Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2


Chapter 60—Conflict and Conformity

Conflict Rightly Met Develops Steadfastness—Through conflict the spiritual life is strengthened. Trials well borne will develop steadfastness of character and precious spiritual graces. The perfect fruit of faith, meekness, and love often matures best amid storm clouds and darkness.—Christ's Object Lessons, 61 (1900). 2MCP 555.1

Waging a War—It is not mimic battles in which we are engaged. We are waging a warfare upon which hang eternal results. We have unseen enemies to meet. Evil angels are striving for the dominion of every human being.—The Ministry of Healing, 128 (1905). 2MCP 555.2

Conflicts Not Created by Christ—We are living in a solemn time. An important work is to be done for our own souls and for the souls of others, or we shall meet with an infinite loss. We must be transformed by the grace of God, or we shall fail of heaven, and through our influence others will fail with us. 2MCP 555.3

Let me assure you that the struggles and conflicts which must be endured in the discharge of duty, the self-denials and sacrifices which must be made if we are faithful to Christ, are not created by Him. They are not imposed by arbitrary or unnecessary command; they do not come from the severity of the life which He requires us to lead in His service. Trials would exist in greater power and number were we to refuse obedience to Christ and become the servants of Satan and the slaves of sin.—Testimonies for the Church 4:557, 558 (1881). 2MCP 555.4

Life Is a Conflict—This life is a conflict, and we have a foe who never sleeps, who is watching constantly to destroy our minds and lure us away from our precious Saviour, who has given His life for us.—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 291 (1915). 2MCP 556.1

Prepare the Soul for Peace—The Lord permits conflicts to prepare the soul for peace.—The Great Controversy, 663 (1888). 2MCP 556.2

Religious Experience Gained Only Through Conflict—With energy and fidelity our youth should meet the demands upon them, and this will be a guarantee of success. Young men who have never made a success in the temporal duties of life will be equally unprepared to engage in the higher duties. A religious experience is gained only through conflict, through disappointment, through severe discipline of self, through earnest prayer. The steps to heaven must be taken one at a time, and every advance step gives strength for the next.—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 100 (1913). 2MCP 556.3

Have Happiness Now—I do not look to the end for all the happiness; I get happiness as I go along. Notwithstanding that I have trials and afflictions, I look away to Jesus. It is in the strait, hard places that He is right by our side, and we can commune with Him, lay all our burdens upon the Burden Bearer, and say, “Here, Lord, I cannot carry these burdens longer.” Then He says to us, “My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). Do you believe it? I have tested it. I love Him; I love Him. I see in Him matchless charms. And I want to praise Him in the kingdom of God.—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 292 (1915). 2MCP 556.4

Two Antagonistic Principles—The kingdom of God comes not with outward show. The gospel of the grace of God, with its spirit of self-abnegation, can never be in harmony with the spirit of the world. The two principles are antagonistic. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).—The Desire of Ages, 509 (1898). 2MCP 557.1

Conform Not in Principles and Customs—Like Israel, Christians too often yield to the influence of the world and conform to its principles and customs in order to secure the friendship of the ungodly, but in the end it will be found that these professed friends are the most dangerous of foes. 2MCP 557.2

The Bible plainly teaches that there can be no harmony between the people of God and the world. “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (1 John 3:13). Our Saviour says, “Ye know that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18). Satan works through the ungodly, under cover of a pretended friendship, to allure God's people into sin that he may separate them from Him; and when their defense is removed, then he will lead his agents to turn against them and seek to accomplish their destruction.—Patriarchs and Prophets, 559 (1890). 2MCP 557.3

Common Fire and Sacred—The truth of God has not been magnified in His believing people because they have not brought it into their personal experience. They conform to the world and depend upon it for their influence. They allow the world to convert them and introduce the common fire to take the place of the sacred that they may, in their line of work, meet the world's standard. 2MCP 557.4

There must not be these efforts made to ape the world's customs. This is common, not sacred, fire. The living bread must not only be admired, but eaten. That bread which cometh down from heaven will give life to the soul. It is the leaven which absorbs all the elements of the character into a oneness with the character of Christ and molds the objectionable hereditary and cultivated tendencies after the divine similitude.—Manuscript 96, 1898. 2MCP 557.5

Christ and Conformity—How wonderful is the work of grace upon the human heart! It gives mental power, wisdom to use the talent of means, not in self-pleasing but through self-denial, to carry forward missionary work. Christ, the Son of God, was a missionary to our world. He says, “Whoso will follow, let him forsake all.” You cannot love Him while copying the fashions of the world or enjoying worldly society.—Letter 238, 1907. 2MCP 558.1

Conformity Lowers Standards—Conformity to worldly customs converts the church to the world; it never converts the world to Christ. Familiarity with sin will inevitably cause it to appear less repulsive. He who chooses to associate with the servants of Satan will soon cease to fear their master. When in the way of duty we are brought into trial, as was Daniel in the king's court, we may be sure that God will protect us; but if we place ourselves under temptation, we shall fall sooner or later.—The Great Controversy, 509 (1888). 2MCP 558.2

Conformity Gradually Perverts Right Principles—It is conformity to the world that is causing our people to lose their bearings. The perversion of right principles has not been brought about suddenly. The angel of the Lord presented this matter to me in symbols. It seemed as if a thief were stealthily moving closer and still closer and gradually but surely stealing away the identity of God's work by leading our brethren to conform to worldly policies. 2MCP 558.3

The mind of man has taken the place that rightfully belongs to God. Whatever position a man may hold, however exalted he may be, he should act as Christ would were He in his place. In every stroke of work that he performs, in his words and in his character, he should be Christlike.—Manuscript 96, 1902. 2MCP 558.4

Unity, but Not at the Cost of Conformity—Some who profess to be loyal to God's law have departed from the faith and have humiliated His people in the dust, representing them to be one with worldlings. God has seen and marked this. The time has come when, at any cost, we are to take the position that God has assigned to us. 2MCP 559.1

Seventh-day Adventists are now to stand forth separate and distinct, a people denominated by the Lord as His own. Until they do this, He cannot be glorified in them. Truth and error cannot stand in copartnership. Let us now place ourselves where God has said that we should stand.…We are to strive for unity but not on the low level of conformity to worldly policy and union with the popular churches.—Letter 113, 1903. 2MCP 559.2

A Line of Demarcation—A deep and thorough work of reform is needed in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The world is not to be allowed to corrupt the principles of God's commandment-keeping people. Believers are to exert an influence that bears witness to the power of heavenly principles. Those who unite with the church must give evidence of a change of principle. Unless this is done, unless the line of demarcation between the church and the world is carefully preserved, assimilation to the world will be the result. 2MCP 559.3

Our message to the church and to our institutions is: “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). The attributes of Christ's character are to be cherished, and these are to become a power in the lives of God's people.—Manuscript 78, 1905. 2MCP 559.4

Custom Is at War With Nature—Our artificial civilization is encouraging evils destructive of sound principles. Custom and fashion are at war with nature. The practices they enjoin and the indulgences they foster are steadily lessening both physical and mental strength and bringing upon the race an intolerable burden. Intemperance and crime, disease and wretchedness, are everywhere.—The Ministry of Healing, 125, 126 (1905). 2MCP 559.5

When Principle Is Not Violated, Follow Custom—When the practices of the people do not come in conflict with the law of God, you may conform to them. If the workers fail to do this, they will not only hinder their own work, but they will place stumbling blocks in the way of those for whom they labor and hinder them from accepting the truth.—The Review and Herald, April 6, 1911. 2MCP 560.1

I beg of our people to walk carefully and circumspectly before God. Follow the customs in dress as far as they conform to health principles. Let our sisters dress plainly, as many do, having the dress of good, durable material, appropriate for this age, and let not the dress question fill the mind. Our sisters should dress with simplicity. They should clothe themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety. Give the world a living illustration of the inward adorning of the grace of God.—Manuscript 167, 1897. (Child Guidance, 414.) 2MCP 560.2

Separate From Worldly Customs—As God made known His will to the Hebrew captives, to those who were most separate from the customs and practices of a world lying in wickedness, so will the Lord communicate light from heaven to all who will appreciate a “Thus saith the Lord.” To them He will express His mind. Those who are least bound up with worldly ideas, are the most separate from display and vanity and pride and love of promotion, who stand forth as His peculiar people, zealous of good works—to these He will reveal the meaning of His word.—Letter 60, 1898. (Counsels to Writers and Editors, 101, 102.) 2MCP 560.3

Reason for Nonconformity (a message to believers)—Why, as professing Christians, are we so mixed and mingled with the world till we lose sight of eternity, till we lose sight of Jesus Christ, and till we lose sight of the Father? Why, I ask you, are there so many families destitute of the Spirit of God? Why are there so many families that have so little of the life and love and likeness of Jesus Christ? It is because they do not know God. If they knew God, and if they would behold Him by faith in Jesus Christ, who came to our world to die for man, they would see such matchless charms in the Son that they by beholding would become changed to the same image. Now you see the wrong of conforming to the world.—Manuscript 12, 1894. 2MCP 560.4

True Principles Circulating Through Entire System—Conformity to the world can be prevented by the truth, by feeding on the Word of God, by its principles circulating through the entire life current and working out that word in the character. Christ exhorts us by the apostle John to “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). This is plain language, but it is God's measure of every man's character.—Manuscript 37, 1896. 2MCP 561.1