The Review and Herald

580/1902

June 2, 1891

Cease From Idolatry

EGW

As Christians, God has claims upon us, and we should continually seek to realize that we are not our own, but have been purchased at an infinite price, even with the life of God's dear Son. As the purchase of the blood of Christ, as his representatives on earth, we sustain important relations both to the church and to the world. We are commissioned to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. We are under obligation to do all in our power to save souls for whom Christ has died. Christ has made an infinite sacrifice in our behalf, and we should show that we appreciate this sacrifice by doing all in our power to forward the work of salvation. RH June 2, 1891, par. 1

In his sermon at Nazareth, Jesus declared that he had come to fulfill the word of the Lord by the prophet Isaiah. He read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” This was the mission of Christ to our world, and he is our example in all things. Through the power of his grace we are to take up the work where he left it, and carry it forward to completion. We are to relieve the miseries of our fellow-men as far as we can, and to pray that our pitying Redeemer will comfort and help where we cannot. We all have a work to do for the Master. We are to break the bands of oppression, to proclaim deliverance to those who are bound in the fetters of vicious habits. By precept and example we are to aid our fellow-men, that they may reach a higher and nobler life, aiding them to the utmost of our ability to enlarge their capacity, to increase their happiness, and to obtain a moral fitness for the life to come. RH June 2, 1891, par. 2

There are hundreds professing to believe the truth, who are doing nothing except to serve themselves, who should be engaged in most earnest work for the Master. They should yield their hearts to God, purify their souls by obedience to the truth, and let the love of Christ enlarge their natures, so that they may come into sympathy with their fellow-beings who need the aid of Christian love and unselfish effort. If all who profess to be followers of Christ would follow him in deed and in truth, many souls would be rescued from the snare of the enemy. The language of those who would be laborers together with God, would be, “Jesus, my Master, died for a ruined world, leaving me an example that I should follow in his steps. I must do for others as Christ has done for me.” Selfishness and indifference must be put far from the children of God; for a great work waits to be done for the world. RH June 2, 1891, par. 3

We cannot all preach, but we can all act some humble part in the work of God. We cannot all go forth as did Luther and other noble reformers, but we can fill some humble place, and be laborers together with God. But many who have ability to work for God fail to accomplish anything in his service. They choose to follow plans for their own selfish pleasure, while souls are perishing whose blood will be required at their hands. Brethren and sisters, we must put on the whole armor of God, and work while it is called today. Many are doing nothing who could do much for God, if they would give themselves wholly to him. Their minds are now crippled with selfish thoughts and desires, and they are kept from the work of God by engaging in needless labor for themselves. Many are employing their time in conforming to the world, while souls are left to perish in darkness. Much that might be done by sisters is left undone, because they fail to cultivate their God-given ability in the right direction. Although they profess to be followers of Christ, the Saviour does not abide in their hearts by faith. RH June 2, 1891, par. 4

If half the time devoted to dress and display were devoted to the study of the Scriptures and to prayer, the minds of many of my sisters would be enlarged and enriched, strengthened and disciplined, and they would be fitted to bless and help souls that are perishing for the bread of life. Painstaking, determined effort would result in blessing to those who labor and those who are perishing. Do you feel better prepared to search the Scriptures, to engage in secret prayer, to bear testimony in social meeting, after devoting hours to the needless ornamentation of your clothing? There is a class of women in the world who appear very fair to the eye, but within they are full of corruption. Is this the class you are seeking to imitate? Are you neglecting the inner adornment, and devoting probationary time to the decoration of your apparel? In this way you make it manifest that you do not appreciate the inward adorning of a meek and quiet spirit, which is of great price in the sight of God. Shall not those who believe present truth, cease from idolatry? Put away your idols, and humble your hearts before God. RH June 2, 1891, par. 5

Will not those who profess to be followers of the meek and lowly Jesus clothe themselves in modest apparel, adorning themselves with good works, as becometh women professing godliness? Do not say, “After I have worn out this garment, I will make the next plainer.” What zeal, what earnest effort, what skill, what patience, you manifested in fashioning that garment according to the prevailing style; and can you not now manifest just as much zeal in refashioning it to meet the approval of God? Can you not work as hard to conform to God's order as you did to conform to the order of fashion? You could afford time, effort, and money to place yourself in harmony with the world, and can you not now manifest zeal in seeking to stand upon the Bible platform? RH June 2, 1891, par. 6

The apostle says, “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” Peter writes concerning the apparel of women, saying, “Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves.” And Paul writes, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” RH June 2, 1891, par. 7

Great neglect has been shown in the matter of bringing our church-members up to the standard of the Bible in this matter. After admonition, after time for Bible study and reflection, those who are walking contrary to the Scriptures, and will not reform, should be suspended from the church. The church is weakened, her power is enfeebled, her influence is limited, because church-members fail to live in accordance with the directions of the Bible. The example of those who follow the fashions of the world has a disastrous effect upon other members of the church. Many seek to imitate the dress of those who go into extravagance on this matter. Those who cannot afford to make the display, feel that the contrast between their simplicity and the fashion of their sisters is too sharply defined. In seeking to make the contrast less striking, they conform to the world, and expend their little all on dress. They give time and effort to make an appearance which they consider more respectable, and often sacrifice health, happiness, and the favor of God for the sake of dressing as do others who are not following the directions of the word of God. Some of our sisters have been so sensitive over the contrast between their appearance and that of their more dressy sisters, that they have refused to come to church on the Sabbath day. RH June 2, 1891, par. 8

My sisters, let us face the mirror of God's holy law, and test our spirit and character by the first four and last six commandments. The first four commandments require that we should love God will all our heart, might, mind, and strength; and anything that tends to draw the mind away from God, assumes the form of an idol, occupying the thought, and consuming the time, and crowding out of the soul-temple the spirit of Christ. O, how much means that should go to the cause and work of God is laid upon the altar of idols! Unless God is enthroned in the heart, the commandments are violated; for we have other gods before the Lord of hosts. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Examine your thoughts and actions in the light of God's law, and see if you have not failed in your duty to your fellow-men. Can a true follower of Christ so forget the sacrifice made in behalf of fallen man, that he will become careless of the time and means intrusted to him of Heaven to do good to others? The means we have is ours only to relieve the necessities of ourselves and others. The money expended for the gratification of selfish desires in dress or in any other way, is money lost to the cause of God. RH June 2, 1891, par. 9

Shall not the glory of God and the good of others be our first object in life? Many seem to think that dress is of no importance in the eyes of the Lord. The matter of dress, separated from everything else, may not be of so great consequence, but the evils resulting from extravagant dress are by no means few or unimportant, since they endanger the spirituality of the church. Time that should be devoted to the improvement of the mind, and to the benefiting of souls that are perishing, is given to needless work, that the dress may be made attractive. Meditation and prayer are neglected, while the mind is filled with methods of conforming to the world. Those who give much time and thought to dress, fail to bring themselves into connection with God by the study of the Scriptures, by meditation on his ways and work. Intemperance in dress is increasing. Now one fashion and then another takes the attention, and souls are drawn away by fashion from the things that pertain to their eternal interest. None can afford the outlay necessary for dressing in the height of style, for it involves robbery toward God, nor can any afford the loss of spirituality that is sure to follow. They will become bankrupt in the things of God. RH June 2, 1891, par. 10

Let those who have been expending means and time and thought on needless decoration of themselves, face the mirror of God's law and behold their real defects. Do not make excuses, but pray as did David, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” If the money used in multiplying pictures of yourselves were devoted to the cause of God, if means expended for mere selfish gratification were turned into the channel that flows to the treasury, our missionaries would be well supplied with the necessaries of life, our publishing houses would not be burdened with debt, and the treasury would be full and running over. Complaints would not be heard concerning our inability to extend our missionary operations. RH June 2, 1891, par. 11

Let all who profess to be members of Christ's body, look at the facts candidly and carefully, and put the question to their souls, “Am I living in obedience to the first four commandments? Do I love God supremely?” We should be jealous of ourselves with a godly jealousy, and be more critical over the condition of our own souls than over the condition of the souls of our neighbors. We should criticise our motives, test our thoughts. Is God the subject of our meditation? Do we love the Bible? Do we love the hour of prayer? Or will we neglect it in order to adorn ourselves to attract attention to self? Do you devote your time to dress instead of to the study of God's precious word, which would broaden your understanding and make your heart glow with truth that you could communicate to others? Are you reluctant in your attendance at social meeting? Do you feel no zeal, no pleasure, in speaking of the love of Christ? If this is the case, you are cherishing some idol. RH June 2, 1891, par. 12

Have you compared your life and character with the last six commandments? Do you love your neighbor as yourself? There is missionary work to be done. The skill, taste, patience, that is used in decorating your dress, should be devoted to Christ. I have felt sad as I have heard some of our sisters excusing themselves from the work of God on the plea that they had no ability. They declared they did not know how to be laborers together with God. O, it is time that all the professed servants of God knew how to work with Christ for the salvation of precious souls for whom he died. Christ can give you wisdom, experience, and spiritual knowledge, so that you may be workers with him. The same tact, perseverance, energy, employed in trimming your dresses, would be available in the work of God, if it were directed under his guidance to teaching others the way of truth, and to building up the spiritual interests of his cause. Many who make these excuses show by their dress that they know how to endure perplexity, how to work energetically; and these very qualities given to Christ would be made of use in saving the souls of men. RH June 2, 1891, par. 13

My sisters, my brethren, shall we not all put away idolatry? Let us leave the fashions, let us leave all forms of self-gratification, to those who have no time for, nor interest in, the salvation of their own souls or the souls of others. Let us make it our one great interest to work for God and humanity, to win heaven ourselves, and to direct the feet of others into the path that leads to eternal life. RH June 2, 1891, par. 14