloyal. All who harbor pride, ambition, vain-glory, or selfishness, will be found wanting when weighed in the balance of the Lord.” Australasian Union Conference Record, October 1, 1906.

  1. What was the outcome of Lucifer’s ambition? Revelation 12:7.

NOTE: “Until this time all heaven had been in order, harmony, and perfect subjection to the government of God. It was the highest sin to rebel against His order and will. All heaven seemed in commotion. The angels were marshaled in companies, each division with a higher commanding angel at its head. Satan, ambitious to exalt himself, and unwilling to submit to the authority of Jesus, was insinuating against the government of God. 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.” Early Writings, 145.

  1. What was the outcome of the war in heaven? Revelation 12: 8, 9.

NOTE: “Even when it was decided that he could no longer remain in heaven, Infinite Wisdom did not destroy Satan. Since the service of love can alone 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 other worlds, being unprepared to comprehend the nature or consequences of sin, could not then have seen the justice and mercy of God in the destruction of Satan. Had he been immediately blotted from existence, they 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. Evil must be permitted to come to maturity. For the good of the entire universe through ceaseless ages, Satan must more fully develop his principles, that his charges against the divine government might be seen in their true light by all created beings, that the justice and mercy of God and the immutability of His law might forever be placed beyond all question.” Great Controversy, 498, 499.

“Satan is a deceiver. When he sinned in heaven, even the loyal angels did not fully discern his character. This was why God did not at once destroy Satan. Had He done so, the holy angels would not have perceived the justice and love of God. A doubt of God’s goodness would have been as evil seed that would yield the bitter fruit of sin and woe. Therefore the author of evil was spared, fully to develop his character. Through long ages God has borne the anguish of beholding the work of evil, He has given the infinite Gift of Calvary, rather than leave any to be deceived by the misrepresentations of the wicked one; for the tares could not be plucked up without danger of uprooting the precious grain. And shall we not be as forbearing toward our fellow men as the Lord of heaven and earth is toward Satan?” Christ’s Object Lessons, 72.


  1. How does God’s Word define sin? 1 John 3:4.

NOTE: At a time when theologians are proposing multiple definitions of sin, like “inherited guilt,” “a broken relationship,” “missing the mark,” “our natural spiritual condition, the condition of sinfulness,” “being by nature spiritually bent,” etc., it is important to know what God Himself defines as sin.

“Our only definition of sin is that given in the Word of God; it is ‘the transgression of the Law.’” Great Controversy, 493.

“The only definition given in God’s Word is: ‘Sin is the transgression of the Law,’ and the apostle Paul declares, ‘Where no law is, there is no transgression.’” Bible Echo, June 11, 1894.

  1. Why do we choose to sin when tempted by the devil? James 1:14, 15.

NOTE: “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lusts and enticed. He is turned away from the course of virtue and real good by following his own inclinations. If [you] possessed moral integrity, the strongest temptations might be presented in vain. It is Satan’s act to tempt you, but your own act to yield. It is not in the power of all the host of Satan to force the tempted to transgress. There is no excuse for sin.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 623.

  1. What will cause our attempts to obey God’s Law to fail? Romans 14:23.

NOTE: ” ‘Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ In order to be prepared for the judgement, it is necessary that men should keep the law of God. That law will be the standard of character in the judgement. The apostle Paul declares: ‘As many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law, . . . in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.’ And he says that ‘the doers of the law shall be justified.’ Romans 2:12–16. Faith is essential in order to the keeping of the law of God; for ‘without faith it is impossible to please Him.’ And ‘whatsoever is not of faith is sin.’ Hebrews 11:6; Romans 14:23.” Great Controversy, 436.


  1. What was Christ’s purpose in coming to earth and taking our nature? Hebrews 2:14.

NOTE: “We need not place the obedience of Christ by itself as something for which He was particularly adapted, because of His divine nature; for He stood before God as man’s representative, and was tempted as man’s substitute and surety. If Christ had a special power which it is not the privilege of a man to have, Satan would have made capital of this matter. But the work of Christ was to take from Satan his control of man, and He could do this only in a straightforward way. He came as a man, to be tempted as a man, rendering the obedience of a man. Christ rendered obedience to God, and overcame as humanity must overcome. We are led to make wrong conclusions because of erroneous views of the nature of our Lord. To attribute to His nature a power that it is not possible for man to have in His conflicts with Satan, is to destroy the completeness of his humanity. The obedience of Christ to His Father was the same obedience that is required of man. Man cannot overcome Satan’s temptations except as divine power works through humanity. The Lord Jesus came to our world, not to reveal what God in His own divine person could do, but what He could do through humanity. Through faith man is to be a partaker of the divine nature, and to overcome every temptation wherewith he is beset.” Signs of the Times, April 10, 1893.

  1. When will the sins of the righteous be finally blotted out of the books of record? Revelation 22:11, 12. Compare Acts 3:19.

NOTE: “When the Third Angel’s Message closes, mercy no longer pleads for the guilty inhabitants of the earth. The people of God have accomplished their work. They have received ‘the latter rain,’ ‘the refreshing from the presence of the Lord,’ and they are prepared for the trying hour before them. Angels are hastening to and fro in heaven. An angel returning from the earth announces that his work is done; the final test has been brought upon the world, and all who have proved themselves loyal to the divine precepts have received ‘the seal of the living God.’ Then Jesus ceases His intercession in the sanctuary above. He lifts His hands and with a loud voice says, ‘It is done;’ and all the angelic host lay off their crowns as He makes the solemn announcement: ‘He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.’ Revelation 22:11. Every case has been decided for life or death. Christ has made the atonement for His people and blotted out their sins.” Great Controversy, 613, 614.

  1. How complete will the destruction of Satan and sin? Malachi 4:1, Psalm 37:9, 10, Ezekiel 28:19.

NOTE: “Then the end will come. God will vindicate His law and deliver His people. Satan and all who have joined him in rebellion will be cut off. Sin and sinners will perish, root and branch (Malachi 4: 1), Satan the root, and his followers the branches. The word will be fulfilled to the prince of evil, ‘Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; . . . I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire . . . Thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.’ Then ‘the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be;’ ‘they shall be as though they had not been.’ Ezekiel 28:6–19; Psalm 37:10; Obadiah 16.” Desire of Ages, 763.

Editorial – The Incurable Wound of God’s People

Jeremiah 30 talks about the time of Jacob’s trouble, and the promise that God’s people (the 144,000) will be delivered. The Bible speaks of three times of trouble, which are described as greater than anything before or after. Jacob’s trouble is one of these. The prophet says, “Alas for that day is great so that none is like it, it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble but he shall be saved out of it.” Jeremiah 30:7.

During this time, Jesus says,  “I make a full end of all nations” Jeremiah 30:11.  He will break the yoke of Babylon from off the neck of His people, (See Jeremiah 30:8; See also Isaiah 14:3-6) and will restore health to His people and heal them of their wounds. (See Jeremiah 30:17.)

God’s people need to be healed of their wounds because their wound is incurable (See Jeremiah 30:12), there is no medicine that will heal their wound because it is so grievous. (See 30:12, 13.) What is this grievous, incurable wound?  It is not a physical wound, but a spiritual wound—the wound of sin. (See Jeremiah 30:14, 15.)

Although all sin is incurable without the blood of Christ and repentance, inspired writings specifically speaks of some sins as incurable. Could it be that these sins are afflicting God’s people in the last days?  The reason they are incurable is not because the blood atonement of Christ will not cleanse the sinner from them, but because the victim of these sins will almost never humble himself to take the cure that God has provided.  We can only be saved in God’s appointed way. Here is a brief list:

  1. Pride and self-sufficiency: There is nothing so offensive to God or so dangerous to the human soul as pride and self-sufficiency. Of all sins it is the most hopeless, the most incurable. Christ’s Object Lessons, 155.
  2. Rebellion: 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…. Lift Him Up, 19.
  3. Pride of opinion: The sin that is most nearly hopeless and incurable is pride of opinion, self-conceit. This stands in the way of all growth. 2 Mind, Character and Personality, 726.
  4. Envy: Men often confess and forsake other faults, but there is little to be hoped for from the envious man. Since to envy a person is to admit that he is a superior, pride will not permit any concession. If an attempt be made to convince the envious person of his sin, he becomes even more bitter against the object of his passion, and too often he remains incurable. 5 Testimonies, 56.
  5. Bigotry and prejudice: The most cruel, and the most incurable thing is bigotry and prejudice and it lives just as firmly in human hearts today as when Christ was upon the earth. 1888 Materials, 800, 801.
  6. Men who have large opinions of themselves: Men who have large opinions of themselves are often in error, but they will not confess this. Envy and jealousy are diseases which disorder all the faculties of the being. They originated with Satan in Paradise. After he had started on the track of apostasy, he could see many things that were objectionable. After he fell he envied Adam and Eve in their innocency. He tempted them to sin, and to become like himself, disloyal to God. Those who accept of his attributes will demerit others, misrepresent and falsify in order to build up themselves. These persons are generally incurable, and as nothing that defileth can enter heaven, they will not be there. They would criticize the angels. They would covet another’s crown. They would not know what to do, or what subjects to converse upon unless they could be finding some errors, some imperfections, in others. The Paulson Collection, 358, 359.

“There are existing evils in the church that no human power can heal…. All misapprehension produces unkindness, consciously or unconsciously, and then unkindness provokes retaliations, and strife propagates itself.” 18 Manuscript Releases, 348.

To the church and the church member who is incurable, Jesus is making the same plea as He did 1900 years ago: “Would you be made whole?”

The Seven Churches, Part III – The Church of Smyrna

Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea represent the different eras of the Christian church from Jesus’ day until the Second Coming. A study on the first church, the church of Ephesus, was given in the November 2004 issue of LandMarks. By way of review, Ephesus was the church that worked hard. They were faithful, and they had right theology and doctrine. But there was one thing they did not have, or at least they had lost—their first love. The Scripture does not say they did not have any love. Obviously they had some, but they had lost that fervor and that real heartfelt love. As a result, the Lord said that He would remove them from being a church for Him. We might question, in our way of thinking, “Could it be that serious, if they had everything else?” If they had right theology and hard work and all of these things, could the issue of love be that serious? The Bible tells us, in 1 Corinthians 13, just how necessary love is: “Though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” Verse 2. The church is to reflect the image of God, and that image is love [charity]. God is love. If we do not have the love of Jesus in our hearts, we do not have anything, nothing else matters. The only way we can develop this kind of love is through conflict and trial.

Even the heathen people have love for those that love them. That is what Jesus said in Matthew 5:43–48. He said that even the heathen people, the Gentiles, and the unconverted love those who love them, and they are patient and loving when everything is going smoothly and when all things are pleasing them.

Sacrifice Self

It is not difficult to love when everything is pleasing, is it? But what shows whether you are a Christian or not is when you love when things are not going right and when you are not feeling right. That is when the Christian character is revealed. The only way that we can develop this kind of love is to sacrifice self, because as long as self is number one in our lives, we will never have love for others. We will always be watching out for ourselves, and we will always be getting our feelings hurt. We have to sacrifice self.

We must be broken on the Rock, as Jesus said in Matthew 21:44, and He is that Rock. When we come to the cross and see Jesus there, bleeding and lacerated, and know that He suffered abuse, bled, and died for our sins, not for His, because He did not commit any sins, our hearts will be broken. When we hear Jesus say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” and we see how Jesus died for those who crucified Him, then we cannot stay offended anymore against those who mistreat us. Self must be put away. (Luke 23:34.)

Look at the story of Jesus in Romans 5:6–8: “For when we were still without strength [before we had any strength physically and, as sinners, before we had any strength spiritually], in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Dear friend, what love! When we were yet in rebellion, when we hated Him, He died for us.

John tells us what that should do for us—what kind of an impression that should make on our minds, what it should do for our characters—in 1 John 4:7–9, 11–13: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. . . . Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him.” There are many people who think they abide in Jesus, but this is how we can know we abide in Him and He in us: “Because He has given us of His Spirit” of love. Verse 13.

Command of God

Verses 20, 21 continue: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God [must] love his brother also.” That, we could say, is the eleventh commandment, but really it applies to all ten.

John 15:9 says, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” Verse 12 says, “This is My commandment . . . .” It is not only an invitation; it is the command of God, because it is what we have to become like, if we are going to get to heaven. “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Verse 12. That is a lot of love, dear friends, that loved us when we were still in our sins. That is a love that loved us when we did not love Him, when we were unloving. But this is Jesus’ commandment: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” Verses 13, 14. That command was to love one another.

Love to Be Loved

You know, the church will survive only, as the church of Ephesus tells us, as it develops that love of Jesus. The trouble is that everyone wants everyone else to be loving! Everyone wants to belong to a church like that. How many times have I heard it as a pastor? “You know, the church is supposed to be loving, but I do not have any money and no one here has given me any.” I have heard similar words many times. “No one has cared for me, and this is supposed to be God’s loving church.” How unfortunate it is when people are not cared for, but what utter selfishness of the heart such words betray.

The very principle of love is to love when we are not loved. If we have a whole church of people that are just waiting for everyone else to love them and to take care of them and notice them, we would have no love at all, would we? Love is developed when no one shows us any love, but we love in return. It has to start with one person and then two people, and that love will pervade through the whole church just as leaven pervades through a loaf of bread. If we wait to be loved in order to love, we are not yet Christians.

Lost Love

So it was that the church of Ephesus kept the law, and they worked hard, but they ceased to represent Jesus. They were not His representatives. They could not continue to be His church, because they did not represent His character, His love. Do you know what God is waiting for today? It is for that love—His character—to be represented in the church. We are told, in Christ’s Object Lessons, 69, “When the character of Jesus shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.”

Ephesus was the very first church. It had the apostles with it for most of its existence. If there was a danger in losing that love with John, Paul, and Peter ministering to them, what do you think the danger is for us? But God had a cure for Ephesus. We find that cure in the church of Smyrna.

Smyrna needs special attention. Although we are not likened to the church of Smyrna, we still need to study it carefully. Ellen White never likens us to Smyrna. In fact, so far are we from the church of Smyrna, she only mentions it in her writings twice, and that is just in quoting the Scriptures.

While the church of Laodicea represents us, she often likens us to the church of Ephesus—not to the whole of the church of Ephesus, but she says we, like Ephesus, have lost our first love. “Those who truly love God must manifest loving-kindness of heart.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, vol. 1, 135. And then she says something that makes me so sad: “There is nothing the church lacks so much as a manifestation of Christlike love.” Ibid. Oh, does that not make you sad? That is the very thing that will destroy us. That is what Ephesus lacked. She says there is nothing that we lack so much as that very thing—“the manifestation of Christlike love.” It cannot be something that is just in our hearts; it has to be manifested. So the church is often illustrated by the church of Ephesus but never illustrated by the church of Smyrna.

Contrast Smyrna and Laodicea

Smyrna is almost the exact opposite of Laodicea. Smyrna perfectly represents the 144,000 who will come out of the Laodicean condition. When we study the church of Laodicea, the seventh and last church, which represents us, we will discover that God does not say one good thing about the church of Laodicea. How sad! But do you know, He does not say one bad thing about the church of Smyrna; He says only good things about it. Let us look at the contrast between these two churches.

Regarding the church of Laodicea, Revelation 3:17 says, “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor . . . .” They thought they were rich, but they were actually poor. On the other hand, look at what Scripture says about the church of Smyrna: “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich) . . . .” Revelation 2:9. You think you are poor, but you are actually rich. Laodicea says, “We are rich,” but God says, “No, you are poor.” Smyrna says, “We are poor,” but God says, “No, you are rich.” God does not quite view things as we view them, does He? Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.

Laodicea and Smyrna are contrasted in a parable that Jesus gave, which is recorded in Luke 18:9–14. “He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves [who thought they were rich and increased with goods] that they were righteous [and in need of nothing], and despised others.” Now, you must understand that when Jesus said this, Pharisees were held in great esteem, not like today. Today, we look at Pharisees through Jesus’ eyes, and we, like Him, realize they were not very good. Back then, everyone thought the Pharisees were almost ready for translation. Jesus said, “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise [his] eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [rather] than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Likened to Pharisees

The Pharisees fit the description of Laodicea exactly. In fact, it is interesting how often Ellen White likens us to the Pharisees. I hope that we have accepted all the counsel and that we no longer fit this description. Someday God has to have a people that come out. But look carefully, because the Laodiceans did not think that they were Laodiceans, did they? They thought that they were rich and increased with goods and had need of nothing. Ellen White said that “the spirit that controlled the Pharisees is coming in among this people.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, vol. 1, 165. She also stated: “I entreat you, brethren, be not like the Pharisees, who are blinded with spiritual pride, self-righteousness, and self-sufficiency, and who because of this will be forsaken of God. For years I have been receiving instructions and warnings that this was the danger to our people.” Ibid., 166. “There has been a spirit of Phariseeism, a hard, unsympathetic spirit towards the erring [she does not say toward those that we were misjudging as erring, but toward those who really were erring], a withdrawing from some and leaving them in discouragement, which is leaving the lost sheep to perish in the wilderness. There has been a placing of men where God alone should be.” Ibid., 312. Whenever men are lifted up in pride, they always look with spite on other people whom they perceive to be not as good as they. This spirit of the Pharisees is the most difficult, the most incurable, the most hopeless of all the diseases that man could have. “There is nothing so offensive to God or so dangerous to the human soul as pride and self-sufficiency. Of all the sins it is the most hopeless, the most incurable.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 154.

Spiritual Pride

There is nothing as difficult to cure as spiritual pride. Spiritual pride causes you to think that you are humble—because of all the hard work that you are doing for the Lord—like the Ephesians. Many may say, “Lord, if I did not love you, I would not be doing all of these good works.” But, you know, you can work and still not have that love.

When we become spiritual without love for others or for God, it makes us critical toward others. “Whoever trusts in himself that he is righteous will despise others.” Ibid., 151. Do you ever find yourself despising others? Do you find yourself critical of others? That is the spirit of Laodicea. That is the spirit of the Pharisees. The good news is that if we realize it, God can heal and cure that disease just as completely as any other. The only reason He cannot cure it is because most of us do not see it. The Pharisee disease is the disease you do not see. It is like someone who has cancer and does not know it. He thinks he is healthy when he is filled with a deadly disease.

Publican like Smyrna

The publican was like the people in Smyrna. They knew they were sinners, but they were forgiven. They thought they were poor, but they were rich. I want to have the experience of the Smyrnans, do you? My prayer to God is, “If you need to make me poor, in order to make me rich, make me poor. If you need to make me weak, in order to make me strong, make me weak. If, like Paul, you need to take away my eyesight so that I can see, take it away.”

Paul’s experience is given in 11 Corinthians 12:7–10. “Lest I should be exalted above measure,” like the Pharisees and the Laodiceans, “by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Smyrna had the experience of Paul. They considered themselves poor and sinful, but Jesus said they were rich and righteous.

Represents Christians

The church of Smyrna represents the Christians in the post-apostolic era after the apostles died. It is interesting that when the apostles died, the church then became purified. When the apostles were living, they lost their love. After the apostles died, however, the church began to be persecuted by the Romans, and they were persecuted by the Jewish church. Most were poor in this world’s goods, and they had no prophets among them, no apostles—they all had died. The church was scattered, beaten, and cast to the lions, but they remained true and faithful. Most of them died a martyr’s death.

“Paganism foresaw that should the gospel triumph, her temples and altars would be swept away; therefore she summoned her forces to destroy Christianity. The fires of persecution were kindled. Christians were stripped of their possessions and driven from their homes. . . .

“Christians were falsely accused of the most dreadful crimes and declared to be the cause of great calamities—famine, pestilence, and earthquake.” The Great Controversy, 39, 40. By the way, does that remind you of something that is going to happen in the last days?

During the time of trouble, soon to break upon us, “the great deceiver will persuade men that those who serve God are causing these evils.” Ibid., 590. They will turn to the Christians who are keeping the Sabbath, and they will say that it is because of them that they are receiving these judgments.

That was the experience of the church of Smyrna, and the church of Smyrna represents the 144,000 who come out of the Laodicean experience. The church of Smyrna came out of the Ephesus experience, and they were blamed for all these terrible calamities. “As they became the objects of popular hatred and suspicion, informers stood ready, for the sake of gain, to betray the innocent. They were condemned as rebels against the empire, as foes of religion, and pests to society. Great numbers were thrown to wild beasts or burned alive in the amphitheaters.” Ibid., 40. How terrible that must have been! “Some were crucified; others were covered with the skins of wild animals and thrust into the arena to be torn by dogs. Their punishment was often made the chief entertainment at public fetes. Vast multitudes assembled to enjoy the sight and greeted their dying agonies with laughter and applause.” Ibid. They represent those who will come out of a Laodicean experience as they came out of an Ephesus experience of no love.

Result of Persecution

Did this persecution destroy the Christians? Did it make them weaker? Revelation 2:10, 11 answers those questions: “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw [some] of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” The church before this time had lost their love, but persecution had revived it. You had to love God to be a Christian in those days. You had to love your neighbor to go witness to him, because he might turn you in to the authorities.

The fires of persecution, rather than destroy the church, purifies it. How sad that we have to have persecution to be purified. It would be wonderful if we could be purified without it! In the last days, we are going to find that all of God’s counsels are going to go for naught until the persecutions come, and then the church will be purified. We are told we will be so sad that we did not do in times of ease and prosperity the things we could have done, because now we will have to do them with persecutions. (See Testimonies, vol. 5, 456, 457.)

Malachi 3:3, 4 says that in the last days, “He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver.” The church is not going to remain in a Laodicean condition. It is going to be purged and purified, “that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasant to the Lord, as in the days of old, as in former days.” Daniel 12:10, speaking of the last days, says, “Many shall be purified, made white, and refined.” They will be purified and made white through trial. The more the church is persecuted, the stronger the church becomes.

Satan Plants Banner

Satan saw that he was losing the battle, so he had a council and came up with a new tactic, which brought about the end of the church of Smyrna. The Bible then goes into a different church, Pergamos, which we will study next month, but here is the tactic that Satan came up with to destroy the church, or Smyrna: “In vain were Satan’s efforts to destroy the church of Christ by violence. . . . The gospel continued to spread and the number of its adherents to increase. . . .

“Satan therefore laid his plans to war more successfully against the government of God by planting his banner in the Christian church. . . .

“The great adversary now endeavored to gain by artifice what he had failed to secure by force. Persecution ceased, and in its stead were substituted the dangerous allurements of temporal prosperity and worldly honor.” The Great Controversy, 41, 42. Satan’s representatives enticed the Christians, telling them that they would not call them a cult anymore, if they would just modify some of their theological understandings. If the Christians would give a little and Satan’s representatives would give a little, they could become one happy family.

It was during this time that Constantine decided that he was not gaining anything with the Christians, and he needed a united army. He marched his whole army through the river and then declared they were all baptized Christians—even the pagans! He permitted them to continue meeting on Sunday as the pagans always had, figuring that Sunday, instead of being the day of the sun, S-U-N, would now become the day of the Son, S-O-N, commemorating His resurrection. The idols that the pagans had been worshipping, representing Venus and Mars and Jupiter, now represented Peter and Mary and Jesus.

It became popular to be a Christian. Everyone could be a Christian in peace, but the church was in fearful peril. Prison, torture, fire and sword were blessings in comparison with this. As long as persecution continued, the church remained comparatively pure, but as persecution ceased, converts were added who were less sincere and devoted. The way was opened for Satan to obtain a foothold.

Dear friend, do not fear persecution. There is something much worse than persecution. It is Laodiceanism. That is what we need to fear—Phariseeism, legalism, work without love, Nicolaitanism. Smyrna was the opposite of Laodicea. Smyrna was persecuted but pure. Laodicea was at ease, but it was not pure. Smyrna was stripped of worldly goods, but they were rich. Laodicea was invested with worldly goods, but they were poor. Smyrna was perishing, but God said, “You will live.” Laodicea was living, but God said, “I will spew you out of My mouth.” Thus Smyrna is the opposite of Laodicea, but not only is it the opposite, it is also the cure for Laodicea.

Purge Unconverted

In Testimonies, vol. 4, 89, we read that, “Prosperity multiplies a mass of professors. Adversity purges them out of the church.” I want you to notice something, however, lest anyone should misinterpret the Scriptures. Adversity and persecution do not convert the unconverted; they merely purge them out of the church. Anyone who is waiting for a time of trouble and persecution to be converted is going to be sadly disappointed.

“Let opposition arise, let bigotry and intolerance again bear sway, let persecution be kindled, and the halfhearted and hypocritical will” not be converted. The Great Controversy, 602. Now, I added those last few words, but let me paraphrase what Mrs. White says. Those who are already converted will become more converted, but those who were not converted will find themselves, like the five foolish virgins, outside the door. They will say, “Oh, Lord.” He will say, “I am sorry; I never knew you.” (Matthew 25:11, 12.)

Dear friend, the time of trouble is coming. We find, in Daniel 12:1, that a time of trouble is coming on this world before Jesus comes such as has never been since there was a nation. That time of trouble is going to include persecution such as happened with Smyrna. It is nothing to fear, unless we are not ready today. In fact, we are told that whenever we live godly, there will be persecution. (See The Acts of the Apostles, 576.) Evidently, the only reason there is not persecution today is because we are not living godly. “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 11 Timothy 3:12.

Do we think that Satan does not have enough control of the world today that he could bring persecution if he so desired? He does not want to bring persecution right now. He does not want to wake up anyone. He is doing just fine the way things are. Let them sleep on in peace and prosperity and riches. We have not excited the wrath of Satan. He is happy with the way we are.

Fidelity Under Trial

Smyrna is an example of fidelity under trial. They were the purified remnant that came out of the church of Ephesus. They were a type of the 144,000 who will be a purified remnant that come out of the Laodicean condition. The people of Smyrna still had to overcome. Persecution did not do the overcoming; it merely showed what was inside and helped refine and polish them. They still had to overcome.

At the beginning of this article we read, in 1 Corinthians 13:3, that even if we give our bodies to be burned, and give all our goods to feed the poor, if we do not overcome selfishness and develop the love of Jesus, none of that will do us any good. In Revelation 2:11, we read the words spoken to the people of Smyrna in whom God found no fault, as far as was recorded. Nevertheless, He says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” They still had to overcome. Persecution does not make the lukewarm righteous. It did not make the people of Ephesus have love, but it did polish those who were living up to all the light they had, and that is what the time of trouble will do for the Christians in the last days.

In Maranatha, 273, we are told that “the time of trouble is the crucible that is to bring out Christ-like characters.” A crucible is a boiling pot where silver is refined, for example, and where the impurities come to the top and are strained out of the silver. So it is when troubles come, when those things that should not be in our characters are revealed, we can then take them out of our characters, and God can purify us. Those that go through to the end and are translated must go through the experience of Smyrna, because there is coming another time like that which existed on the earth in the days of Smyrna.

Preparation Time

Today, God is getting us ready for that time of trouble. How does He do it? By giving us little troubles today with which we can practice. The Ministry of Healing, 481, says, “The faithful discharge of today’s duties is the best preparation for tomorrow’s trials.” How do we prepare for tomorrow? If we keep up with the trials today, we will probably have plenty to do. But that is all we have to do, because if we do that, we will be ready for tomorrow. This is why we are told, in James 1:2–4, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” Verse 12 says, “Blessed [is] the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” God is faithful. He will never permit anything to come to us for which He has not at least tried to prepare us and for which He has prepared us, if we will endure the trials of today. That is all we have to do.

We look at the trials today and at times they get us down, but if we realize that all we have to do to make it through the time of trouble and get to heaven is to survive cheerfully the trials that come today, with God’s help, we can do that. God has promised to give us strength for today. Dear friend, if we will just keep up with the trials and troubles of today, we will have strength to handle the ones tomorrow. If we will conquer the temptations of today, we will be ready to master the troubles of tomorrow. But if we do not conquer the troubles of today, we will not be ready for the trials of tomorrow.

Jeremiah 12:5 says, “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? And [if] in the land of peace, [in which] you trusted, [they wearied you,] then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?” It is to us God speaks these closing words. It is to us, those who are going to make up the 144,000, those that come out of their Laodicean condition, that God speaks. “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw [some] of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” Revelation 2:10, 11.

Dear friends, our privilege is even greater than was the privilege of the Smyrnans, for they who endure the trials of the last days will not even suffer the first death. They will be translated. They will not even be hurt by the first death, for we are told, in 1 Thessalonians 4:17: “Then we who are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them”—those from Smyrna and all the other righteous people who have ever lived—“in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

The message to the church of Smyrna is, “Be thou faithful even in trial.”

To be continued . . .

Pastor Marshall Grosboll, with his wife Lillian, founded Steps to Life. In July 1991, Pastor Marshall and his family met with tragedy as they were returning home from a camp meeting in Washington state, when the airplane he was piloting went down, killing all on board.

Surrender, Part I

We need to look at our sin problem and ourselves from a new perspective. When it comes to righteousness, we are nothing but in the way! And yet, we are to seek for it: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33. We are told to seek for God’s righteousness, but in reality, it is He who seeks us, and we respond to His seeking, as we are told in Romans 3:11: “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”

Verse 12 continues, “They are all gone out of the way . . . .” We have all gone out of the way to ignore God and His authority. We want our own authority; we want to do our own thing. The fact is that we, like Eve, want to be our own gods. Oh, we want God to feed us, clothe us, protect us, and take care of us, but we do not want Him to tell us what to do, unless what He tells us is in agreement with what we think or with what we want to do.

Deep down inside, we desire to be our own gods, to call our own shots, to do our own thing, to have our own kingdoms.

The word kingdom comes from two words—king and dominion. A kingdom is a place where one king has total and complete control and authority. We want to have our own kingdoms. We want to be our own authority.

The temptation to be our own god appeals to the unfallen as well as the fallen. When it appealed to Eve, she was in an unfallen state. Before her, it appealed to an unfallen angel, the highest of all the angels, the one closest to the throne of God. A desire arose in Lucifer’s heart to have his own authority, to call his own shots, to be his own king, his own god.

Problem of Pride

Isaiah 14:12–15 gives the reason for Lucifer’s fall: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” Lucifer wanted his freedom. He did not want to be under God’s authority. He wanted to establish his own authority.

Pride was the problem. Pride turned an angel into the devil. Ellen White wrote: “There is nothing so offensive to God or so dangerous to the human soul as pride and self-sufficiency. Of all sins it is the most hopeless, the most incurable.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 154. “Pride [goeth] before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18.

Pride is an overly high opinion of one’s self, and it leads to rebellion. We need to ask ourselves, How are we doing with pride? Pride is a very dangerous sin—the most dangerous and incurable, we are told. We do not have to have a fallen nature for it to arise, and the reason this is important to us is because it can happen after we have been converted. This is why conversion is not a one time event. It is a daily, moment-by-moment experience.

Satan Spreads the Misery

Lucifer, or Satan, sold his idea to a third of the angels, and they were all cast out of the kingdom of God to this earth, where Satan went about setting up his kingdom. He well knew the power of pride, since he had already fallen for it, so that is the tool he used. He went to the ones who had been created in the very image of God, who, if they had stayed on track, would have become more and more like God throughout eternity. He convinced them that if they would come out from under God’s authority, and develop their own authority, they would become like God.

The bottom line of the lie he told them was, “Come out from under God’s authority, and you will gain status, you will gain knowledge, you will gain authority, you will gain freedom.” As one preacher has said, “As long as a train stays on those twin ribbons of steel, it has a lot more freedom than what we call a ‘free train.’ When a train jumps the tracks and takes off across the meadow, it is free all right, but it is only free to crash.”

The enticement was, “Adam and Eve, come out from under God’s authority and get your own authority.” But the truth was that they already had authority. We are told in Genesis 1 that they were given dominion—in other words, authority and jurisdiction—over the whole world, over the fish, the fowls, and the beasts of the field. Psalm 115:16 says, “The heaven, [even] the heavens, [are] the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men,” and in Psalm 8:4–6, we read, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all [things] under his feet.”

Through trickery, though, Satan deceptively snatched that dominion away from them. Adam and Eve had been given authority, as mentioned previously, over all things on earth, and if they had exercised their authority, they probably could have ordered the serpent out of the garden. Adam had been placed in the garden to keep it, to protect it. It was in his possession. He was to take care of it; he was to guard it, but instead, he lost it and the whole world with it to the devil.

How Could This Happen?

How could this happen? First, in spite of being warned to the contrary, Adam allowed Eve to wander away from his side. “The angels had cautioned Eve to beware of separating herself from her husband while occupied in their daily labor in the garden; with him she would be in less danger from temptation than if she were alone.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 53. Alone, Eve became deceived, and then she became Satan’s evangelist. Adam was her first convert. As a result of their actions, they both entered into slavery.

Romans 6:16 says, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” The Greek word doulos, which is here translated servant, properly signifies slave. So Adam and Eve became slaves to Satan, and the slave owner owns what the slave owns. This is how Satan gained Adam and Eve’s possessions, how he took this world under his dominion.

Adam and Eve yielded their dominion and their authority, and this is why, when Christ came 4,000 years later, Satan could offer the world to Him. “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.” Luke 4:5, 6. The Greek word exousia, translated power, means “authority or jursdiction.”

As long as Adam and Eve were under God’s authority, they had power or authority. As soon as they tried to get more authority, by coming out from under God’s authority, they lost all authority, even over their own wills.

Rebellion of Sin

Every single sin, no matter how big or how little we think it is, is rebellion against God’s authority. This is the underlying issue. Sinning says, “I want to be my own god.” As it says in the parable in Luke 19:14, “We will not have this [man] to reign over us.” This is what we are saying when we sin. We are telling God, “I want to be my own king, and I want my own kingdom. I do not want You to be King over me.” We certainly would not say those words to Him directly, but our actions are actually saying it. Do you see why there is no such thing as a little sin?

“He who willfully breaks one commandment, does not, in spirit and truth, keep any of them. ‘Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.’ James 2:10.

“It is not the greatness of the act of disobedience that constitutes sin, but the fact of variance from God’s expressed will in the least particular; for this shows that there is yet communion between the soul and sin. The heart is divided in its service. There is a virtual denial of God, a rebellion against the laws of His government.” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 51.

For what many would consider one little sin, Adam and Eve lost their noble place of authority and joy and communion with God, and they were placed in the position of bondage and fear and servitude to a new master.


A man had legally lost the world’s dominion, and it had to be legally reclaimed by a man. The second Adam had to come and redeem what the first Adam lost. The whole history of humanity boils down to those two men. We are either in Adam or we are in Christ. We are either in the flesh or we are in the Spirit. If we choose to be in Christ, then we can experience Christ’s victory. If we choose to stay in Adam, then we stay in Adam’s bondage.

The question is, How do we make the switch? We are all born into Adam. We have all inherited his nature, and his tendency to rebellion. The only way out is to be reborn into Christ.

We read, in 1 John 5:4, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith.” When we are born again, we are born to win.

Christ Conquered

Christ defeated Satan when He was in the wilderness of temptation, on the same ground, with the same test on which Adam fell. How did Christ win the victory? He did not do it by pulling rank. He did not do it by using power that He brought with Him from heaven. He did not do it by being God. He did it by being a man, totally and completely dependent upon and surrendered to God. His weapons were the Spirit of God and the Word of God. With these weapons, He conquered. Adam could have done this. We can do the same thing.

Because of Christ’s victory, authority again changed hands. Christ’s followers no longer have to remain in bondage to the world, to the flesh, and to the devil. The sad part is that most people do not know this. Many Christians do not realize this. Most have probably heard it or read it, but they either do not believe it, because the news seems too good to be true, or, like many throughout history, they believe the truth that we can be free, but they do not know the truth about how to be free. They do not have a clue.

People do not know how to be victorious because they do not learn from God. God tells us how, but a majority of people has been trying a failed plan. This faulty plan did not work the first time somebody tried it, and it will not work today, but many of us keep trying it anyway.

You know, the definition of insanity is to keep trying the same thing over and over, expecting different results. We have been in this state of insanity for about 6,000 years, and God wants us to come out of it. He has tried desperately to teach us another way.

In 1888, God tried to teach the way, but it apparently appeared to be too simple and too humbling to self, so that way has been repeatedly rejected. It is still the only way. Whether we accept it or reject it, it is still the only way. We need to look at the way; we need to humble ourselves to receive it. God wants us to come back under His plan and under His authority. He wants us to take back some of the lost dominion. We would not get it all back right now; we would not have dominion over the animals, for example, but we could have dominion over the flesh and the devil, in the area of temptation. This is what we need. We can have victory!

Not Over Until Under

One thing is certain. We will never be over the things that God wants under us until we get under the things that God sets over us. We must learn to submit to Him. Do you know that there is a large number of Christians who are very committed to the truth and the cause of God, but they are not submitted to the God of the truth and the cause?

Romans 8:37 tells us that we can be more than conquerors through Christ.

“For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:17. So, by one man’s offence—Adam’s—death reigned, but if we are no longer in Adam but in Christ, then we reign over the world, the flesh, and the devil. But we will never be over until we are under.

A Biblical Example

The centurion understood this concept very well. In Matthew 8:5–10 is the story of a centurion who came to Jesus and asked Him to heal his servant. Jesus said, “Yes, I will come and do it.”

But the centurion said, “No, You do not need to come to my place of dwelling. Just speak the word only, and my servant will be healed.” And the centurion began to explain to Jesus, “I know how this works, because I am a man under authority.” The centurion understood. “The only reason I have authority over 100 Roman soldiers is because I am under the authority of the Roman Government.” And he understood that Christ had authority over evil and sickness and death because He was under the authority of His Father. He was over because He was under.

Not of Ourselves

In John 5:30, Jesus makes this very clear: “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”

Jesus sent out 70 disciples as lambs among wolves. Their experience is recorded in Luke 10:17: “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” How could they have that kind of power? Verse 16 says, “He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.”

Do you see the chain of command? There is the Father over Jesus and Jesus over the 70, and the 70 over the devil. It is an authority thing.

Verse 18 says, “And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” Well, He not only beheld it, but He was the One who cast him out. In verse 19, it says, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” The first power in this text is translated from the Greek word exousia meaning “authority.” The second power is translated from dunamis, which is actually referring to “strength.” In other words, “Behold, I give unto you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the strength of the enemy [Satan].”

Authority vs. Power

Authority is a lot better than power. You can have power and have no authority, but when you have authority, you have more than power. You know, when a little skinny police officer holds up his hand and blows his whistle in front of an eighteen-wheeler truck and that eighteen-wheeler comes to a stop, is it because of that little policeman’s power to stop it? No, it could have just run right over him. It is all about authority. The policeman represents authority, and that is why the truck stops. He is under, so he is over.

The devil has power, but he has no authority. Apostasy has no authority, except what men will allow it to have. You may usurp some authority on your own, and people who do not know any better may submit to it, but it will not last long. Someday your little kingdom will come down around you. To have real authority, you must be under real authority.

The devil recognizes whether or not you have authority. He is not fooled. Acts 19:13–16 says, “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of [one] Sceva, a Jew, [and] chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”

These exorcists were fortunate. The name of Jesus is not a magical charm, and if we are not surrendered to Jesus, the devil knows it. I say that these exorcists were fortunate because he let them know right away that they did not have any authority. We may not like the way they found out, but it is a good thing that they did find out right then and there. Most of the time the devil is smarter than that, and he does not let us know right away. He plays games with us, and we could end up like the group in Matthew 7:21–23 that comes to the end of time and says, “Lord, Lord, look at all these things we did in Your name. We prophesied; we even cast out devils,” but Christ says, “I never knew you.” It was not Christ who helped them cast out the devils. Who helped them cast out the devils? It was the devil; he was playing a game with them. They did not have any authority over him, but he did not let them know that.

Committed but not Submitted

There are very many who are committed, but they are not submitted. They are committed to the truth, but they are not submitted to God. They are not surrendered. The foolish virgins of Matthew 25 are an example.

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five [were] foolish. They that [were] foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.” Verses 1–8.

You know the rest of the story. The door was shut. The five foolish virgins did not make it inside. All ten were virgins—symbolic of a pure religion and a pure doctrine—and they carried lamps.

“Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105. They had the Word of God, and they were not scoffers. They were waiting for the bridegroom to come. Was sleeping the problem? No, all ten slept, both the wise and the foolish, so that was not the problem.

“The class represented by the foolish virgins are not hypocrites. They have a regard for the truth, they have advocated the truth, they are attracted to those who believe the truth; but they have not yielded themselves [they are never surrendered; they have never submitted] to the Holy Spirit’s working. They have not fallen upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, and permitted their old nature to be broken up. This class are represented also by the stony-ground hearers. They receive the word with readiness, but they fail of assimilating its principles. Its influence is not abiding. The Spirit works upon man’s heart, according to his desire and consent implanting in him a new nature; but the class represented by the foolish virgins have been content with a superficial work. They do not know God. They have not studied His character.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 411.


So, commitment without surrender can be very dangerous. In fact, it can be downright scary. The word commitment really did not come into large usage among English-speaking Christians until the 1960s. Whenever a word gains popularity, it usually pushes out another word, and in the 1960s, the word commitment pushed out the word surrender. Christians used to talk about being surrendered; now we talk about being committed.


As a Bible worker, I am becoming concerned about this, because at the end of a Bible study, I always want a commitment, but I am starting to rethink this. We need to get people to surrender; commitment is not enough. If they have commitment without surrender, we well know the results. We see people come into truth and then fall away.

In 1 Corinthians 13:3, it talks about a people that are so committed to the truth and the cause of God that they are willing to become martyrs for Him. It says that they are willing to give their bodies to be burned. That is commitment! Yet, they are still not saved.

Others become committed but not surrendered, and, eventually, they become discouraged, because they see they are not progressing. If they are honest with themselves, they know that their hearts have not changed; they are still rotten inside; they are just going through the outward motions. They are putting on a show. They usually end up becoming liberal, or what we call antinomians, and they come up with new theologies such as, we do not have to keep God’s Law, because we cannot keep it.

So, you see that commitment without surrender is very dangerous. Commitment without surrender can make us very sincere, legalistic, Pharisaical zealots, but it will never change our hearts. There is no joy in that kind of religion. It may puff up the flesh, but it will never make us Christlike Christians.

Many people are fighting a very worthy battle, but they are fighting it at the wrong time, with the wrong tools, and in the wrong way. When we fight the battle without first surrendering, then we are doing all those things. We can fight all we want, for all we are worth, but we are still going to lose. So why are we so reluctant to surrender?

Hardest Thing To Do

Surrendering seems to be the hardest thing in the world to do. One reason is fear. We are afraid of what God is going to do with us and what He is going to ask of us, if we fully surrender. That just shows that we really do not know Him. To know Him is to love Him. To love Him is to trust Him. To trust Him is to obey Him. To obey Him is to be blessed by Him. The key is knowing Him. What is He like? What is His character like? How does He think and feel?

We will never know the answers to these questions if we are not spending time with Him each day. If we are not doing this, then we do not stand a chance. But as we spend time with Him each day, getting to know Him and to trust Him, a safe environment will develop in which to surrender.

To be continued . . .

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

Editorial – Types and Shadows, Part VIII

When Christ told Peter that unless he submitted to this service, he could have no part with him, Peter surrendered his pride and self-will. This can never, never be. He was all broken up at the thought, and exclaimed, ‘Not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.’ Jesus had a lesson, deep, full, and significant: ‘He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.’ [John 13:9, 10.] The true version reads, ‘He that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet.’ That lesson comprehended more than bodily cleansing. The feet of Judas were washed, but his heart was defiled with sin. In the very act of girding himself with a towel to wash the feet of his disciples, Jesus would subdue and cleanse them from their alienation, and dissension, and jealousy, and pride. Not one of them was in an acceptable state before God, with such a spirit of unhappy dissension. The renewed heart, cleansed from every defilement, was of far more consequence than the outward application of water to their dusty feet. Jesus could not give them the lessons he so much desired to impart unless they would come into a proper state of humility and affection. Dissension always creates hatred, but Christ washed it away in the act of washing his disciples’ feet. A change of feeling did come; the union of heart and love for one another did exist. They became meek, teachable, and loving, and would have conceded to any one the highest place. They were prepared to partake of the last supper with fragrant feelings of love, deep and full, for their Master and for one another.

“Shall we learn the lesson of the marvelous wisdom and love of God? Shall we, at the ordinance of feet-washing, be softened and subdued, as were the first disciples? Peter shrank from bringing his soiled feet in touch with the hands of his Lord and Master; yet how often we bring our sinful, polluted souls in contact with the heart of Christ, who hates nothing but sin. O, how we grieve the pure, holy Spirit of Christ with our defiling sins! We are not prepared for the appreciation of the holy communion with Christ and with one another unless we are cleansed by his efficacy.

“We need closely to investigate our life and character, and have true contrition of soul, having fellowship with Christ and fellowship with our brethren. Then we shall show that we can appreciate the work of the Holy Spirit upon our hearts. The barriers of pride, of self-sufficiency, are first to be broken down; then the love of Jesus will abound in our hearts. Then we can partake of the communion with a consciousness of sins forgiven; for whosoever sits down at the communion service should sit down humble and clean in heart, and purified from all defilement. Then the sunshine of Christ’s righteousness will fill the chambers of our minds and the soul temple. We shall ‘behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’ [John 1:29.]” Review and Herald, July 5, 1898.

Question and Answer – Eradicating Selfishness and Pride


How do I eradicate selfishness and pride?


Selfishness and pride are natural human frailties. We each have a sinful nature to battle against. (See Romans 7 and 8.) Selfish and proud thoughts will come into our minds as long as we live in sinful flesh, but Jesus has promised to help us overcome and to bring every thought into subjection to Christ. (See II Corinthians 10:5.)

We have to live with ourselves, and the Lord has created us with the wonderful privilege of choosing to be the kind of a people with whom we would like to live. Besides this, God created us with natural laws in our bodies. For example, if we do a certain thing over and over again we establish a habit; practices of which become so strong that we ourselves cannot change them. These habits may be good or bad; they may be the way we eat, the way we talk, or a myriad other things, but these things define who we are and this is what we depict to others. Our habits designate how we react to life.

There is another dimension of life that would be helpful upon which to deliberate. The Creator gave us thinking power and the ability to reason. These are the powers that guide and direct the choices we make in life. For instance, we choose where to live, what career to pursue, and many other things that we have the power to govern and the ability to accomplish. Through the power of conscious choice and reasoning we may learn that we have developed some habits that are not pleasing, then make a decided effort to change. Yet it is here that most are struck with the realization that habits are stronger than we are. The anger, peevishness, indignation, and other sudden reactions that arise when situations are not to our liking are the result of habits that have been formed.

Now we come to another aspect of life: we have a loving, all-powerful Saviour who came to this earth and lived a sinless life. He met every temptation that we have to meet and, through prayer and faith in His Heavenly Father, overcame sin. The beautiful thing about this is that Christ has promised to give us the same power that He had so we can also overcome.

In order to have the power to overcome that Jesus had, we must live the kind of life that He lived. He was determined to do His Father’s will, He spent many hours talking with His Father in Prayer, and He spent time memorizing the Scriptures. When He was tempted, He quoted Scripture or prayed. We may do the same thing and, through His power, overcome sin.

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name.” John 1:12.

Selfishness and pride are not things that can be overcome quickly or easily, or by human power alone. If these things are to be overcome, the heart must be humbled and committed. Prayerfully petition the Holy Spirit to create in you a clean heart and renew a right spirit within you. Become intimately acquainted with the character of Christ, for by beholding, we become changed. “As the flower turns to the sun, that the bright beams may aid in perfecting its beauty and symmetry, so should we turn to the Sun of Righteousness, that heaven’s light may shine upon us, that our character may be developed into the likeness of Christ.” Steps to Christ, 67, 68.

If you have a Bible question you wish to have answered, please e-mail it to:

Bible Study Guides – Pride and Humility

February 1, 2009 – February 7, 2009

Key Text

“Be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” I Peter 5:5.

Study Help: Prophets and Kings, 349–366; In Heavenly Places, 75.


“The pride of Assyria and its fall are to serve as an object lesson to the end of time.” Prophets and Kings, 366.

1 With what reasoning did Hezekiah encourage his people to face the Assyrians? II Chronicles 32:7, 8, first part.

Note: “At the time of Hezekiah’s accession to the throne of Judah, the Assyrians had already carried captive a large number of the children of Israel from the northern kingdom; and a few years after he had begun to reign, and while he was still strengthening the defenses of Jerusalem, the Assyrians besieged and captured Samaria and scattered the ten tribes among the many provinces of the Assyrian realm. The borders of Judah were only a few miles distant, with Jerusalem less than fifty miles away; and the rich spoils to be found within the temple would tempt the enemy to return.

“But the king of Judah had determined to do his part in preparing to resist the enemy; and, having accomplished all that human ingenuity and energy could do, he had assembled his forces and had exhorted them to be of good courage. ‘Great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee’ had been the message of the prophet Isaiah to Judah; and the king with unwavering faith now declared, ‘With us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles’ Isaiah 12:6; II Chronicles 32:8.” Prophets and Kings, 351.

2 Why was Hezekiah able to put his confidence in God’s help? Isaiah 10:12, 24–27; 14:24–27. How did the people respond to Hezekiah’s appeal? II Chronicles 32:8, last part.

Note: “Nothing more quickly inspires faith than the exercise of faith. The king of Judah had prepared for the coming storm; and now, confident that the prophecy against the Assyrians would be fulfilled, he stayed his soul upon God.” Prophets and Kings, 351.

3 When, to all appearances, the prospects seemed hopeless for Judah, how did the Assyrian officers make things even worse? Isaiah 36:13–20.

Note: “The long-expected crisis finally came. The forces of Assyria, advancing from triumph to triumph, appeared in Judea. Confident of victory, the leaders divided their forces into two armies, one of which was to meet the Egyptian army to the southward, while the other was to besiege Jerusalem.

“Judah’s only hope was now in God. All possible help from Egypt had been cut off, and no other nations were near to lend a friendly hand.

“The Assyrian officers, sure of the strength of their disciplined forces, arranged for a conference with the chief men of Judah, during which they insolently demanded the surrender of the city. This demand was accompanied by blasphemous revilings against the God of the Hebrews. Because of the weakness and apostasy of Israel and Judah, the name of God was no longer feared among the nations, but had become a subject for continual reproach.” Prophets and Kings, 352.

4 What was the response of the Jews to the taunts of the haughty Assyrian? Isaiah 36:21, 22; 37:1–4. How can we make a practical application of their example?

Note: “When persons meet together for the investigation of points of faith concerning which there is a difference of opinion, the spirit which controls them will be manifested. Those who are standing in defense of truth should be calm and self-possessed. If they have the mind of Christ, they will be kind and courteous. They will not be betrayed into the use of harsh language. They will not regard themselves as infallible, nor look with contempt upon those who differ with them. They will not regard them as enemies, nor meet them with ridicule or jesting.” Gospel Workers, 389. (1892 edition.)

“Those who are finally victorious will have seasons of terrible perplexity and trial in their religious life; but they must not cast away their confidence, for this is a part of their discipline in the school of Christ, and it is essential in order that all dross may be purged away.” Messages to Young People, 63.

“Not in freedom from trial, but in the midst of it, is Christian character developed. Exposure to rebuffs and opposition leads the follower of Christ to greater watchfulness and more earnest prayer to the mighty Helper.” The Acts of the Apostles, 467, 468.

5 What message did God give to Hezekiah through Isaiah? II Kings 19:5–7. How is God willing to help His people today?

Note: “God would have us recall His dealings with His people in the past to save them from their enemies. He has always chosen extremities, when there seemed no possible chance for deliverance from Satan’s workings, for the manifestation of His power. Man’s necessity is God’s opportunity.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 714.

6 During this crisis, what did Isaiah and Hezekiah do? II Chronicles 32:20; II Kings 19:14–19.

Note: “Hezekiah’s pleadings in behalf of Judah and of the honor of their Supreme Ruler were in harmony with the mind of God. Solomon, in his benediction at the dedication of the temple, had prayed the Lord to maintain ‘the cause of His people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require: that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else.’ I Kings 8:59, 60. Especially was the Lord to show favor when, in times of war or of oppression by an army, the chief men of Israel should enter the house of prayer and plead for deliverance.” Prophets and Kings, 359.

7 What reassurance did the Lord send to the king and the people of Judah? II Kings 19:20–22, 28, 34. Since their land had been laid waste, how did God supply their needs? II Kings 19:29.

Note: “The King of kings bends low to listen to the prayer coming from one who desires to do the Master’s will. An earnest prayer offered from a sincere, contrite heart is of more value in God’s sight than is eloquence of speech. God hears every prayer offered with the incense of faith. His weakest child may exert an influence in harmony with the councils of heaven. It is in answer to prayer that God revives His work.” The Review and Herald, June 23, 1903.

8 How did God deliver His people from the Assyrians? II Kings 19:35; II Chronicles 32:21, 22.

Note: “The God of the Hebrews had prevailed over the proud Assyrian. The honor of Jehovah was vindicated in the eyes of the surrounding nations. In Jerusalem the hearts of the people were filled with holy joy. Their earnest entreaties for deliverance had been mingled with confession of sin and with many tears. In their great need they had trusted wholly in the power of God to save, and He had not failed them. …

“The rise and fall of the Assyrian Empire is rich in lessons for the nations of earth today. Inspiration has likened the glory of Assyria at the height of her prosperity to a noble tree in the garden of God, towering above the surrounding trees. …

“But the rulers of Assyria, instead of using their unusual blessings for the benefit of mankind, became the scourge of many lands. Merciless, with no thought of God or their fellow men, they pursued the fixed policy of causing all nations to acknowledge the supremacy of the gods of Nineveh, whom they exalted above the Most High. God had sent Jonah to them with a message of warning, and for a season they humbled themselves before the Lord of hosts and sought forgiveness. But soon they turned again to idol worship and to the conquest of the world.” Prophets and Kings, 361–363.

9 In what sense does the fate of Assyria present a general principle for every age? Isaiah 30:27, 28; Proverbs 11:17; 16:18.

Note: “ ‘The pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the scepter of Egypt shall depart away.’ Zechariah 10:11. This is true not only of the nations that arrayed themselves against God in ancient times, but also of nations today who fail of fulfilling the divine purpose. In the day of final awards, when the righteous Judge of all the earth shall ‘sift the nations’ (Isaiah 30:28), and those that have kept the truth shall be permitted to enter the City of God, heaven’s arches will ring with the triumphant songs of the redeemed.” Prophets and Kings, 366.

10 What practical lessons should we derive from this experience involving Hezekiah, Isaiah, and the Assyrians? I Peter 5:5–7.

Note: “There are many ways in which God can punish, and punishment will surely follow wherever pride is indulged. ‘Pride goeth before destruction.’ [Proverbs 16:18.] Let a man be lifted up by a sense of his own ability, and trust in his human strength, and he will surely be overcome by temptation. God will bring him down. He will teach him his utter weakness, that he may feel his need of divine aid. Let anyone glory in his wisdom or his talents, or in anything but Christ and Him crucified, and he will learn that the Lord alone is to be exalted.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 332, 333.

“When we begin to realize that we are sinners, and fall on the Rock to be broken, the everlasting arms are placed about us, and we are brought close to the heart of Jesus. Then we shall be charmed with His loveliness, and disgusted with our own righteousness. We need to come close to the foot of the cross. The more we humble ourselves there, the more exalted will God’s love appear.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 327, 328.

Additional Reading

“The apostle James saw that dangers would arise in presenting the subject of justification by faith, and he labored to show that genuine faith cannot exist without corresponding works. The experience of Abraham is presented. ‘Seest thou,’ he says, ‘how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?’ [James 2:22.] Thus genuine faith does a genuine work in the believer. Faith and obedience bring a solid, valuable experience.

“There is a belief that is not a saving faith. The Word declares that the devils believe and tremble. The so-called faith that does not work by love and purify the soul will not justify any man. … Abraham believed God. How do we know that he believed? His works testified to the character of his faith, and his faith was accounted to him for righteousness.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 936.

“I have frequently seen that the children of the Lord neglect prayer, especially secret prayer, altogether too much; that many do not exercise that faith which it is their privilege and duty to exercise, often waiting for that feeling which faith alone can bring. Feeling is not faith; the two are distinct. Faith is ours to exercise, but joyful feeling and the blessing are God’s to give. The grace of God comes to the soul through the channel of living faith, and that faith it is in our power to exercise.

“True faith lays hold of and claims the promised blessing before it is realized and felt. We must send up our petitions in faith within the second veil and let our faith take hold of the promised blessing and claim it as ours. We are then to believe that we receive the blessing, because our faith has hold of it, and according to the Word it is ours. ‘What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.’ Mark 11:24. Here is faith, naked faith, to believe that we receive the blessing, even before we realize it. When the promised blessing is realized and enjoyed, faith is swallowed up. But many suppose they have much faith when sharing largely of the Holy Spirit and that they cannot have faith unless they feel the power of the Spirit. Such confound faith with the blessing that comes through faith. The very time to exercise faith is when we feel destitute of the Spirit. When thick clouds of darkness seem to hover over the mind, then is the time to let living faith pierce the darkness and scatter the clouds. True faith rests on the promises contained in the Word of God, and those only who obey that Word can claim its glorious promises. ‘If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.’ John 15:7. ‘Whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.’ I John 3:22.” Early Writings, 72, 73.

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

Ever Watchful

“Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”
Mark 13:35-37.

Both Jesus and most of the writers of the New Testament share a common motif, which is the need for watchfulness, especially as the earth moves toward its close. Matthew says, “Watch therefore …” Matthew 25:13; Mark records, “Watch ye therefore …” Mark 13:35; Doctor Luke documents, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always …” Luke 21:36; Acts 20:31; John, recording the words of the true witness, says, “Be watchful …” “If therefore thou shalt not watch …” Revelation 3:2, 3; The apostle Paul counsels, “Watch ye, stand fast …” I Corinthians 16:13; “Continue in prayer, and watch … .” Colossians 4:2; “… watch and be sober.” I Thessalonians 5:6; “But watch thou in all things …” II Timothy 4:5; Peter states, “… watch unto prayer.” I Peter 4:7.

So, in this message I desire to address the urgency that is placed upon a Christian to watch, within the context of the end of the great controversy between Christ and Satan.

If ever there was a time for every Christian to watch and be ready, it is now! What did Jesus mean when he admonished us to watch? Let’s read again Jesus’ words found in Mark 13:35–37: “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”

The Greek word gregoreuo is word number 1127 in the Strong’s Concordance and means “watch,” “to keep awake,” “be vigilant,” “be awake,” “be watchful.” This word, gregoreuo, comes from word number 1453 which is egeiro, which means “to waken from sleep, sitting or lying, from disease, from death, from inactivity,” etc. Hence, we understand that this is a call to soberness and constant alertness on the part of the Christian; a constant state of readiness!

In commenting on the meaning of Mark’s account to “watch ye therefore,” God’s servant states, “Jesus has left us word, ‘Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the Master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.’ We are waiting and watching for the return of the Master, who is to bring the morning, lest coming suddenly He find us sleeping. What time is here referred to? Not to the revelation of Christ in the clouds of heaven to find a people asleep. No; but to His return from His ministration in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, when He lays off His priestly attire and clothes Himself with garments of vengeance, and when the mandate goes forth: ‘He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.’

“When Jesus ceases to plead for man, the cases of all are forever decided. This is the time of reckoning with His servants. To those who have neglected the preparation of purity and holiness, which fits them to be waiting ones to welcome their Lord, the sun sets in gloom and darkness, and rises not again. Probation closes; Christ’s intercessions cease in heaven. This time finally comes suddenly upon all, and those who have neglected to purify their souls by obeying the truth are found sleeping. They became weary of waiting and watching; they became indifferent in regard to the coming of their Master. They longed not for His appearing, and thought there was no need of such continued, persevering watching. They had been disappointed in their expectations and might be again. They concluded that there was time enough yet to arouse. They would be sure not to lose the opportunity of securing an earthly treasure. It would be safe to get all of this world they could. And in securing this object, they lost all anxiety and interest in the appearing of the Master. They became indifferent and careless, as though His coming were yet in the distance. But while their interest was buried up in their worldly gains, the work closed in the heavenly sanctuary, and they were unprepared.

“If such had only known that the work of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary would close so soon, how differently would they have conducted themselves, how earnestly would they have watched! The Master, anticipating all this, gives them timely warning in the command to watch. He distinctly states the suddenness of His coming. He does not measure the time, lest we shall neglect a momentary preparation, and in our indolence look ahead to the time when we think He will come, and defer the preparation. ‘Watch ye therefore: for ye know not.’ ” Testimonies, vol. 2, 190, 191.

To whom is this warning addressed? We read in the following gospels these words: “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.” Matthew 24:4; “And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any [man] deceive you.” Mark 13:5; “And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived.” Luke 21:8.

We are told, “The Saviour’s instructions to His disciples were given for the benefit of His followers in every age. He had those in view who were living near the close of time, when He said: ‘Take heed to yourselves.’ It is our work, each for himself, to cherish in the heart the precious graces of the Holy Spirit.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 102, 103.

“To illustrate the importance of being alert, Jesus spoke six parables: the Porter, which is here condensed into one verse, the Master of the House, the Faithful and Unfaithful servants, the Ten Virgins, the Talents, and the Sheep and the Goats. Christians are not to await their Lord’s return in idle expectancy. While waiting and watching they are to be vigilant in purifying their own souls by obedience to the truth, and to be earnest in working for others. It is their privilege ‘not only to look for but to hasten the coming of the day of God.’ ” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 504, 505.

Jesus uses three phrases in admonishing us to alertness; they are: “take heed,” “watch,” and “be ready.” He who is sincerely looking for the coming of Jesus will be ready whenever his Lord may appear.

We can then conclude that Christ’s warning to “watch therefore,” although applicable to the whole world, is especially addressed to His end-time church—Laodicea.

So why is it addressed to the Laodicean church? The Scripture tells us concerning the Laodicean Christians. Revelation 3:14–17: “Unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” The Laodiceans’ problem is self-deception, and as a consequence of this attitude they have failed to follow the counsel of Jesus—to watch. Thus they have become blinded and deluded by Satan to their true spiritual condition. Luke tells us the warning that Christ left the Laodiceans: “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and [so] that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Luke 21:34–36.

“When the Saviour pointed out to His followers the signs of His return, He foretold the state of backsliding that would exist just prior to His second advent. There would be, as in the days of Noah, the activity and stir of worldly business and pleasure seeking—buying, selling, planting, building, marrying, and giving in marriage—with forgetfulness of God and the future life. For those living at this time, Christ’s admonition is: ‘Take heed to yourselves … watch and pray always.’

“The condition of the church at this time is pointed out in the Saviour’s words in the Revelation: ‘Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.’ And to those who refuse to arouse from their careless security, the solemn warning is addressed: ‘If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.’ Revelation 3:1, 3.” The Great Controversy, 309, 310.

The beloved apostle John, writing verily to us, emphatically pleads: “Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” I John 2:15, 16.

The messenger to the remnant church points out that “the love of the world and the deceitfulness of riches eclipse our faith, and we do not long for, and love, the appearing of our Saviour. We try too hard to take care of self ourselves. We are uneasy and greatly lack a firm trust in God. Many worry and work, contrive and plan, fearing they may suffer need. They cannot afford time to pray or to attend religious meetings and, in their care for themselves, leave no chance for God to care for them. And the Lord does not do much for them, for they give Him no opportunity. They do too much for themselves, and believe and trust in God too little.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 196.

“Men and women professing to be waiting and loving the appearing of their Lord are shut up to self. The noble, the godlike, they have parted with. The love of the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, have so fastened upon them that they are blinded. They are corrupted by the world and discern it not.” Ibid., 197.

Here we see four problem areas that cause Christ to give warning to Laodicea—His church living in the period just before the end of the world.

  • The love of the world
  • The lust of the flesh
  • The lust of the eyes
  • The pride of life.

Let us take a closer look at these four areas [table below]:

  1. The love of the world—this has to do with those things that are alien and hostile to God, or worldly affairs that lead away from God. It has to do with everything and anything that is contrary to the words of God, its teaching and lifestyle.

Accordingly, when John bids his readers, ‘Love not the world,’ he is not thinking of the earth as it came from the hand of God, but of the earthly elements, animate and inanimate, that Satan has marshaled in rebellion against God. John knows how attractive these things can appear, and bids Christians to beware of them and to resist their seductive power.

  1. The lust of the flesh—this has to do with the sensuous nature of man, in which, “dwelleth no good thing” and which lusts to evil. The lust of the flesh is the craving of the flesh for indulgence in evil. It includes all strong desires for indulgence contrary to the will of God. Those strong desires may very well include perverted sexual desires, perverted appetite, crave for power or fame, excessive desire to control, diabolical motivation to make self prominent, etc.
  2. The lust of the eyes—If “lust of the flesh’ applies particularly to sins arising from the body, ‘lust of the eyes’ may be understood to refer to mental pleasure stimulated through sight. Much of the sinful pleasure of the world is experienced through the eyes. Many who would hasten to disclaim and intention of indulging in open sin themselves are eager to read about sin, to study it in a picture or to watch it depicted upon a screen. The word of God declares, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matthew 5:27, 28. Also, “Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.” Proverbs 6:25.
  3. The pride of life—This has reference to boastful display. It implies a materialistic satisfaction with worldly goods, a state of mind that substitutes the material for the spiritual. Some take pride in their work, other in their possessions, still others in their own beauty of their children. Some other pride themselves with educational and academic accomplishments.

The warning of Christ is relevant for us living in these closing days of probation to take heed, watch therefore, and be ready. This is so because we who are called by God’s name are totally absorbed in worldliness and are unaware that probation is about to be closed forever. These words stand as an indictment against us: “The cares of the world engross the mind to that degree that self-examination and secret prayer are neglected. The armor is laid off and Satan has free access to them, benumbing their sensibilities and causing them to be unsuspicious of his wiles.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 126. “Many have partaken so largely of the spirit and influence of the world that they act like the world.” Ibid., 127.

What should the remnant people be doing now as evidence that they are watching? As a people of prophecy we know that we are now living in the antitypical day of atonement. As it was in the sanctuary system of the Old Testament that on the day of atonement the people were required to afflict their souls, they were to do serious self-examination, confessing and repenting of all sin in order to be in oneness with God. So now we must be doing the same work, for our sins must be blotted out or our names will be blotted out of the book of life forever. So we have a work of watching to do!

The prophet Isaiah declares, “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.” Isaiah 13:9.

“In view of that great day the word of God, in the most solemn and impressive language, calls upon His people to arouse from their spiritual lethargy and to seek His face with repentance and humiliation: ‘Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand.’ ‘Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children … let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar.’ ‘Turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.’ Joel 2:1, 15–17, 12, 13.” The Great Controversy, 311.

“When Christ took human nature upon Him, He bound humanity to Himself by a tie of love that can never be broken by any power save the choice of man himself. Satan will constantly present allurements to induce us to break this tie—to choose to separate ourselves from Christ. Here is where we need to watch, to strive, to pray, that nothing may entice us to choose another master; for we are always free to do this. But let us keep our eyes fixed upon Christ, and He will preserve us. Looking unto Jesus, we are safe. Nothing can pluck us out of His hand. In constantly beholding Him, we ‘are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.’ II Corinthians 3:18.

“It was thus that the early disciples gained their likeness to the dear Saviour. When those disciples heard the words of Jesus, they felt their need of Him. They sought, they found, they followed Him. They were with Him in the house, at the table, in the closet, in the field. They were with Him as pupils with a teacher, daily receiving from His lips lessons of holy truth. They looked to Him, as servants to their master, to learn their duty. Those disciples were men ‘subject to like passions as we are.’ James 5:17. They had the same battle with sin to fight. They needed the same grace, in order to live a holy life.” Steps to Christ, 72.

The warning is clear: “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.” Mark 13:35, 36.

The pen of inspiration states, “The church of God is required to fulfill her night watch, however perilous, whether long or short. Sorrow is no excuse for her to be less watchful. Tribulation should not lead to carelessness, but to double vigilance. Christ has directed the church by His own example to the Source of their strength in times of need, distress, and peril. The attitude of watching is to designate the church as God’s people indeed. By this sign the waiting ones are distinguished from the world and show that they are pilgrims and strangers upon the earth.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 205.

Pastor Ivan Plummer ministers through the Emmanuel Seventh Day Church Ministries in Bronx, New York. He may be contacted by telephone at: 718-822-3900.

Why is it so Difficult to Turn Around? Part 1

God’s work is going to be finished soon, and I want to be part of it when it finishes—do you? In this article, I want to study with you about what the Holy Spirit can do in our lives. The best title, though, that I could come up with is, “Why Is It so Difficult to Turn Around?” There are many people for whom the Holy Spirit cannot do anything in their lives, because they will not turn in the right direction.

Gospel Order

In the early church, when the Holy Spirit was poured out, 3,000 people were converted in a day; many more accepted Christ, and God added to their numbers daily. (Acts 2:41, 47.) How did someone become a member of the apostolic church? When the people heard that they were the ones that crucified Jesus, they were pricked in their hearts and they asked, “What shall we do?” Peter told them, “Repent and be baptized.” (Verses 36–38.) All through the New Testament baptism is the door into the church.

We need to recognize that when the Holy Spirit comes, He never does away with gospel order. God always works in an organized way. That is why, before we have a baptism, it is our custom to entertain a motion that the baptismal candidates be accepted into church membership, subject to their baptism. That is orderly procedure. The Holy Spirit does not work in a disorderly way; the Holy Spirit works in an orderly way. Things were done this way in the New Testament. If a person was baptized and professed faith in Jesus, then he or she became a member of the church. But, the Holy Spirit cannot do anything for you or for me unless we turn around.

Turn Around

In the Bible, the basic meanings of the Greek and Hebrew words that are translated “to be converted” or “to repent” simply are “to change your mind” or “to turn around.” The Holy Spirit cannot do anything for us if we do not change our minds or turn around. Isaiah 45:22 says, “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! Because I am God, and there is not anybody else.” In other words, there is no other God. The first word of the verse, in my Bible, is turn, “turn to Me.” If we do that, we will be saved. Some Bible versions say, “look to me;” it means the same thing.

From this verse, we can see that it is vital that we turn to the Lord and look to Him, so we can be saved. Remember, I have entitled this article, “Why Is It so Difficult to Turn Around?” It is difficult to turn around, because from our memory banks, we have things in our minds that we have believed for a long time. After we have believed something for a long time, we are just sure that it is the truth, even though it may not be. That is what happened to the Jews in the days of Jesus. There were certain things that they had known for so long that they were sure that they were the truth, but they were not.

Believing an Error

“The Jews refused to receive Christ, because He did not come in accordance with their expectations. The ideas of finite men were held as infallible, because hoary with age.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 64. They had believed it for so long that they thought it was infallible.

That would never happen again, would it? Read the next sentence: “This is the danger to which the church is now exposed.” Ibid. What is the danger to which we are exposed? That we have believed certain things for so long that we just know that is the way it is.

No matter how long we have believed an error, at some point in time, we are going to be forced to recognize it was not so. A lot of people are not going to recognize until the end of the millennium that what they believed was not truth, but they are going to recognize it then. Every error that an individual has believed, he or she is going to be forced, at some point, to acknowledge, but it will be too late someday to be saved, even though the error is acknowledged.

“This is the danger to which the church is now exposed—that the inventions of finite men shall mark out the precise way for the Holy Spirit to come.” Ibid., 64, 65. What is the danger? That we will get in our minds the way that the Holy Spirit has to come, and if the Holy Spirit does not come the way that we think, we will not accept it. Ellen White goes on to write, “Though they would not care to acknowledge it, some have already done this.” Ibid., 65. That is alarming!

In another statement, Mrs. White wrote: “They [ministers, church leaders] will not open their eyes to discern the fact that they have misinterpreted and misapplied the Scriptures, and have built up false theories, calling them fundamental doctrines of the faith.” Ibid., 70. What are these false theories called? They are called fundamental doctrines of faith. Who was building up these false theories and calling them fundamental doctrines of faith? The leading Seventh-day Adventist ministers. We would never do that again, would we?

Well, read the following statement: “Even Seventh-day Adventists are in danger of closing their eyes to truth as it is in Jesus, because it contradicts something which they have taken for granted as truth . . . .” Ibid. How interesting! We are in danger of closing our eyes to the truth. Why? Because the truth contradicts something that we think is the truth, and we have thought it was the truth for so long that we are sure we know.

Know for Sure

Galileo threatened with imprisonment Let me ask you a question just to make you think. How many things do you know for sure that are not so? You cannot answer that. Since you know it for sure, you do not know which things that you know for sure are not so. If you study history, you know the story of Galileo. In the 1600s, the whole world was sure that they knew the truth—that the earth was the stationary center of the universe. Through his studies and research, Galileo discovered this theory was false, but his newfound knowledge directly contradicted the long-standing geocentric view held by the Roman Catholic Church. Galileo was threatened with imprisonment if he did not recant. The trouble was, he was right, and the whole world was wrong. (“Galileo Galilei,”, cited October 5, 2004.)

There are many stories in the Bible like that. The most famous one, of course, is the one of Noah. People thought that Noah could not be right, because everybody else believed something else. I have stated it before, and I will state it again: The truth is never, ever dependent on numbers. Never. If you were the only person in the whole world who knew that the seventh day is the Sabbath, if there was not another person in the whole world that knew that the seventh day is the Sabbath, it would still be the truth. The truth is the truth whether anyone believes it or not.

“Many things will appear distinctly as truth which will not be acceptable to those who think their own interpretations of the Scripture always right. Most decided changes will have to be made in regard to ideas which some have accepted as without a flaw.” Ibid., 76.

An Adventist minister wrote a letter to a lady recently, stating, “Everybody (all the Adventists) believes this except ,” and he named a heretic who did not believe it. Does that make it right, because everybody believes it? We can never determine what the truth is just by how many people believe something. In the days of Christ, if we had done that, we would have rejected Jesus. We would also have rejected John the Baptist, Elijah, Noah, the apostle Paul, Martin Luther, and James and Ellen White.

It is vital that we each have an open mind and pray, “Lord, if there is some area in my life where I need to be willing to change my thinking about something that I have known all my life but that evidence now shows it to not be so, turn me around.”


Did you know that error is more attractive than truth to the human mind? Did you know that truth is unpopular? Was truth unpopular when Jesus was here? It most certainly was. Why?

We may have trouble understanding why someone would not want to know and believe the truth. Have you ever given a Bible study to someone who told you, “I just want to know the truth”?

You say, “Well, good, let us study the truth.” You start to study with them, and after awhile they do not want to study anymore, because they found out something they did not want to hear. Have you ever seen that happen?

The fact of the matter is that error is more attractive to the human mind today than is truth. Ellen White gave an illustration as to why that is true. She said, “Truth was unpopular in Christ’s day. It is unpopular in our day. It has been unpopular ever since Satan first gave man a disrelish for it by presenting fables that lead to self-exaltation.” The Desire of Ages, 242. If space allowed, we could go through many, many, many of the false doctrines that are being proclaimed today, and we would see the connection between those false doctrines and self-exaltation. That is why the truth is unpopular. But it is not just self-exaltation; that is only one reason.

After we have believed something, if we are going to turn, the Lord says, turn, “Turn to Me and be saved.” Why is it so hard to turn? How many people have you met lately that like to acknowledge that they have been wrong? We each have what is known as pride of opinion. Please do not tell me that you are the only human being in the world that does not have that. That would be difficult for me to believe. This is a universal, human problem. We do not like to acknowledge that we may have been wrong on something, but remember, the devil has introduced myths and fables that lead to self-exaltation. It is humbling for us to admit that we have believed a fable.

This happens the most with fanaticism. One day, a long time ago, my brother Marshall and I were talking about fanaticism, and he told me, “The thing behind fanaticism is spiritual pride.” I had never considered that before, but after pondering that thought for a few years, I had to agree; that is exactly what it is.

If we know something that other people do not know, we have pride, because we have insider knowledge that not everybody has. We have the inside scoop. We feel better than those other poor folks who do not have the knowledge that we have. That is one of the driving forces of fanaticism. It leads to self-exaltation.

There are people who get rich telling other people that they will give them the inside scoop about this or that or something else. I get letters from such people all the time. The problem is, they always want money to give me the inside scoop, so I do not have the inside scoop about very much.

Who is in the most danger of getting involved in this special insider knowledge and fanaticism? Someone may say that it is the person that does not have very much education. That is 180 degrees wrong! The people that are in the most danger are people such as ministers, physicians, lawyers, and other people that are highly educated and very intelligent. Of all people, they are in the greatest danger of getting snagged into fanaticism and error. It is more attractive than the truth.

We Avoid Humiliation

We have already started to look at why error is more attractive than the truth and why it is difficult to turn around. We have seen that it is very difficult and humiliating for us to acknowledge that we have been wrong. It is hard to acknowledge that we have made mistakes. We are afraid that others will think less of us. Our pride is injured; we are humiliated. We desire to avoid this humiliation as long as possible. That is what leads to procrastination.

Have you noticed that, as you study the Bible with people and they come to understand some things that they need to change in their lives if they are going to come into harmony with the Bible, they put off making the changes? It is humiliating for them to acknowledge that they have been in error, so they stall as long as possible.

I worked with an evangelist one time who said, “Do not ever make the person that you are studying with the ‘goat’ of whatever you are talking about. If there is a problem, do not let them be responsible for it. Put it on somebody else, because they cannot take it.” It is difficult for us to turn around, because it is hard for us to acknowledge when we are wrong. It is hard to acknowledge our mistakes.

We do not want to be humiliated, so sometimes people do what the Jews did. The Jews started to resist the truth when John the Baptist was there, and then they resisted the truth more when Jesus came. After Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected from the dead, they could not refute it. You would think they would have turned then, but they did not. Have you ever wondered why they would not turn to the Lord when they had the evidence of the resurrection and the ascension? There were over 500 witnesses that could have said, “We saw Him, and we talked to Him.” (See 1 Corinthians 15:6.) Why did they not turn? Because they had developed a habit.

I am mentioning this, because I am frightened of Adventists developing a similar habit. If we develop a habit and promote and practice it long enough, it will become almost impossible for us to turn around. Our pride will be at stake. The time may come when we have resisted something so long that even if it is proven to us to be truth, we would continue to resist it.

Resisting Truth

“Every act of resistance makes it harder to yield. Being the leaders of the people, the priests and rulers felt it incumbent on them to defend the course they had taken. They must prove that they had been in the right. Having committed themselves in opposition to Christ, every act of resistance became an additional incentive to persist in the same path. The events of their past career of opposition are as precious treasures to be jealously guarded. And the hatred and malignity that inspired those acts are concentrated against the apostles.

“The spirit of God revealed its presence unto those who, irrespective of the fear or favor of men, declared the truth which had been committed to them. Under the demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power, the Jews saw their guilt in refusing the evidence that God had sent; but they would not yield their wicked resistance. Their obstinacy became more and more determined, and worked the ruin of their souls. It was not that they could not yield, for they could, yet would not. It was not alone that they had been guilty, and deserving of wrath, but that they armed themselves with the attributes of Satan, and determinedly continued to be opposed to God. Every day, in their refusal to repent, they took up their rebellion afresh.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 74. That is why it is difficult to turn around—all of those reasons.

How to Turn

Now let us look at the good news of how to turn around, and what will happen if we do turn around. Jehovah said to Moses, as recorded in Numbers 21:8, 9, “Make for you a fiery serpent, and put it upon a pole; and it shall be that everyone who has been bitten and shall look upon it will live. And Moses made a bronze serpent, and he set it upon [a pole], and it was, if anyone had been bitten by a snake among men, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” There was not any power in that bronze serpent to make anyone live, and he or she knew that. It was not the serpent; it was the fact that they chose to turn and to look at it. In other words, they chose to look in the right direction. They chose to look to the Lord, to turn and look toward Him. This Scripture applies to every person in this world, because we have all been stung. The Bible, in Revelation 12, talks about “that ancient serpent,” and we have all been stung by it. That serpent’s bite is lethal; it will kill us forever. Unless God’s divine power is exercised in our behalf, we are lost 100 percent of the time.

But what happened, when the serpent had stung the people, if they chose to look toward the bronze serpent? They lived! We do not need to make it complicated. That is what the Scripture says. There is Someone that, if we look to Him, can and will heal us from all the consequences of sin. He will take our sins away. If we do not turn to Him, He will not take our sins away; we will die forever.

I have noticed over and over again that the people who are involved in all kinds of sin are looked upon as the worst of human beings, yet they get saved, because they recognize that they have a problem. People who have not been involved in some kind of crime or other terrible sin—at least they do not think of what they do as a terrible sin—do not get saved, because they think they are pretty good already. They are like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time. The Pharisees today may say, “I have never robbed a bank.” An elderly man once told me that he had never told a lie! I thought, “Brother, I am not sure but what that is the biggest one you have told!”

Friend, if you say, “I have never lied; I have never robbed a bank; I have never taken any illicit drugs; I have never committed fornication; I have never done what other people do, so I am okay,” you might be the worst sinner in church, the worst sinner in the land! Jesus told the Pharisees that the prostitutes and the tax collectors would go into the kingdom before them, because they were victims of spiritual pride.

All Have Been Stung

The Bible teaches that the ancient serpent has stung every single human being. But there is Someone that can take all that away from us, and He will take it away, if we will look to Him. We cannot look to Him the way the Pharisees did. They never got saved. We have to look to Him the way the tax collector did, and say, “Lord, I need a Saviour. I need somebody to save me. I am in a pit that I cannot get out of.” The fact of the matter is that every single human being in the world is in a pit he cannot get out of without Jesus. The only difference is that some people know it, and some people do not know it. Sometimes the Lord has to let us get into big trouble, so we can find out our need.

The blood of Christ is so powerful that if we choose to trust in His merits, He is going to save us from every sin we have ever committed, and He is going to save us from the power of sin within. “As the high priest sprinkled the warm blood upon the mercy seat, while the fragrant cloud of incense ascended before God, so while we confess our sins and plead the efficacy of Christ’s atoning blood, our prayers are to ascend to heaven, fragrant with the merits of our Saviour’s character. Notwithstanding our unworthiness, we are ever to bear in mind that there is One that can take away sin and save the sinner.” Ibid., 92, 93. There is Someone—He can take our sins; He can save us, and He will do it, if we look to Him. The next sentence says, “Every sin acknowledged before God with a contrite heart, He will remove.” Ibid., 93. If we confess our sins before the Lord, He will take them away.

To be continued . . .

[Some Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]

Pastor Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.