Bible Study Guides – Problems to Overcome Part 2

July 18 – 24, 2021

Key Text

“He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22).

 Study Help: Counsels on Stewardship, 133–140.


“All money lovers … will one day cry in bitter anguish: ‘Oh, the deceitfulness of riches! I have sold my soul for money.’ ” Testimonies, vol. 3, 544, 545.



1.a. How does Satan often pervert the heart and the mouth of people who take business advantages? Jeremiah 6:13; Acts 5:3, 4.

 1.b. How earnestly did King David struggle against deceit? Psalms 52:2, 3; 101:7; 120:2; Proverbs 30:8.

 1.c. As faithful stewards must often be in contact with deceitful people, what prayer should they send up to the throne of grace? Psalm 43:1, last part.

1.d. How does God often permit a deceitful person to be the victim of his or her own tricks? Psalm 7:14–16.



2.a. How is a dishonest person described? Proverbs 6:12, 13, 14, 16–19.

2.b. How does the Lord consider those who are dishonest in their financial transactions? Deuteronomy 27:17–19; Proverbs 11:1; 20:23.

Note: “The accounts of every business, the details of every transaction, pass the scrutiny of unseen auditors, agents of Him who never compromises with injustice, never overlooks evil, never palliates wrong. …

“Against every evildoer God’s law utters condemnation. He may disregard that voice, he may seek to drown its warning, but in vain. It follows him. It makes itself heard. It destroys his peace. If unheeded, it pursues him to the grave. It bears witness against him at the judgment. A quenchless fire, it consumes at last soul and body.” Education, 144, 145.

2.c. What will happen to gain that is acquired dishonestly? Proverbs 13:11; 15:27; 21:6.

Note: “This is a question that demands consideration by every parent, every teacher, every student—by every human being, young or old. No scheme of business or plan of life can be sound or complete that embraces only the brief years of this present life and makes no provision for the unending future. Let the youth be taught to take eternity into their reckoning. Let them be taught to choose the principles and seek the possessions that are enduring—to lay up for themselves that ‘treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth;’ to make to themselves friends ‘by means of the mammon of unrighteousness,’ that when it shall fail, these may receive them ‘into the eternal tabernacles’ (Luke 12:33; 16:9 RV).” Education, 145.



3.a. What is the command regarding partiality? Leviticus 19:15.

Note: “Do not show partiality to one or more, and neglect other of your brethren because they are not congenial to you. Beware lest you deal harshly with those who you think have made mistakes, while others, more guilty and more deserving of reproof, who should be severely rebuked for their unChristlike conduct, are sustained and treated as friends.” The Review and Herald, March 12, 1895.

3.b. What does the faithful steward relate to disadvantaged persons? Psalm 82:2–4.

Note: “God requires that His people should not allow the poor and afflicted to be oppressed. If they break every yoke and release the oppressed, and are unselfish and kindly considerate of the needy, then shall the blessings promised be theirs. If there are those in the church who would cause the blind to stumble, they should be brought to justice; for God has made us guardians of the blind, the afflicted, the widows, and the fatherless. The stumbling block referred to in the word of God does not mean a block of wood placed before the feet of the blind to cause him to stumble, but it means much more than this. It means any course that may be pursued to injure the influence of their blind brother, to work against his interest, or to hinder his prosperity.

“A brother who is blind and poor and diseased, and who is making every exertion to help himself that he may not be dependent, should be encouraged by his brethren in every way possible. But those who profess to be his brethren, who have the use of all their faculties, who are not dependent, but who so far forget their duty to the blind as to perplex and distress and hedge up his way, are doing a work which will require repentance and restoration before God will accept their prayers. And the church of God who have permitted their unfortunate brother to be wronged will be guilty of sin until they do all in their power to have the wrong righted.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 519, 520.



4.a. While the Lord is our great Counselor, from whom may we seek counsel on this earth? Proverbs 13:20.

Note: “The only safe course for the youth is to mingle with the pure, the holy, and thus natural tendencies to evil will be held in check. By choosing for their companions such as fear the Lord, they will seldom be found disbelieving God’s word, entertaining doubts and infidelity. The power of a truly consistent example is very great for good.” In Heavenly Places, 172.

4.b. What is the benefit of not counselling with ungodly persons? Proverbs 14:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:6.

Note: “Let the youth choose the influence of, and become associated with, men and women of bad principles and practices, … and they are polluted. Silent and unconscious influences weave their sentiments into their lives, become a part of their very existence, and they walk on the very brink of a precipice and sense no danger. They learn to love the words of the smooth tongued, the honeyed words of the deceiver, and are restless, uneasy, and unhappy unless they are carried to the pinnacle of someone’s flattery. … To walk in the counsel of the ungodly is the first step toward standing in the place of sinners and sitting in the seat of the scornful.” In Heavenly Places, 172.

“It is wrong for Christians to associate with those whose morals are loose. An intimate, daily intercourse which occupies time without contributing in any degree to the strength of the intellect or morals is dangerous. If the moral atmosphere surrounding persons is not pure and sanctified, but is tainted with corruption, those who breathe this atmosphere will find that it operates almost insensibly upon the intellect and heart to poison and to ruin. It is dangerous to be conversant with those whose minds naturally take a low level. Gradually and imperceptibly those who are naturally conscientious and love purity will come to the same level and partake of and sympathize with the imbecility and moral barrenness with which they are so constantly brought in contact.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 125.



5.a. How much of our earthly riches do we retain when we die? Psalm 49:16, 17; Ecclesiastes 5:13–15; 1 Timothy 6:7.

5.b. What can we take with us to the great judgment of humanity? Matthew 16:26; Proverbs 11:4.

 Note: “The redeemed will be welcomed to the home that Jesus is preparing for them. There their companions will not be the vile of earth, liars, idolaters, the impure, and unbelieving; but they will associate with those who have overcome Satan and through divine grace have formed perfect characters. Every sinful tendency, every imperfection, that afflicts them here has been removed by the blood of Christ, and the excellence and brightness of His glory, far exceeding the brightness of the sun, is imparted to them. And the moral beauty, the perfection of His character, shines through them, in worth far exceeding this outward splendor. They are without fault before the great white throne, sharing the dignity and the privileges of the angels.

“In view of the glorious inheritance that may be his, ‘what shall a man give in exchange for his soul’ (Matthew 16:26)? He may be poor, yet he possesses in himself a wealth and dignity that the world could never bestow. The soul redeemed and cleansed from sin, with all its noble powers dedicated to the service of God, is of surpassing worth; and there is joy in heaven in the presence of God and the holy angels over one soul redeemed, a joy that is expressed in songs of holy triumph.” Steps to Christ, 126.



1    What are the results of a deceptive communication?

2    How does dishonesty affect the one who deceives?

3    How do faithful stewards treat others in their financial dealings?

4    Who is the faithful steward’s financial counselor?

5    What should remind us of the temporal nature of material wealth?

Copyright 2011, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

Bible Study Guides – Solomon’s Testimony

June 19, 2011 – June 25, 2011

Key Text

“By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life.” Proverbs 22:4.

Study Helps: Testimonies, vol. 1, 565, 566; Christ’s Object Lessons, 339–342.


“Even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like him who possesses the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, untouched by the tinsel and show of the world.” The Review and Herald, January 18, 1906.


  • To what heights of worldly wealth and splendor did Solomon reach? Ecclesiastes 2:4–10. What did he finally see, and how can we learn from it? Ecclesiastes 2:11, 12.

Note: “One sad feature of Solomon’s experience was his supposition that massive buildings and magnificent furnishings give character to the work of God. He endeavored to pattern after, and to compete with, the world. He lost sight of the foundation principle underlying the influence that is ever to be exerted by the people of God—obedience to every precept of Holy Writ. The real power of God’s people lies not in numbers, nor in the wealth and worldly prosperity that may be displayed, but in steadfast adherence to His Word.” The Review and Herald, January 18, 1906.

  • Why did Solomon become bitter? Ecclesiastes 1:14; 2:14–17. How is this a warning to us? Proverbs 25:26.

Note: “Let no line of work, no institution, bear a name that would divert honor from God to any man or any set of men. Let us remember that the beautiful temple which was erected for the honor of ‘the name of the Lord God of Israel,’ came to be known, through the apostasy of the builder, as ‘Solomon’s temple.’ ” The Review and Herald, January 11, 1906.


  • How was Solomon deluded? Ecclesiastes 4:4; 5:10.

Note: “As Solomon continued to conform to the customs of the world, his pride greatly increased. And the worldly prosperity that attended his apostasy, was regarded by him as a token of God’s favor. So fully had he yielded himself to evil influences, that his spiritual discernment was well-nigh destroyed. He could not see the terrible losses that were sustained by the nation spiritually because he brought into the kingdom an abundance of the gold of Ophir and the silver of Tarshish.

“Today there exists the same danger of mistaking prosperity for the favor of heaven. The prosperity that often for a time attends those who turn from a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ to follow a way of their own choosing, is not an assurance of divine approval. Men may interpret it thus, but it is no sign that God’s prospering hand is with them. Let all learn a lesson from Solomon’s experience. Notwithstanding his violation of a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ riches and worldly honor poured in upon him, and seemingly he was greatly blessed. This is in harmony with Job’s declaration that the wicked spend their days in prosperity.” The Review and Herald, January 18, 1906.

  • What better way does God offer? Proverbs 11:17; 14:22.

Note: “How striking is the contrast between Solomon’s ambitious desire to exalt himself, and the life that the Son of God lived upon this earth! The Saviour of mankind was born of humble parentage in a sin-cursed, wicked world. He was brought up in obscurity at Nazareth, a small town of Galilee. He began His work in poverty and without worldly rank. He sought not the admiration or the applause of the world. He dwelt among the lowly. To all appearance he was merely a humble man, with few friends. Thus God introduced the gospel in a way altogether different from the way in which many deem it wise to proclaim the same gospel in this age. At the very beginning of the gospel dispensation he taught his church to rely, not on worldly rank and splendor, but on the power of faith and obedience.” The Review and Herald, January 18, 1906.


  • What had Solomon failed to realize? Ecclesiastes 3:17.

Note: “Solomon lost sight of God’s high and holy purpose. He failed of improving the magnificent opportunities for enlightening the representatives of all nations who were continually passing through his territory and tarrying for rest at the principal cities. A selfish use was made of the strategic points along the well-traveled highways. Solomon sought to strengthen his position by building fortified cities at the gateways of commerce. …

“The missionary spirit that God had implanted in the heart of Solomon and in the hearts of many true Israelites, was rapidly supplanted by a spirit of commercialism. … Because of the cupidity and the short-sightedness of those to whom had been entrusted the oracles of God, the countless multitudes that thronged the thoroughfares of travel were allowed to remain in ignorance of the true God.” The Review and Herald, January 25, 1906.

  • How can we redeem the time? Ecclesiastes 11:4–6.

Note: “In these days of travel, the opportunities for coming in contact with men and women of all classes and of many nationalities, are much greater than in the days of Israel. …

“We are to give the last warning of God to men, and what should be our earnestness in studying the Bible, and our zeal in spreading the light! Let every soul who has received the divine illumination, seek to impart it. Let the workers go from house to house, opening the Bible to the people, circulating the publications, telling others of the light that has blessed their own souls. Let literature be distributed judiciously on the trains, in the street, on the great ships that ply the seas, and through the mails.

“Christians who are living in the great centers of commerce and travel have special opportunities. The believers in these cities can work for God in the neighborhood of their homes. They are to labor quietly and in humility, carrying with them wherever they go the atmosphere of heaven.” The Review and Herald, January 25, 1906.


  • Why was Solomon’s fall so tragic? Proverbs 25:26. How can we avoid his steps of decline? II Corinthians 6:14–18.

Note: “[II Corinthians 6:14–18 quoted.]

“Never was there a time in earth’s history when this warning was more appropriate than at the present time. Many professed Christians think, like Solomon, that they may unite with the ungodly, because their influence over those who are in the wrong will be beneficial; but too often they themselves, entrapped and overcome, yield their sacred faith, sacrifice principle, and separate themselves from God. One false step leads to another, till at last they place themselves where they can not hope to break the chains that bind them.” The Review and Herald, February 1, 1906.

  • What are some important principles that Solomon had to relearn as a result of his apostasy? Proverbs 22:4, 8.

Note: “In his later years, turning wearied and thirsting from earth’s broken cisterns, Solomon returned to drink at the fountain of life. The history of his wasted years, with their lessons of warning, he by the Spirit of inspiration recorded for after generations. And thus, although the seed of his sowing was reaped by his people in harvests of evil, the lifework of Solomon was not wholly lost. For him at last the discipline of suffering accomplished its work.” Education, 153, 154.

“Solomon’s later writings reveal that he realized the wickedness of his course, and sought to warn those who were in danger of going astray.” The Review and Herald, February 8, 1906.

  • In his bitter anguish of remorse over the influence he had cast, what was Solomon constrained to declare? Ecclesiastes 9:18; 10:1, 5, 6. How should this affect us?

Note: “Solomon’s repentance was sincere, but the harm that his example of evil-doing had done the people, could not well be remedied.” The Review and Herald, February 15, 1906.


  • How are we bidden to guard carefully the influence we exert upon others? Luke 14:34, 35; Colossians 4:6; II Corinthians 2:14–16.

Note: “Among the many lessons taught by Solomon’s life, none is more strongly emphasized than the power of influence for good or for ill. However contracted may be our sphere, we still exert an influence for weal or woe. Beyond our knowledge or control, it tells upon others in blessing or cursing. It may be heavy with the gloom of discontent and selfishness, or poisonous with the deadly taint of some cherished sin; or it may be charged with the life-giving power of faith, courage, and hope, and sweet with the fragrance of love. But potent for good or for ill it will surely be.” Prophets and Kings, 85.

  • What is the final summary of the wisdom that God offers us through Solomon? Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14; Philippians 2:5–11.

Note: “We should ask ourselves, For what are we living and working? And what will be the outcome of it all? We need the religion of Jesus Christ daily; for everything we do or say comes under the notice of God. ‘We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.’ What we are at heart, we reveal in life. Our thoughts, our words, our actions, are the result of what we are; and our influence is a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death, according to whether we abide in Christ or not. In the judgment we shall be brought face to face with those whom we have had opportunity to help by directing them, through choice words of counsel, into right, safe paths. If we have a daily connection with God, we shall have a living, abiding interest in the saving of the souls of men, and our influence will be a savor of life unto life.” The Signs of the Times, November 21, 1892.

Review and Thought Questions

1 What triggered the first steps in Solomon’s apostasy?

2 How was Christ’s life a sharp contrast to the king’s?

3 What vital opportunities may we be overlooking today?

4 Explain the most tragic aspect of Solomon’s fall.

5 What are the secrets to exerting a right influence?

Copyright © 2002 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – Get-Rich-Quick Schemes

August 10, 2014 – August 16, 2014

Key Text

“A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.” Proverbs 28:20.

Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 1, 225, 226.


“All the advantages which God has given are His means to throw ardor into the spirit, zeal into effort, and vigor into the carrying out of His holy will.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 360.


  • What will be the result of participating in get-rich-quick schemes? Proverbs 21:5.

Note: “The spirit of gain getting, of making haste to be rich, of this all-absorbing worldliness, is painfully contradictory to our faith and doctrines.” Counsels on Stewardship, 231, 232.

  • Why does the Christian steward labor for eternal wealth instead of participating in get-rich-quick schemes? Psalm 37:7.

Note: “Satan watches the peculiar, selfish, covetous temperament of some who profess the truth, and he will tempt them by throwing prosperity in their path, offering them the riches of earth. He knows that if they do not overcome their natural temperament, they will stumble and fall by loving mammon, worshiping their idol. Satan’s object is often accomplished. The strong love of the world overcomes, or swallows up, the love of the truth. The kingdoms of the world are offered them, and they eagerly grasp their treasure and think they are wonderfully prospered. Satan triumphs because his plan has succeeded. They have given up the love of God for the love of the world.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 142.


  • What is the difference between a get-rich-quick scheme and a proper investment of means? Proverbs 28:20; 31:16, 24.

Note: “Many times, when the Lord has opened the way for brethren to handle their means to advance His cause, the agents of Satan have presented some enterprise by which they were positive the brethren could double their means. They take the bait; their money is invested, and the cause, and frequently themselves, never receive a dollar.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 154.

“Every movement … which comes in to excite the desire to get riches quickly by speculation, takes the minds of the people away from the most solemn truths that ever were given to mortals. There may be encouraging prospects for a time, but the end of the matter is failure. The Lord endorses no such movements. If this work is sanctioned, many would be attracted by these speculative schemes that could not in any other way be led away from the work of presenting the solemn truths that must be given to the people at this time.” Counsels on Stewardship, 234, 235.

“Work is a blessing, not a curse. Diligent labor keeps many, young and old, from the snares of him who ‘finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.’ Let no one be ashamed of work; for honest toil is ennobling. While the hands are engaged in the most common tasks, the mind may be filled with high and holy thoughts.” The Youth’s Instructor, February 27, 1902.

  • Why is it that people are often tempted to engage in speculative financial ventures? Proverbs 27:20.

Note: “It is a dangerous experiment for our people to engage in speculation. They thereby place themselves on the enemy’s ground, subject to great temptations, disappointments, trials, and losses. Then comes a feverish unrest, a longing desire to obtain means more rapidly than present circumstances will admit. Their surroundings are accordingly changed, in hope of making more money. But frequently their expectations are not realized, and they become discouraged and go backward rather than forward. … They are backsliding from God.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 617.


  • Even in the fast-paced era in which we live, what does God mercifully provide—and why? Ecclesiastes 3:1.

Note: “The value of time is beyond computation. Christ regarded every moment as precious, and it is thus that we should regard it. Life is too short to be trifled away. We have but a few days of probation in which to prepare for eternity. We have no time to waste, no time to devote to selfish pleasure, no time for the indulgence of sin.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 342.

  • What factors should we take into consideration as we plan our use of time? James 4:13–15.
  • In seeking to advance God’s work, what must we realize? I Peter 5:8.

Note: “We have no time to lose. The powers of darkness are working with intense energy, and with stealthy tread Satan is advancing to take those who are now asleep, as a wolf taking his prey. We have warnings now which we may give, a work now which we may do, but soon it will be more difficult than we imagine. God help us to keep in the channel of light, to work with our eyes fastened upon our Leader, and patiently, perseveringly press on till the victory is gained.” The Review and Herald, November 12, 1914.

  • What does Inspiration teach about the struggle before us? Ephesians 6:12; Matthew 24:12, 13.

Note: “With intensified zeal and energy we are to carry forward the work of the Lord till the close of time.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 548.


  • Instead of engaging in speculative get-rich-quick schemes, what should we do with the talents entrusted to us? Luke 19:13.

Note: “The Lord bids us all, ‘Occupy till I come’ (Luke 19:13). By His own wisdom He has given us direction for the use of His gifts. The talents of speech, memory, influence, property, are to accumulate for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom. He will bless the right use of His gifts.” Counsels on Stewardship, 116.

“However large, however small the possessions of any individual, let him remember that it is his only in trust. For his strength, skill, time, talents, opportunities, and means, he must render an account to God. This is an individual work; God gives to us, that we may become like Him, generous, noble, beneficent, by giving to others. Those who, forgetful of their divine mission, seek only to save or to spend in the indulgence of pride or selfishness, may secure the gains and pleasures of this world; but in God’s sight, estimated by their spiritual attainments, they are poor, wretched, miserable, blind, naked.

“When rightly employed, wealth becomes a golden bond of gratitude and affection between man and his fellowmen, and a strong tie to bind his affections to his Redeemer.” The Review and Herald, May 16, 1882.

  • What can we learn from the experience of Solomon? Ecclesiastes 2:10, 11.

Note: “We must turn away from a thousand topics that invite attention. There are matters that consume time and arouse inquiry but end in nothing. The highest interests demand the close attention and energy that are so often given to comparatively insignificant things.” The Ministry of Healing, 456.

“The energy now concentrated on cheap, perishable goods should be enlisted in the work that is to enlighten the world. Let every energy God has given be used in the work which bears with it the blessed satisfaction that it is for time and for eternity.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 6, 267.

“Let none waste time in deploring the scantiness of their visible resources. The outward appearance may be unpromising, but energy and trust in God will develop resources.” Prophets and Kings, 243.


  • Why is the attitude of the rich and foolish man with the barns a warning for us? Luke 12:16–21.

Note: “There is a sad withholding from God on the part of His professed people. The means and efforts that should be given to Christ are devoted to self-pleasing. God is robbed of time, money, and service. Self-love, self-gratification, exclude the love of Jesus from the soul, and this is why there is not in the church greater zeal and more fervent love for Him who first loved us. So many indulge selfish ease, while souls for whom Christ died are perishing.” The Signs of the Times, December 22, 1890.

  • When considering the price paid for our redemption, what should always remain foremost in our mind? I Corinthians 3:23; 6:20.

Note: “Whether or not we give mind, soul, and strength to God, it all belongs to Him. God speaks to each human being, saying: ‘I have a claim on you. Give me your zeal, your capabilities, your energy, your means.’ He has a right to ask this; for we are His, redeemed by His boundless love and by the agony of the cross of Calvary from the service of sin. On no account are we to devote our powers to self-serving. Day by day we are to return to the Lord that which He has entrusted to us.” The Signs of the Times, January 2, 1901.


1 What will be the result of participating in get-rich-quick schemes?

2 How should we gain our wealth?

3 What should give us incentive to work for Christ?

4 Name some ways by which we can be more faithful stewards of our finances.

5 What is too often excluding the love of Christ from my heart?

Copyright © 2012 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Sermon on the Mount Series – The Riches of Glory

Many poor people today believe that they would be happy if they were financially secure. And many who are already financially secure believe they would have fewer worries if they had more money. The Jones wish they were the Ritz’s, and the Ritz’s wish they were the Vanderbilt’s. So, Jesus’ teaching is a great paradox to what we tend to think. What did Jesus mean when He said, “Happy are the poor”?

Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord revealed the following information to the human race several hundred years before the birth of Christ. Notice what it says in Isaiah 57:15: “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, Whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

The Lord says to the one who inhabits eternity that He will dwell with the humble, the one who has a humble spirit. In Isaiah 66:2, He says, “ ‘… all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,’ says the Lord. ‘But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.’ ”

There are many texts in the Bible in which the Lord says that He pays attention to the person who is humble and who has a contrite spirit. Here is one more. This is the song of Mary, the mother of Jesus, after she was informed by the angel Gabriel that she would become the mother of the Messiah. “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, for He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant.” Notice that she was a poor person. “… For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.” Luke 1:47, 48.

In verse 53 it says, “He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.” So, God has promised to be with the humble and He has promised to help those that are poor, those that are of a contrite and poor spirit. But the rich are sent away because they don’t feel any need. The person who is proud is not acknowledged by the Lord.

In Revelation the 3rd chapter, there is found a description of the Christian church in the last days. Notice the problem that was prophesied to exist in Christendom, in the church, in the last days: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked … .” Revelation 3:15–17.

The problem with these people is that they are rich in material things, but spiritually they are “poor, miserable, wretched, poor, blind, and naked,” Jesus says. You can read in the Old Testament from the book of Job that after he obtained a vision of his spiritual poverty, and he stopped trying to justify himself, his misery and wretchedness came to an end. The Lord delivered him from the condition that the devil had brought upon him. His captivity was turned into victory and he experienced happiness again in his life.

We see the same thing in the life of the prophet Isaiah. When he recognized his spiritual poverty, he cried out, “Woe is me because I am undone!” Isaiah 6:5 literal translation. He sensed his spiritual imperfection which now appeared to him in a new and hideous light. This changed attitude made it possible for God to cleanse him from his sin and then to use him as a spokesman to others.

Something similar happened to the proud-spirited Simon Peter when he fell at Jesus’ feet. “When Simon Peter saw it, He fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!’ For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.’ So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.” Luke 5:8–11. Immediately when he acknowledged his condition, Jesus commissioned him to be a fisher of men.

The apostle Paul was once a proud and haughty Pharisee, but he changed so that he acknowledged himself to be “the chief of sinners.” 1 Timothy 1:15. When stopped in his tracks on the road to Damascus and acknowledged his sinful condition, he was elevated to become the chief of the apostles. So, recognition of our real spiritual condition and need is the first step in the beatitude ladder of spiritual progress that leads to the kingdom of heaven. Jesus said, “Blessed (happy) are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

The person who is proud in his heart has not taken the first step yet toward the heavenly kingdom. Recognition of sin, the crying out for pardon and cleansing from guilt are the beginning of the pathway to Zion and to happiness. There can be no blessed happy state where there is unconfessed and unforgiven sin because the Lord says in Isaiah 48:22, “ ‘There is no peace,’ says the Lord, ‘for the wicked.’ ”

So, a contrite, a humble, a penitent spirit is the first qualification for citizenship in the kingdom of God and for service in the cause of righteousness. Jesus, our Saviour, was this way Himself. He says in Matthew 11:29: “I am gentle [or meek], and lowly in heart.” The apostle Paul described the unparalleled humility of Jesus as an example that no human being could ever match. Jesus was the majesty of heaven, the king of the universe. Paul said, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it to be robbery [or a thing to be grasped] to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5–8.

Jesus said, “I am lowly in heart.” Instead of saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” He could have said instead, “Unhappy are the proud in spirit.” It would have been true. Of all people, the poor in spirit are the happiest, and the proud-spirited end up being the most miserable. The proud in spirit are exceedingly sensitive to every little slight or wrong, either real or imagined, often finding that the least little thing causes pain and discomfort. The proud in spirit are touchy and easily offended. They are miserable night and day because of hurt feelings, being too selfish to be happy. The only remedy for spiritual pride is to crucify the proud, selfish flesh. Those who are dead to sin do not become offended. The apostle Paul wrote about this in Romans. “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” “Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:2, 11. Dead people are not sensitive.

The Psalmist wrote, “Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Psalm 119:165 KJV. Offense naturally thrives where sin abounds. It was a proud and sensitive angel who committed the first sin, and the more he sinned, the more sensitive he became. We live in a world where the whole world is suffering with proud flesh. Sinful flesh is always proud. It was impossible for Jesus to avoid offending His hearers because of their sensitive proud spirit. At the close of one of his sermons, almost everybody fled from Him. (See John 6.) The Pharisees were always offended at His teachings. In fact, even the disciples were often grieved. Truth always offends those who are in error and sinners resent their shortcomings being pointed out. But a person who is poor in spirit can be corrected. If you are willing to be corrected, then you are in a position where you can be blessed.

Jesus illustrated the contrast between the poor in spirit and the proud in spirit in a story He told about two worshipers who went up to the temple to pray. Luke 18:9–14 says, “He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘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 abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’ ”

The Pharisee did not pray to God; Jesus made it very clear that he prayed to himself. He gave a boasting speech to himself that was not a prayer at all but a boast of his inbred and acquired righteousness. He made no request, but simply thanked God that he was everything that he should be and grateful that he was different from others, and especially different from this poor publican.

The publican, however, recognized his spiritual poverty. He cried out, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” He alone was justified and justification leads to happiness, because the Bible says that when we are justified by faith, then we have peace with God. Often when we read this story we don’t realize that the same spirit of Phariseeism that this Pharisee had is the common spirit in Christendom today.

The first beatitude of Matthew 5:3 is more relevant to the modern Christian world because of prevailing spiritual pride and self-sufficiency, which is more prevalent today than ever before. Phariseeism is very common in the Christian world. In fact, Jesus speaks of the condition of the Christian church in the last or remnant phase of its existence, describing it as a church with a Pharisaical attitude. In Revelation 3:15–17, Jesus says, “ ‘I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth [or more literally, vomit you out of My mouth]. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’— and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked … .’ ”

The spirit of Phariseeism is the natural spirit of human nature and it is just as prevalent now as in the days when Jesus was among men. The church in its present condition is proud in spirit. Its members do not recognize their spiritual condition; in fact, they even boast of their spiritual wealth. In their own estimation, they are rich and increased in goods. They have need of nothing. They believe they are ready to go to heaven, when in reality they are wretched, miserable, poor, and blind, and naked, spiritually, and the Lord says that He is about to vomit them out of His mouth. In other words, you are about to commit the unpardonable sin.

The message that describes the spiritual pride of the last-day church also provides a complete remedy. Notice what Jesus goes on to say to the church of the last days: “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiments [or white garments], that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” Revelation 3:18. Jesus here speaks about spiritual gold and spiritual clothing, and spiritual eye salve. What do these symbols represent? The spiritual gold represents the amount of faith and love a person has. Gold enables people to get whatever they want. In the spiritual world, faith enables you to get whatever you need. In the physical world gold represents wealth. In the spiritual world, if you have love, you are wealthy. The Bible says that love is the bond of perfection (Colossians 3:14).

Jesus also says, “Buy from me white garments (Revelation 3:18).” In Revelation 19:8, the white garment is the righteousness of the saints that is imparted to them by Jesus Christ.

The modern church in its own attitude and condition shows that it is in desperate need of eye salve, the ability to discern the difference between good and evil. The solution to our situation is to see and behold the character of Jesus Christ. The more we see in Him, the less we will see to esteem in ourselves. Just as soon as the modern church changes its attitude toward its own condition and needs, Jesus will abundantly supply His people with the pure gold of faith and love. He will clothe the members with the robe of His spotless righteousness, and provide the anointing with the spiritual eye salve that will restore spiritual vision to tell the difference between good and evil.

There is a poverty that makes rich. There was another church described in Revelation that was a very poor church. Everybody thought that they were poor, but notice what Jesus says about them. Revelation 2:9 says, “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”

Spiritual wealth awaits those who feel poverty-stricken in spirit. Many of the poorest people in this world are rich spiritually. In the same way, many of the richest people in this world are moral paupers and spiritually bankrupt. True riches, the riches that the Lord wants to give you, are the heritage of those only who recognize their spiritual need. The Bible says, “Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” James 2:5.

You see, whom Christ pardons, He first makes penitent. If you have a sense of your deep soul poverty, if you know that you don’t have anything good in yourself, the apostle Paul says, “I know that in me, that is in my flesh, there dwells no good thing.” If you know that you have no goodness of your own, you may find righteousness and strength by looking to Jesus. Notice what He promised to the poor in spirit in Matthew 11:28–30: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Do you recognize your spiritual poverty, and would you like to exchange it for the riches of His grace? No matter what your past experience has been, however discouraging your present circumstances might be, if you will come to Jesus just the way you are, weak, helpless, and despairing, you will find that He will take you in. He said, “He that comes to Me, I will in no case cast out.” John 6:37 literal translation. While you are a great way off, He will come to you and impart to you His righteousness that will change everything in your life.

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

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.