"When the requirements of God are accounted a burden because they cut across human inclination, we may know that the life is not a Christian life. True obedience is the outworking of a principle within. It springs from the love of righteousness, the love of the law of God. The essence of all righteousness is loyalty to our Redeemer. This will lead us to do right because it is right--because right doing is pleasing to God." Christ Object Lessons, p. 97
These are my own notes and are not a word-for-word transcript of the message. However, by listening multiple times to the sermon and filling in what was missed previously, I have attempted to get as close as I can to what was shared. Quotations have, in many cases, been expanded to the sentences around what the speaker quoted to enable the reader to gain the full impact of what was shared in the sermon. Where the speaker referred to quotations without giving a reference, I have attempted to find the quotation that most closely reflects what was being shared. - © Cheryl Hosford
The circle handout accompanying this talk is not directly related to the topic being presented here. However it is indirectly related to it. It truely has some meat in it, and needs to be studied closely and carefully. The Circle is based on the text written in the arrow.
"My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. "
It is built on the basis that God begins on the inside and works outward, and Satan always works from the outside in. Exactly oposite. On this basis, the top arrow is depicting God's methods of working. He by-passes the circles and goes directly to the heart. Each of the circles represents a resistance barrier that Satan sets up. When an individual hears the call of God, contrary to what we normally think, the devil whispers in the ear of the person who is serious about giving his heart to the Lord, "Yes, that's exactly what you ought to do. You ought to give your heart to the Lord," Then he says, "let me show you how."
Ellen White says that in every evangelistic campaign, while God is bringing true converts into the church, Satan is bringing unconverted souls into the church. We will show you in the next five meetings, Satan has been very successful.
When an individual decides that he wants to give his heart to the Lord, the devil says, "Now the way to do this is to get busy for God."
The outside circle is an "activity" ring. Under the title "God's Method of Imparting the Divine Nature to Man is Righteousness by Faith." God has only one way of imparting His Divine Nature to man - that is through faith. However, the devil has a substitute. If he can keep a person who is interested in or who has given their heart to the Lord, and he can keep them busy in activities, he's happy.
To actually do for God
In each circle there are two verses and one activity, for example, consecration, work, Bible Study, kindness... all of these things. Satan promotes these things just as much as God does. As he worked with Christ, Satan was always quoting Scripture. He has done this down through the ages working with human beings.
At the bottom of the page, Satan's plan is not underlined; God's plan to the right of the activity is underlined. There comes a time in every person's life when activity does not suffice, and so they say there must be something more to religion than this. Satan then takes them in to the next circle, and that is the circle of emotions. Emotionalism. It may surprise you, but probably ninety to ninety-five percent of Christians live their lives in the emotions. The charasmatic movement is a demonstration of the effectiveness of this program, for it has swept through every denomination, including the Seventh-day Adventist church. We have many charasmatics within the Seventh-day Adventist church, whether we care to believe it or not.
I live in an area of the country where in the past five years, the charasmatic movement has grown from about 300 members to about 3000 members, and last Sabbath, a week ago, this church had grown to the point where they held four services on Sunday. They were having so many Seventh-day Adventists attend their services that last week, they held their first Sabbath meetings to accommodate Seventh-day Adventists. Don't fool yourselves. This is making an impact in the Seventh-day Adventist church.
Emotional Religion is based on satisfying self, pleasing self, and feeling good. This is Satan's plan. But if there comes a time in someone's life where they are unsatisfied and say, there must be something more to religion, the devil still has one circle to hold them in. That circle is Senses, or feeling. It is one of the five senses (Taste, Sight, Hearing, Touch, Smell .) It is here that Satan takes the individual and it is there that they become fanatics. Every fanaticism is built on one of the five senses, out of proportion. Anytime that an individual becomes a fanatic in any one of these five areas, it is extremely difficult to touch them.
In the top arrow, God goes directly to the heart and works out from the heart and actually begins with the five senses, and spreads out to the emotions and activity. This is actually the reverse of Satan's. The bottom arrow, Satan's plan, never actually reaches the heart. For Satan works through the senses. That's why Ellen White says, that we need to guard well the avenues to the soul. She then defines the avenues to the soul as the five senses. This is the devil's playground.
Those who would not fall a prey to Satan's devices, must guard well the avenues of the soul; they must avoid reading, seeing, or hearing that which will suggest impure thoughts. The mind must not be left to dwell at random upon every subject that the enemy of souls may suggest. The heart must be faithfully sentineled, or evils without will awaken evils within, and the soul will wander in darkness. Acts of the Apostles, p. 519
Satan makes us feel religious, happy, any way he chooses, and this becomes the substitute for the real thing. Please take this chart, and study it, and you will see some of the ways of Satan's working.
What do you conspire against the LORD? He will make an utter end of it. Affliction will not rise up a second time.
In this realm of freedom, God promises to the angelic host, to the inhabitants on other worlds, that we, rebellious, sinful, flabby human beings will be able to be depended on throughout eternity. Sin will never arise again.
If we were to pick out individuals that would fit into that picture, what would they look like to you? What kind of examination would you give that would qualify people for that, with that kind of faith? You can readily see that it is God's faith in us - not our faith in God that allows Him to do this. For man's faith has always failed. But it is God's faith in us that enables it to become a reality.
The promise of Nahum 1:9 is actually a promise that defies all of the history of mankind. For in reality, the natural man has proven over and over again that he is totally and completely undependable. He simply cannot be depended upon. In spite of this, God makes this promise? How does He do this?
Jesus explained it in his conversation to Nicodemus, found in John 3. Nicodemus came to him in the middle of the night because he was a proud Jew. He didn't want to be seen coming to a lowly Jesus, and when he came at night, he started to complement Jesus as he normally did. Jesus simply swept all of his complements aside, and told him, "Nicodemus, you are not going to see the kingdom of God, unless you are born again." Picture if you can, the mind of Nicodemus, a man who was wealthy - he could actually buy anything that he wanted - he could buy anything that he needed and much, much more. He was a member of the Sanhedrin. He had influence with the Jews. He was also well respected by the Romans. This is evidenced by the fact that Pilate granted Joseph and Nicoedmus the right to the body of Jesus to bury in the new tomb.
But when Jesus said, "Nicodemus, you have to be born again," I can see the wheels in his mind going around, saying, "My money isn't going to do any good. The Roman influence isn't going to do any good - and the influence with the Jews isn't going to be any good either. His conclusion was, "It's impossible." Jesus said, "You are right. With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible." That is true. He followed on and He said, "That which is flesh is flesh, and that which is Spirit, is Spirit." Nicodemus said, "I don't get it. I don't understand it." Jesus pointed his finger to him and said, "You, a teacher in Israel, don't understand this?" What Jesus was trying to get Nicodemus to face is the same thing that He is trying to get you and me to face. To realize that it is impossible to to one solitary thing toward perfection. Nicodemus also thought he was already there, just like the Rich, Young Ruler. "Is there anything more that I need? Just point it out and I will do it." Nicodemus felt exactly the same way, but Jesus pointed out Nicodemus' nothingness.
He said, "Nicodemus, you haven't even started, at all. You have to become a new man entirely." That was a dilema to him. Can a man enter into his mother's womb and be born again? This is rediculous. The things of God, as far as the human mind is concerned, are rediculous. There is no way that we can actually reason through the Plan of Salvation. You can't do it. It must be done by faith. Nicodemus had to reach out by faith and see that which God wanted him to see.
That is why Ellen White wrote in Desire of Ages, p. 172.
He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian's life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.
We still are plagued with a theology that Nicodemus was plagued with, that in some way by effort we can resist, by determination we can do, by a little help of God along the way we can actually improve that which possesses us now. God says that is not true. A born-again individual is of an entirely new nature.
Why is this necessary? Paul says in Romans 8:7 "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be." You can't bring it into harmony with God in any sense of the word. "Enmity" simply means "hatred." The natural man hates God. That hatred is manifested in many, many forms. Sometimes it is even cloaked in a religious garb - but it is always hatred toward God. It cannot be brought into harmony to God's law. There is no way it can be. So obviously, there is only one destiny for the natural man, the nature in which you and I were born. That is the grave. It must die. The old nature must die, then the new creation that God is able to bring forth, God is capable and able to work with. He can't even work with the old nature, but He can work with the new nature.
5 Bible Commentary, p. 1132
The death of Christ upon the cross made sure the destruction of him who has the power of death, who was the originator of sin. When Satan is destroyed, there will be none to tempt to evil; the atonement will never need to be repeated; and there will be no danger of another rebellion in the universe of God. That which alone can effectually restrain from sin in this world of darkness, will prevent sin in heaven. The significance of the death of Christ will be seen by saints and angels. Fallen men could not have a home in the paradise of God without the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Shall we not then exalt the cross of Christ? The angels ascribe honor and glory to Christ, for even they are not secure except by looking to the sufferings of the Son of God. It is through the efficacy of the cross that the angels of heaven are guarded from apostasy. Without the cross they would be no more secure against evil than were the angels before the fall of Satan. Angelic perfection failed in heaven. Human perfection failed in Eden, the paradise of bliss. All who wish for security in earth or heaven must look to the Lamb of God.
Not until the root of sin is burned out of us in the incinerating fires is it actually going to be possible for the fulfillment of Nahum 1:9 to be completed.
For behold, the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
And the day which is coming shall burn them up,"
Says the LORD of hosts,
"That will leave them neither root nor branch.
The very root of sin is going to be burned out. You say, "When the root of sin is burned out and Satan is gone, then it should be easy to live in fulfillment of Christ's promise, that affliction shall not arise a second time." However, remember that it was in this kind of a condition that angelic perfection failed. Still God promises that you and I will never disappoint the angelic host in heaven. We will never, even in thought rebel against Him. It is in this condition of a lack of even the presence of evil, where no temptation actually existed, that Lucifer rebelled, and human perfection failed on this earth. When we began to analyze this, we began to realize that this condition has already been reached in the heavens above, where Lucifer was cast out. It has been achieved in the worlds afar, where they have been tempted, but Satan no longer has access to them. Satan has zeroed in here, and this world has actually become the theater, watched by the entire worlds above. Only as Jesus Christ pledges His own life, as it were, by His Word, that they can trust us. It is the only way they can ever accept the human family. Do you think that just because you and I would say that we would never sin again that angels of heaven or the worlds out there would say, "Yes, let them come?" No. Never. Only by Jesus pledge. That is the only way it can be.
Then we can understand and see how important it is that we have no trust in self at all? To trust wholly in Him. Until we do trust wholly in Him, Jesus can never make that promise.
What does this actually involve? How deep does this literally go?
5 Bible Commentary, p. 294
The enemy is preparing for his last campaign against the church. He has so concealed himself from view that many can hardly believe that he exists, much less can they be convinced of his amazing activity and power. They have to a great extent forgotten his past record; and when he makes another advance move, they will not recognize him as their enemy, that old serpent, but they will consider him a friend, one who is doing a good work. Boasting of their independence they will, under his specious, bewitching influence, obey the worst impulses of the human heart and yet believe that God is leading them. Could their eyes be opened to distinguish their captain, they would see that they are not serving God, but the enemy of all righteousness. They would see that their boasted independence is one of the heaviest fetters Satan can rivet on unbalanced minds. 5 Testimonies, p. 31
These are church members that she is talking about. Have you ever heard anyone say in recent times, "I want to do my own thing?" Could it be that this serge of independent thinking throughout the entire country is this very last deception that Satan is perpetrating all over the country? The reason why, around the world, we see independence arising from nations, demanding their sovereignty, with peace breaking up on the basis of independence. "I don't have to take it!"
Could it be within the church of God, we hear the same thing echoeing? Independence. Could it be that (and I hesitate to say this, lest I be misunderstood.) the "women's lib." movement is part of this same deception? (You can throw me out if you want to.) But I believe that if we see and read correctly, that "they would see that their boasted independence is one of the heaviest fetters Satan can rivet on unbalanced minds."
1 Selected Messages, p. 405
When self is woven into our labors, then the truth we bear to others does not sanctify, refine, and ennoble our own hearts; it will not testify that we are fit vessels for the Master's use. It is only through fervent prayer that we may hold sweet fellowship with Jesus, and through this blessed communion the words and the spirit are made fragrant with the spirit of Christ. There is not a heart that will not bear watching. Jesus, the precious Saviour, enjoined watchfulness. The oversight of self must not be relaxed for a moment. The heart must be kept with diligence, for out of it are the issues of life. Watch and discipline the thoughts, that you may not sin with your lips.
We need to recognize that we must be free from this self. How can we be free from it?
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
We think that my particular little sin, my transgression, my weakness is what Paul is talking about. No, that is not what is being talked about. Sin is the very center, the very nature, the disease. Sins are the symptoms of the disease. This matter of Sin can only be dealt with in one way. Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary to earn the right to forgive me my sins. That didn't earn Him the right to forgive me of my sin. Sin is my very nature, and that must go to the cross; it must be crucified with Him. It must die, because it is incorrigible. Forgiving my sin nature would not change me in the slightest bit; I would still go on sinning. That sin nature has to be completely dead, and I have to become a new person.
2 Looking unto 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.
3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
"Ye have not yet resisted unto blood." No. But it takes it. In the next study we will learn how difficult and how hard it is to be willing to die. To be willing to let this nature of ours to go to the cross. It is absolutely essential. We have "not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." That's our problem. We would like to die without really being a painful experience at all. If we could go through it without any torture at all, we might be willing to go on that pathway. But sin will hold on, because self does not want to die.
5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
It is absolutely necessary, before we become sons of God. We can easily become members of the church - that is not the problem. Our membership is growing rapidly. We become members of the church by a process called baptism. That process of baptism is actually a symbol of a death, burial, and resurrection. We often think that the baptism is what it is all about. But baptism is a symbol of an experience that should already have taken place.
Ellen White says that so many have been baptized, but self did not die, so they did not arise to newness of life.
6 Bible Commentary, p. 1075
The new birth is a rare experience in this age of the world. This is the reason why there are so many perplexities in the churches. Many, so many, who assume the name of Christ are unsanctified and unholy. They have been baptized, but they were buried alive. Self did not die, and therefore they did not rise to newness of life in Christ (MS 148, 1897).
This is a tragic part. This means that a great many people must come to this death experience after they have been baptized. Baptism and conversion are not necessarily the same thing. I know. It was eleven years after I was a minister of the gospel before I met Jesus Christ. I thought I was unique in this, until I met a man called E. L. Minchin. Elder Minchin had been a Seventh-day Adventist minister for sixteen years before He met Jesus Christ in Australia. He went to a Methodist campmeeting and met Him, and was converted there. He brought His conversion back and began preaching Righteousness by Fatih all over the world. When recently talking with him in Loma Linda, he was rejoicing in the faith which he had discovered.
In Hebrews 12, there is a list of individuals who endured the chastening of the Lord and recognized in the chastening of the Lord, he is actually perfecting those who He loves to be sons and daughters of His, fit to actually trust throughout all eternity. Perfection is a matter of total and complete trust and nothing else.
Christ's Object Lessons, p. 97
As the leaven, when mingled with the meal, works from within outward, so it is by the renewing of the heart that the grace of God works to transform the life. No mere external change is sufficient to bring us into harmony with God. There are many who try to reform by correcting this or that bad habit, and they hope in this way to become Christians, but they are beginning in the wrong place. Our first work is with the heart.
When we go out and work with people, so often we say, "All they have to do now is to stop smoking, and they will be ready. Or all they have to do is drop this bad habit and they are ready." We look at the externals and if a person doesn't do this or that, then they are ready to be baptised. But "No mere external change is sufficient to bring us into harmony with God."
God works the change when we allow Him to work from the inside out. We see the change, and the habits drop off. I am not in any way suggesting that we baptize people with all these bad habits. That's not the point. We must work from the inside out; not from the outside in.
Christ's Object Lessons, p. 97, 98
The man who attempts to keep the commandments of God from a sense of obligation merely--because he is required to do so--will never enter into the joy of obedience. He does not obey. When the requirements of God are accounted a burden because they cut across human inclination, we may know that the life is not a Christian life. True obedience is the outworking of a principle within. It springs from the love of righteousness, the love of the law of God. The essence of all righteousness is loyalty to our Redeemer. This will lead us to do right because it is right--because right doing is pleasing to God.
Do the requirements of God ever cut across your human inclination? It is absolutely essential that we have a new heart and a new mind; that we become new creatures. We can never bring ourselves to the place where every command of God is our joy and rejoicing until we are a new creature. The carnal nature hates God, is at enmity against God and is not subject to the law of God. The law will be constantly cutting across the human inclination. The new life springs from a love of righteousness and love of the law of God. Perfection is God's goal. The law requires righteousness, a perfect character. It is God's only goal for us.
How is this perfection possible?
Desire of Ages, p. 762
The law requires righteousness,--a righteous life, a perfect character; and this man has not to give. He cannot meet the claims of God's holy law. But Christ, coming to the earth as man, lived a holy life, and developed a perfect character. These He offers as a free gift to all who will receive them. His life stands for the life of men. Thus they have remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. More than this, Christ imbues men with the attributes of God. He builds up the human character after the similitude of the divine character, a goodly fabric of spiritual strength and beauty. Thus the very righteousness of the law is fulfilled in the believer in Christ. God can "be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." Rom. 3:26.
I was holding a series of meetings in Portland, Oregon, and I met the lady to whom this experience had happened to three years previously. I discovered her to be a rejoicing, loving and lovable Christian.
Click here to continue reading the story.
Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 71