Sabbath, January 16, 2010
“Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent Him of the evil that He hath pronounced against you.” Jeremiah 26:13.
True reformation takes place in the heart
1. Where does reformation begin?
Proverbs 23:26 My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.
“Circumstances cannot work reforms. Christianity proposes a reformation in the heart. What Christ works within, will be worked out under the dictation of a converted intellect. The plan of beginning outside and trying to work inward has always failed, and always will fail. God’s plan with you is to begin at the very seat of all difficulties, the heart, and then from out of the heart will issue the principles of righteousness; the reformation will be outward as well as inward.” –Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 35.
“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 bad habit 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….” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 223.
2. How does this reformation come about?
Jeremiah 2:22 For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord God.
Psalm 139:23, 24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
“A revival and a reformation must take place, under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. Revival and reformation are two different things. Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from spiritual death. Reformation signifies a reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices. Reformation will not bring forth the good fruit of righteousness unless it is connected with the revival of the Spirit. Revival and reformation are to do their appointed work, and in doing this work they must blend.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 128.
“Apart from divine power, no genuine reform can be effected. Human barriers against natural and cultivated tendencies are but as the sandbank against the torrent. Not until the life of Christ becomes a vitalizing power in our lives can we resist the temptations that assail us from within and from without.” –The Ministry of Healing, p. 130.
3. What areas of life are especially significant?
Romans 13:11-14 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
“We are living in a solemn time amid the closing scenes of this earth’s history, and God’s people are not awake. They must arouse and make greater progress in reforming their habits of living, in eating, in dressing, in laboring and resting. In all these they should glorify God and be prepared to give battle to our great foe and to enjoy the precious victories which God has in reserve for those who are exercising temperance in all things while striving for an incorruptible crown.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 618.
4. Why do appetites and passions need to be brought under the control of the higher mental and spiritual powers?
Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
“All who would perfect holiness in the fear of God must learn the lessons of temperance and self-control. The appetites and passions must be held in subjection to the higher powers of the mind. This self-discipline is essential to that mental strength and spiritual insight which will enable us to understand and to practice the sacred truths of God’s word. For this reason temperance finds its place in the work of preparation for Christ’s second coming.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 101.
5. How does one’s outward appearance and manner portray his profession of faith?
Exodus 33:5, 6 For the Lord had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee. And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.
1 Peter 3:3, 4 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
1 Timothy 2:9, 10 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
“All that we urge is compliance with the injunctions of God’s word. Are we Bible readers and followers of Bible teachings? Will we obey God, or conform to the customs of the world? Will we serve God or mammon? Can we expect to enjoy peace of mind and the approval of God while walking directly contrary to the teachings of His word?…
“On Sunday the popular churches appear more like a theater than a place for the worship of God. Every style of fashionable dress is displayed there….
“How, thought I, can Jesus regard that company, with their display of ornaments and extravagant dress? What dishonor is shown to the house of God! Were Christ upon earth, and should He visit such churches, would He not drive out those desecrators of His Father’s house?” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 644, 642, 643.
6. What did the apostle Paul plead with God’s children to do?
Romans 12:1, 2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
“As we see the love of fashion and display among those who profess to believe present truth, we sadly ask, Will the people of God learn nothing from the history of the past? There are few who understand their own hearts. The vain and trifling lovers of fashion may claim to be followers of Christ; but their dress and conversation show what occupies the mind and engages the affections. Their lives betray their friendship for the world, and it claims them as its own.” –Messages to Young People, pp. 354, 355.
“Those among Sabbathkeepers who have been unwilling to make any sacrifice, but have yielded to the influence of the world, are to be tested and proved. The perils of the last days are upon us, and a trial is before the young which they have not anticipated. They are to be brought into most distressing perplexity. The genuineness of their faith will be proved. They profess to be looking for the coming of the Son of man, yet some of them have been a miserable example to unbelievers. They have not been willing to give up the world, but have united with them, have attended picnics and other gatherings of pleasure, flattering themselves that they were engaging in innocent amusement. Yet I was shown that it is just such indulgences that separate them from God and make them children of the world. God does not own the pleasure seeker as His follower. He has given us no such example. Those only who are self-denying, and who live a life of sobriety, humility, and holiness, are true followers of Jesus; and such cannot engage in and enjoy the frivolous, empty conversation of the lovers of the world.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 269.
Tithes and offerings
7. What other area of life needs to be examined and placed under God’s mighty hand?
Malachi 3:7-10 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet 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. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, 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.
“It will not be long before probation will close. If you do not now serve the Lord with fidelity, how will you meet the record of your unfaithful dealing? Not long hence, a call will be made for a settlement of accounts, and you will be asked, ‘How much owest thou unto my Lord?’ If you have refused to deal honestly with God, I beseech you to think of your deficiency, and if possible to make restitution. If this cannot be done, in humble penitence pray that God for Christ’s sake will pardon your great debt. Begin now to act like Christians. Make no excuse for failing to give the Lord His own. Now, while mercy’s sweet voice is still heard, while it is not yet too late for wrongs to be righted, while it is called today, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” –Counsels on Stewardship, pp. 99, 100.
“Let us not spare ourselves, but carry forward in earnest the work of reform that must be done in our lives. Let us crucify self. Unholy habits will clamor for the mastery, but in the name and through the power of Jesus we may conquer. To him who daily seeks to keep his heart with all diligence, the promise is given, ‘Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:38, 39).” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 223.