Reading 6 – Friday, December 13, 2019
“REJOICETH IN THE TRUTH”
By Francesco D. Caputo, Italy
“Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth” 1 Corinthians 13:6.
My dear brothers, sisters, and friends, in this Reading, I am pleased to share an analysis of what the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:6. This chapter emphasizes the importance of love in the life of the believer. This is not the love that is commonly known and exists in this world, but the sublime, celestial love that comes from God. Human love is false and selfish, stimulating emotion and generating a type of happiness as a result of each action. That is, people generally think that everything they do should bring them happiness, wealth, and satisfaction at the expense of others. In His prophetic message, Jesus said: “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Matthew 24:12. Throughout the world, one can see this lack of love everywhere, which results as iniquity increases and abounds. Even in the so-called Christian churches, this phenomenon is present; and our community is also not free from problems and difficulties due to the lack of that true, genuine love that is found in Jesus.
Now let us consider the text of this verse: “Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.” Iniquity opposes God and His holy law. But “God is true,” and his law is “holy,… just and good.” John 3:33; Romans 7:12. When one has pleasure in unrighteousness, it means that he loves sin, enjoys it, and seeks to make unfair plans to harm others. The unconverted person does this, because it is part of his DNA, for “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;…” Isaiah 64:4-6.
We may say, as some do: “I am not unfair, and I do not like or enjoy iniquity.” But is this true? Is it really like that?
We can compare our lives with the light of God’s word, particularly 1 John 1:5-10: “This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
In accordance with these vers- es, I believe that each of us must take a spiritual journey on the path of sanctification to overcome our weak- ness, unrighteousness, and iniquity “by the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 12:11.
Ham and Noah
God’s word presents examples of people who enjoyed the unrighteousness or sin of others. One even laughed at his father’s sin, becoming a preacher and divulger of his own parent’s transgression. I refer to Ham, Noah’s third son.
Moses related an episode in the life of the patriarch Noah: “And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” Genesis 9:20-26.
This incident is very sad in Ham’s life, because he did not cover his father’s nakedness! He also went and reported to his brothers what had transpired. Such actions caused God to put a curse on Ham’s son and all of his descendants. There were other things that Ham could have done; he should not have looked upon his father’s nakedness. He could have covered him with a coat, as his brothers did later, and he should not have told others about the matter. Noah’s sin was serious, but Ham’s was even more so, for while his father was intoxicated and under the influence of alcohol, Ham acted in a way that showed that he had pleasure in unrighteousness. The fifth commandment clearly teaches that one is to honor and love his parents, but unfortunately Ham paid no attention to this principle and the promise associated with it and committed an act of iniquity.
The Spirit of prophecy explains the divine precept: “Parents are entitled to a degree of love and respect which is due to no other person. God Himself, who has placed upon them a responsibility for the souls committed to their charge, has ordained that during the earlier years of life, parents shall stand in the place of God to their children. And he who rejects the rightful authority of his parents is rejecting the authority of God. The fifth commandment requires children not only to yield respect, submission, and obedience to their parents, but also to give them love and tenderness, to lighten their cares, to guard their reputation, and to succor and comfort them in old age. It also enjoins respect for ministers and rulers and for all others to whom God has delegated authority.
“This, says the apostle, ‘is the first commandment with promise.’ Ephesians 6:2. To Israel, expecting soon to enter Canaan, it was a pledge to the obedient, of long life in that good land; but it has a wider meaning, including all the Israel of God, and promising eternal life upon the earth when it shall be freed from the curse of sin.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 308.
Noah committed this wicked act at a time of weakness, and Ham should have hidden it but did not. How many times, my dear brothers and friends, do we commit similar acts of iniquity? How often do we despise and amplify our parents’ mistakes and weaknesses? How often do we report and spread the sins of pastors and members? How many times do people criticize the work of ministers? If a deep change and spiritual revival do not take place in us, what curse will fall on our children? Ham caused God to pronounce a terrible curse upon his descendants, and they would be the servants of Shem. Genesis 9:26.
The children of Eli
My dear ones, I wish to draw your attention to two others who are mentioned in the Scriptures as delighting in unrighteousness and iniquity–the sons of Eli, the high priest. These young men were privileged to be born into a tribe that was chosen and blessed by God–the Levites. As the high priest, their father served as the intercessor between God and His people. These chosen men could have had a wonderful future if they had carefully adhered to the divine principles and the rules for the priests.
When their father died, one of the two could have become the high priest– an honest, respected man. Meanwhile, both were priests, served in the temple, and were honored by God and men. However, the sacred Scriptures tell a very sad, terrible story, for Eli’s sons were evil, proud, and profane beyond measure. “Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord. And the priests’ custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand; And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh, unto all the Israelites that came thither. Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw. And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force. Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord: for men abhorred the offering of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 2:12-17.
“The sons of Eli, instead of real- izing the solemnity of this symbolic service, only thought how they could make it a means of self-indulgence. Not content with the part of the peace offerings allotted them, they demanded an additional portion; and the great number of these sacrifices presented at the annual feasts gave the priests an opportunity to enrich themselves at the expense of the people. They not only demanded more than their right, but refused to wait even until the fat had been burned as an offering to God. They persisted in claiming whatever portion pleased them, and, if denied, threatened to take it by violence.
“This irreverence on the part of the priests soon robbed the service of its holy and solemn significance, and the people ‘abhorred the offering of the Lord.’ The great antitypical sacrifice to which they were to look forward was no longer recognized. ‘Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord.’
“These unfaithful priests also transgressed God’s law and dishon- ored their sacred office by their vile and degrading practices; yet they continued to pollute by their presence the tabernacle of God. Many of the people, filled with indignation at the corrupt course of Hophni and Phinehas, ceased to come up to the appointed place of worship. Thus the service which God had ordained was despised and neglected because associated with the sins of wicked men, while those whose hearts were inclined to evil were emboldened in sin. Ungodliness, profligacy, and even idolatry prevailed to a fearful extent.
“Eli had greatly erred in permit- ting his sons to minister in holy office. By excusing their course, on one pretext and another, he became blinded to their sins; but at last they reached a pass where he could no longer hide his eyes from the crimes of his sons. The people complained of their violent deeds, and the high priest was grieved and distressed. He dared remain silent no longer. But his sons had been brought up to think of no one but themselves, and now they cared for no one else. They saw the grief of their father, but their hard hearts were not touched. They heard his mild admonitions, but they were not impressed, nor would they change their evil course though warned of the consequences of their sins. Had Eli dealt justly with his wicked sons, they would have been rejected from the priestly office and punished with death. Dreading thus to bring public disgrace and condemnation upon them, he sustained them in the most sacred positions of trust. He still permitted them to mingle their corruption with the holy service of God and to inflict upon the cause of truth an injury which years could not efface. But when the judge of Israel neglected his work, God took the matter in hand.…
“God held Eli, as a priest and judge of Israel, accountable for the moral and religious standing of his people, and in a special sense for the character of his sons. He should first have attempted to restrain evil by mild measures; but if these did not avail, he should have subdued the wrong by the severest means. He incurred the Lord’s displeasure by not reproving sin and executing justice upon the sinner. He could not be depended upon to keep Israel pure. Those who have too little courage to reprove wrong, or who through indolence or lack of interest make no earnest effort to purify the family or the church of God, are held accountable for the evil that may result from their neglect of duty. We are just as responsible for evils that we might have checked in others by exercise of parental or pastoral authority as if the acts had been our own.…
“In Eli’s reproof to his sons are words of solemn and fearful import– words that all who minister in sacred things would do well to ponder: ‘If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him; but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him?’ Had their crimes injured only their fellow men, the judge might have made reconciliation by appointing a penalty and requiring restitution; and thus the offenders might have been pardoned. Or had they not been guilty of a presumptuous sin, a sin offering might have been presented for them. But their sins were so interwoven with their ministration as priests of the Most High, in offering sacrifice for sin, the work of God was so profaned and dishonored before the people, that no expiation could be accepted for them. Their own father, though himself high priest, dared not make intercession in their behalf; he could not shield them from the wrath of a holy God. Of all sinners, those are most guilty who cast contempt upon the means that Heaven has provided for man’s redemption– who ‘crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.’ Hebrews 6:6.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 576, 577, 578, 580.
The end of these young people was terrible and very sad, because they delighted in unrighteousness.
Joseph rejoiced in the truth
The Holy Scriptures also contain very beautiful examples of people who abhorred iniquity and rejoiced in righteousness. Let us briefly examine the life of Joseph, the devout, obedient son of Jacob. For Joseph, his greatest joy was to live in a fair, godly way and glorify God. One of his greatest aspirations was to see his father happy and his whole family together and full of love for one another.
Joseph was the son of love. He was born to Jacob and Rachel, Laban’s second daughter, whom Jacob loved above all. Rachel was barren and suffered every day because of this situation. She cried, prayed, and asked her husband to intercede for her so that the Lord would grant her the grace of having a child. After several years, the Lord answered their prayers, and Joseph was born. As he grew up, he was outstanding for his sensitivity, obedience, and love for goodness and truth. The young man had innate gifts of administration and had the foresight to recognize cause and effects. As Jacob saw these great gifts, he trusted Joseph’s management of his flock and herds for stability and safety. He gave Joseph a special coat, honoring him as first among all of his sons. This attracted the envy, jealousy, and hatred of Joseph’s brothers.
God gave the young man special dreams. When he related them to his father and the brothers, they understood the dreams to mean that they should bow down to him, so the wrath of the brothers reached a peak and they waited for the moment to avenge and eliminate their brother.
Although his brothers hated him, Joseph continued to look for and help them. He did not enjoy iniquity but only the truth.
“With a joyful heart, Joseph parted from his father, neither the aged man nor the youth dreaming of what would happen before they should meet again. When, after his long and solitary journey, Joseph arrived at Shechem, his brothers and their flocks were not to be found. Upon inquiring for them, he was directed to Dothan. He had already traveled more than fifty miles, and now an additional distance of fifteen lay before him, but he hastened on, forgetting his weariness in the thought of relieving the anxiety of his father, and meeting the brothers, whom, despite their unkindness, he still loved.
“His brothers saw him approach- ing; but no thought of the long journey he had made to meet them, of his weariness and hunger, of his claims upon their hospitality and brotherly love, softened the bitterness of their hatred. The sight of the coat, the token of their father’s love, filled them with frenzy. ‘Behold, this dreamer cometh,’ they cried in mockery. Envy and revenge, long secretly cherished, now controlled them. ‘Let us slay him,’ they said, ‘and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him; and we shall see what will become of his dreams.’
“They would have executed their purpose but for Reuben. He shrank from participating in the murder of his brother, and proposed that Joseph be cast alive into a pit, and left there to perish; secretly intending, however, to rescue him and return him to his father. Having persuaded all to consent to this plan, Reuben left the company, fearing that he might fail to control his feelings, and that his real intentions would be discovered.
“Joseph came on, unsuspicious of danger, and glad that the object of his long search was accomplished; but instead of the expected greeting, he was terrified by the angry and revengeful glances which he met. He was seized and his coat stripped from him. Taunts and threats revealed a deadly purpose. His entreaties were unheeded. He was wholly in the power of those maddened men. Rudely dragging him to a deep pit, they thrust him in, and having made sure that there was no possibility of his escape, they left him there to perish from hunger, while they ‘sat down to eat bread.’
“But some of them were ill at ease; they did not feel the satisfaction they had anticipated from their revenge. Soon a company of travelers was seen approaching. It was a caravan of Ishmaelites from beyond Jordan, on their way to Egypt with spices and other merchandise. Judah now proposed to sell their brother to these heathen traders instead of leaving him to die. While he would be effectually put out of their way, they would remain clear of his blood; ‘for,’ he urged, ‘he is our brother and our flesh.’ To this proposition all agreed, and Joseph was quickly drawn out of the pit.
“As he saw the merchants the dreadful truth flashed upon him. To become a slave was a fate more to be feared than death. In an agony of terror he appealed to one and another of his brothers, but in vain. Some were moved with pity, but fear of derision kept them silent; all felt that they had now gone too far to retreat. If Joseph were spared, he would doubtless report them to the father, who would not overlook their cruelty toward his favorite son. Steeling their hearts against his entreaties, they delivered him into the hands of the heathen traders. The caravan moved on, and was soon lost to view.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 210-212.
In Egypt, Joseph made wonderful experiences with the Lord. In Potiphar’s house, the latter’s wife tempted him, but to the temptress he replied: “There is none greater in this house than I: neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God.” Genesis 39:9. The woman invented a plan to take revenge on Joseph; she falsely and unjustly accused him, and he was imprisoned. Life in prison was difficult, but over time he earned the trust of everyone, was made chief of administration of the prison, and was a great blessing to the prisoners and others. Although he treated them well, the prisoners did not thank him.
The Lord took care of His faithful servant, who loved righteousness and rejoiced in the truth. God allowed extraordinary events to lead Joseph to become vizier of Egypt. In this position of power and honor, he did not seek revenge; on the contrary, under his administration, the world of that time was saved and God’s love and truth triumphed. The famine required Joseph’s brothers to travel to Egypt for food, and now their roles were reversed. It had been several years since his brothers sold Joseph as a slave, and now in the position he was in, he could take revenge on them, kill them, or make them slaves forever. However, Joseph was a converted, consecrated man in Christ’s service, a son and a brother who rejoiced in righteousness and truth. He tested his brothers to see if life had changed them, hoping that they now rejoiced not in iniquity but in the truth.
“Joseph was satisfied. He had seen in his brothers the fruits of true repentance. Upon hearing Judah’s noble offer he gave orders that all but these men should withdraw; then, weeping aloud, he cried, ‘I am Joseph; doth my father yet live?’
“His brothers stood motionless, dumb with fear and amazement. The ruler of Egypt their brother Joseph, whom they had envied and would have murdered, and finally sold as a slave! All their ill treatment of him passed before them. They remembered how they had despised his dreams and had labored to prevent their fulfillment. Yet they had acted their part in fulfilling these dreams; and now that they were completely in his power he would, no doubt, avenge the wrong that he had suffered.
“Seeing their confusion, he said kindly, ‘Come near to me, I pray you;’ and as they came near, he continued, ‘I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.’ Feeling that they had already suffered enough for their cruelty toward him, he nobly sought to banish their fears and lessen the bitterness of their self-reproach.
“‘For these two years,’ he con- tinued, ‘hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and He hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not: And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast: and there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty. And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you.’ ‘And he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.’ They humbly confessed their sin and entreated his forgiveness. They had long suffered anxiety and remorse, and now they rejoiced that he was still alive.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 230, 231.
A call to rejoice in the truth
Our Saviour Jesus Christ said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. John 14:6. Jesus taught us practically what love is, not to have pleasure in iniquity, but to rejoice in the truth. 1 Corinthians 13:6.
“John said, ‘He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: He that cometh from heaven is above all…. For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him.’ John 3:31, 34. Christ could say, ‘I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me.’ John 5:30. To Him it is declared, ‘Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.’ Hebrews 1:9. The Father ‘giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him.’
“So with the followers of Christ. We can receive of heaven’s light only as we are willing to be emptied of self. We cannot discern the character of God, or accept Christ by faith, unless we consent to the bringing into captivity of every thought to the obedience of Christ. To all who do this the Holy Spirit is given without measure. In Christ ‘dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and in Him ye are made full.’ Colossians 2:9, 10, R.V.…
“The voice of God is heard pro- claiming that justice is satisfied. Satan is vanquished. Christ’s toiling, struggling ones on earth are ‘accepted in the Beloved.’ Ephesians 1:6. Before the heavenly angels and the representatives of unfallen worlds, they are declared justified. Where He is, there His church shall be. ‘Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.’ Psalm 85:10. The Father’s arms encircle His Son, and the word is given, ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him.’ Hebrews 1:6.
“With joy unutterable, rulers and principalities and powers acknowledge the supremacy of the Prince of life. The angel host prostrate themselves before Him, while the glad shout fills all the courts of heaven, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.’ Revelation 5:12.
“Songs of triumph mingle with the music from angel harps, till heav- en seems to overflow with joy and praise. Love has conquered. The lost is found. Heaven rings with voices in lofty strains proclaiming, ‘Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.’ Revelation 5:13.
“From that scene of heavenly joy, there comes back to us on earth the echo of Christ’s own wonderful words, ‘I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God.’ John 20:17. The family of heaven and the family of earth are one. For us our Lord ascended, and for us He lives.
‘Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.’ Hebrews 7:25.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 180, 181, 834, 835.
Dear brother, sister, and friend, may the Lord fill you with His bless- ings. Let this Reading be a great encouragement to you as you grow in the Spirit. Amen