Sabbath July 31, 2010
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8.
Battling against evil
1. Even if we think differently, what is sin?
Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
James 1:14, 15 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
“Jesus takes up the commandments separately, and explains the depth and breadth of their requirement…. He declares that by the evil thought or the lustful look the law of God is transgressed. One who becomes a party to the least injustice is breaking the law and degrading his own mo ral nature.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 310.
“When the thought of evil is loved and cherished, however secretly, said Jesus, it shows that sin still reigns in the heart. The soul is still in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity. He who finds pleasure in dwelling upon scenes of impurity, who indulges the evil thought, the lustful look, may behold in the open sin, with its burden of shame and heart-breaking grief, the true nature of the evil which he has hidden in the chambers of the soul. The season of temptation, under which, it may be, one falls into grievous sin, does not create the evil that is revealed, but only develops or makes manifest that which was hidden and latent in the heart. As a man ‘thinketh in his heart, so is he;’ for out of the heart ‘are the issues of life.’ Proverbs 23:7; 4:23.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 60.
2. How does the apostle Paul describe the battle against sin?
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.
“There must be a revival of the strait testimony. The path to heaven is no smoother now than in the days of our Saviour. All our sins must be put away. Every darling indulgence that hinders our religious life must be cut off. The right eye or the right hand must be sacrificed if it cause us to offend. Are we willing to renounce our own wisdom and to receive the kingdom of heaven as a little child? Are we willing to part with self-righteousness? Are we willing to give up our chosen worldly associates? Are we willing to sacrifice the approbation of men? The prize of eternal life is of infinite value. Will we put forth efforts and make sacrifices proportionate to the worth of the object to be attained?” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 222.
Living with Jesus
3. What has to be crucified? How is this possible?
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Galatians 5:24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
“We must war against temptations without and within. We must gain the victory over self, crucify the affections and lusts; and then begins the union of the soul with Christ.” –Lift Him Up, p. 340.
“When the apostle Paul, through the revelation of Christ, was converted from a persecutor to a Christian, he declared that he was as one born out of due time. Henceforward Christ was all and in all to him. ‘For to me to live is Christ,’ he declared. This is the most perfect interpretation in a few words, in all the Scriptures, of what it means to be a Christian. This is the whole truth of the gospel. Paul understood what many seem unable to comprehend. How intensely in earnest he was! His words show that his mind was centered in Christ, that his whole life was bound up with his Lord. Christ was the author, the support, and the source of his life.” –(The Review and Herald, October 19, 1897) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 903.
4. What will be the position of a true Christian concerning moral purity? What can happen if we allow even one sinful trait of character to continue?
Exodus 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
1 Corinthians 16:13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
“Every Christian must stand on guard continually, watching every avenue of the soul where Satan might find access. He must pray for divine help and at the same time resolutely resist every inclination to sin. By courage, by faith, by persevering toil, he can conquer. But let him remember that to gain the victory Christ must abide in him and he in Christ.” –The Adventist Home, p. 403.
“Even one wrong trait of character, one sinful desire cherished, will eventually neutralize all the power of the gospel. The prevalence of a sinful desire shows the delusion of the soul. Every indulgence of that desire strengthens the soul’s aversion to God. The pains of duty and the pleasures of sin are the cords with which Satan binds men in his snares.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 53.
5. Who is truly aware of his own sin?
Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.
“There are few who feel true sorrow for sin, who have deep, pungent convictions of the depravity of the unregenerate nature. The heart of stone is not exchanged for a heart of flesh. Few are willing to fall upon the Rock and be broken.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 218.
6. What is the state of morality in many cases today, including in the marriage relationship?
Matthew 24:37-39 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
“Impurity is today widespread, even among the professed followers of Christ. Passion is unrestrained; the animal propensities are gaining strength by indulgence, while the moral powers are constantly becoming weaker…. The sins that destroyed the antediluvians and the cities of the plain exist today–not merely in heathen lands, not only among popular professors of Christianity, but with some who profess to be looking for the coming of the Son of man. If God should present these sins before you as they appear in His sight, you would be filled with shame and terror.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 218 (1882).
According to certain statistics, in one country in Europe the number of separations and divorces has grown considerably in the last ten years. In the year 1995, out of 1,000 marriages 158 ended in separation and 80 in divorce; 10 years later, separations increased to 272 and divorces to 151. This means that in the last few years, separations and divorces have increased at a rate of 57%.
In North America, the problem is even worse. For the past decade, the overall American divorce rate has been at around 50% for first marriages. The statistics become more depressing for each successive marriage, with 65% of second marriages ending in divorce and even higher rates for third marriages and beyond.
The law of Eden
7. On the other hand, what divine principle came from Eden in regard to marriage, which was established for all time?
Genesis 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Matthew 19:5, 6 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
1 Corinthians 7:39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.
“He Christ referred them to the blessed days of Eden, when God pronounced all things ‘very good.’ Then marriage and the Sabbath had their origin, twin institutions for the glory of God in the benefit of humanity. Then, as the Creator joined the hands of the holy pair in wedlock, saying, A man shall ‘leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one’ (Genesis 2:24), He enunciated the law of marriage for all the children of Adam to the close of time. That which the Eternal Father Himself had pronounced good was the law of highest blessing and development for man.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 63, 64.
“God celebrated the first marriage. Thus the institution has for its originator the Creator of the universe. ‘Marriage is honorable’ (Hebrews 13:4); it was one of the first gifts of God to man, and it is one of the two institutions that, after the Fall, Adam brought with him beyond the gates of Paradise. When the divine principles are recognized and obeyed in this relation, marriage is a blessing; it guards the purity and happiness of the race, it provides for man’s social needs, it elevates the physical, the intellectual, and the moral nature.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 46.