Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Ms 113, 1899

The Wages of Unrighteousness


August 11, 1899 [typed]

Portions of this manuscript are published in 1BC 1111-1112; 1MR 271-272. +Note

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; and shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 1

“Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls; an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.” [2 Peter 2:9-15.] 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 2

This chapter gives a note of warning which all would do well to heed. Now, just now, we should examine ourselves and inquire, What are the wages of unrighteousness? “Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith,” the apostle Paul says; “Prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? But I trust he shall know that we are not reprobates. Now I pray God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates. For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.” [2 Corinthians 13:5-8.] 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 3

Those who think they cannot make money if they obey the commandments of God, and in order to get wealth work on the Lord’s day, are taking the wages of unrighteousness, and their transgression will bring its sure reward. The time which the Lord set apart and blessed, He gave to the world to be kept holy. “Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep,” He says, “for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you; everyone that defileth it shall surely be put to death; for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 4

“Six days may work be done; but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” [Exodus 31:13-17.] Those who, having once observed the Sabbath, refuse to acknowledge its claims, and dishonor their Creator, that they may do their own work, are classed among those who “have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.” [2 Peter 2:15.] 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 5

Men give up their souls’ highest interests for worldly advantages. The pride of the human heart craves for worldly distinction; and in order to gain their ends men disregard the prohibitions of God. But those who rob God of the day He has set apart for Himself, the day He has sanctified and blessed, reveal that they are unable to see afar off, and have forgotten that they were purged from their old sins. They are working at cross purposes with God, and they cannot prosper. However, much advantage they think to gain, they will reap only loss in the end. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 6

When these souls see that they are not gaining, why do they not stop to consider? Why do they not fear and tremble before God? What kind of an example are they giving those who know not the truth? Many souls might be brought to a knowledge of God if these men would fear and honor Him. But their consciences are violated, their hearts are hardened. And they teach those who are in their employ to transgress the law of God. These men have known the Master’s will, but refuse to do it, and they will be beaten with many stripes. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 7

There are many ways in which men receive the wages of unrighteousness. It is no righteous act for a man in any line of business to lose sight of principle. God requires the strictest integrity. When men, for the sake of gain, descend to any crooked deal, any dishonest act, they dishonor God, and they must give an account to Him. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 8

The business of the real estate agent is always a temptation to men to take the wages of righteousness. Representations that are untrue are made, and false inducements are held out to hire money or purchase land; and those who love money too well, catch at the chance, but some lose their means in the transaction. This is no uncommon thing, but has been repeated over and over again. Persons who suppose the investment to be perfectly safe place their hard-earned money in the hands of these men, only to lose it. They might have done far better with their means. They might have placed it in the bank of heaven, which is always secure. But a burning desire to accumulate wealth leads man to speculate, and in the end he loses all. The real estate agent would do well to get out of this line of business; for he is surely taking the wages of unrighteousness. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 9

O that men would study as for eternity to know how they may form characters for everlasting life! We cannot afford to play at religion. We must have an earnest purpose, a sincere determination to fear God and work righteousness, if it costs all that we have, that we may be approved by heaven. When we consider that our probation cost the life of God’s only Son, we should cherish the highest principles of integrity, for we are to be like Christ in character. “Ye must be born again,” Christ says, or you will never see the kingdom of God. [John 3:7, 3.] You will not appreciate it here or hereafter. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 10

How many things there are in our institutions and in our commercial work that bear the mark of unrighteousness. I have been instructed that there are very many whose work will not bear the investigation of the judgment. They attend meetings, and say many good things; but there is a dead fly in the ointment. They would be shocked if one should call them unfaithful stewards, yet without scruple they pervert their best abilities to the most unworthy ends. The love of the truth is not in their hearts. They tamper with conscience, and adulterate the pure principles of the Bible with their own fallacious reasoning, that they may justify their course in taking the gain of unrighteousness. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 11

How these men would shrink from a close investigation of their work. They would be ill-pleased to have their methods brought to light. And yet they are all written in the books of heaven. In the light of God’s countenance their deeds are no better than theft. I warn church members to remember that there is a church above which is marking every transaction. Every deed, great or small, is written in the pages of eternal history, and is deciding your future destiny. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 12

Parents, God calls upon you to consider your work in business lines as well as in the home. How does your account stand? In the education you are giving your children, you are serving either God or Satan. Are you giving the enemy opportunity to lead your children away from truth and righteousness? Remember that all who are not constantly engaged in serving God, practicing righteousness and pressing toward the mark of the prize of their high calling in Christ Jesus, are serving the enemy. Many parents by their course of action are teaching their children to transgress the laws of God, and encouraging them in an evil course by sustaining them with their money and helping them out of their difficulties. It is the Lord’s money they are employing thus, and he cannot bless them in their use of it. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 13

Standing in important positions of trust are selfish, covetous men, who are receiving higher wages than they should take. Less wages would be far better for them and for their children, for this would lead them to economy and self-denial. But each week’s record in the books of heaven shows that there are men who in their selfishness are ready to grasp every dollar they can obtain, while men working in much harder fields, and with far fewer advantages, work for half of what these men receive. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 14

It is not for the spiritual advantage of any man to take such large wages. In doing so he deprives his fellow laborers who work fully as hard as he of the means they should have for the work in other parts of the field. The covetous man sees the many fields unworked. He sees that money is needed to lift the standard of truth in new places. But he does not consider the necessities of those who break these unworked fields. He takes the highest wages he can obtain, because, as he supposes, his position entitles him to them. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 15

It would be well for the workers in receipt of large salaries to study the principle of equality. When they empty their hearts of selfishness, and humble themselves before God, they will see that during the many years they have been taking from the treasury their unrighteous wages, others, who have done just as much and as faithful work, have been receiving just one half the amount. Had they loved God supremely and their neighbor as themselves, they would have been a large work to be done in fulfilling the commission of Christ to preach the gospel to all the world, and they would not have dared to use the means which God designed for destitute fields. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 16

Those men who place so high an estimate on their own merits and service will be surprised to see in the day of final rewards that they are regarded as least, while those who have worked earnestly and faithfully and unselfishly, with small wages, receive the highest reward from Him who makes no false estimate. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 17

Our established institutions, which are provided with facilities, are to understand that God requires them to bind about their supposed wants and consider other fields, just as important, which have nothing; for souls are souls for whom Christ died to save the world over. The Lord will greatly bless those who have entered into other men’s labors if they will work in His lines. A wide awake interest should be manifested for the advancement of the work in new fields. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 18

God’s principle for every institution is that while they shall appreciate their own advantages, they must be prepared to repress the inclination to enrich themselves, and ask, What can we do in new fields? We have an abundance. Let us bind about our wants and provide our brethren with facilities wherewith they can work. When the Holy Spirit takes possession of the hearts of the workers, self will shrink to much smaller proportions. The love of God will pervade the soul, and this will lead them to works of righteousness and justice. Unselfish principles will be revived. God will establish His people, and the work will be advanced. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 19

It is because God’s means have been misapplied, because institutions have been provided with every convenience to the neglect of new fields, that the work has been retarded. Had men limited their selfish desires, had they bound about their ambitions desires, there would have been money in the treasury to make plans in new fields. God forbid that this work of selfishness shall continue, and unrighteousness be practiced in covetousness and greed. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 20

If the workers in the old fields refuse to weave selfish principles into the work, if they submit to the Holy Spirit’s working, the shaping and advancement of the cause in new territories will show that God’s hand is with His people for good. The leaven of truth and righteousness will have a telling influence upon preachers, publishers, and workers in every line. But self fills a large place, and God is crowded out. If men would die to self and understand that the law of God requires them to do unto others as they would have others do to them, there would be a transformation among them. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 21

There has been a great departure from Christ’s principles, and this is the reason we are engaged in the warfare today. We might have been in the promised land ere this; but the gospel has not yet been proclaimed to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. In the parable of the sower Christ attributes to Satan the work of catching away from men’s minds the seeds of truth. In the parable of the tares He says, “The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one. The enemy that sowed them is the devil.” [Matthew 13:38, 39.] Since the fall, the controversy between Christ and Satan has continued. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 22

Christ warned His disciples, “These things have I spoken unto you that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the time cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them.” “Nevertheless,” He said, “it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believed not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the Prince of this world is judged.” [John 16:1-4, 7-11.] The agency of the Holy Spirit, which Christ purchased by His death, will bring condemnation to the world. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 23

When Christ was betrayed, the record states that “Satan put it into the heart of Judas to betray him.” Another writer says, “Satan entered into him.” [John 13:2, 27; Luke 22:3.] When the band led by Judas seized the Saviour, he said to Peter, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be?” [Matthew 26:53, 54.] 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 24

As the high priest laid aside his pontifical dress, and officiated in the white linen dress of a common priest, so Christ emptied himself, and took the form of a servant, and offered sacrifice, Himself the priest, Himself the victim. As the high priest, after performing his service in the holy of holies, came forth to the waiting congregation in his pontifical robes, so Christ will come the second time clothed in glorious garments of the whitest white, “such as no fuller on earth can whiten them.” [Mark 9:3.] He will come in His own glory, and in the glory of His Father, as King of kings and Lord of lords, and all the angelic host will escort Him on His way. 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 25

If the workers would realize the necessity of emptying themselves, and giving Christ place in their hearts, they would reveal in their lives that faith which works by love and purifies the soul. But very much of self and very little of Christ is seen. Love is an element foreign to the hearts of many who claim to believe the truth. Self occupies the throne, and Christ has no place. Practice of the truth has become a rare thing. The end of all things is at hand. Shall we not change in these things? 14LtMs, Ms 113, 1899, par. 26