The Signs of the Times


July 17, 1884

“Walk in the Light”


“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Ignorance is no excuse for error or sin, when there is every opportunity to know the will of God. A man is traveling, and comes to a place where there are several roads, and a guide-board indicating where each one leads. If he disregards the guide-board, and takes whichever road seems to him to be right, he may be ever so sincere, but will in all probability find himself on the wrong road. ST July 17, 1884, par. 1

God's word is given us that we may become acquainted with its teachings. We there read that if we do his will, we shall know of the doctrine. Ignorance will not excuse young or old, or release them from the punishment due for the transgression of God's law, because there is in their hands a faithful presentation of that law and of its principles and its claims. It is not enough to have good intentions; it is not enough to do what a man thinks is right, or what the minister tells him is right. His soul's salvation is at stake, and he should search the Scriptures for himself. However strong may be his convictions, however confident he may be that the minister knows what is truth, this is not his foundation. He has a chart pointing out every waymark on the heavenward journey, and he ought not to guess at anything, but to know what is truth. He should search the Scriptures on bended knees; morning, noon, and night, prayer should ascend from secret places, and a continual prayer should arise from his heart that God will guide him into all truth. ST July 17, 1884, par. 2

The word of God gives men no liberty to set up a standard of righteousness of their own, as many do who claim to be without sin. They do not compare their characters with the great standard, the law of Jehovah. While they are holy, judged by their own imperfect standard, the Scriptures present them as sinful Pharisees, under the condemnation of the law of God, which they transgress daily. They walk after the imagination of their own heart, and follow their own devices. Yet many of these persons are sincere. They think they are right; for “there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Feeling is no criterion for any one; the assertions of men are no evidence of truth. “To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” ST July 17, 1884, par. 3

Men present many theories and doctrines, and this is the reason that so many claim to be sinless while they are transgressors of the law. Should they look into God's great mirror, they would start back with horror. They would say with Paul, “I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” Oh, how many forsake the “Fountain of living waters,” and hew them out “cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” This is a correct representation of the spurious holiness so prevalent in the world today. But God's way is the humble way of penitence, faith, and obedience, and no human substitute will be accepted. “Thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it; thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” But all this vain boasting of holiness is not of God. ST July 17, 1884, par. 4

The Lord declared to ancient Israel, “Ye shall not do .... every man what is right in his own eyes;” but ye shall “observe and hear all these words which I command thee.” And he promised them, “if thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and will give ear to his commandments,” he “shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers,” and “thou shalt be blessed above all people.” ST July 17, 1884, par. 5

Will you, dear reader, examine critically the reasons of your faith by the law and the testimony? Satan has many by-paths strewn with tempting flowers, that lead directly to the broad way to death and hell. Our only safety is in the path of obedience. Men cannot follow their own desires, and be right. They not only involve their own souls in ruin, but by their example they imperil others also. ST July 17, 1884, par. 6

God is exact to mark iniquity. Sins of thoughtlessness, negligence, forgetfulness, and even ignorance, have been visited by some of the most wonderfully marked manifestations of his displeasure. Many who have suffered terrible punishment for their sins, might have pleaded as plausibly as do those of today who fall into similar errors, that they meant no harm, and some would even say that they thought they were doing God service; but the light shone on them, and they disregarded it. ST July 17, 1884, par. 7

Let us look at some of the examples found in sacred history. Assisted by his sons, Aaron had offered the sacrifices that God required; and he lifted up his hands and blessed the people. All had been done as God commanded, and he accepted the sacrifice, and revealed his glory in a most remarkable manner; for fire came from the Lord, and consumed the offering upon the altar. The people looked upon this wonderful manifestation of divine power with awe and intense interest. They saw in it a token of his glory and his favor, and they raised a universal shout of praise and adoration, and fell on their faces, as if in the immediate presence of Jehovah. ST July 17, 1884, par. 8

As the prayers and praise of the people were ascending before God, two of the sons of Aaron took each his censer, and burned fragrant incense thereon, to arise as a sweet odor before God. But they had partaken too freely of wine, and used strange fire, contrary to the Lord's commandment. And the wrath of God was kindled against Nadab and Abihu for their disobedience, and a fire went out from the Lord, and devoured them in the sight of the people. By this judgment God designed to teach the people that they must approach him with reverence and awe, and in his own appointed manner. He is not pleased with partial obedience. It was not enough that in this solemn season of worship nearly everything was done as he commanded. ST July 17, 1884, par. 9

The Lord sent Samuel to King Saul with a special message. “Go,” he said, “and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not, but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” Saul was faithful and zealous in performing a part of his commission. He smote the Amalekites with a great slaughter; but he took the proposition of the people before the command of God, and spared Agag, the king, and “the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good.” ST July 17, 1884, par. 10

The Lord commanded Saul to “utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.” The Lord knew that this wicked nation would, if it were possible, blot out his people and his worship from the earth; and for this reason he had commanded that even the little children should be cut off. But Saul had spared the king, the most wicked and merciless of them all; one who had hated and destroyed the people of God, and whose influence had been strongest to promote idolatry. ST July 17, 1884, par. 11

Saul thought he had done all that was essential of that which the Lord commanded him to do. Perhaps he even flattered himself that he was more merciful than his Maker, as do some unbelievers in our day. He met Samuel with the salutation, “Blessed be thou of the Lord; I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” But when the prophet asked what meant the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen which he heard, Saul was obliged to confess that the people had taken of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord in Gilgal. ST July 17, 1884, par. 12

Did the Lord accept this justification of Saul's conduct? Was he pleased with this partial obedience, and willing to pass over the trifle that had been neglected out of so good a motive? Saul did what he thought was best, and would not the Lord commend such excellent judgment? No. Said Samuel, “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” ST July 17, 1884, par. 13

These instances show how God looks upon his professed people when they obey part of his commandments while in other respects they follow a course of their own choosing. Let no one flatter himself that a part of God's requirements are nonessential. He has placed no command in his word that men may obey or disobey at will, and not suffer the consequences. If men choose any other path than that of strict obedience, they will find that “the end thereof are the ways of death.” ST July 17, 1884, par. 14