Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14

412/488

Ms 130, 1899

The Test of Obedience

NP

September 8, 1899 [typed]

Portions of this manuscript are published in SD 313, 314; Te 65, 79-80, 195-196; 5BC 1121; 4MR 410; 11MR 274-275; 15MR 166. +Note

In the eighth chapter of Deuteronomy is given a description of the blessings to be bestowed on the Hebrew nation. How often it is repeated that their prosperity in the land of Canaan would be continual if they kept the commandments of God. In plain, simple language the Lord Jesus gave His direction to Moses to give to the people. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 1

“All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers. And thou shalt remember all the ways which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldst keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know, that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 2

“Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell these forty years. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him. For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills: a land of wheat and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; and land of oil, olives, and honey; a land wherein thou canst eat bread without scarceness. Thou shalt not lack anything in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.” [Verses 1-9.] 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 3

Then a warning is given. “When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which he has given thee. Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day.” [Verses 10, 11.] This is where a decided failure has ever been made. The thankfulness of God’s people has been in no way proportionate to the favors and blessings God has liberally bestowed. Is it not strange that those who claim to be Bible readers and to have a knowledge of God do the very things the Lord has commanded them not to do? 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 4

“Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein, and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; and thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.” [Verses 12-17.] 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 5

The children of Israel were to remember that when the Lord favored them, they were not to become lifted up unto vanity, thinking that it was because of their own piety and righteousness that they were blessed. They were to realize that their blessings came because of the undeserved mercy and lovingkindness of God. “Thou shalt remember the Lord thy God, for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant, which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. As the nations which the Lord destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God.” [Verses 18-20.] 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 6

The children of Israel did not heed this instruction. They did not keep the statutes and judgments of God’s law. Their prosperity was promised on condition of their obedience, but they became unthankful and selfish. They transgressed God’s holy law, making it impossible for him to fulfill his agreement with them. The Lord bore long with their impatience and self-exaltation because he would not suffer his name to be dishonored before the heathen. Is it not strange that with such incentives to obedience—the promises so great and full—the chosen people did not obey? Obedience was for their prosperity and happiness, but though they knew this, it did not keep them from disloyalty. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 7

How many there are in our day who are regardless of God’s warnings and cautions against self-exaltation. They are self-satisfied, and they look upon the blessings God has given them as the result of their genius and skill. They flatter themselves that they possess talents of a superior order. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 8

God’s great object in the working out of His providences is to try men, to give them opportunity to develop character. Thus He proves whether they are obedient or disobedient to His commands. A record is kept of all willing obedience, which flows from an appreciation of God’s love, goodness, and abundant liberality. Obedience is God’s test of character. Those who would be permitted to enter the city of God must honor and respect God by obeying His law. Those who disregard His commands in this life, notwithstanding their knowledge of the reward of obedience—immortal life in the presence of God—would disregard His commandments in heaven above. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 9

The Lord’s Entrusted Gifts

The Christian is a husbandman, who is made a steward of his Lord’s goods. To him is given the management of the vineyard. Great trust is reposed in him, and he is to treat the property in his hands with as much care as though it were his own; yea, he is to be more exact in his treatment of it, putting more thought, more energy, more devotedness into his work, because he has been trusted to stand in his Master’s place. His interests are to be bound up with the interests of his Master. He is to lose all selfishness in working for the one who has honored Him by trusting Him. Did he use any portion of the goods entrusted to him for his own advantage, he would prove himself to be unworthy. His honor would be sacrificed at the shrine of mammon. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 10

Every Christian is entrusted with talents—the property of his Lord. God speaks to each human being, saying, I have a claim on you. Those who have been given advantages and privileges are to make a faithful return in fruit, for all they are handling is the Lord’s. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 11

The apostle Paul writes, “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.” [1 Corinthians 4:1, 2.] Let those to whom God has committed a work labor so as to please Him who has given them their trust. God’s ministers are not to seek to stand at the head of political parties because certain ones wish to choose them for this position. Their work is a spiritual one. They are to seek to convert men and women to the truths of the Word of God. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 12

Lessons for Christians

The third chapter of First Corinthians contains instruction which all who claim to be following Jesus should study. Contentions in the body of believers are not after the order of God. They are the result of the manifestation of the attributes of the natural heart. To all who bring in disorder and disunion the words of Paul are applicable: “I brethren could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” [Verses 1, 2.] 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 13

Paul addresses a people whose advancement has not been proportionate to their privileges and opportunities. They ought to have been able to bear the hearing of the plain Word of God, but they were in the position that Christ’s disciples were in when He said to them, “I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” [John 16:12.] They ought to have been far advanced in spiritual knowledge, able to comprehend and practice the higher truths of the Word; but they were not sanctified, soul, body, and spirit. They had forgotten that they had been purged from their hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong, and that they must not cherish their carnal attributes. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 14

It was impossible for the apostle to reprove wrongdoing without some who claimed to believe the truth becoming offended. The inspired testimony could do these no good. Jealousy, evil surmising, and accusing closed the heart to the working of the Holy Spirit. They lost their spiritual discernment. Paul would gladly have dwelt upon higher and more difficult truths, which were rich in nourishment, but his instruction would have cut directly across their tendency to jealousy. The divine mysteries of godliness, calculated to enable them to grasp the truths necessary for that time, could not be spoken. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 15

The apostle must select lessons which, like milk, could be taken without irritating the digestive organs. Truths of the deepest interest could not be brought before them, because they would misapply and misappropriate them, presenting them to young converts, who needed only the plain truths of the Word. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them; for they are spiritually discerned.” [1 Corinthians 2:14.] 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 16

“Ye are yet carnal,” Paul declared, “for whereas there is among you envying and strife and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man.” [1 Corinthians 3:3-5.] Their contentions revealed that they had not the mind and spirit of Christ, that they were walking after the wisdom of their narrow, conceited minds. Their views and feelings were bound about by selfishness. They did not show the liberality, the generosity, the tenderness, which reveals an abiding Christ. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 17

Holiness to God through Christ is required of Christians. If there are wrongs in the church, they should receive immediate attention. Some may have to be sharply rebuked. This is not doing the erring one any wrong. The faithful physician of the soul cuts deep, that no pestilent matter may be left to burst forth again. After the reproof has been given, then comes repentance and confession, and God will freely pardon and heal. He always pardons when confession is made. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 18

The Lord would have the soul temple kept free from all defilement. “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise”—in his own eyes—“let him become a fool, that he may be wise.” [Verse 18.] Let him who seeks the highest place learn to think far less of his worldly wisdom, and humble himself, that God may give him the wisdom which is bestowed only when true humility is shown. The world may call him a fool, but God calls him wise; for “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” [Psalm 111:10.] Obedience to God is of far higher value than the estimation of the world. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 19

God’s servants are engaged in doing work in one common vineyard. “All ye are brethren.” [Matthew 23:8.] Their object should not be to make a show, not to exalt self, but to convert souls, to do a work that will stand the assaults of the enemies of truth and righteousness. Let no man belittle another man’s work because it is not in exactly the same line as his own. The souls for whom we labor are not to be converted to the minister, but to Jesus Christ. Let man keep himself in the background; let Christ appear. Talk of Christ. Exalt Christ. Lift him up, the Man of Calvary. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 20

Paul declares, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” [1 Corinthians 3:6.] Paul preached the gospel first at Corinth. He organized the church there. Apollos came after, winning his way to the hearts of the people, and instructing them. But God alone gave the increase. The success of both came from Him. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 21

God’s servants do not all possess the same gifts, but they are all His workmen. Each is to learn of the great Teacher, and then to communicate what he has learned. All do not do the same work, but under the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit they are all God’s instrumentalities, through whom He works for the success of the work. God employs a diversity of gifts in His work of winning souls from Satan’s army. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 22

“Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one; and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor.” [Verse 8.] God, and not man, is the judge of man’s work, and He will apportion to each his just reward. Every man will be rewarded according to his work. It is not given to any human being to judge between the different servants of God. The Lord alone is the judge and the rewarder of every good work. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 23

“Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one,” engaged in the same work—the saving of souls. “We are laborers together with God; ye are God’s husbandry; ye are God’s building.” [Verse 9.] Here the church is compared to a cultivated field, in which the husbandmen are to labor, caring for the vines of the Lord’s planting; and to a building, which is to grow into a holy temple for the Lord. Christ is the Master-worker. All are to work under His supervision, letting Him work for and through His workmen. He gives them tact and skill, and crowns their labor with success if they heed His instructions. None are to complain against God, who has appointed each man his work. He who murmurs and frets, and who wants to alter his fellow laborers to suit his own ideas, needs the divine touch before he is qualified to labor in any line. Unless he is changed, he will surely mar the work. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 24

Remember that we are laborers together with God. God is the all-powerful, effectual mover. His servants are His instruments. They are not to pull apart, everyone laboring in accordance with his own ideas. They are to labor together, fitting together in kindly, courteous, brotherly order, in love for one another. There is to be no unkind criticism, no pulling to pieces of another’s work. Together they are to carry the work forward to completeness. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 25

There are to be no separate parties in God’s work. Every man to whom God has entrusted a message has his specific work, and this is to be done under the great Master-worker. Ye are laborers together with God. Form no separate parties. In their service and ministry God’s workers are to be essentially one. Each person has an individuality of his own, which he is not to sink in any other man. Yet he is to work in perfect unity with his brethren, “in honor preferring one another.” [Romans 12:10.] No one worker is to set himself up as a criterion, and speak disrespectfully of his fellow worker, treating him as an inferior. Under God each is to do his appointed work, respected, loved, and encouraged by his fellow workers. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 26

“Make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” [Hebrews 12:13-15.] “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” [Philippians 2:1-3.] We are to study and obey every caution in the Word of God. The Lord desires all to work under His direction. His Word is an unerring counsellor. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 27

“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.” Others afterward bore their message, and gathered in the souls of those who believed and were converted. “But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” [1 Corinthians 3:10.] God’s servants are to use the greatest care in regard to the doctrines they teach, the example they set, and the influence they exert on those associated with them. The great apostle appeals to the church and to God to witness to the truth and sincerity of his profession. “Ye are my witnesses, and God also,” He says, “how holily and justly and unblamably we behaved ourselves among you.” [1 Thessalonians 2:10.] 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 28

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” [1 Corinthians 3:11.] Isaiah declares, “Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation; he that believeth shall not make haste. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet. And the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.” [Isaiah 28:16, 17.] Christ has been crucified for us. He is the propitiation for our sins. He is the atoning sacrifice, the true, immovable foundation. He has gathered the believers in church capacity, that they may labor unitedly, strengthening and building up one another in the faith. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 29

“Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble, every man’s work shall be made manifest, for the day shall declare it; because it shall be revealed by fire, and the fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is.” [1 Corinthians 3:12, 13.] It is for our eternal interest to place the right material upon the right foundation. Christ is the great necessity for every one. It will be to the peril of our soul that we mingle selfishness with the offering laid on the foundation. The laborer for God is to do thorough work, that he may present to his fellow workers a pure, clean mind, free from all cheapness, which is represented as wood, hay, and stubble. The work of those who bring their offerings to God in humility and love, depending hour by hour on the grace of Christ to sanctify and cleanse from moral impurities, bears the impress of God, who estimates our work, not according to the outward appearance, but according to the heart-purity brought into it. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 30

In our character-building, each person is responsible for the way in which he builds. We are to lay on the foundation stone material that will do honor to God. There are many in our world who teach speculative theories, rather than the simple truths which Christ taught. Every one will be tested, to see whether his conversion is real. The pure doctrines that are taught in working faith, the gold, silver, and precious stones that are brought to the foundation, will elevate and ennoble the receiver. But the teaching which is mingled with human philosophy can never sanctify. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 31

The long-expected day of God will soon test every man’s work. “The fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” [Verse 13.] In the great day of God the worthless material will be consumed; but the gold of true, simple, humble faith will never lose its value. It can never be consumed; for it is imperishable. All selfishness, all false religion, will then appear as they are. One hour of transgression will be seen to be a great loss, while the fear of the Lord will be seen to be the beginning of wisdom. The pleasure of self-indulgence will perish as stubble, while the gold of steadfast principle, maintained at any cost, will endure forever. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 32

Let all remember that it makes every difference what material is used in the character building. As fire reveals the difference between gold and silver and precious stones, and wood, hay, and stubble, so the day of judgment will test characters, showing the difference between character formed after Christ’s likeness, and character formed after the likeness of the selfish heart. May God help us to take heed how we build. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 33

There are many who are careless and self-indulgent, estimating their work as of more value than the work of others, and placing a money value on their services, while they know that men toiling as missionaries are compelled to support their families and help distressed, needy ones on half the means they receive. If like Job, we kept these cases before us, we should see many things needing our consideration. Job declares, “The things that I knew not, I searched out.” [Job 29:16.] The Lord knows every case; He keeps a record in His books in the courts above; and in the day of judgment every man’s work shall be made manifest. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 34

Men invest in perishable material, in buildings erected to bring themselves glory or profit, when that money is needed in God’s work. Those who have divine enlightenment will bring their money freely to the foundation stone. Man has been bought with a price which cannot be estimated, and he should cooperate with God by practicing self-denial and self-sacrifice, by giving of his earthly possessions to make it possible for those in the darkness of error to see and practice the truth, giving themselves up to be laborers together with God. Each soul saved is worth more than a world, for he is saved unto eternal life. Those who invest their means in this work double their talents. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 35

If those who claim to believe the truth today could see the way in which the Lord estimates earthly treasure in comparison with the human soul, they would realize the work to be done. They would see fields ripe for the harvest. They would hear a voice saying, “Follow me. Go, work in my vineyard.” [Matthew 21:28.] 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 36

Though you may not be called to the ministry, you may still do a most precious work by placing in the Lord’s treasury means that will defray the expenses of those who labor in word and doctrine. Through the teacher your money has supplied with means with which to labor, you can do a work for time and for eternity. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 37

Entertaining Angels Unawares

There is much human devising in regard to the estimate to be placed on work that is done. Some say, “The work that I am doing is very necessary. In my position I will have to do much entertaining. I will put this on my account, and draw from the treasury accordingly.” But the Lord has given the work of entertaining to all His people as a blessing. He says, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” [Hebrews 13:2.] Yes, angels have entered the homes of human beings, and been entertained by them. Those who for Christ’s sake entertain their brethren, doing their best to make their stay profitable to their visitors and themselves, are recorded in heaven as worthy of receiving blessings in full for their willingness to work for God in this way; and heaven settles the account. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 38

Christ supplies all that is necessary for this work; and it is not in God’s order for a worker occupying a position of responsibility to be credited with a certain sum for entertaining his brethren. This is an invention borne of selfishness, and angels of God make account of these items in their reckoning. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 39

There are those who toil for a livelihood, and who have a difficulty in making the wages received meet the demand. But they love Jesus in the person of His saints, and welcome believers and unbelievers, trying to make their visit profitable. The season of prayer leaves its impression on those who are being entertained, and that one visit may mean the saving of a soul from death. For this work the Lord makes a reckoning, saying, I will repay. Jesus keeps an account of all money expended in entertaining for His sake. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 40

The material we bring to the foundation is a sample of our character, and it makes every difference to us what this material is. Christ is our only dependence, our only hope of salvation. He made a sacrifice so large, so infinite, that it cannot be excelled. It is the privilege of all to bring to the foundation stone thank offerings and praise offerings, kindly deeds and self-denying sacrifices. These can never perish. They are more enduring, more valuable, than the gold of Ophir. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 41

Stinginess and selfishness are current coin, and are very abundant. God calls them covetousness, which is idolatry. But every man’s work is to be made manifest. God keeps the ledger of heaven, and measures every action and the spirit which prompted it. “If any man’s work abide, which he hath built thereon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work be burned, he shall suffer loss. But he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” [1 Corinthians 3:14, 15.] He may have been, as he thought, a sincere believer of the truth, but notwithstanding this, he has placed worthless material on the foundation stone. Self has been the mainspring of action; and if he is saved at all, it is as though his house, with all his goods, were burned, and he only saved as by fire. But he will be saved only by repentance and conversion. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 42

A man’s work may be of that character that it is condemned by the Lord. Yet if for some reason that man has been deceived and repents, he will be saved; but his lifework is valueless. He traded unwisely on his Lord’s goods. He did not increase his talents by doing the right kind of work. He felt himself able to take care of himself, supposing he was too wise to need instruction, until at last he was assured he was bankrupt—the labors of his life lost through miscalculation. The good work he might have brought to the foundation, material which nothing could consume, he did not bring. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 43

The Temple of God

“Know ye not,” the apostle continues, “that ye are the temple of the Holy Ghost, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” [Verses 16, 17.] Man is God’s workmanship, His masterpiece, created for a high and holy purpose; and on every part of the human tabernacle God desires to write His law with His own Almighty finger. Every nerve and muscle, every mental and physical endowment, is to be kept pure. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 44

God designs that the body shall be as a temple for His Spirit. Solemn is the accountability resting upon every soul. Your individual influence is exercised for good or for evil. If you defile your body, you are not only doing harm to yourself, but to many others. Christians are under obligation to God to keep soul, body, and spirit free from all that will defile, for they have been bought with a price. He who defiles himself by false doctrine or by any unholy practice, is helping to defile the church, for his influence is corrupting. A careless example, criticism, faultfinding, are like evil leaven, which defiles the church of God. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 45

How many there are, blessed with reason and intelligence, talents which should be used to the glory of God, who wilfully degrade soul and body. Their life is one continual round of excitement. Cricket and football matches and horse racing are brought into prominent notice in the columns of the daily papers. The liquor curse, with its world of woe, is defiling the temple of God; but it brings a revenue to the public treasury; therefore it is legalized. By the use of liquor and tobacco men are debasing the life given them for high and holy purposes. Their practices are represented by wood, hay, and stubble. Their God-given powers are perverted, their senses degraded, to minister to the desires of the carnal mind. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 46

The drunkard sells his reason for a cup of poison. Satan takes control of his reason, affections, conscience. Such a man is destroying the temple of God. Tea drinking helps to do this same work. Yet how many there are who place these destroying agencies on their tables, thereby quenching the divine attributes. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 47

No man or woman has any right to form habits which lessen the healthful action of one organ of mind or body. He who perverts his powers is defiling the temple of the Holy Ghost. The Lord will not work a miracle to restore to soundness those who continue in the use of drugs which so degrade mind, soul, and body that sacred things are not appreciated. Those who give themselves up to the use of tobacco and liquor do not appreciate their intellect. They do not realize the value of the faculties God has given them, to be cultivate and improved. Thus men allow their powers to wither and decay. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 48

God desires all who believe in Him to feel the necessity of improvement. Every entrusted faculty is to be enlarged. Not one gift is to be laid aside. As God’s husbandry and building, man is under His supervision in every sense of the work, and the better he becomes acquainted with his Maker, the more sacred will his life become in his estimation. He will not place tobacco in his mouth, knowing that it defiles God’s temple. He will not drink wine or liquor, for like tobacco, it degrades the whole being. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 49

Christ gave His own life that the mind and heart might be lifted above the cheap, common, perishable things of this world to the life which measures with the life of God. But Satan has thrown his hellish shadow athwart the pathway of thousands of souls. He desires to darken the spiritual horizon of every soul by eclipsing the light shining from the throne of God. He is pleased when man uses his God-given powers in games and amusements, in selfish nothingness. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 50

When a man accepts Christ as a representative of the Father, his faith makes him a representative of Christ, and to him the words are spoken, “Ye are God’s husbandry; ye are God’s building.” [Verse 9.] “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in you, to will and to do of his good pleasure.” [Philippians 2:12, 13.] Those engaged in the work of character-building should educate themselves to acknowledge the workmanship of God. Have faith that you can use every entrusted capability to God’s glory. He has not given us talents to hide away in a napkin. We are to impart as we receive. The mind is to be brought into contact with the things that are unseen. No amount of profession can take the place of honesty and fidelity. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 51

Faith without works is dead, being alone. When God gives many talents to one person, it is not that he shall exalt himself, as though he has not received these talents from God. He who depends on his own merits, placing great confidence in his knowledge and judgment, has faith without works, which is not accepted by God. But the faith that works by love and purifies the soul is wholly acceptable to God. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 52

God’s test of heathen, who have not the light, and of those living where the knowledge of truth and light has been abundant, is altogether different. He accepts from those in heathen lands a phase of righteousness which does not satisfy Him when offered by those of Christian lands. He does not require much where much has not been bestowed. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 53

All man’s powers are talents which God requires him to improve. “Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” [1 Corinthians 6:19, 20.] Not one of God’s gifts is to be demerited, perverted, or discarded. With His own life Christ has bought man and given him a probation in which to work out his own salvation. God requires his children to live the purest, highest life. He has given his life that we may attain to this standard. He has made every provision necessary to enable man to live, not for his own animal satisfaction, like the beasts that perish, but for God in heaven. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 54

God is not satisfied when human beings live merely an animal life. Christ gave His life that the moral image of God might be restored in humanity, that men and women might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. We are to use no power of our being for selfish gratification, for all our powers belong to Him, and are to be used to His glory. He who does nothing to glorify God might better never have been born. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 55

Those who live a mere animal life are not glorifying their Maker, for by precept and example they are teaching others to leave eternity out of their reckoning. The violation of a moral obligation, which man owes to himself, means robbery of God. Thus we work contrary to our highest interests, and utterly fail to represent God. The physical penalty of this course will appear in the form of sickness, ruined constitutions, and even death itself. But there is also a settlement to be made by and by with God. He keeps an account of every work, whether it is good or evil, and in the day of judgment every man will receive according to his work. Every transgression of the laws of physical life is a transgression of God’s laws, and punishment must and will follow every such transgression. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 56

God has purchased every man by the gift of His Son. Our time, our strength, our intellect, our every capability, belongs to God. We are to remember that we are under His control. We are to obey the laws of His kingdom, making of ourselves all that it is possible for us to be. Earnestly we are to cultivate the highest powers of our being, remembering that we are God’s property, God’s building. We are required to improve every day. Even in this world of sin and sorrow, we may, by earnest, persevering effort, rise to the highest spiritual efficiency. “Ye are God’s husbandry; ye are God’s building.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] In spirit and word, in every phase of our character-building, we are to please God. This we may do; for Enoch pleased <God,> though living in a degenerate age. And there are Enochs in this our day. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 57

The human house, God’s building, His temple, requires close, vigilant, watchful guardianship. With David we can exclaim, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” [Psalm 139:14.] God’s workmanship is to be preserved, that it may be revealed to the heavenly universe and to the apostate race, that men and women are temples of the living God. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 58

The perfection of character which God requires is the fitting up of the whole being as a temple for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Lord requires the service of the entire human machinery. He desires men and women to be all that He has made it possible for them to be. It is not enough for certain parts of the machinery to be used. All parts must be brought into action, or the service is deficient. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 59

A lawyer came to Christ with the question, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Christ placed the burden of the answer upon the questioner by asking him, “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” Before the whole multitude the lawyer replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” And Christ said, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” [Luke 10:25-28.] The whole being—the heart, the soul, the mind, and the strength—is to be used in God’s service. What is there left that is not devoted to God? 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 60

The physical life is to be carefully educated, cultivated and developed, that through men and women the divine nature may be revealed in its fullness. God expects men to use the intellect He has given them. He expects them to use every reasoning power for Him. They are to give the conscience the place of supremacy that has been assigned it. The mental and physical powers, with the affections, are to be so cultivated that they can reach the highest efficiency. Thus Christ is represented to the world. By this painstaking effort man is qualified to co-operate with the great Master Worker in saving souls unto life eternal. This is why God entrusted us with endowments—that we might have life, eternal life, in the kingdom of God. 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 61

Is God pleased to see any of the organs and faculties He has given to man neglected, misused, or deprived of the health and efficiency it is possible for them to acquire through exercise? Then cultivate the gift of faith. Be brave, and overcome every practice which mars the soul temple. We are wholly dependent on God, and our faith is strengthened by still believing, though we cannot see God’s purpose in His dealing with us, or the consequence of this dealing. Faith points forward and upward to things to come, laying hold of the only power that can make us complete in Him. “Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me,” God declares, “and he shall make peace with me.” [Isaiah 27:5.] 14LtMs, Ms 130, 1899, par. 62