Life Only in Christ

“A wide-open door for spiritualism is afforded by the teaching that man has life in himself—immortality by nature; and that death is not really death, but another form of life.

“The Scriptures close this door of false hope, teaching us that man is mortal, that death is really death, and that immortality is the gift of God through Christ by the resurrection from the dead.

“Clearly and definitely the Bible teaches that God only has immortality, styling Him the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality. 1 Timothy 6:15, 16.

“This Scripture disposes of every idea that man is immortal by nature, and opens the way for a consideration of the Scripture teaching concerning man’s nature, his state in death, and the promise of life and immortality in Christ.

Man by Nature Mortal

“The word mortal, as used in that ancient question by Eliphaz, describes man’s nature:

“Shall mortal man be more just than God? Job 4:17.

“In the creation, life was conditional upon the creature’s relation to Christ the Creator, in whom all things consist:

“All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life.” John 1:3, 4.

“He was, and is, as the psalmist says, ‘the fountain of life.’ Cut off from vital connection with Him, there could be no continuance of life. The Lord warned Adam that his life was conditional upon obedience. ‘In the day that thou eatest thereof,’ He said of the forbidden tree, ‘thou shalt surely die.’ Genesis 2:17. It was a declaration that man was not immortal, but was dependent upon God for life.

“When by unbelief and sin man rejected God, the sentence—death eternal—must have been executed had not the plan of salvation intervened. But as the stroke of divine justice was falling upon the sinner, the Son of God interposed Himself and received the blow. ‘He was bruised for our iniquities.’ In the divine plan, the great sacrifice for man was as sure then as when, later, it was actually made on Calvary. Christ was ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.’

“And there Adam, the sinner, now with a fallen human nature, which would be perpetuated in his descendants in all subsequent time, was granted an extension of life, every moment of which, whether for him or for his posterity, was the purchase of Christ by His own death, in order that in this time of probation man might find forgiveness of sin and assurance of life to come. Adam was not created immortal, but was placed on probation, and had he continued faithful, the gift of immortality must have been given him at some later time, after he had passed the test. As the original plan is carried out through Christ, “the second Adam.,” the gift of immortality is bestowed finally upon all who pass the test of the judgment and are found in Christ, in whom alone is life.

“Having fallen, Adam, now possessed of a sinful nature, must die. ‘The wages of sin is death.’ Romans 6:23. It was impossible that sin or sinners should be immortalized in God’s universe. So, inasmuch as the tree of life in Eden had been made the channel of continuance of life to man, the Lord said:

‘Now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden.’ Genesis 3:22, 23.

“This negatives the idea that there could ever be an immortal sinner, who should mar God’s creation forever. Sin works out nothing but death. ‘Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.’ James 1:15. Fallen himself, Adam could bequeath to his posterity only a fallen, mortal nature. So began the sad history summed up in the text:

“’Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.’” Romans 5:12.

Mortality Universal

“Mortality is written upon all creation. Ages ago the wise man wrote, ‘There is one event unto all:…they go to the dead.’ Ecclesiastes 9:3. Human hearts everywhere and in all time have cried out against the remorselessness of the great enemy. ‘Do people die with you?’ was the question met by Livingstone in the untraveled wilds of Africa. ‘Have you no charm against death?’ The Greek as well as the barbarian confessed to the helplessness of man before the great enemy. Centuries before Christ, Sophocles the Athenian wrote:

‘Wonders are many! and none is there greater than man, who
Steers his ship over the sea, driven on by the south wind,
Cleaving the threatening swell of the waters around him.
‘He captures the gay-hearted birds; he entangles adroitly
Creatures that live on the land and the brood of the ocean,
Spreading his well-woven nets. Man full of devices!
‘Speech and swift thought free as wind, the building of cities;
Shelters to ward off the arrows of rain, and to temper
Sharp-biting frost—all these hath he taught himself.
Surely stratagem hath he for all that comes! Never the future
Finds him resourceless! Deftly he combats grievous diseases,
Oft from their grip doth he free himself. Death alone vainly—
Vainly he seeks to escape; ‘gainst death he is helpless.”

—Chorus from Antigone

“What unspeakable pathos in the cry of humanity’s helplessness before death, the great enemy! But when Adam went out of Eden, it was with the assurance of life from the dead through the promised Seed, if faithful. It is the message of the one gospel for all time—everlasting life in Christ.

“’God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ John 3:16.

“As there is none other name under heaven by which men can be saved, so there is no other way of everlasting life or immortality, save in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When Immortality is Bestowed

“Christ said, ‘I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.’ John 11:25.

“He has turned death, that would have been eternal, into a little time of sleep, from which He will awaken the believer. In the resurrection of the last day immortality is bestowed, ‘in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.’ 1 Corinthians 15:52–54.…

“Not until the resurrection, ‘at the last trump,’ is immortality conferred upon the redeemed. Note that it is not something immortal putting on immortality; but this ‘mortal’ puts on immortality. Mark this: there is no life after death, save by the resurrection. ‘If there be no resurrection of the dead, …then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.’ 1 Corinthians 15:13–18.

“This resurrection, as stated by the apostle Paul, is not at death, but in the last day, when Christ shall come, and all His children that are in their graves shall hear His voice. Jesus says: ‘This is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.’ John 6:40.

“That is why the coming of Christ has been the ‘blessed hope’ of all the ages.

Man’s State in Death

“Between death and the resurrection, the dead sleep. Jesus declares that death is a sleep. Lazarus was dead, but Jesus said, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleepeth.’ John 11:11. It is the language of Inspiration throughout. The patriarch Job said:

“‘Man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: so man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more [the heavens will be rolled back as a scroll at Christ’s coming], they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.’ Job 14:10–12.

“This hope of the resurrection at the last day was no indistinct hope to the believer in God’s promises. The patriarch continued:

“’If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: Thou wilt have a desire to the work of Thine hands.’ Verses 14, 15.

“Job tells us of the place of his waiting for the Life-giver’s call: ‘If I wait, the grave is mine house.’ Job 17:13. It is thence that Christ will call His own when He comes. ‘The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth.’ John 5:28, 29.

“Death is an unconscious sleep. It must of necessity be so; for death is the opposite of life. Therefore there is no consciousness of the passing of time to those who sleep in the grave. It is as if the eyes closed in death one instant, and the next instant, to the believer’s consciousness, he awakens to hear the animating voice of Jesus calling him to glad immortality, and to see the angels catching up his loved ones to meet Jesus in the air.

“These Scriptures, out of many, will suffice to show that man is not conscious in death:

“‘His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.’ Psalms 146:4.

“’The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything. …Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun.’ Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6.

“Death is a sleep, which will continue until the resurrection. Then the Lord will bring forth from the dust the same person who was laid away in death.

“Some have said that this Bible doctrine of the sleep of the dead until the resurrection is a gloomy one. Popular tradition thinks of the blessed dead as going at once to heaven, which, say some, is a beautiful thought. But they forget that the same teaching consigns their unbelieving friends to immediate torment—and that, too, while awaiting the judgment of the last day.

“No, the Bible teaching is the cheering doctrine, the ‘blessed hope.’ All the faithful of all the ages are going into the kingdom together. This blessed truth appeals to the spirit that loves to wait and share joys and good things with loved ones. Of the faithful of past ages the apostle says:

“’These all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.’ Hebrews 11:39, 40.

“They are waiting, that all together the saved may enter in. And the time of waiting is but an instant to those who ‘sleep in Jesus.’

“David was a man of God, but the apostle Peter, speaking by the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, declared to the people of the city of David: ‘He is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. …For David is not ascended into the heavens.’ Acts 2:29–34. They without us have not been made perfect. They are all awaiting that glad day toward which the apostle Paul turned the last look of his mortal vision:

“’I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.’ 2 Timothy 4:7, 8.

“What joy in that day to march in through the gates into the eternal city, with Adam, and Abel, and Noah, and Abraham, and Paul and all the faithful, and the loved ones of our own home circles, and dear comrades in service, every one clothed with immortality, the gift of God in Christ Jesus our Redeemer! Horatius Bonar’s hymn sings the joyful hope as the loved are laid away to ‘sleep in Jesus:’

‘Softly within that peaceful resting place
We lay their wearied limbs, and bid the clay
Press lightly on them till the night be past,
And the far east give note of coming day.
‘The shout is heard, the Archangel’s voice goes forth;
The trumpet sounds, the dead awake and sing;
The living put on glory; one glad band,
They hasten up to meet their coming King.’

“In a word, the Scripture teaches that God alone has immortality, that man is mortal, that death is a sleep, that life after death comes only by the resurrection of the last day, that the righteous are then given immortality. Further, the Scripture teaches that later there will be a resurrection of the unjust, not unto life, but unto death, the second death, from which there is no release.

“Every doctrine of Scripture and of the gospel is in accord with this Bible teaching as to man’s nature and his state in death. But the traditional view of the natural immortality of the soul and of life in death, nullifies the Bible doctrines of life only in Christ, and the resurrection, and the judgment, and the giving of rewards at Christ’s coming, and the final judgment upon the wicked and its execution.

A Few Questions Briefly Considered

“1. The “Living Soul”

“Says one; ‘Did not the Lord put into man an immortal soul?’

“No; the Scripture says: “’The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7.

“The soul was not put into the man, but when the life-giving breath was breathed into his nostrils, the man himself became a living soul, a living being. The ordinary version (King James) gives ‘a living soul’ in the margin of Genesis 1:30, showing that the same expression is used of all the animal creation in the Hebrew text. The famous Methodist commentator, Dr. Adam Clarke, says on this phrase, ‘living soul:’

‘A general term to express all creatures endued with animal life, in any of its infinitely varied gradations.’

“2. Are ‘Soul’ and ‘Spirit’ Deathless?

“’Are the soul and spirit said to be deathless?’ questions another.

“No. One writer says of the Scriptural use of the words ‘soul’ and ‘spirit:’

“’The Hebrew and Greek words from which they are translated, occur in the Bible, as we have seen, seventeen hundred times. Surely, once at least in that long list we shall be told that the soul is immortal, if this is its high prerogative. Seventeen hundred times we inquire if the soul is once said to be immortal, or the spirit deathless. And the invariable and overwhelming response we meet is, Not once!’—Here and Hereafter by U. Smith, p. 65.

“On the contrary, the Lord declares, ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die.’ Ezekiel 18:20. It means that the person who sins shall die; for the words ‘soul,’ ‘mind,’ ‘heart,’ and ‘spirit’ are used to express life or the seat of the affections or of the intellect. One may commend his soul to God, or his spirit to God (really his life into the keeping of God), until the great day of the resurrection. The word ‘soul’ is used of all animal life in New Testament usage, as well as in the Old; as, ‘Every living soul died in the sea.’ Revelation 16:3.

“3. The Thief on the Cross

“’Did not Christ promise the thief on the cross that he would be with Him that day in Paradise?’

“No; for Paradise is where God’s throne is, and the tree of life, and the city of God, the capital of Christ’s kingdom; and three days later Christ had not yet ascended to the Father. ‘Touch me not,’ He said to Mary after His resurrection; ‘for I am not yet ascended to My Father.’ John 20:17. The dying thief, therefore, was not with Him in Paradise three days before.

“Nor did the thief’s question suggest such a thought. His faith grasped Christ’s resurrection, the resurrection of His children, and the coming kingdom; and that day on the cross, in the moment of the deepest humiliation of the Son of God, the repentant sinner cried, ‘Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.’ And the Saviour replied, ‘Verily I say unto thee today’—this day, when the world scoffs and the darkness presses upon Me, this day I say it—‘shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.’ Luke 23:42, 43.

“The punctuation that makes it read, ‘Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise,’ is not a part of the sacred text, and puts the Saviour’s promise in contradiction with the facts of the whole narrative and the teaching of the Scripture.

“4. The Rich Man and Lazarus

“’Then there is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus,’ one says, ‘where Lazarus and Dives are talking, though dead—Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom and the rich man in torment.’

“But that is a parable; and no one can set the figures of a parable against the facts of positive Scripture. In parables, lessons are often taught by figurative language and imaginary scenes which could never be real, though the lesson is emphasized the more forcefully.

“In the parable of Judges 9, the trees are represented as holding a council and talking with one another. No one mistakes the lesson of the parable, or supposes that the trees actually talked. So in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the lesson is taught that uprightness in this life, even though under deepest poverty, will be rewarded in the future life; while uncharitable selfishness will surely bring one to ruin and destruction.

“In the face of the Bible teaching, no one can turn this parable into actual narrative, representing that the saved in glory are now looking over the battlements of heaven and talking with the lost, writhing before their eyes in agony amid the flames of unending torment. This is not the picture that the Scriptures give us of heaven, nor of the state of the dead, nor of the time and circumstances of the final rewards or punishments.”

Our Day in the Light of Prophecy, 275–285

Bible Study Guides – Review of the Quarter

December 20, 2003 – December 26, 2003

Memory Verse

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 11 Timothy 2:15.

Suggested Reading: Our High Calling, 205.


“We must cherish carefully the words of our God lest we be contaminated by the deceptive workings of those who have left the faith. We are to resist their spirit and influence with the same weapon our Master used when assailed by the prince of darkness—‘It is written.’ [Matthew 4:4–10.] We should learn to use the Word of God skillfully. The exhortation is, ‘Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.’ [11 Timothy 2:15.] There must be diligent work and earnest prayer and faith to meet the winding error of false teachers and seducers; for ‘in the last days perilous times shall come.’ [11 Timothy 3:1.]” Review and Herald, January 10, 1888.

1 Show that man was not created with an immortal soul. Since death was brought on humanity through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, how only can immortality be obtained?

note: “God, in counsel with His Son, formed the plan of creating man in His own image. Man was to be placed upon probation. He was to be tested and proved; if he should bear the test of God, and remain loyal and true through the first trial, he was not to be beset with continual temptations, but was to be exalted equal with the angels and made, thenceforth, immortal.” Confrontation, 10.

“He [Jesus] humbled Himself, and took mortality upon Him. As a member of the human family, He was mortal; but as a God, He was the fountain of life to the world. . . . He yielded up His life a sacrifice, that man should not eternally die.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1127.

(See Genesis 2:16, 17; Romans 6:23; 5:19.)

2 Because of sin, what has passed upon all men? What knowledge do the dead have? What bearing does Christ’s resurrection have upon the death and life of His saints?

note: “After Adam and Eve brought death into the world by their disobedience, a costly sacrifice was provided for the human race. A higher value than that they originally possessed was placed upon them. By giving Christ, His only-begotten Son, as a ransom for the world, God gave all heaven.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 299.

“Christ’s resurrection proves that he has power over death and the grave. He is willing and able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him.” Review and Herald, August 13, 1889.

(See Romans 5:12; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6; 1 Corinthians 15:20–23.)

3 How did Paul speak of the judgment? Who compose the heavenly judgment court? What are used as the judgment proceeds? By what is every case decided? Who will execute the judgment determined upon?

note: “In 1844 our great High Priest entered the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, to begin the work of the investigative judgment. The cases of the righteous dead have been passing in review before God. When that work shall be completed, judgment is to be pronounced upon the living. How precious, how important are these solemn moments! Each of us has a case pending in the court of heaven. We are individually to be judged according to the deeds done in the body.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 125.

“At this time [the millenium] the righteous reign as kings and priests unto God. . . . It is at this time that, as foretold by Paul, ‘the saints shall judge the world.’ 1 Corinthians 6:2. In union with Christ they judge the wicked, comparing their acts with the statute book, the Bible, and deciding every case according to the deeds done in the body. Then the portion which the wicked must suffer is meted out, according to their works; and it is recorded against their names in the book of death.” The Faith I Live By, 354.

(See Acts 17:31; Revelation 20:12; 22:12; 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3; Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14; John 5:26, 27.)

4 How many resurrections are there? Who are raised in the first resurrection? Who in the second? How many years intervene between them? In connection with what event are the righteous raised? What has made the resurrection possible?

note: “Soon he will appear the second time to declare that there is no more sacrifice for sin. His believing ones have made their calling and their election sure. They come forth at the first resurrection.” The Youth’s Instructor, July 25, 1901.

“Oh, what a scene will we then see—some coming forth to life eternal at the first resurrection! Upon them the second death shall have no power. And then at the end of a thousand years the wicked dead come forth.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 342.

(See Revelation 20:4–6; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; John 11:25, 26.)

5 Who brought the angels into existence? Describe their work and power. What will be the work of the holy angels at the time of Christ’s Second Coming and the resurrection of the righteous?

note: “When the earthborn children know it not, they have the angels of light as their companions; for the heavenly messengers are sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. A silent witness guards every soul that lives, seeking to win and draw him to Christ. The angels never leave the tempted one a prey to the enemy who would destroy the souls of men if permitted to do so. As long as there is hope, until they resist the Holy Spirit to their eternal ruin, men are guarded by heavenly intelligences.” Our High Calling, 23.

(See Colossians 1:16; Psalm 103:20, 21; Matthew 25:31; 24:31.)

6 What falsehood is the foundation for spiritualism? Cite texts which prove that the dead do not appear to living friends and loved ones. Where do fallen angels meet their doom?

note: “Satan instigated others to rebel, and after they were cast out of heaven he bound them together in a confederacy to do all the evil possible to man, as the only means of striking God. Excluded from heaven, he resolved to be avenged by injuring the workmanship of God. Around the standard of rebellion that he planted, evil workers of all generations have rallied. Evil angels have united with evil men in a warfare against Christ’s kingdom.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1119.

(See Genesis 3:4; Revelation 16:14; 20:7–9; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6; Matthew 25:41.)

7 What change did Jesus say must take place in order to be saved? Who alone can change the heart? Then what can be said of this same individual?

note: “If there is nothing more in all the Scriptures which point out definitely the way to heaven, we have it here in these words [John 3:1–16]. They tell us what conversion is. They tell us what we must do in order to be saved. And, my friends, I want to tell you that this strikes directly at the root of the surface work in the religious world. It strikes directly against the idea that you can become a child of God without any particular change. There is a decided change wrought in us if the truth of God has found a place in our hearts, for it has a sanctifying power upon life and upon character. When we see the fruits of righteousness in those who claim to have advanced truth, as we claim to have it, then there will be a course of action which testifies that we have learned of Christ.” Faith and Works, 63.

(See Matthew 18:2, 3; 1 John 1:9; Ezekiel 36:26.)

8 Why was Jesus baptized? In following the Lord by baptism into death, what is necessary on the part of the believer? What should precede baptism? What power belongs to the believer as he comes forth from his watery grave?

note: “Jesus did not receive baptism as a confession of guilt on His own account. He identified Himself with sinners, taking the steps that we are to take, and doing the work that we must do. His life of suffering and patient endurance after His baptism was also an example to us.” The Desire of Ages, 111.

“All who live have sins to wash away. . . . True repentance of sin, faith in the merits of Jesus Christ, and baptism into His death, to be raised out of the water to live a new life, are the first steps in the new birth. . . . We are safe in following the example of Christ.” The Youth’s Instructor, February 1874.

(See Matthew 3:13–15; Colossians 3:1–3; Philippians 3:10; Ephesians 1:18–20.)

9 In serving others, whose example are we following? State the real lesson conveyed in the ordinance of footwashing. What double significance attaches to the memorial presented by the Lord in the broken bread and the wine?

note: “The object of this service [footwashing] is to call to mind the humility of our Lord, and the lessons He has given in washing the feet of His disciples. There is in man a disposition to esteem himself more highly than his brother, to work for himself, to serve himself, to seek the highest place; and often evil-surmisings and bitterness of spirit spring up over mere trifles. This ordinance preceding the Lord’s Supper is to clear away these misunderstandings, to bring man out of his selfishness, down from his stilts of self-exaltation, to the humility of spirit that will lead him to wash his brother’s feet.” Review and Herald, May 31, 1898.

“This is a special service; and in its observance there is to be a peaceful, grateful heart. Inasmuch as this service, in the bread and wine, represents the body the Lord gave for the sin of the world, the ministration of the sacrament is commemorative of Christ’s humiliation, betrayal, and sufferings, as an offered sacrifice. In symbol, Christ is set forth crucified among us. The representative of Christ is present.” Ibid., June 28, 1898.

(See Philippians 2:6, 7; John 13:3–17; Matthew 26:26–29; 1 Corinthians 11:26.)

10 In how many things should the Christian be temperate? Name three things mentioned by the Saviour against which His people in the last generation must guard.

note: “In the family circle and in the church we should place Christian temperance on an elevated platform. It should be a living, working element, reforming habits, dispositions, and characters.” Child Guidance, 400.

“As we near the close of time, we must rise higher and still higher upon the question of health reform and Christian temperance, presenting it in a more positive and decided manner. We must strive continually to educate the people, not only by our words, but by our practice. Precept and practice combined have a telling influence.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 443.

(See 1 Corinthians 9:25; Luke 21:34.)

11 To whom belongs all power? When the commands of earthly powers conflict with the commandments of God, what is the duty of the Christian?

note: “It is our duty in every case to obey the laws of our land, unless they conflict with the higher law which God spoke with an audible voice from Sinai, and afterward engraved on stone with His own finger. . . . He who has God’s law written in the heart will obey God rather than men, and will sooner disobey all men than deviate in the least from the commandment of God. God’s people, taught by the inspiration of truth, and led by a good conscience to live by every word of God, will take His law, written in their hearts, as the only authority which they can acknowledge or consent to obey. The wisdom and authority of the divine law are supreme.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 361.

(See Romans 13:1–7; Acts 5:29; 4:19.)

12 What prompts the selfish love of money? What is of more value than all the wealth of the world? Why does God hate covetousness? What would be the result if all the tithe were brought into the treasury? Describe the nature of vows to God.

note: “It is God who gives men power to get wealth, and He has bestowed this ability, not as a means of gratifying self, but as a means of returning to God His own. With this object it is not a sin to acquire means. Money is to be earned by labor. Every youth should be trained to habits of industry. The Bible condemns no man for being rich if he has acquired his riches honestly. It is the selfish love of money wrongfully employed that is the root of all evil. Wealth will prove a blessing if we regard it as the Lord’s, to be received with thankfulness and with thankfulness returned to the Giver.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 452, 453.

“Should means flow into the treasury exactly according to God’s plan,— a tenth of all the increase,—there would be abundance to carry forward His work.” Ibid., vol. 5, 150.

(See 1 Timothy 6:5–11; Ephesians 5:5; Romans 8:32; Malachi 3:10; Numbers 30:1, 2; Deuteronomy 23:21–23.)

Sermon on the Mount Series – The Value of a Soul

If a person cherishes a spirit of malice and unkindness, he is cherishing a spirit that will result in hatred and a desire for revenge. The Bible says that he who hates his brother is a murderer and cannot hope to have eternal life (I John 3:15). The question is, though, how can this spirit be removed or changed?

Across the Sea of Galilee from where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, there was the land of Bashan, a land of wild gorges and wooded areas. It had been a long time favorite lurking ground for criminals of all descriptions. There had been reports, even in Jesus’ day, of frequent murders and robberies that had been committed throughout that area. The people thought that in Jesus’ teaching of the law He would have a strict, stern rebuke for those people committing the crimes. However, they were shocked when, in quoting the sixth commandment that says, “You shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13 RSV), Jesus showed that the commandment applied to themselves.

It is clear as you read the gospel story in any one of the gospels that the people cherished bitter hatred against the Romans as well as other people of their own country who did not in all things conform to their ideas. They were contentious and passionate about their beliefs. Jesus said to them in Matthew 5:21, 22, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment,’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council, But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.”

Actually, many of the most accurate and ancient manuscripts leave out the words “without a cause.” The text would then read like this: “… I say to you that whoever is angry with His brother shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother ‘Raca!’ (equivalent in our speech today to calling somebody an air head) shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says to his brother “marad” (Aramaic for apostate or rebel) shall be in danger of hell fire.”

This same spirit of hatred and revenge is at the basis of all murders. It originated with a leading angel of heaven called Lucifer, whose name became Satan, which means adversary, or devil, which means a slanderer. This spirit of hatred and revenge caused him to put to death the Son of God. The Bible is very clear – the intelligence that was behind the crucifixion of Jesus was not only the Jewish leaders, and it was not just the Roman government, or Pilate; there were supernatural forces that were in conflict. The devil was intent on destroying the Son of God. It was he who was the one that engineered and programmed the whole event.

The whole heavenly universe was privy to the battle in heaven that resulted in Satan and his angels being cast out into the earth; they saw and knew who was behind it. But the people on this earth were ignorant of the bigger controversy and acted like pawns in the devil’s hands. Whoever cherishes malice or unkindness is of the same spirit and its fruit will be unto death. The revengeful thought is the seed that, once germinated and grown or unfolded, will produce the evil deed. For this reason John wrote, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (I John 3:15).

In the gift of His Son given for our redemption, God has shown how high a value He places upon every human soul. He does not give any of us permission or liberty to speak contemptuously about another human being. It is true that if we have our eyes and ears open, we are bound to see and hear of faults and weaknesses in other human beings. But God claims them as His property. They are His first of all because He created them. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness of it, the world, and those who dwell in it” (Psalm 24:1 AMP). He owns it all; He made it.

Not only did He create everything in the beginning, but He has also purchased them back by the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. All human beings were created in the image of God and even those who have been most degraded by sin are to be treated with respect and tenderness. When we study the life of Jesus, we find that He even treated His persecutors with politeness and courtesy.

Jesus teaches us here that God is going to hold us accountable if we speak contemptuously about somebody for whom Christ Jesus laid down His life. The New Testament also is very strict about this principle. Notice what it says: “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you glory as if you had not received it” (I Corinthians 4:7, literal translation)?

Paul says that everything you have is only yours because you have received it from God and since you have received it, why talk as if it were your own and you produced it on your own? Again, the apostle Paul says in Romans 14:4: “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.”

We are not to speak contemptuously of any human being, even if they are degraded because of a life of sin. We are not to condemn our brother as somebody who is beyond the reach of salvation and cannot be saved. To pronounce judgment on somebody else, believing they cannot be saved, puts that person who judges in danger of hell fire himself.

In the book of Jude is an example of how we should talk and treat fellow human beings. Christ Himself was contending with Satan about the body of Moses. Notice what it says in verse 9:

“Yet Michael (Mi ka El, One Who is like God) the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ ” Jesus did not bring a railing accusation against the devil. If He had done that, He would have placed Himself on Satan’s ground for accusations are the weapon of the wicked one. Notice what the Bible says in Revelation 12:10: “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.’ ”

Satan is the one who is called in Scripture, “the accuser of the brethren.” Jesus would not even have stooped to bring an accusation against the devil; He left it for His Father to decide on the condemnation and the judgment of the devil. His example is for us. When we are brought into conflict with the enemies of Christ, and it is true that Jesus Christ still has many enemies in this world, we should say nothing in the spirit of retaliation or that would have even the appearance of being a reviling or railing accusation.

If we stand as a mouthpiece for God as all Christians should be, then we should not utter words that even the Majesty of heaven would not use when contending with the devil. We must leave with God the work of judging and condemning.

Now the love of God is something more than simply not doing certain things. It is a positive, active, principle, a living spring, ever flowing out to bless others. And if the love of Christ really dwells in our hearts, we not only will refrain from cherishing evil against our brother, or speaking in a contemptuous way to him or about him, but we will ever and always be seeking to manifest love to our fellow men. Notice what Jesus said about this in Matthew 5:23, 24: “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” In other words, don’t even go to church to worship the Lord in public until you have made things right with the person that you have wronged or has wronged you.

I cannot expect to be able to express faith in God’s pardoning love if I myself am indulging an unloving spirit. That would be a farce.

If I profess to be a Christian and I injure my brother in any way, I have misrepresented the character of God and that wrong needs to be acknowledged, confessed, and then corrected.

Some may say, “Well, my brother has done me a greater wrong than I have done him.” That may be true and it is up to your brother to correct the wrong that he has done against you, but that does not lessen your responsibility, even if you have been treated worse than what you have done against him. God will not accept worship from those who have unresolved differences. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34, 35).

The prophet Ezekiel said, “If the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die” (Ezekiel 33:15). If unwittingly I have borne false witness against my brother, by misstating his words or injured his influence in any way, I need to go to the ones with whom I have conversed about him and repair my injurious misstatements.

If Christians followed this Biblical advice in resolving matters of difficulty between their brethren, how many “roots of bitterness, whereby many are defiled” (Hebrews 12:15, literal translation) would be destroyed, and how closely Christians would be united in a bond of brotherly love?

The Jews prided themselves on their morality and looked with horror upon the sensual practices of the Romans and other nations. But when Jesus began to speak to them about the seventh commandment in His sermon, He revealed to them something shocking. He showed them that the sixth commandment reflected not only actions, but also what was in their mind and in their heart. The same applies to the seventh commandment. Notice what Jesus said in Matthew 5:27, 28: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” When the thought of evil is loved and cherished, however secretly, said Jesus, it shows that sin still reigns in the heart. The soul is still in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.

He who finds pleasure in dwelling upon scenes of impurity and indulges in evil thoughts or the lustful look, may behold in the open sin the end result of what he has been thinking. All human beings are tempted in this world; the Bible is very clear about that. However, the sinful action makes manifest only that which was already in the heart, though it may have been hidden from view. As a man “thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). For it is out of the heart that come the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23).

To prevent a physical disease from spreading to another part of the body and destroying the life, a man would submit to having a part of his body, an arm or a hand, amputated. Much more should a person be willing to surrender whatever imperils the life of the soul. Jesus said, “And if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29, 30).

This counsel refers to the spiritual principle that whatever imperils the soul must be given up. If what I am looking at is imperiling my soul, then I must stop looking at it. If what I am handling is imperiling my soul, I must quit handling it. If where my feet are taking me is imperiling my soul, I must quit going there.

Through the gospel, souls that have been degraded and enslaved by sin are to be redeemed and are to share the glorious liberty of the sons of God. God’s purpose is not just to deliver you from the suffering that is the inevitable result of sin. His purpose is to save you from the sin itself.

A soul that has been corrupted and deformed, through the gospel is to be purified, transformed and sanctified. It is to be clothed, the Bible says, in “… the beauty of the Lord our God” (Psalm 90:17). It is “… to be conformed to the image of His Son …” (Romans 8:29). The Bible says that “… eye has not seen, nor has the ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those that love Him” (I Corinthians 2:9, literal translation). In fact, eternity alone can reveal the glorious destiny to which every man or woman may come to when restored to God’s image.

If you and I are going to reach this high ideal, whatever causes our soul to stumble must be sacrificed. Remember that it is through the will that sin retains its hold upon us.

Jesus says that it is better to enter into life, even if you are maimed or crippled, than to keep what you have and lose your soul. God is the fountain of life and you and I can only have life as we are in communion with Him. If we are separated from God, existence may be ours for a little time, but the Bible says we do not possess life. If we are separated from God, it is inevitable that we are going to die. The only way that we can live is if we surrender to the Lord as our Master and Saviour. It is only through self-surrender that we can receive what the Lord wants to give to us.

By refusing to yield to the will of God, clinging to self, is to choose death.

Friend, what is your destiny to be? Are you willing to forsake your sins and choose life? The choice is up to you.