The Signs of the Times


January 13, 1904

“Choose You This Day Whom Ye Will Serve”


Just before his death, Joshua called the children of Israel together, and said to them, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” The choice that Israel was that day called to make is one that today all are called to make; for there are still rival powers in the world. Let us consider the character of the powers that claim the homage of men. ST January 13, 1904, par. 1

Christ, the Commander of the heavenly hosts, left the honor and glory that He had with the Father, and came to this world to live as a man among men, that He might rescue human beings from destruction. He might have come attended by ten thousand times ten thousand angels; but this He did not do. He came in lowliness and poverty, without honor or rank. He humbled Himself, taking the nature of the fallen race. He came to help the needy and the distressed; to heal the sick; to speak peace to the suffering; to deliver those whom Satan was afflicting; to bring redemption to all who would accept the Heaven-sent blessing. Such is the character of Him who says, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.” ST January 13, 1904, par. 2

There is another who claims the homage of men, but very different is he from the Prince of life. He was once a covering cherub in the heavenly courts, and of him it is written, “Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.” But envy entered his heart, and he was cast out of heaven. His work is now the destruction of the children of men; the ruin of souls is his delight, and his only employment. His step is noiseless, his movements are stealthy, his batteries are masked. He has so concealed himself from view that many can hardly believe that he exists, much less can they be convinced of his amazing malignity, activity, and power. If he were to show himself openly, in his true character, he would arouse the Christian's dormant energies, and send him to God in prayer. ST January 13, 1904, par. 3

Under the enemy's specious, bewitching influence, many obey the worst impulses of the human heart, and yet believe that God is leading them. Could their eyes be opened to distinguish their Captain, they would see that they are not serving God, but the enemy of all righteousness. ST January 13, 1904, par. 4

When Christ was in the world, the battle between Him and Satan was unceasing. At the beginning of His public ministry, our Saviour encountered the wily foe in the wilderness of temptation. Here, during the forty days and nights of Christ's long fast, Satan, concealing his real character, sought by every means he could devise to overcome the Redeemer. Disguising himself as an angel of light, a Heaven-sent friend, he offered to show Christ an easier way to gain His object than the path of trial and suffering upon which He had entered. But Jesus repulsed the enemy, and forced him to depart, a conquered foe. ST January 13, 1904, par. 5

Today Satan comes with his temptations to the children of men, and here he has better success. One of his most successful devices is to keep men in ignorance of his devices; for they will not be on their guard against an enemy of whose existence they are ignorant. I was once asked, “Do you believe in the existence of a personal devil?” “I do,” I replied. “I do not,” rejoined the questioner. “I think that our evil thoughts and impulses are the only devil there is.” “But,” I asked, “who suggests these thoughts? Where do they originate if not with Satan?” ST January 13, 1904, par. 6

Dear Christian friends, be not deceived by the delusion that Satan has no existence. Just as surely as we have a personal Saviour, we have a personal adversary, cruel and cunning, who constantly watches our steps, plotting to lead us astray. Where the belief is held that he does not exist, there he is most busy. When we least suspect his presence, he is gaining an advantage over us. I feel alarmed as I see so many yielding to his power, while they know it not. Did they but see their danger, they would flee to Christ, the sinner's refuge. ST January 13, 1904, par. 7

The tempter often whispers that the Christian life is one of exaction, of rigorous duty; that it is hard to be on the watch continually, that there is no need of being so particular. Thus he deceived Eve in Eden, telling her that God's commands were arbitrary and unjust, given to prevent man from becoming free and exalted. ST January 13, 1904, par. 8

It is true that our Saviour represents His service as a yoke, and the Christian life is one of burden-bearing; yet contrasting these with the cruel power of Satan and the burdens imposed by sin, He exclaims, “My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” If we try to meet the responsibilities of the Christian life and to perform its duties, without Jesus as a helper, we shall find the yoke galling, and the burden intolerably heavy. But we are not asked to bear the burden alone. Christ will bear the burden of our care and sorrow. He invites us to cast all our care upon Him; for He carries us on His heart. He looks upon every soul who is turning his face toward Him as the Saviour. He knows by experience what are the weaknesses of humanity, what are our needs, and where lies the strength of our temptations; for He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. ST January 13, 1904, par. 9

True happiness is found, not in self-indulgence and self-pleasing, but in learning of Christ. Those who trust to their own wisdom and follow their own way complain at every step. But those who take Christ at His word, and surrender the soul to His keeping, their lives to His ordering, will find peace and quietude. Nothing of the world can make them sad when Jesus makes them glad by His presence. The Lord says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee; because he trusteth in Thee.” ST January 13, 1904, par. 10

Those who choose Christ as their leader, grow daily more like Him. “Strengthened with all might by His Spirit,” they form characters that will win for them entrance into the holy city. ST January 13, 1904, par. 11

We now have the opportunity of deciding whether we shall be numbered with the servants of Christ or the servants of Satan. Day by day, in word and act, we show what choice we are making. Shall we not decide as did Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord?” ST January 13, 1904, par. 12