The Review and Herald

469/1902

December 18, 1888

Our Duties and Obligations

EGW

A great work is to be done in a short time. There is power in the present truth; but Satan is working in every conceivable way to keep the light away from the people. The controversy between Christ and Satan is not yet ended. The latter is constantly seeking to establish his own power and authority. If he can entangle minds, he will do it. If he can lead them to depend on human beings instead of upon the living God, he is well pleased. The deceptions of Satan are manifold, but the Lord will be our helper if we seek him earnestly. RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 1

The perils of the last days are upon us. We have been asleep, and our lamps are going out. We now need a thorough consecration, a deeper devotion, to the work. The Lord has shown me the corruption existing even among Seventh day Adventists. Satan, the originator of every evil, is Christ's personal enemy. If our eyes could be opened, we should see him working with his specious devices upon the minds of men whom we think are secure from his temptations, and who feel themselves secure. Are we prepared for the trials that await us? When the lying wonders of Satan shall be manifested, will not many souls be ensnared? Let us arouse and do our duty. We must individually draw near to God, repent of our sins, our lukewarmness, our selfishness, and give back into the Lord's treasury the goods he has lent us in trust. Faith in God and in the teachings of Christ our Saviour will be revealed, if it is in the heart. RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 2

The Laodicean message is applicable to the people of God at this time. They are saying, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;” and they know not that they are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Christ, the True Witness declares, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.” How is it, brethren? Have you not been giving up to self-indulgence, rather than growing into greater self denial? Have you not backslidden upon health reform? Has the light which God has been pleased to give his people been cherished? Have not life and health been sacrificed through the indulgence of appetite and carnal lusts? Will my brethren consider this matter carefully, and see if they have closely followed the self-denying Saviour? RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 3

There has been a great departure from God in this matter. There has been a loss of zeal for the truth, and the light contained in the “Testimonies” has been disregarded. May the Lord help you, my brethren, to come into a position where the animal powers will not predominate over the moral and the spiritual. May your eyes not be blinded by self-indulgence, so that you cannot discern between the sacred and the common. God forbid that the precious truth should be held in unrighteousness, and that you should dishonor God and the truth by a corrupt and unconsecrated life. Study your true position before God. At this time, when the prayers of faith should be going up to God, you are not ready to lift up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. Have you not a work to do, to seek the Lord with humiliation of soul, with fasting and prayer? Is it not time, high time, for you to awake out of sleep, and shake off this carnal security? “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” This privilege will not always be granted us, therefore we should make diligent use of our present opportunities. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Then make no delay. The gracious promise is yours today. Set your heart and house in order. God sees the defects in your character, and he desires that you should see them, and feel your great need of the help which he alone can give. RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 4

O backsliding Israel, return unto the Lord with full purpose of heart, confess your sins, and make humble supplications to God. It will not be possible for you to stand in the day of trial that is just before us, with your present sins resting upon you. You may understand the truth theoretically, but this will not save you. It must be impressed upon your heart by the power and Spirit of God. Unless truth is enthroned in the soul, unless the thoughts and the purposes, the aims, and the whole object of life, are brought into the service of Jesus Christ, under the control of his Spirit, there cannot be a transformation from darkness to light. Even ministers who proclaim the truth are only blind leaders of the blind,—clouds without water, carried about with every wind,—unless they have the principles of the truth deep down in the soul; trees are they “whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots.” RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 5

Eternity demands of you individually a solid experience, such as will stand the test; and it is in this probationary period that you must obtain thorough transformation of character. Pure and undefiled religion is to be brought into the sanctuary of the soul. Each has a work to do, and no friend or minister can do it for him; each must repent for himself, and confess his sins to God. Make thorough work of it. Believe for yourself; have the grace of God in your heart for yourself. God will have his true, faithful witnesses in every walk of life, testifying to the power of his grace. They may be humble, but they will be living in the sunshine of God's countenance, with the Bible as their guide. RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 6

See, O see, where your duties have been neglected, and where you have given an example to both believers and unbelievers which would lead them away from God, away from righteousness and the spirit of the truth. Jesus would have men come to him, trust in him, rely upon him, and have their experience founded upon him alone. Light and counsel have been sought of human beings who were as much in the dark and as far from living in the favor of God as were those who looked to them for aid, and therefore could not give the help sought. The result has been just what might have been expected,—counsel tainted with human weakness and defects. God has been dishonored, and souls have been robbed of that grace and light which Jesus is ever ready to impart to all who would seek his face. We have been interweaving with our experiences more and more of human appliances and human aids, and have sought less and less divine counsel, until our work is marked with grave defects, and is destitute of divine power. RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 7

Another grievous sin existing in our midst, is self-sufficiency,—Pharisaism,—feeling that we are righteous, and all our acts are meritorious, when we are far from cherishing the right spirit toward God or toward our brethren. It is a spirit of wanting to be first. Self-esteem has been cherished, and you have had a spirit of criticism toward others because you were not first. Envy, jealousy, suspicion, fault-finding, and false witnessing have existed. There are unconsecrated hearts among you, who turn everything said or done, even under the special direction of God, in a wrong way. The power of Satan's temptations is strong upon these, and they view things in a perverted light. They please the enemy by their criticisms, and by making a man an offender for a word. In many of these cases that are criticised there is no actual sin; the suspicion is the result of the condition of the mind that entertains it. If one crosses their path, they have no unity or fellowship with him. They feel disgusted with all he may say or do. Those who have confidence in them share their feelings and sentiments. A spirit of retaliation is secretly at work; yet those who are thus creating disaffection and disunion, and planting the seeds of jealousy, all the while claim to be firm believers in the truth. Such do not practice the spirit of the truth. The leaven of their evil surmisings permeates the company where it exists, and God is dishonored, the principles of truth are degraded, and the Christian experience is marred and dwarfed. RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 8

Now, is it not high time to change this order of things, and seek true repentance. This unsanctified element has weakened the church, and given a large place to the Devil. Is not this something to repent of, something to bring us to the foot of the cross in deepest humiliation, until Jesus shall be found of us, and be chosen as our guide, our counselor, our Alpha and Omega? He is the Rock that is higher than we. He is our sun and our shield. He is our life, our wisdom. It is through his righteousness that we are saved, and his truth, as an abiding principle in the soul, sanctifies the man. But there is hope for the erring; it is not too late for wrongs to be righted. RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 9

The psalmist inquires, “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor.” Then should we not fear to be found sowing seeds of distrust, of jealousy, and of envy? Shall we not be afraid to transgress the word of God? RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 10

“And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you” What an appeal is this! and we should heed it if we expect the forgiveness of God for our sins. We must have the mind of Christ, and forgive just as freely the sins of others. RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 11

The gospel of Christ is to be wrought into our every-day experience. The mind must be in a state to appreciate the divine claims of the gospel. It must be girded about, and disciplined to habits of self-control and obedience. If we open our Bibles with a spirit out of harmony with its sacred principles, we shall not be likely to bring from our research the spirit which it should impart. The true Bible reader finds that the teachings of the living oracles cast “down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Satan has great power over the soul, to drag it down to a low level. Those who really want to learn of Christ will have to empty the soul of all its proud imaginings, that there may be room to enthrone him there. Clothed in the robes of humility, we must take our places as children at his feet, to learn of his meekness and lowliness. RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 12

Will you not, my brethren, examine yourselves, to see if there are not humble confessions to be made of evil surmising,—watching for evil, thinking evil, and talking evil,—for if these things are cherished, God cannot bless you. All this must be put out of the heart. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him, let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 13

“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy.” “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out a good conversation his works, with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envyings and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish; for where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” Let our people humble themselves with deep heart-searching, putting away from their families, and away from the churches, those things which have grieved the Spirit of God away from their hearts. RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 14

Then, again, let us consider prayerfully the subject of our possessions. How many are withholding from God his due? And how many, on the other hand, are letting the means which the Lord has lent them in trust, flow into the various channels of Christian liberality? Are not many moneyed men saying today. “By my wisdom have I gotten me this wealth?” Who gave you the intellect and ability to get wealth? You should consider that you are the Lord's property that you are dependent upon him for all your wisdom, and your ability to gain wealth. Then when the wants of home and foreign missions are presented, you will respond liberally, saying, “it is only of thine own that we have given thee.” All the riches, even of the most wealthy, are not sufficient to hide the smallest sin from God. Neither riches or intellect will be accepted as a ransom for the transgressor. Repentance, true humility, a broken heart, and a contrite spirit, alone will be acceptable to God. RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 15

There are many in our churches who should bring large offerings, and not content themselves with presenting a feeble pittance to Him who has done so much for them. Immeasurable blessings are falling upon them, but how little they return to the Giver! Let those who are indeed pilgrims and strangers upon the earth, now send their treasures before them to the heavenly country, in the much needed gifts to the Lord's treasury. Let the grace of Christ open your hearts to give valuable offerings to God on this Christmas and New Year's. Has not the Lord made you channels of light to the world? Our missionary efforts must not be limited by lack of means. The calls for help in new fields should arouse us to do something, and to do it now. Shall we let home and foreign missions suffer through selfishness and covetousness? It is possible to confess Christ with our lips, while in works we deny him. RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 16

There are brethren who have little of this world's goods, yet are ever ready with their donations. These poor men, believing the truth, and acting out their faith, may be looked upon by the more wealthy as deficient in worldly wisdom, and of no special worth; yet God calls them rich, because as fast as money comes into their hands, they send it before them to the bank of heaven, where it is placed to their account. Such are precious in the sight of the Lord. Although they are not increasing in earthly possessions, they are laying up an incorruptible treasure in heaven. They show a wisdom as far superior to that manifested by the worldly-wise, acquisitive ones, as the divine and God like is superior to the earthly. It is moral worth that God values. A God fearing, Christian man, free from selfishness and avarice, possessing meekness and humility, is more precious in the sight of God than the gold of Ophir. Wealthy men will be tested more closely than they have ever yet been tested. If they endure the test, overcoming the blemishes of their characters, and as faithful stewards, obey the injunctions of Christ to render to the Lord his own, then they show that they have a sense of the high claims of God upon them. But if they fail to do this, and invest the heaven lent treasures in earthly things, they are robbing God. RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 17

There are missionaries to be sent out to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples. God calls for men and women to come to the front, and enlist in the various branches of the work. Awake, and see what can be done right around you for the Master. Error and sin are prevailing to an alarming extent close by you. Lay aside all romantic imaginings and castlebuilding. The Master calls you to meet the stern realities of the time in which we live. Christ says, “Without me, ye can do nothing.” Begin in your own neighborhood, and strive judiciously to inculcate ideas of the truth, so that the contrast between truth and error may be seen. Sow gospel truth all around you, for each truth practiced and taught is a power which will live and accomplish a work as far-reaching as eternity. Be yourself a thorough Bible Christian. The great need of the time is an intelligent acquaintance with the Bible. RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 18

Will my brethren now arouse to do their work? The signs reveal to us that “the night cometh, in which no man can work.” The time is coming in which you can neither buy nor sell. That will be a serious time for the people of God. Now you can sell and give alms. Now you can send your treasure before you into heaven, and God calls for your means to advance his cause. Let this Christmas-time and the entering in of a new year testify to the zeal of God's people. There has been a withholding from God of tithes and offerings. The question is asked, “Will a man rob God?” And the answer comes, “Ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee?—In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.” Wonderful statement, and how true! Shall we humble our souls before God, and confess our sin in robbing him? Shall we be zealous and repent? Shall we redeem the failures of the past? “Bring ye all the tithes into the store-house, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Shall we obey God, and bring in all our tithes and offerings, that there may be meat to supply the demands of souls hungering for the bread of life? God invites you to prove him now, as the old year draws to its close, and let the new year find us with God's treasuries replenished. Let us literally prove the Lord, by bringing all the tithes and offerings into his store house, and let us repent of our robbery toward him. He tells us that he will open the windows of heaven, and pour us out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. He pledges his word, “I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field saith the Lord of hosts” Thus his word is our assurance that he will so bless us that we shall have still larger tithes and offerings to bestow. “Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts.” RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 19

Brethren, will you comply with the conditions? Will you offer willingly, gladly, and abundantly? The foreign missions call for means from America. Shall they call in vain? Home missions are in great need of money; they have been established in faith, in different parts of the field. Shall they be left to languish and die? Shall we not arouse? God help his people to do their very best. RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 20

O, what gracious, full, complete assurances are given us, if we will only do what God requires us to do! Take hold of this matter as though you believed the Lord would do just as he has promised. Let us venture something upon God's word. In their zeal to be rich, many run great risks; eternal considerations are overlooked, and noble principles are sacrificed; yet they may lose all in the game. But in complying with the heavenly invitations we have no such risk to run. We must take God at his word, and in simplicity of faith walk out upon the promise, and give the Lord his own. It is perilous for you to rob God; for he says that all who do this are cursed with a curse. God designs that humanity shall cooperate with divinity in saving souls for Jesus Christ. What a privilege! Jesus denied himself for our sakes. The salvation of man cost a great price, even the life of the Lord of glory, which he freely gave to lift man from degradation, and to exalt him to be joint heir with himself to the eternal inheritance. RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 21

May the Lord impress upon each heart the importance of the work we are engaged in. Let us return to the Lord. Let us heed the advice of the true Merchant-man, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous, therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” RH December 18, 1888, Art. C, par. 22

Ellen G. White.