The Review and Herald

318/1902

August 25, 1885

The True Standard of Righteousness

[From a sermon delivered in the tent at Worcester, Mass., July 31, 1885.]

EGW

The world is to be no criterion for those who follow Jesus. He has said, “Marvel not ... if the world hate you.” “It hated me before it hated you. 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.” Again, it is written, “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing engage not in their unholy practices, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” RH August 25, 1885, par. 1

The question now to be asked is, Are the professed followers of Christ complying with the conditions upon which the blessing is pronounced? Are they separating in spirit and practice from the world? How hard to come out and be separate from worldly habits and customs. But let us look well to it that Satan does not allure and deceive us through false representations. Eternal interests are here involved. God's claims should come first; his requirements should receive our first attention. Every child of fallen Adam must, through the transforming grace of Christ, become obedient to all God's requirements. Many close their eyes to the plainest teachings of his word because the cross stands directly in the way. If they lift it, they must appear singular in the eyes of the world; and they hesitate, and question, and search for some excuse whereby they may shun the cross. Satan is ever ready, and he presents plausible reasons why it would not be best to obey the word of God just as it reads. Thus souls are fatally deceived. RH August 25, 1885, par. 2

One of Satan's most successful deceptions is to lead men to claim to be sanctified, while at the same time they are living in disobedience to God's commandments. These are described by Jesus as those who will say, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works”? Yes, those who claim to be sanctified have a great deal to say about being saved by the blood of Jesus; but their sanctification is not through the truth as it is in Jesus. While claiming to believe in him, and apparently doing wonderful works in his name, they ignore his Father's law, and serve as agents of the great adversary of souls to carry forward the work which he begun in Eden, that of making plausible excuses for not obeying God implicitly. Their work of leading men to dishonor God by ignoring his law, will one day be unfolded before them with its true results. The conditions of eternal life are made so plain in God's word that none need err, unless they choose error rather than truth because their unsanctified souls love the darkness rather than the light. The lawyer who came to Christ with the question, “Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” thought to catch Christ; but Jesus laid the burden back upon the lawyer. “What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” Then said Christ, “Thou has answered right; this do, and thou shalt live.” These words meet the individual cases of all. Are we willing to comply with the conditions? Will we obey God and keep his commandments? Will we be doers of the word and not hearers only? God's law is as immutable and unchangeable as his character. Whatever men may say or do to make it void, does not change its claims, or release them from their obligation to obey. RH August 25, 1885, par. 3

We need divine enlightenment daily; we should pray as did David, “Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” God will have a people upon the earth who will vindicate his honor by having respect to all of his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous, not a yoke of bondage. David prayed in his day, “It is time for thee, Lord, to work; for they have made void thy law.” RH August 25, 1885, par. 4

Not one of us can afford to dishonor God by living in transgression of his law. To neglect the Bible and give ourselves up to the pursuit of worldly treasure is a loss which is beyond estimate. Eternity alone will reveal the great sacrifice made by many to secure worldly honor and worldly advantages, at the loss of the soul, the loss of eternal riches. They might have had that life which measures with the life of God; for Jesus died to bring the blessings and treasures of heaven within their reach, that they might not be accounted poor and wretched and miserable in the high estimate of eternity. None who have had the light of truth will enter the city of God as commandment-breakers. His law lies at the foundation of his government in earth and in heaven. If they have knowingly trampled upon and despised his law on the earth, they will not be taken to heaven to do the same work there; there is no change of character when Christ comes. The character building is to go on during the hours of probation. Day by day their actions are registered in the books of heaven, and they will, in the great day of God, be rewarded as their works have been. It will then be seen who receives the blessing. “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” RH August 25, 1885, par. 5

Those who make a raid against God's law are warring against God himself; and many who are filled with the greatest bitterness against the commandment-keeping people of God, make the loudest boast of living holy, sinless lives. This can be explained only in one way: they have no mirror in which to look to discover to themselves the deformity of their character. Neither Joseph, Daniel, nor any of the apostles claimed to be without sin. Men who have lived nearest to God, men who would sacrifice life itself rather than to knowingly sin against him, men whom God has honored with divine light and power, have acknowledged themselves to be sinners, unworthy of his great favors. They have felt their weakness, and, sorrowful for their sins, have tried to copy the pattern Jesus Christ. RH August 25, 1885, par. 6

There are to be but two classes upon the earth, the obedient children of God and the disobedient. Upon one occasion Christ thus set before his hearers the Judgment work: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was a hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee a hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” RH August 25, 1885, par. 7

Thus Christ identifies his interest with that of suffering humanity. Every attention given to his children he considers done to himself personally. Those who claim modern sanctification would have come boastingly forward, saying, “Lord, Lord, do you not know us? Have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” The people here described, who make these pretentious claims, apparently weaving Jesus into all their doings, fitly represent those who claim modern sanctification, but who are at war with the law of God. Christ calls them workers of iniquity, because they are deceivers, having on the garments of righteousness to hide the deformity of their characters, the inward wickedness of their unholy hearts. Satan has come down in these last days, to work with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. His Satanic majesty works miracles in the sight of false prophets, in the sight of men, claiming that he is indeed Christ himself. Satan gives his power to those who are aiding him in his deceptions; therefore those who claim to have the great power of God can only be discerned by the great detector, the law of Jehovah. The Lord tells us if it were possible they would deceive the very elect. The sheep's clothing seems so real, so genuine, that the wolf cannot be discerned only as we go to God's great moral standard and there find that they are transgressors of the law of Jehovah. RH August 25, 1885, par. 8

If ever there was a time when we needed faith and spiritual enlightenment, it is now. Those who are watching unto prayer, and are searching the Scriptures daily with an earnest desire to know and do the will of God, will not be led astray by any of the deceptions of Satan. They alone will discern the pretext which cunning men adopt to beguile and ensnare. So much time and attention are bestowed upon the world, upon dress and eating and drinking, that no time is left for prayer and the study of the Scriptures. RH August 25, 1885, par. 9

We want the truth on every point, and we must search for it as for hid treasures. Dishes of fables are presented to us on every hand, and men choose to believe error rather than truth, because the acceptance of the truth involves a cross. Self must be denied; self must be crucified. Therefore Satan presents to them an easier way by making void the law of God. When God lets man have his own way, it is the darkest hour of his life. For a willful, disobedient child to be left to have his own way, to follow the bent of his own mind, and gather the dark clouds of God's judgment about him, is a terrible thing. But Satan has his agents who are too proud to repent, and who are constantly at work to tear down the cause of Jehovah and trample it under their feet. What a day of sorrow and despair when these meet their work with all its burden of results! Souls who might have been saved to Jesus Christ have been lost through their teachings and influence. Christ died for them that they might have life. He opened before them the way whereby they might, through his merits, keep the law of God. Christ says, “I know thy works; behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.” How hard men work to close that door; but they are not able. John's testimony is, “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament.” Beneath the mercy-seat, within the ark, were the two tables of stone, containing the law of Jehovah. God's faithful ones saw the light that shone forth to them from the law, to be given to the world. And now Satan's intense activity is to close that door of light; but Jesus says that no man can shut it. Men will turn from the light, denounce it, and despise it, but it still shines forth in clear, distinct rays to cheer and bless all who will see it. RH August 25, 1885, par. 10

God's children will have a fierce conflict with the adversary of souls, and it will become more exceedingly bitter as we approach the close of the conflict. But the Lord will help those who stand in defense of his truth. Many who see the light will not accept it, fearing to trust the Lord. Jesus says, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow? they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” The great Master Artist has provided the beautiful things in nature as an expression of his love to us. He has given the delicate tint to the flowers, and if he has done so much for a simple flower, “which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” RH August 25, 1885, par. 11

God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son to die that he might redeem man from the power of Satan; and will he not care for man, formed in his image? Many see the reasons of our faith, but they dare not risk the consequences of obeying it. They fear that if they do, they cannot support their families; and so they settle back into unbelief, and continue in transgression of the law. They lack faith in God; they dare not trust his promises. Such are rebuked by the lessons of Christ, in which he teaches that God notices the fall of even the sparrows; not one of them falls to the ground without his notice. Our heavenly Father will not leave his children who put their trust in him, and venture out upon his promises although the outlook is dark and forbidding. He understands every circumstance of our life. He sees and knows how we are situated. He is acquainted with all our sorrows and griefs. He knows us each by name, and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities; for he has been tempted in all points like as we are, and knows how to succor those who are tempted. Jesus is our helper, and he will have a care for all those who trust in him. RH August 25, 1885, par. 12

God has intrusted to us individually talents that are to be increased by use. Reason has been granted us with which to glorify God. In everything we are to show our allegiance to him. Our powers were not given to us merely to be employed for ourselves. They are to be used to accomplish certain ends, to love God supremely and our neighbor as ourselves. Christian principles must be interwoven with our life and our experience. The life we now live must be by faith on the Son of God. We must live to please Jesus; by thus living our faith and confidence in him will grow stronger day by day. We will comprehend what he has done for us, and what he is willing to do for us, and will possess a cheerfulness as well as an earnest desire to do something to show our love for Jesus. Doing will thus become habit. We will not question whether we will obey, but will follow the light, and work the work of Christ. We will not study convenience, nor question whether our temporal interests will be improved if we obey. Those who love Jesus will love to obey all his commandments. They will search the Bible closely to know of the doctrine. Naught but truth will satisfy them, for they are Christ's representatives on earth. RH August 25, 1885, par. 13

Christ declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” His followers must be as near like him as possible. We cannot speak as he spoke, and yet we are to imitate him; for he is our pattern. We are to erect no false lights, present no heresies for truth. We must know that every position we take can be sustained by the word of God. It is a day when the commandments of men are everywhere urged upon the people as the commandments of God. But it is a solemn, a fearful thing to teach false theories, and lead minds away from the truth which sanctifies the soul. RH August 25, 1885, par. 14

We want the truth on every point. We want it unadulterated with error, and unpolluted by the maxims, customs, and opinions of the world. We want the truth with all its inconvenience. The acceptance of truth ever involves a cross. But Jesus gave his life a sacrifice for us, and shall we not give him our best affections, our holiest aspirations, our fullest service? Christ's yoke we must wear, Christ's burden we must lift; but the Majesty of heaven declares that his yoke is easy and his burden light. Shall we shun the self-denying part of religion? Shall we shun the self-sacrifice, and hesitate to give up the world with all its attractions? Shall we, for whom Christ has done so much, be hearers and not doers of his words? Shall we, by our listless, inactive lives, deny our faith, and make Jesus ashamed to call us his brethren? The ten commandments came from the highest authority, and are we obeying them? They are the will of God made known to man. It was Satan that commenced to war against them, and it is he that inspires men to keep up the warfare. RH August 25, 1885, par. 15

None will enter the holy city, the paradise of God, but as conquerors,—those who have separated themselves from the world, and stood in defense of the faith once delivered to the saints, and have fought the good fight of faith, looking constantly to “Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Then let us, like Christ, work unselfishly to bring souls to a knowledge of the truth. Our whole heart, body, soul, and strength, are required in this work; and if we labor with fidelity, irrespective of the applause or censure of the world, we shall hear the “well done” from the Majesty of heaven, and receive the crown, the palm branch of victory, and the white linen which is the righteousness of the saints. RH August 25, 1885, par. 16