The Review and Herald

244/1902

January 8, 1884

Separation from the World

EGW

“The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.” Such were the words spoken by Ezra, the Hebrew priest and scribe, to the king of Persia. Ezra was about to return to Jerusalem with authority for the rebuilding of the city, and the enforcement of the law of God. He was accompanied thither by a body of his countrymen to assist in the work. Before them was a journey which would occupy several months. They were to take with them their wives and children, and their substance, besides large treasures for the temple and its service. Ezra was aware that enemies lay in wait by the way to attack, plunder, and destroy him and his company; yet he asked from the king no armed force for their protection. RH January 8, 1884, par. 1

Before setting out on the journey, he assembled his companions,—men, women, and little children,—“at the river of Ahava,” where a solemn fast was proclaimed, prayer offered to God for his blessing upon the undertaking. Says Ezra: “I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way, because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.” And in recording the events that followed he adds: “So we fasted, and besought our God for this, and he was entreated of us.” “Then we departed from the river of Ahava, on the twelfth day of the first month to go unto Jerusalem; and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way. And we came to Jerusalem.” RH January 8, 1884, par. 2

Ezra and his companions had determined to fear and obey God, and to put their trust wholly in him. They would not form a connection with the world in order to secure the help or friendship of the enemies of God. Whether they were with the many or the few, they knew that success could come from God only. And they had no desire that their success should be attributed to the wealth or influence of wicked men. Ezra would run the risk of trusting his cause with God. He well knew that if they failed in their important work, it would be because they had not complied with the requirements of God and therefore he could not help them. RH January 8, 1884, par. 3

The Scriptures furnish abundant evidence that it is safer to be joined to the Lord, and lose the favor and friendship of the world, than to look to the world for favor and support, and forget our dependence upon God. It was because they were convinced of this truth that the Jews had refused to allow their adversaries to unite with them in the work of building the temple. They saw in the propositions of those idolaters a device of Satan to beguile God's people into union and fellowship with his enemies. RH January 8, 1884, par. 4

The Lord himself has established a separating wall between the things of the world and the things which he has chosen out of the world and sanctified to himself. The world will not acknowledge this distinction; they claim that it is needless. The servants of mammon make every effort to break down the barriers, and destroy the line of demarkation between the holy and the profane. Many of the professed followers of Christ are determined to break it down, and to maintain concord between Christ and Belial. But God has made this separation, and he will have it exist. In both the Old and the New Testaments the Lord has positively enjoined upon his people to be distinct from the world, in spirit, in pursuits, in practice, to be a holy nation, a peculiar people, that they may show forth the praises of him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. The east is not farther from the west than are the children of light, in customs, practices, and spirit, from the children of darkness. RH January 8, 1884, par. 5

This distinction will be more marked, more decided, as we near the close of time. It is not a profession of faith, or a name registered in the church-book, that constitutes us children of God. We must have a vital connection with Christ; we must be one with him, imbued with his Spirit, partakers of the divine nature, crucified to the world with its affections and lusts, renewed in knowledge and true holiness. Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” This is true of all real followers of Christ. They walk in humble obedience to the requirements of God. While in the world, they are the light of the world. RH January 8, 1884, par. 6

“As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” They are living examples of Christianity. They are called Christians because they represent Christ in life and character. They cannot follow the customs or practices of the world; for these are from beneath, and are of the wicked one. Those who follow Christ will have the principles of holy love in their hearts. They will cherish the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. RH January 8, 1884, par. 7

There is an element called love which would teach us to praise and flatter our associates, and not to faithfully tell them of their dangers and warn and counsel them for their good. This love is not Heaven-born. Our words and actions should be serious and earnest, especially before those who are neglecting their soul's salvation. If we profess to be sons and daughters of God, we should pursue such a course toward the unbelieving that our souls will be clear of their blood when we meet them in the great day of final reckoning. If we unite with them in lightness, trifling, pleasure-seeking, or in any pursuit which will banish seriousness from the mind, we are constantly saying to them by our example, “Peace, peace; be not disturbed. You have no cause for alarm.” This is saying to the sinner, “It shall be well with thee.” RH January 8, 1884, par. 8

Oh, how many ease-loving souls there are among us, who virtually unite with sinners, and while in their society say and do nothing to awaken conviction, nothing to disturb their carnal security! Many who profess to be sons and daughters of God, and call themselves the light of the world, reflect no light upon its darkness. If these half-hearted, slothful, pleasure-loving professors of Christ were what they profess to be, how much good they might do! It is their privilege to walk in the light of Christ's countenance, to learn his commandments and do them, and by precept and example reflect light upon those who are in the darkness of error. But not partaking of the Spirit of Christ, they do not apprehend and enjoy the privileges of children of God; they are so far separated from Jesus that with their limited conceptions and darkened understanding they cannot comprehend heavenly things, and do not love to meditate upon them. They do not enjoy the presence of God; they know not the power of his grace. RH January 8, 1884, par. 9

Those who persist in neglecting the only salvation that can deliver from the ruin of this fallen state, have no prospect before them better than that of the beast that perish. This consideration should lead every one who loves and fears God to be faithful to his trust, to walk in the light, gathering strength and wisdom day by day, that his light may shine forth clear and bright to direct sinners to the Lamb of God. By neglect of the salvation presented in the gospel, the world is becoming more and more hardened. Satan's power increases; his deceptions become more captivating, his delusions stronger. Christians must now come to the front; the help of every soul is needed. All should let their light shine forth, not merely in profession, but in good works. They should be heavenly guides, setting an example of faithfulness, of self-denial, of prompt, decided, vigorous action to push the triumphs of the cross. RH January 8, 1884, par. 10

A genuine Christian experience unfolds day by day, bringing to its possessor new strength and earnestness, and leading to constant growth in spiritual life. But the Christian world abounds with professors of religion who are merely religious dwarfs. Many seem to have graduated as soon as they learned the rudiments of the Christian faith. They do not grow in grace or in the knowledge of the truth. They do nothing, either with their means or their influence, to build up the cause of God. They are drones in the hive. This class will not long stand where they are. They will be converted and advance, or they will retrograde. The perils of the last days will test the genuineness of our faith. Slothful servants will be found under the black banner of the powers of darkness. RH January 8, 1884, par. 11

The message borne to the people by the faithful servants of God will not be calculated to lull them to carnal security. They will have words to speak to stir them to action. We call upon those who are imitating Meroz to arouse. Go to work; do something for the salvation of souls, something to advance the cause of God; and do it now. You have but little time in which to labor. The Lord has given to every man his work according to his ability. To meet the claims of God, you will have to make personal effort; and in this work you will need the resources of an ever-growing Christian experience. Your faith must be strong, your consecration complete, your love pure and sincere, your zeal ardent, tireless, your courage unshaken, your patience unwearied, your hopes bright. Upon every one, old or young, rests a responsibility in this matter. RH January 8, 1884, par. 12

Parents, I entreat you, for Christ's sake, for the sake of your dear children, teach them that God has claims upon them, and that they must be fully prepared for whatever work they may find to do. Educate, train them to have the eye single to the glory of God. In order to grow in grace, they must become acquainted for themselves with the reasons of our faith. Teach them to be learners in the school of Christ, to obtain a knowledge of the Scriptures, to diligently employ every means of grace, that their love may abound more and more, that they may approve things that are excellent. RH January 8, 1884, par. 13

Every one who shall be found with the wedding garment on, will have come out of great tribulation. The mighty surges of temptation will beat upon all, and unless they are riveted to the eternal Rock, they will be borne away. Do not think that you can safely drift with the current. If you do, you will surely become the helpless prey of Satan's devices. By diligent searching of the Scriptures, and earnest prayer for divine help, prepare the soul to resist temptation. The Lord will hear the sincere prayer of the contrite soul, and will lift up a standard for you against the enemy. But you will be tried; your faith, your love, your patience, your constancy will be tested. RH January 8, 1884, par. 14

Not all the names that stand registered in the church books will at last appear in the Lamb's book of life. There are tares among the wheat. There are betrayers, accusers, traitors, in the camp. These will wound, misrepresent, and falsely accuse you. They are false brethren, meddlesome and indiscrete, stumbling-blocks to others. They are doing a work for Satan far more successfully than if they were not connected with the church. Some who have not spiritual discernment will fail to distinguish between the false and the true, and will highly esteem those who have no connection with God. Those who have been indifferent and neglectful, and have failed to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth, will be deceived. They do not comprehend the first principles of doctrine and experience, which secure to man the perfection of Christian character. RH January 8, 1884, par. 15

Our duty, our safety, our happiness and usefulness, and our salvation, call upon us each to use the greatest diligence to secure the grace of Christ, to be so closely connected with God that we may discern spiritual things, and not be ignorant of Satan's devices. Those who are willing to be instructed will heed the counsels and warnings of the Spirit of God. The Lord gives these admonitions and reproofs in mercy. When his professed people move in blindness, yield to temptation, and lose their hold upon him, he sends them a message of reproof, of warning, of counsel; if they refuse to be corrected, if they rise up in rebellion, and cast reproach upon the messenger whom he sends, they reject not the messenger, but the Lord. When the people refused “to listen to the counsel of Samuel the prophet, the Lord said unto him, They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me.” RH January 8, 1884, par. 16

Some have a heart of unbelief, and in their self-confidence and self-deception they cannot see their errors. They are blind to their defects and their dangers. Did they see their sins and errors, and still continue in them, the Lord would give them up to blindness of mind and hardness of heart, to follow their own ways, and be ensnared and ruined. Anciently when any neglected or refused to heed the words of reproof and warning sent them of God, his protection was removed from them, and they were left to be deceived and deluded to their own ruin. Only those who, with tears of contrition, listened to the voice of God and gave heed to the warning, escaped the tempter's snare. RH January 8, 1884, par. 17

Those who refuse to receive reproof and to be corrected, will manifest enmity, malice, and hatred against the instrument that God has used. They will leave no means untried to cast stigma upon the one who bore to them the message. They will feel as did Ahab toward Elijah, that God's servant is the one who is the hindrance, the curse. Said Ahab, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” But Elijah threw back the imputation: “I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.” RH January 8, 1884, par. 18

He who can read the hearts of men as an open book, sees that which short-sighted mortals fail to discover. Finite wisdom cannot discern the necessity for sharp rebukes, for urgent warnings and entreaties. Those who are themselves deceived in men and in their purposes, will pronounce against the messages of reproof which God sends, and will undertake to interpret the matter to suit their own ideas. They turn aside the counsel of God, that it shall not do the work which he designed. Those who have confidence in them are misled, and through their influence they cast aside the warning which God sends them, and then Satan stands ready with his delusions to ensnare their souls. The Lord would have saved them from the ruin if they had listened to his voice. Those who should have helped them, but who only injured them, must render an account at the bar of God. They have influenced souls to doubt, to disbelieve, to disregard, and finally reject and bitterly oppose his work. Souls purchased with the blood of Christ are lost, because of the unfaithfulness of those who profess to stand as sentinels for God. RH January 8, 1884, par. 19

God's word represents but two great classes among men. Said Jesus to his disciples, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” There are but two classes of religious teachers. Of one class the apostle John declares: “They are of the world; therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.” Of the other class he says: “We are of God; he that knoweth God, heareth us; he that is not of God, heareth not us.” RH January 8, 1884, par. 20

“Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” RH January 8, 1884, par. 21