He is given an inferior place, while self swells into importance and fills the whole temple of the soul. This is the reason why the Lord can do so little for us. Should He work with our efforts, the instrument would appropriate all the glory to his own smartness, his wisdom, his ability, and he would congratulate himself, as did the Pharisee: “I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.” When self shall be hidden in Christ, it will not be brought to the surface so frequently. Shall we meet the mind of the Spirit of God? Shall we dwell more upon practical godliness, and far less upon mechanical arrangements?
The servants of Christ should live as in His sight and as in the sight of angels. They should seek to understand the requirements of our time and prepare to meet them. Satan is constantly attacking us in new and untried ways, and why should the officers in God’s army be inefficient? Why should they leave any faculty of their nature uncultivated? There is a great work to be done, and if there is any want of harmonious action in doing it, it is because of self-love and self-esteem. It is only when we are careful to carry out the Master’s orders without leaving our stamp and identity upon the work that we work efficiently and harmoniously. “Press together,” said the angel, “press together.”
I urge upon you who minister in sacred things to dwell more upon practical religion. How rarely are seen the tender conscience, and true, heartfelt sorrow of soul and conviction of sin! It is because there are no deep movings of the Spirit of God among us. Our Saviour is the ladder which Jacob saw, whose base rested on the earth and whose topmost rounds reached the highest heavens. This shows the appointed method of salvation. If any of us are finally saved, it will be by clinging to Jesus as to the rounds of a ladder. To the believer, Christ is made wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Let no one imagine that it is an easy thing to
overcome the enemy and that he can be borne aloft to an incorruptible inheritance without effort on his part. To look back is to grow dizzy; to let go the hold is to perish. Few appreciate the importance of striving constantly to overcome. They relax their diligence and, as a result, become selfish and self-indulgent. Spiritual vigilance is not thought to be essential. Earnestness in human effort is not brought into the Christian life.
There will be some terrible falls by those who think they stand firm because they have the truth, but they have it not as it is in Jesus. A moment’s carelessness may plunge a soul into irretrievable ruin. One sin leads to the second, and the second prepares the way for the third, and so on. We must, as faithful messengers of God, plead with Him constantly to be kept by His power. If we swerve a single inch from duty, we are in danger of following on in a course of sin that will end in perdition. There is hope for every one of us, but only in one way, and that is by binding ourselves to Christ, and exerting every energy to attain to the perfection of His character.
That religion which makes of sin a light matter, dwelling upon the love of God to the sinner regardless of his actions, only encourages the sinner to believe that God will receive him while he continues in that which he knows to be sin. This is what some are doing who profess to believe present truth. The truth is kept apart from the life, and that is the reason it has no power to convict and convert the soul.
God has shown me that the truth as it is in Jesus has never been brought into the lives of some in California. They do not have the religion of the Bible. They have never been converted; and unless their hearts are sanctified through the truth which they have accepted, they will be bound up with the tares; for they bear no clusters of precious fruit to show that they are branches of the living Vine.
“Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: 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.” The lives of many show that they have no living connection with God. They are drifting into the channel of the world. They have, in reality, no part or lot with Christ. They love amusement and are filled with selfish ideas, plans, hopes, and ambitions. They serve the enemy under the pretense of serving God. They are in bondage to a taskmaster, and this bondage they choose, making themselves willing slaves of Satan.
The false idea entertained by many, that the restraining of children is an injury, is ruining thousands upon thousands. Satan will surely take possession of the children if you are not on your guard. Do not encourage their association with the ungodly. Draw them away. Come out from among such yourselves, and show them that you are on the Lord’s side.
Will those who claim to be the children of the Most High elevate the standard, not simply while assembled in your meeting, but as long as time shall last? Will you not be on the Lord’s side and serve Him with full purpose of heart? If you do as did the children of Israel in forsaking God’s express requirements you will surely receive of His judgments; but if you put away sin and exercise living faith, the richest of heaven’s blessings will be yours.
Basel, Switzerland, March 1, 1887.
Chap. 64 – “Your Reasonable Service”
“Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
In the time of ancient Israel the priests critically examined every offering that was brought as a sacrifice. If any defect was discovered, the animal was refused; for the Lord had commanded that the offering should be “without blemish.” We
are to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God, and should we not seek to make the offering as perfect as possible? God has given us every instruction necessary for our physical, mental, and moral well-being; and it is the duty of every one of us to bring our habits of life into conformity with the divine standard in every particular. Will the Lord be pleased with anything less than the best we can offer? “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” If you do love Him with all your heart you will desire to give Him the best service of your life, and you will seek to bring every power of your being into harmony with the laws that will promote your ability to do His will.
Every faculty of our being was given us that we might render acceptable service to our Maker. When, through sin, we perverted the gifts of God and sold our powers to the prince of darkness, Christ paid a ransom for us, even His own precious blood. “He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them.” You are not to follow the customs of the world. “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Chap. 65 – Worldly Influences
Dear Sister G: My heart is drawn out in love and sympathy for you. The present state of things in your family is the sure result of following out your mistaken ideas, and the end is not yet. You have not seen the danger of associating so freely with your relatives. They have had a far greater influence over you and yours than you have had over them. Their being your relatives makes them no less a hindrance to your spiritual welfare and no less transgressors of God’s holy law. Their course is fully as offensive to God as that of any
others who refuse light and truth, and will not listen to any evidence in its favor. Injurious impressions have been made upon your mind and have influenced your course of action. God has made every provision to bring salvation within our reach, but He will not thrust it upon us against our will. He has laid down conditions in His word, and we should diligently, interestedly, with heart and mind, set about the task of learning these conditions, lest we make some mistake and fail to secure our title to the mansions above.
We cannot serve God and the world at the same time. We must not center our affections on worldly relatives, who have no desire to learn the truth. We may seek in every way, while associated with them, to let our light shine; but our words, our deportment, our customs and practices, should not in any sense be molded by their ideas and customs. We are to show forth the truth in all our intercourse with them. If we cannot do this, the less association we have with them, the better it will be for our spirituality. If we place ourselves among associates whose influence has a tendency to make us forgetful of the high claims the Lord has upon us we invite temptation and become too weak in moral power to resist it. We come to partake of the spirit and cherish the ideas of our associates and to place sacred and eternal things lower than the ideas of our friends. We are, in short, leavened just as the enemy of all righteousness designed we should be.
The young, if brought under this influence, are more easily affected by it than those who are older. Everything leaves its impress upon their minds, the countenances they look upon, the voices they hear, the places they visit, the company they keep, and the books they read. It is impossible to overestimate the importance for this world and the next of the associations we choose for ourselves and, more especially, for our children.
The first years of life are more important than any other period. Decided progress will be made either in a right
direction or a wrong one. On one hand, any amount of frivolous attainment may be gained; and on the other, any amount of solid, valuable knowledge for practical life, in becoming acquainted with God, and in learning how to strengthen every faculty that God has entrusted to us. Most important and essential for our present and eternal good is the knowledge of divine truth as revealed in the word of God.
We are living in a time when everything that is false and superficial is exalted above the real, the natural, and the enduring. The mind must be kept free from everything that would lead it in a wrong direction. It should not be encumbered with trashy stories, which do not add strength to the mental powers. The thoughts will be of the same character as the food we provide for the mind. The time devoted to needless, unimportant things would better be spent in contemplating the wonderful mysteries of the plan of salvation and in using every God-given power to learn the ways of the Lord, that our feet may not stumble upon the dark mountain of unbelief or stray from the path of holiness which was cast up by infinite sacrifice for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. The strength of intellect, the substantial knowledge gained, are acquisitions which the gold of Ophir could not buy. Their price is above gold and silver. This kind of education the young do not usually choose. They urge their desires, their likes and dislikes, their preferences and inclinations; but if the parents have correct views of God, of the truth, and of the influences and associations which should surround their children, they will feel their God-given responsibility to firmly guide the inexperienced youth in the right away, knowing that what they sow they will also reap.
Could my voice reach the parents all through the land, I would warn them not to yield to the desires of their children in choosing their companions or associates. Little do parents consider that injurious impressions are far more readily
received by the young than are divine impressions; therefore their associations should be the most favorable for the growth of grace and for the truth revealed in the word of God to be established in the heart. If children are with those whose conversation is upon unimportant, earthly things, their minds will come to the same level. If they hear the principles of religion slurred and our faith belittled, if sly objections to the truth are dropped in their hearing, these things will fasten in their minds and mold their characters. If their minds are filled with stories, be they true or fictitious, there is no room for the useful information and scientific knowledge which should occupy them. What havoc has this love for light reading wrought with the mind! How it has destroyed the principles of sincerity and true godliness, which lie at the foundation of a symmetrical character. It is like a slow poison taken into the system, which will sooner or later reveal its bitter effects. When a wrong impression is left upon the mind in youth, a mark is made, not on sand, but on enduring rock.
The associations of your children are of a character to draw them away from every influence that would interfere with, or break up, their health-destroying habits. They are impatient if they cannot have their own way. The advice of Christians is distasteful to them. They are traveling the road to ruin, and any influence which seeks to lead them in an opposite direction stirs the worst impulses of their hearts. They are creatures of circumstances. The formation of these early ties which are unfavorable to religious impressions has had a powerful, controlling influence over them at every subsequent step. Let the youth be placed in the most favorable circumstances possible; for the company they keep, the principles they adopt, the habits they form, will settle the question of their usefulness here, and of their future, eternal interests, with a certainty that is infallible. The parents should not concede to the inclinations of their children, but should follow the plain path of duty
which God has marked out, restraining them in kindness, denying with firmness and determination, yet with love, their wrong desires, and with earnest, prayerful, persevering effort leading their steps away from the world upward to heaven. Children should not be left to drift into whatever way they are inclined, and to go into avenues which are open on every side, leading away from the right path. None are in so great danger as those who apprehend no danger and are impatient of caution and counsel.
It is because I see your danger, my sister, that I write you now as I do. While there may be many to flatter you and enjoy your hospitality without seeking to impart a blessing by right counsel, I must warn you of unseen danger, which will imperil your present and eternal happiness. We are approaching stormy times, and we want to study the true foundation of our faith. We need to search the Lawbook to see if our title to the immortal inheritance is without a flaw.
Our people have been regarded as too insignificant to be worthy of notice, but a change will come. The Christian world is now making movements which will necessarily bring commandment-keeping people into prominence. There is a constant supplanting of God’s truth by the theories and false doctrines of human origin. Movements are being set on foot to enslave the consciences of those who would be loyal to God. The lawmaking powers will be against God’s people. Every soul will be tested. Oh, that we would, as a people, be wise for ourselves, and by precept and example impart that wisdom to our children! Every position of our faith will be searched into; and if we are not thorough Bible students, established, strengthened, and settled, the wisdom of the world’s great men will lead us astray.
The world is busy, anxious, and devoted. Evil is eagerly followed as though it were righteousness, error as though it were truth, and sin as though it were holiness. Darkness is
covering the earth, and gross darkness the people. And shall God’s people be asleep at such a time as this? Shall those who hold the truth be silent, as if paralyzed? Infidels declare that if they believed what Christians profess to believe, they would be far more in earnest than they. If we believe that the end of all things is at hand, “what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?”
Every soul who truly believes the truth will have corresponding works. All will be earnest and solemn, and unwearied in their efforts to win souls to Christ. If the truth is first planted deep in their own souls, then they will seek to plant it in the hearts of others. The truth is kept altogether too much in the outer court. Bring it into the inner temple of the soul, enthrone it in the heart, and let it control the life. The word of God should be studied and obeyed, then the heart will find rest and peace and joy, and the aspirations will tend heavenward; but when truth is kept apart from the life, in the outer court, the heart is not warmed with the glowing fire of God’s goodness.
The religion of Jesus is, by many, reserved for certain days, or certain occasions, and at other times is laid aside and neglected. The abiding principle of truth is not merely for a few hours on the Sabbath, or for a few acts of charity, but it is to be brought into the heart, refining and sanctifying the character. If there is a moment when man is safe without this special light and strength from heaven, then he may dispense with the truth of God. The Bible, God’s pure, holy word, must be his counselor and guide, the controlling power of his life. It gives forth its lessons to us if we will take them to heart.
Abraham was a man favored of God. The Lord said: “I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.” Abraham was honored of God because he cultivated home religion and caused the fear of the
Lord to pervade his whole household. It is God who says: “I know him, that he will command”–there will be no betraying of sacred trust on his part, no yielding to anyone but God; there is a law, and Abraham will keep it; no blind affection will cloud his sense of right and interfere between God and the souls of his children; that kind of indulgence which is the veriest cruelty will not lead Abraham astray.
Parents and children alike belong to God to be ruled by Him. By affection and authority combined, Abraham ruled his house. God’s word has given us rules for our guidance. These rules form the standard from which we cannot swerve if we would keep the way of the Lord. God’s will must be paramount. The question for us to ask is not: What have others done? What will my relatives think? or, What will they say of me if I pursue this course? but, What has God said? Neither parent nor child can truly prosper in any course excepting in the way of the Lord.
I am thankful that you have noble sons who are seeking to walk in the ways of the Lord; but I hope you will discern more clearly the path of duty in respect to their associations. This will determine whether you are growing in spirituality, or whether you are dwarfed in your religious life. The stern dictates of conscience must be obeyed, even though it be difficult; and it will help you to gain in moral power. Duties are often crosses which we must lift. Prayer and praise to God are not always offered without a struggle. Self-denial and cross bearing lie directly in the path we must travel if we reach the gates of the city of God. Jesus has led the way; will we follow?
We must be workers together with God, not alone for our own salvation, but in doing all we can for the salvation of others. Thus we become partners in the great plan of redemption, and will be sharers in the eternal weight of glory by and by. God calls upon you to press your way “toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” May the Lord bless you, is my prayer. But remember, if you are
united with Christ, you must be a co-worker with Him.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5 pp. 539-548