The Review and Herald


December 15, 1896

The Importance of Obedience


Obedience or disobedience decides every man's destiny. Those who obey God are counted worthy to share his throne, while those who disobey will be forever lost. But sin has weakened our powers of obedience, and in our own strength we can never obey God. Knowing this, God sent Jesus to our world to live his law. Only the mind that is trained to obedience to God can do justice to his divine claims, and God gave Christ up to humiliation and suffering, to be afflicted with all the temptations wherewith humanity is afflicted, that in his strength we might be enabled to keep his law. It was for the recovery of man that Christ came into the world, and it is to the will of man that he appeals. The knowledge of God through Jesus Christ brings every thought into obedience to his will. The heart that was defiled by disobedience to God's requirements, and which in its fall dragged down the faculties of the whole being, is renewed by this knowledge. RH December 15, 1896, par. 1

All may study with profit the experience of the first Adam in contrast with that of the second Adam. The first Adam possessed beautiful Eden, a gift from God to the beings he had created. The sinless pair were very happy in their possession; for nothing that was needed to sustain them, or to please the senses, was withheld. Only one test was made,—they were not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; and death was the penalty of the transgression of this command. RH December 15, 1896, par. 2

But Satan came to them, and told them that if they ate of the forbidden fruit, they would immediately become as gods, knowing good and evil. God wished them to know only good. Will they listen to the strange voice, which charges God with selfishness and injustice for making such an arrangement? Will they disobey God by listening to the insinuations of the enemy, because addressed to them in flattering words? Can it be that they will do this terrible thing? RH December 15, 1896, par. 3

They did do it. Adam fell from his loyalty because he did not obey the “Thou shalt not” of God's word; and by his sin the flood-gates of woe were opened upon our world. If faithful to God's requirements, he would have had perfect descendants, as pure and uncorrupted as he himself was when he came from the hand of God. As father of the human race, he could have imparted the pure higher education, which he himself had received direct from God. But by his disobedience he spoiled God's plan for himself and for his posterity. RH December 15, 1896, par. 4

After Adam had sinned, the only means of salvation for the human race was for the Son of the infinite God to give his life that they might have another trial of obedience. What love the Father manifested in behalf of man, erring and disobedient though he was! He “so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God was in the world, represented by Christ. RH December 15, 1896, par. 5

Christ, the second Adam, came to a world polluted and marred, to live a life of perfect obedience. The race, weakened in moral power, was unable to cope with Satan, who ruled his subjects with cruel authority. Christ came to stand on the field of battle in warfare against all the satanic forces. By representing in his life the character of God, he sought to win man back to his allegiance. RH December 15, 1896, par. 6

Clad in the vestments of humanity, the Son of God came down to the level of those he wished to save. In him was no guile or sinfulness; he was ever pure and undefiled; yet he took upon him our sinful nature. Clothing his divinity with humanity, that he might associate with fallen humanity, he sought to regain for man that which, by disobedience, Adam had lost for himself and for the world. In his own character he displayed to the world the character of God. He pleased not himself, but went about doing good. His whole history, for more than thirty years, was one of pure, disinterested benevolence. By his words, his influence, and his example, he made men feel that it was possible for them to return to their loyalty and be reinstated in God's favor. He led them to see that if they repented, if their characters were transformed after the divine similitude, they would win immortality. RH December 15, 1896, par. 7

Can we wonder that men were astonished at his teaching? “He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” The teaching of the scribes and Pharisees was a continuous repetition of fables and childish traditions. Their opinions and ceremonies rested on ancient maxims and rabbinical sayings which were frivolous and worthless. With what astonishment did the people listen to the words that fell from the lips of the divine Teacher! Christ did not dwell on weak, insipid sayings and theories of men. As one possessing the highest authority, he addressed his hearers, presenting before them momentous subjects; and his appeals carried conviction to their hearts. The opinion of all, expressed by many who were not able to keep silent, was, “Never man spake like this Man.” RH December 15, 1896, par. 8

God desires that the beings made in his image shall render obedience to him. He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” For this he gave his only begotten Son to this world, that in his strength men might have power to obey. He has “blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” In order that sinners may hear the message of salvation, he calls upon those who claim to be his servants to co-operate with the heavenly intelligences in carrying forward his work. He has plainly stated the way in which the ministry of his word is to be sustained. Each one is to act his part. No one is excused from cheerfully doing his part to keep the treasury of God supplied with means. These offerings are to be used in his work, drawn from the treasury as the cause demands, to extend his work in regions beyond. God waits to see if we, who have been purchased by the life of the Son of God, through whom all our temporal blessings flow, will render obedience to him in this matter. Shall we disobey God by withholding from him our tithes and offerings? Other souls, as precious in his sight as we are, must have the light of truth brought to them. Then shall we not follow the example of our Saviour, and work to save others? RH December 15, 1896, par. 9

The Bible teaches the whole will of God concerning us. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” The teaching of this word is exactly that needed in all circumstances in which we may be placed. It is a sufficient rule of faith and practise; for it is the voice of God speaking to the soul, giving the members of his family directions for keeping the heart with all diligence. If this word is studied,—not merely read, but studied,—it furnishes us with a storehouse of knowledge which enables us to improve every God-given endowment. It teaches us our obligation to use the faculties given us. Guided by its precepts, we may render obedience to God's requirements. RH December 15, 1896, par. 10

All who will come to the word of God for guidance, with humble, inquiring minds, determined to know the terms of salvation, will understand what saith the Scriptures. But those who bring to the investigation of the word a spirit which it does not approve, will take away from the search a spirit which it has not imparted. The Lord will not speak to a mind that is unconcerned. He wastes not his instruction on one who is willingly irreverent or polluted. But the tempter educates every mind that yields itself to his suggestions, and is willing to make of none effect God's holy law. RH December 15, 1896, par. 11

We need to humble our hearts, and with sincerity and reverence search the word of life; for that mind alone that is humble and contrite can see light. The heart, the mind, the soul, must be prepared to receive light. There must be silence in the soul. The thoughts must be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. The boastful self-knowledge and self-sufficiency must stand rebuked in the presence of the word of God. RH December 15, 1896, par. 12

The Lord speaks to the heart that humbles itself before him. At the altar of prayer, as the throne of grace is touched by faith, we receive from the hand of God that celestial torch which enlightens our darkness, and convinces us of our spiritual necessity. The Holy Spirit takes of the things of God, and reveals them to the one who is sincerely seeking for the heavenly treasure. If we yield to his guidance, he leads us into all light. As we behold the glory of Christ, we become changed into his image. We have that faith which works by love, and purifies the soul. Our hearts are renewed, and we are made willing to obey God in all things. RH December 15, 1896, par. 13

Stirring times are before us, and it is fatal to be careless and indifferent. “Yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” We cannot afford to be disobedient to God's requirements. The wrath which the impenitent are now treasuring up against that day when the judgment shall sit, and every case shall be judged and awarded according to the things written in the books of heaven, will soon break upon them. Then the voice of mercy will no longer plead in behalf of the sinner. The word will be, “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” RH December 15, 1896, par. 14

But the voice of entreaty is still heard. Mercy lingers; it is not yet too late for wrongs to be repented of and righted. “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Now is the time to receive the word of truth and life and salvation. Now is the time for those who know the truth to say to those who are in darkness, “Come.” In the place of calling the messenger of God to your aid, to labor for you, for the sake of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who came to our world to call sinners to repentance, let all who claim to be Christians say by precept and example to those who are out of the fold, “Come; for all things are now ready.” RH December 15, 1896, par. 15

I would call upon all to be wide-awake. The time in which we are now living is the only probation we shall have. The perils of the last days are upon us. Erelong the opportunity to gain eternal life by obedience to God's commandments will be forever gone. If the invitations given now are refused, if we persist in disobedience, we shall have no second probation. “Choose you this day whom ye will serve,”—God or Mammon. Now, while it is called today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, lest it be the last invitation of mercy. RH December 15, 1896, par. 16