SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4 (EGW)


Chapter 48

10-12. Spirit Does Not Work Beyond Human Power of Resistance—The influence of the Spirit upon the human mind will regulate it after the divine order. But the Spirit does not work in a manner and power beyond the human agent's power of resistance. A man may refuse to hear the counsels and admonitions of God. He may choose to take the regulating of his conduct into his own hands; but when he does this, he is not made a vessel unto honor. Like Moab, he refuses to be changed, emptied from vessel to vessel, and therefore his scent remaineth in him. He refuses to correct his defective traits of character, although the Lord has plainly pointed out his work, his privileges, his opportunities, and the advancement to be made. It is too much trouble to break up his old ways, and transform his ideas and methods. “His scent is not changed.” He clings to his defects, and is thus unfitted for the sacred work of the ministry. He was not willing to make a close examination of himself, or to closely inquire for light to shine upon him in a clear, distinct manner. His prayers have not ascended to God in humility, while with humble endeavor he sought to live his prayers by understanding and performing his duty. 4BC 1159.5

After the Lord has put one on test and trial, that he may be assured of his calling to the ministry, if he is content to follow his own way and his own will, if he will not heed the manifestations of the Spirit of God, if he refuses to profit by growth in grace and depth of understanding, be assured that the Lord does not need him; for he cannot communicate that which he has never received. 4BC 1159.6

Every soul is to minister. He is to use every physical, moral, and mental power, through sanctification of the Spirit, that he may be a laborer together with God. All are bound to devote themselves actively and unreservedly to God's service. They are to cooperate with Jesus Christ in the great work of helping others. Christ died for every man. He has ransomed every man by giving His life on the cross. This He did that man might no longer live an aimless, selfish life, but that he might live unto Jesus Christ, who died for his salvation. All are not called upon to enter the ministry, but nevertheless, they are to minister. It is an insult to the Holy Spirit of God for any man to choose a life of self-serving. 4BC 1159.7

Ministry means not only the study of books and preaching. It means service (Letter 10, 1897). 4BC 1159.8

Knowledge of Truth Not Practiced—This description of Moab represents the churches that have become like Moab. They have not stood at their post of duty as faithful sentinels. They have not cooperated with the heavenly intelligences by exercising their God-given ability to do the will of God, pressing back the powers of darkness, and using every power God has given them to advance truth and righteousness in our world. They have a knowledge of the truth, but they have not practiced what they know (Manuscript 7, 1891). 4BC 1159.9

God Disciplines His Workers—God has given to every man his work, and we are to acknowledge the wisdom of His plan for us by a hearty cooperation with Him. It is in a life of service only that true happiness is found. He who lives a useless, selfish life is miserable. He is dissatisfied with himself and with every one else. 4BC 1160.1

The Lord disciplines His workers, that they may be prepared to fill the places appointed them. Thus He desires to fit them to do more acceptable service. 4BC 1160.2

A life of monotony is not the most conducive to spiritual growth. Some can reach the highest standard of spirituality only through a change in the regular order of things. When in His providence God sees that changes are essential for the success of the character-building, He disturbs the smooth current of the life. 4BC 1160.3

There are those who desire to be a ruling power, and who need the sanctification of submission. God brings about a change in their lives. Perhaps He places before them duties that they would not choose. If they are willing to be guided by Him, He will give them grace and strength to perform these duties in a spirit of submission and helpfulness. Thus they are being qualified to fill places where their disciplined abilities will make them of great service. 4BC 1160.4

Some God trains by bringing to them disappointment and apparent failure. It is His purpose that they shall learn to master difficulty. He inspires them with a determination to make every apparent failure prove a success. Often men pray and weep because of the perplexities and obstacles that confront them. But if they will hold the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end, He will make their ways clear. Success will come to them as they struggle against apparently insurmountable difficulties.... 4BC 1160.5

Many are ignorant of how to work for God, not because they need to be ignorant, but because they are unwilling to submit to His training. Moab is spoken of as a failure because, the prophet declares, “Moab hath been at ease from his youth, ... and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.” 4BC 1160.6

Thus it is with those whose hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong are not purged from them. Their hearts are not cleansed from defilement. They were given an opportunity to do a work for God, but this work they did not choose to do, because they wished to carry out their own plans. 4BC 1160.7

The Christian is to be prepared for the doing of a work that reveals kindness, forbearance, longsuffering, gentleness, patience. The cultivation of these precious gifts is to come into the life of the Christian, that, when called into service by the Master, he may be ready to use his highest powers in helping and blessing those around him (The Review and Herald, May 2, 1907). 4BC 1160.8