APPEAL TO THE CHURCH
To Separate From The World And Raise The Standard
By Heather Van Ornum
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Come Out And Be Separate………………………………............................................................7
Calling Sin By It’s Right Name………………………………....................................................13
The Big Picture - Putting Things Into Perspective…….…………...............................................18
Christian Home And Finances………………………………......................................................38
Entertainment Or Recreation………………………………........................................................55
Diet And Health………………………………............................................................................69
Dress And Appearance………………………………..................................................................93
Old Adventist Standard Bearer Ministry
P.O. Box 4451
Harrogate, TN 37752
Are You Sleeping?
As I look at my church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, my heart aches to see the Laodicean condition into which she has settled. No longer is our church the church that it was at its beginning. Worldliness has invaded and overtaken it like a flood. The standards have been lowered to the point where most of them have been nearly entirely lost. No longer do most of our people know what they stand for and what they believe in. No longer do they live out their faith in its entirety in their everyday life.
We read of Laodicea in Revelation 3:15-22, where it says, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: … So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:”
What a sad picture! Here is a people who think that they are alright; they think they are the favored of God; but they are blind to the fact that they are spiritually dead, without the righteousness of Christ in their lives.
Yet there is hope; there is a remedy! Revelation continues, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
My friends, this is very sobering counsel! Now is the time to awake out of our Laodicean slumber, before it is forever too late. “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.” Romans 13:11, 12. “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” Revelation 2:5. “Beloved,… it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 3. “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where [is] the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. (may we not say, as did they…) But they said, We will not walk [therein].” Jeremiah 6:16.
I am deeply convicted that a thorough revival and reformation, a separation from the world, and a raising of the standards, is needed among our people, and it must begin in the hearts of individuals; that means you and me. We can not wait for Brother or Sister so-and-so, or even for our own parent or spouse to take the first step. God is calling you and me to take His hand and go forward with Him regardless of what others may do.
Jesus Is Coming Back!
Jesus is coming back very soon! This cry has been heard in our church since its very beginning. Yet today, more than ever before, must this cry be given. The rapid fulfilling of signs all around us is convincing evidence that the end of all things is at hand. This world as we know it is not to continue much longer. Jesus is coming! “Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” Luke 21:26-28. “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward [is] with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:12.
In light of this fact, the question comes to me; am I ready? Are you ready? My friends, now is the time to prepare our hearts and lives for the return of our Savior, Jesus Christ. “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now [is] the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2. “To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts,…” Hebrews 3:15. It is for this purpose that I have put this book together. I feel compelled to share with you what the Lord has been laying on my heart about this work of preparation that we have to do in order to stand before the Son of Man.
Although I have spoken honestly in this book, and have not tried to hide anything, I have shared it all in love and with the sincere prayer and desire that you who read it will step up to the challenge it puts forth and determine with the help of God to do whatever it takes to be ready for Jesus’ return.
I plead with you, my friends, to read this book all the way through. Please do not be offended if some parts of it “step on your toes”, or feel that it is against you. It is my only desire herein to direct our minds to Jesus, to His soon return, and to His will for our lives. My prayer is that this will be your focus as you read.
Is This New To You?
Some of the things I will share in this book may be new to you. You may never have been taught them when you were baptized. Sadly, Pastors sometimes water down, or perhaps don’t even mention some “hard truths” that will require a change in a person’s lifestyle practices and habits, because they fear that teaching these things honestly as they are taught in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy would make the Christian pathway appear too hard and self-denying, and would turn some half-hearted people away. Indeed, the Bible spoke of such pastors more than once. (“Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.” Jeremiah 23:1,2; “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe [be] to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?” Ezekiel 34:2; “My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away [on] the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.” Jeremiah 50:6.) If this has been your experience, my heart goes out to you; but I pray that as you learn these things now, you will be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading, and will willingly, in the strength of God, make the needed changes in your life.
For those of you who have known these things, but have resisted them and been hesitating or unwilling to obey God’s word in these areas, I pray that you will sincerely repent of your holding back on God and will give Him all of your heart, and with a willing spirit, make the changes you need to.
What Is True Progress?
One of the clearest evidences of our Laodicean condition is seen when we look at how completely many in our churches are conforming to the world. Often this is upheld as progress, adapting to our culture for greater influence. But God does not call it progress.
I’d like to quote a portion from Joe Crews’ book Reaping the Whirlwind, which further deals with this question of true progress.
“No one can deny that there has been a weakening of our traditional posture against worldliness. Under the deadly influence of television, the Adventist lifestyle has been seriously broached and compromised. Practices which were once shunned as unacceptable and intolerable within the framework of Adventism are no longer made issues of loyalty to the faith. In most cases the church has offered no official change in its position, but the standards have been lowered and lost by default…. In dress, diet, tithing, movies, coffee drinking, Sabbathkeeping, and divorce there has been an obvious slacking of conviction.
“I know the arguments very well which are used to defend the bending and shifting toward the world. ‘Society is changing’, they tell us, ‘and we must make adjustments in our own lifestyle in order to reach the people around us.’ It is very clear that tremendous changes have been made in our surrounding culture, and we do need to adapt our methods of presenting the message. Yet, I know deep inside that some things should never change. I have an uneasy feeling that in the name of progress we are yielding up something called truth - something God never intended that we should ever modify or surrender.
“When I see Adventist young people crowd the theaters, and their parents watching risqué television by the hour; when I see the display of artificial adornment and immodest dress in the church; when I hear the beat of Babylon’s music from the pulpit; when I see the divorce rate of Seventh-day Adventists equal that of the world - call it what you will, but please don’t call it progress….
“By an incredible lack of courage to draw lines and hold firm standards, we have watered down the beautiful principles which constituted our uniqueness and strength.”
Let us see that true progress is not to be found in weakening the pillars of our faith and conforming to the world. It does not come through cultural relativism or materialism and worldly success. Rather, true progress is found in earnestly contending for the faith which was once delivered to the saints (Jude 3), in asking for the old paths, where is the good way (Jeremiah 6:16), and in returning to the primitive godliness of the early church. It is in learning to walk with God and live in obedience to all His requirements, through His power.
Here are a few quotes on this point which I have found very interesting. They show us plainly that God’s church is not to water down the truth in order to make people feel comfortable or to increase its membership.
“If those who have been in the church for weeks and months have not learned the straightness of the way, and what it is to be Christians, and cannot hear all the straight truths of the Word of God, it were better that they were cut off from Israel. It is too late in the day to feed with milk. If souls a month or two old in the truth, who are about to enter the time of trouble such as never was, cannot hear all the straight truth, or endure the strong meat of the straightness of the way, how will they stand in the day of battle?…. It is a disgrace for those who have been in the truth for years to talk of feeding souls who have been months in the truth, upon milk. It shows they know little of the leadings of the Spirit of the Lord, and realize not the time we are living in. Those who embrace the truth now will have to step fast. There will have to be a breaking up of heart before the Lord, a rending of heart, and not the garment.” 1MR 33
“The accession of members who have not been renewed in heart and reformed in life is a source of weakness to the church. This fact is often ignored. Some ministers and churches are so desirous of securing an increase of numbers that they do not bear faithful testimony against unchristian habits and practices. Those who accept the truth are not taught that they cannot safely be worldlings in conduct while they are Christians in name. Heretofore they were Satan's subjects; henceforth they are to be subjects of Christ. The life must testify to the change of leaders. Public opinion favors a profession of Christianity. Little self-denial or self-sacrifice is required in order to put on a form of godliness and to have one's name enrolled upon the church book. Hence many join the church without first becoming united to Christ. In this Satan triumphs. Such converts are his most efficient agents. They serve as decoys to other souls. They are false lights, luring the unwary to perdition. It is in vain that men seek to make the Christian's path broad and pleasant for worldlings. God has not smoothed or widened the rugged, narrow way. If we would enter into life, we must follow the same path which Jesus and His disciples trod--the path of humility, self-denial, and sacrifice.” 5T 172
This next quote was written in regards to the health reform, but it applies equally as well to the other standards and reforms we have been given as a people: “The subject of health reform has been presented in the churches; but the light has not been heartily received. The selfish, health-destroying indulgences of men and women have counteracted the influence of the message that is to prepare a people for the great day of God. If the churches expect strength, they must live the truth which God has given them. If the members of our churches disregard the light on this subject, they will reap the sure result in both spiritual and physical degeneracy. And the influence of these older church members will leaven those newly come to the faith. The Lord does not now work to bring many souls into the truth, because of the church members who have never been converted and those who were once converted but who have backslidden. What influence would these unconsecrated members have on new converts? Would they not make of no effect the God-given message which His people are to bear? Let all examine their own practices to see if they are not indulging in that which is a positive injury to them. Let them dispense with every unhealthful gratification in eating and drinking.” 6T 370, 371
The Strait And Narrow Way
We have never been promised that the Christian’s pathway is an easy one, or that the majority will be found walking in it. In fact, Jesus said in Matthew 7:14, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” He also said in Luke 9:23, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Christ leads His children in the way of self-denial. The following selection from 1T 127-129 gives a better understanding of the broad and the narrow ways, and those who are traveling on them:
“At the Conference at Battle Creek, May 27, 1856, I was shown in vision some things that concern the church generally. The glory and majesty of God were made to pass before me. Said the angel: ‘He is terrible in His majesty, yet ye realize it not; terrible in His anger, yet ye offend Him daily. 'Strive to enter in at the strait gate;' 'for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.'’ These roads are distinct, separate, in opposite directions. One leads to eternal life, the other to eternal death. I saw the distinction between these roads, also the distinction between the companies traveling them. The roads are opposite; one is broad and smooth, the other narrow and rugged. So the parties that travel them are opposite in character, in life, in dress, and in conversation.
“Those who travel in the narrow way are talking of the joy and happiness they will have at the end of the journey. Their countenances are often sad, yet often beam with holy, sacred joy. They do not dress like the company in the broad road, nor talk like them, nor act like them. A pattern has been given them. A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief opened that road for them, and traveled it Himself. His followers see His footsteps, and are comforted and cheered. He went through safely; so can they, if they follow in His footsteps.
“In the broad road all are occupied with their persons, their dress, and the pleasures in the way. They indulge freely in hilarity and glee, and think not of their journey's end, of the certain destruction at the end of the path. Every day they approach nearer their destruction; yet they madly rush on faster and faster. Oh, how dreadful this looked to me!
“I saw many traveling in this broad road who had the words written upon them: ‘Dead to the world. The end of all things is at hand. Be ye also ready.’ They looked just like all the vain ones around them, except a shade of sadness which I noticed upon their countenances. Their conversation was just like that of the gay, thoughtless ones around them; but they would occasionally point with great satisfaction to the letters on their garments, calling for the others to have the same upon theirs. They were in the broad way, yet they professed to be of the number who were traveling the narrow way. Those around them would say: ‘There is no distinction between us. We are alike; we dress, and talk, and act alike.’
“Then I was pointed back to the years 1843 and 1844. There was a spirit of consecration then that there is not now. What has come over the professed peculiar people of God? I saw the conformity to the world, the unwillingness to suffer for the truth's sake. I saw a great lack of submission to the will of God. I was pointed back to the children of Israel after they left Egypt. God in mercy called them out from the Egyptians, that they might worship Him without hindrance or restraint. He wrought for them in the way by miracles, He proved and tried them by bringing them into strait places. After the wonderful dealings of God with them, and their deliverance so many times, they murmured when tried or proved by Him. Their language was: ‘Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt.’ They lusted for the leeks and onions there.
“I saw that many who profess to believe the truth for these last days think it strange that the children of Israel murmured as they journeyed; that after the wonderful dealings of God with them, they should be so ungrateful as to forget what He had done for them. Said the angel: ‘Ye have done worse than they.’ I saw that God has given His servants the truth so clear, so plain, that it cannot be resisted. Wherever they go, they have certain victory. Their enemies cannot get round the convincing truth. Light has been shed so clear that the servants of God can stand up anywhere and let truth, clear and connected, bear away the victory. This great blessing has not been prized, or even realized. If any trial arises, some begin to look back and think they have a hard time. Some of the professed servants of God do not know what purifying trials are. They sometimes make trials for themselves, imagine trials, and are so easily discouraged, so easily hurt, self-dignity is so quick to feel, that they injure themselves, injure others, and injure the cause. Satan magnifies their trials and puts thoughts into their minds that if given way to, will destroy their influence and usefulness.”
What Is Your Attitude?
There is something which holds many of us back from following God all the way. It is called pride. We are afraid to be different. We are worried what our family or fellow church members will think of us; and we feel good and comfortable the way we are. But my friends, pride cannot enter the heavenly kingdom. “Every one [that is] proud in heart [is] an abomination to the LORD: [though] hand [join] in hand, he shall not be unpunished.” Proverbs 16:5. “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” Malachi 4:1. We dare not hold back from full obedience, because we cannot be saved if we allow even one seemingly small thing to come between us and doing God’s will. “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:27. “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son….. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither [whatsoever] worketh abomination, or [maketh] a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.” Revelation 21:7, 27. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all.” James 2:10. We must give all to God and be willing and desirous to come into harmony with His will. “And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13. “And I will give them an heart to know me, that I [am] the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.” Jeremiah 24:7.
God gives us standards and guidelines to live by, not as arbitrary prohibitions to make our lives miserable, but as loving rules for our own protection, happiness, and eternal welfare.
What makes the difference which way we view the standards and guidelines God has given us? It is the condition of our hearts, and thus, our attitude.
We are told that spiritual things are spiritually discerned. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto Him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14. The man who does not have Jesus in his heart will find no delight in the things that please Him.
But if we have the Lord Jesus abiding in our hearts, we will want to do what pleases Him. Our question will not be, “How little do I have to do?”, or “How close can I pattern after the world and still be saved?”; but, “How much can I do to please Jesus, the One that I love?” This is to be our motivation in all that we do - love to God. “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of [this] life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” 2 Timothy 2:4. “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2:4. And remember that love is not proven and tested from day to day so much by the great things, as by the little things we do or don’t do. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Luke 16:10.
The Christian who loves God with all His heart will be eagerly searching the Bible to find out what pleases Him. If we find in the Bible that God doesn’t approve of something, there should be no further questions for the true Christian. He will let that thing go because he loves God too much to run the risk of displeasing Him. Likewise, if He finds out something that does please the Lord, he will willingly do it out of love for His Lord. The true Christian can claim the promise in 1 John 3:22: “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” He will also recognize the authority of God in His life. He will realize that He belongs to God, and will submit to Him as Lord of his life, and put Him first in everything. “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.” Revelation 14:4.
“Principle is always exacting. No man can succeed in the service of God unless his whole heart is in the work and he counts all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. No man who makes any reserve can be the disciple of Christ, much less can he be His colaborer. When men appreciate the great salvation, the self-sacrifice seen in Christ's life will be seen in theirs. Wherever He leads the way, they will rejoice to follow.” DA 273
“Jesus demands all. When we are brought to yield to his claims, and give up all then, and not till then, will he throw around us his arms of mercy. But what do we give, when we give all? A sin-polluted soul to Jesus, to purify, to cleanse by his blood, and save from death by his matchless love. And yet I saw that some thought it hard to give up all. I am ashamed to hear it spoken of, ashamed to write it. Do we talk about self-denial? What did Christ give for us? When you think it hard that Christ requires all, go up to mount Calvary and weep there over such a thought. Behold the hands and feet of your Deliverer torn by the cruel nails, that you may be washed from sin by his own blood. Those who feel the constraining love of God ask not how little may be given, in order to obtain the heavenly reward; they ask not for the lowest standard, but aim at a perfect conformity to the will of their Redeemer. With ardent desire they will yield all, and manifest zeal proportionate to the value of the object they are in pursuit of. What is the object? Immortality, eternal life.” 2SG 260
“Many who bear the name of Christians are serving other gods besides the Lord. Our Creator demands our supreme devotion, our first allegiance. Anything which tends to abate our love for God, or to interfere with the service due Him, becomes thereby an idol.” 2BC 1011, 1012
COME OUT AND BE SEPARATE
I want to share with you some verses and quotes which, though just a small portion of the vast amount of counsel on the subject, have had a profound impact on my life, in showing me what my relationship to the world should be. I believe they speak powerfully for themselves.
“Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1 John 2:15,16.
“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4:4
“Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:14
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you,…” 2 Corinthians 6:17.
“Seventh-day Adventists have been chosen by God as a peculiar people, separate from the world.” ChS 147
“Believers are to shine as lights in the world. A city set on an hill cannot be hid. A church, separate and distinct from the world, is in the estimation of heaven the greatest object in all the earth. The members are pledged to be separate from the world, consecrating their service to one Master, Jesus Christ. They are to reveal that they have chosen Christ as their leader.” 3SM 17
“If our experience is founded in God; if we are daily tasting the power of the world to come, and have the fellowship of the Spirit; if each day we hold with a firmer grasp the higher life, principles that are holy and elevating will be inwrought in us, and it will be as natural for us to seek purity and holiness and separation from the world as it is for the angels of glory to execute the mission of love assigned them.”
“It is the unbelief, the worldliness, unconsecration, and strife among the Lord's professed people that have kept us in this world of sin and sorrow so many years.” 1SM 69
“Many who call themselves Christians… are not doers of the word. The heavenly principles that distinguish those who are one with Christ from those who are one with the world have become almost indistinguishable. The professed followers of Christ are no longer a separate and peculiar people. The line of demarcation is indistinct. The people are subordinating themselves to the world, to its practices, its customs, its selfishness. The church has gone over to the world in transgression of the law, when the world should have come over to the church in obedience to the law. Daily the church is being converted to the world.” COL 315
“The barriers which God's word places about His people are being broken down. Men who are acquainted with the way in which God has led His people in the past, instead of inquiring for the old paths and defending our position as a peculiar people, have linked hands with the world. The most alarming feature in the case is that warning voices have not been heard in remonstrance, entreaties, and warnings. The eyes of God's people seem to be blinded, while the church is fast drifting into the channel of worldliness.” 4T 513
“The distance is widening between Christ and His people, and lessening between them and the world. The marks of distinction between Christ's professed people and the world have almost disappeared. Like ancient Israel, they follow after the abominations of the nations around them.” 1T 277
“The minds of many have been so darkened and confused by worldly customs, worldly practices, and worldly influences that all power to discriminate between light and darkness, truth and error, seems destroyed.” 5T 62
“But the Lord is dishonored and His cause reproached by His people's being in bondage to the world. They are in friendship with the world, the enemies of God. Their only hope of salvation is to separate from the world and zealously maintain their separate, holy, and peculiar character. Oh! why will not God's people comply with the conditions laid down in His word? If they would do this they would not fail to realize the excellent blessings freely given of God to the humble and obedient. I was amazed as I beheld the terrible darkness of many of the members of our churches. The lack of true godliness was such that they were bodies of darkness and death, instead of being the light of the world. Many professed to love God, but in works denied Him. They did not love, serve, nor obey Him. Their own selfish interests were primary. With a large number there seemed to be an alarming lack of principle. They were swayed by unconsecrated influence and seemed to have no root in themselves.” 2T 444
“ The great Head of the church, who has chosen His people out of the world, requires them to be separate from the world.” MYP 377
“The test of discipleship is not brought to bear as closely as it should be upon those who present themselves for baptism. It should be understood whether those who profess to be converted are simply taking the name of Seventh-day Adventists, or whether they are taking their stand on the Lord's side to come out from the world and be separate and touch not the unclean thing. When they give evidence that they fully understand their position, they are to be accepted. But when they show that they are following the customs and fashions and sentiments of the world, they are to be faithfully dealt with. If they feel no burden to change their course of action, they should not be retained as members of the church. The Lord wants those who compose His church to be true, faithful stewards of the grace of Christ.” TM 128
“God's people have, to a great extent, lost their peculiarity, and have been gradually patterning after the world, and mingling with them, until they have in many respects become like them. This is displeasing to God.” 1T 525
“The people whom God is leading will be peculiar. They will not be like the world.” CD 72
“Those who will be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ to the immortal inheritance, will be peculiar. Yes, so peculiar that God places a mark upon them as His, wholly His. Think ye that God will receive, honor, and acknowledge a people so mixed up with the world that they differ from them only in name? Read again Titus 2:13-15. It is soon to be known who is on the Lord's side, who will not be ashamed of Jesus. Those who have not moral courage to conscientiously take their position in the face of unbelievers, leave the fashions of the world, and imitate the self-denying life of Christ, are ashamed of Him, and do not love His example.” 1T 287
“The age in which we live is one of temptation, and if the people of God stand clear from the corrupting influences around them, they will be termed, ‘peculiar,’ ‘old-fashioned,’ and ‘odd.’ But God has declared that he is purifying to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. If the truth is brought into the character, it will have a sanctifying power upon the life.” RH, November 18, 1890
“I was shown the conformity of some professed Sabbath-keepers to the world. Oh, I saw that it is a disgrace to their profession, a disgrace to the cause of God. They give the lie to their profession. They think they are not like the world, but they are so near like them in dress, in conversation, and actions, that there is no distinction.” MYP 127
“As I saw the dreadful fact that God's people were conformed to the world, with no distinction, except in name, between many of the professed disciples of the meek and lowly Jesus, and unbelievers, my soul felt deep anguish. I saw that Jesus was wounded and put to an open shame. Said the angel, as with sorrow he saw the professed people of God loving the world, partaking of its spirit, and following its fashions, ‘Cut loose! Cut loose! lest He appoint you your portion with hypocrites and unbelievers outside the city. Your profession will only cause you greater anguish, and your punishment will be greater, because ye knew His will, but did it not.’” MYP 129
“ I appeal to the churches in every conference. Stand out separate and distinct from the world--in the world, but not of it, reflecting the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, …. Let the churches awake before it is everlastingly too late.” 6T 437
Just how separate from the world are we to be?
“God requires of His people now as great a distinction from the world, in customs, habits, and principles, as He required of Israel anciently. If they faithfully follow the teachings of His word, this distinction will exist; it cannot be otherwise.” PP 458
“God calls you to separate from the world. You are not to follow their practices, nor conform to them in your course of action in any respect.” 2T 43,44
“Our only safety is to stand as God's peculiar people. We must not yield one inch to the customs and fashions of this degenerate age, but stand in moral independence, making no compromise with its corrupt and idolatrous practices.” 5T 78
“There must be a straining of every nerve and spirit and muscle to leave the world, its customs, its practices, and its fashions. . . .” 3SM 155
“By conforming entirely to the will of God, we shall be placed upon vantage ground, and shall see the necessity of decided separation from the customs and practices of the world. We are not to elevate our standard just a little above the world's standard; but we are to make the line of demarcation decidedly apparent. When we reach the standard that the Lord would have us reach, worldlings will regard Seventh-day Adventists as odd, singular, strait-laced extremists.” FE 289
Are we not to try to be like the world in order to be of influence to them?
“’If the world hate you,’ said Christ, ‘ye know that it hated Me before it hated you.’ You have entertained the opinion that the reason why the world is so much opposed to us as a people is that we are too unsocial, too plain in our dress, and too strict in regard to amusements, withdrawing ourselves from them too much in practice as well as in precept. You have thought that if we would be less exclusive and would mingle more with the world, their opinions and impressions of us would be greatly modified. But no greater mistake could affect the human mind. Said Christ: ‘If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for My name's sake, because they know not Him that sent Me.’” 5T 433
“The reason we have had so little influence upon unbelieving relatives and associates is that we have manifested little decided difference in our practices from those of the world.” FE 289
“The Lord would have you make it manifest in your manners, in your dress, in your spirit, that you are blessed. He would have you show that the line of demarcation between the world and the followers of Christ is a distinct line, so decided that the difference between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not is always discernible. If the people of the world do not see that you are different from those around them, they will not be influenced by your profession of religion; for you will not be a savor of Christ, and you will win no soul to the service of God.” ST, June 6, 1892
“(Satan speaking) ‘Through those that have a form of godliness but know not the power, we can gain many who would otherwise do us harm. Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God will be our most effective helpers. Those of this class who are apt and intelligent will serve as decoys to draw others into our snares. Many will not fear their influence, because they profess the same faith. We will thus lead them to conclude that the requirements of Christ are less strict than they once believed, and that by conformity to the world they would exert a greater influence with worldlings. Thus they will separate from Christ; then they will have no strength to resist our power, and erelong they will be ready to ridicule their former zeal and devotion.’” TM 474
Clearly, it is not in any way safe to lower the standards and principles we have been given in order to have an influence over worldlings. Our association with those who do not love and obey God is to be only for the purpose of winning their hearts to the truth. (See more on this in the section on “entertainment or recreation”)
How serious a matter is this?
I was amazed as I studied, to find that those who are yielding to worldliness are preparing to receive the mark of the beast. May God cause us to awake before it is too late!
“Those who choose to make excuses and continue in sin and conformity to the world will be left to their idols.” 2T 41
“The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The observance of the false sabbath will be urged upon us. The contest will be between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. Those who have yielded step by step to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will then yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death.” PK 188
“Those who are uniting with the world are receiving the worldly mold and preparing for the mark of the beast.” 5T 216
By Gradual Compromise
Do not expect Satan to boldly march the world right into the church. He does not work that way. We are told, “The work of the enemy is not abrupt; it is not, at the outset, sudden and startling; it is a secret undermining of the strongholds of principle. It begins in apparently small things--the neglect to be true to God and to rely upon Him wholly, the disposition to follow the customs and practices of the world.” PP 718. He lowers the standard so gradually, just a little bit at a time, that few even realize that they are becoming more and more like the world all the time.
At first, he may introduce something which is just slightly questionable, only a borderline compromise, and since no one can even quite explain why they feel uncomfortable with it or why they feel it’s wrong, they just go ahead with it. In this way, Satan continues to urge further and further “little” compromises, until God’s professed people resemble more closely the world than the One they claim to serve.
“It is often found that the change from godliness to worldliness has been made so imperceptibly by the wily insinuations of the evil one, that the deceived soul is not aware that he has parted company with Christ, and is His servant only in name.” R. & H., Sept. 23, 1890.
Speaking of the church, Ellen White writes, “The change in her spiritual state has come gradually and almost imperceptibly. As she began to seek the praise and friendship of the world, her faith diminished, her zeal grew languid, her fervent devotion gave place to dead formality. Every advance step toward the world was a step away from God.” 5T 240. (Please take the time right now to read the article in 1T 131-137 on “Conformity to the World”. It is very thought-provoking.)
It is never safe to make the least departure from principle. Consider the following quotes:
“We are always to be as firm as a rock to principle. Bible principles are to be taught and then backed up by holy practice.” 6T 417
“The servants of Christ are called to the same work, and they should beware lest, in seeking to prevent discord, they surrender the truth. They are to "follow after the things which make for peace" (Romans 14:19); but real peace can never be secured by compromising principle. And no man can be true to principle without exciting opposition. A Christianity that is spiritual will be opposed by the children of disobedience. But Jesus bade His disciples, "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul." Those who are true to God need not fear the power of men nor the enmity of Satan. In Christ their eternal life is secure. Their only fear should be lest they surrender the truth, and thus betray the trust with which God has honored them.” DA 356
“To secure peace and unity they (the early Christians) were ready to make any concession consistent with fidelity to God; but they felt that even peace would be too dearly purchased at the sacrifice of principle. If unity could be secured only by the compromise of truth and righteousness, then let there be difference, and even war. Well would it be for the church and the world if the principles that actuated those steadfast souls were revived in the hearts of God's professed people.” GC 45, 46
“Now is the time for God's people to show themselves true to principle.” 5T 136
“Many are so fearful of provoking unfriendly criticism or malicious gossip that they dare not act from principle. They dare not identify themselves with those who follow Christ fully. They desire to conform to worldly customs and secure the approbation of worldlings. Christ gave Himself for us ‘that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.’” MYP 400
“Some have so long sacrificed principle that they cannot see the difference between the sacred and the common. Those who refuse to give heed to the Lord's instruction will go steadily downward in the path of ruin. The day of test and trial is just before us. Let every man put on his true colors. Do you choose loyalty or rebellion? Show your colors to men and angels. We are safe only when we are committed to the right. Then the world knows where we shall be found in the day of trial and trouble.” 8T 96
“An adherence to the strictest principles of truth will frequently cause present inconvenience and may even involve temporal loss, but it will increase the reward in the future life. Religion does not consist merely in a system of dry doctrines, but in practical faith, which sanctifies the life and corrects the conduct in the family circle and in the church…. God requires undeviating principle in the minutest details of the transactions of life. Said Christ: ‘He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.’” 4T 337
“In a single departure from the path of sanctified principle Satan obtains an advantage, and he leads on and on, farther and farther from right and truth.” HP 258
“One step in the wrong direction prepares the way for another…. The least deviation from right and principle will lead to separation from God and may end in apostasy.” CH 240, 241
“I want that my brethren shall understand that the Lord is in earnest with them. I have not come to this place to cry in your ears, "Peace, peace." It is because I have love for this cause, for my brethren, and for this church, that I seek to arouse your minds in regard to these things. Just as soon as we begin to accommodate the truth to our own circumstances and conveniences, then we begin to lessen the power of the truth and its influence:… And when there is a departure from the strictest principles of truth then there is an inclination for a still wider departure.” 10MR 93
To summarize these thoughts on our relationship to the world, I would like to again quote from Joe Crews’ book, Reaping the Whirlwind. He has some very practical and thought-provoking points.
“ ‘The church has received warning after warning.. The duties and dangers of God’s people have been plainly revealed. But the worldly element has proved too strong for them. Customs, practices, and fashions which lead the soul away from God have been for years gaining ground, in defiance of the warnings and entreaties of the Holy Spirit, until at last their ways have become right in their own eyes, and the Spirit’s voice is scarcely heard.’ 5T 103
“Why do we hear so little about this danger today? If the worldly drift was so strong a hundred years ago, what would the prophet write about the sad state of things today?
“I can tell you why the silence is deafening on the subject. Satan has generated an opinion, based upon the distant past, that legalism is the big problem in the Adventist church right now. No one can deny that some is present, but I contend that it is minor, compared to the problem of permissiveness…. The need today is to counteract the obvious bent toward cheep-grace preaching. There is no present evidence that our church suffers from too-strong doses of sanctification doctrine. How much material is available which dares to pinpoint the specific areas of slackened discipline within the remnant church? There is practically nothing. We have swamped our people with books on faith, justification, love, self-worth, and forgiveness, and there is nothing at all wrong with these subjects; they are important. But why haven’t we balanced the picture by speaking out on the sanctifying effect of true justification?…
“If you want to see the practical results of our neglect to speak out in warning and counsel, look around at the next large gathering of Adventists you attend. Camp meeting would be a good place to make your observations. What will you see? Even though it is a religious gathering, one will look in vain to discover much difference in the general appearance of these people and those thronging the streets of Babylon….
“I think it is right here that we see the alarming extent of the worldly invasion of our church. We have become so accustomed to the ways of the world that we no longer recognize our departure from true principle. Those who do see it are often charged with fanaticism…. Yet the dangers must be exposed by the watchmen who have been assigned that responsibility. We are not engaged in a popularity contest. The truth must be told whether it is pleasing or not….
“The real problem is that the continuing compromise has rendered many of our people incapable of discerning between truth and error. In great sincerity they will oppose the work of reform in the church with the words, ‘I can’t see anything wrong with what I’m doing’. No state is more hopeless than this. Only the Holy Spirit can open the eyes of those who do not even know that they are blind. If they could only recognize their need, their sin, and their blindness, they might seek a remedy. But the sad words are heard again and again, ’I can’t see…’, ’I can’t see….’”
CALLING SIN BY IT’S RIGHT NAME
My friends, this is why the straight testimony must be given. In our sleepy Laodicean condition, nothing short of this will awaken us to realize our desperate need. As inspiration tells us, “The greatest want of the world is the want of men…who do not fear to call sin by its right name, and to condemn it, in themselves or in others;…” ED 57; ST, May 4, 1882
We are told, “A religious life once presented difficulties and demanded self-denial. All is made very easy now. And why is this? The professed people of God have compromised with the power of darkness. 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.” 5T 222
“The Lord calls for a renewal of the straight testimony borne in years past.” GW 307
“In this fearful time, just before Christ is to come the second time, God's faithful preachers will have to bear a still more pointed testimony than was borne by John the Baptist. A responsible, important work is before them; and those who speak smooth things, God will not acknowledge as His shepherds. A fearful woe is upon them.” 1T 321
“The plain, straight testimony must live in the church, or the curse of God will rest upon His people as surely as it did upon ancient Israel because of their sins. God holds His people, as a body, responsible for the sins existing in individuals among them. If the leaders of the church neglect to diligently search out the sins which bring the displeasure of God upon the body, they become responsible for these sins.” 3T 269
“According to the light that God has given me in vision, wickedness and deception are increasing among God's people who profess to keep His commandments. Spiritual discernment to see sin as it exists, and then to put it out of the camp, is decreasing among God's people; and spiritual blindness is fast coming upon them. The straight testimony must be revived, and it will separate those from Israel who have ever been at war with the means that God has ordained to keep corruptions out of the church. Wrongs must be called wrongs. Grievous sins must be called by their right name. All of God's people should come nearer to Him and wash their robes of character in the blood of the Lamb. Then will they see sin in the true light and will realize how offensive it is in the sight of God.” 3T 324
“Deal faithfully with wrongdoing. Warn every soul that is in danger. Leave none to deceive themselves. Call sin by its right name. Declare what God has said in regard to lying, Sabbathbreaking, stealing, idolatry, and every other evil. "They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:21. If they persist in sin, the judgment you have declared from God's word is pronounced upon them in heaven. In choosing to sin, they disown Christ; the church must show that she does not sanction their deeds, or she herself dishonors her Lord. She must say about sin what God says about it. She must deal with it as God directs, and her action is ratified in heaven.” DA 806
Giving the straight testimony in the spirit of Jesus
Of course, giving the straight testimony and calling sin by its right name must ever be done in the spirit of Christ; not with harshness or disgust, but with love and longing for lost souls. We must love the sinner, but still hate the sin. The following counsel will help us to understand this balance:
“To hate and reprove sin, and at the same time to show pity and tenderness for the sinner, is a difficult attainment. The more earnest our own efforts to attain to holiness of heart and life, the more acute will be our perception of sin and the more decided our disapproval of any deviation from the right. We must guard against undue severity toward the wrongdoer, but we must also be careful not to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. There is need of showing Christlike patience and love for the erring one, but there is also danger of showing so great toleration for his error that he will look upon himself as undeserving of reproof, and will reject it as uncalled for and unjust. Ministers of the gospel sometimes do great harm by allowing their forbearance toward the erring to degenerate into toleration of sins and even participation in them. Thus they are led to excuse and palliate that which God condemns, and after a time they become so blinded as to commend the very ones whom God commands them to reprove. He who has blunted his spiritual perceptions by sinful leniency toward those whom God condemns, will erelong commit a greater sin by severity and harshness toward those whom God approves.” AA 503, 504
“Jesus has given us in his life an example of pity and love for the erring. While he fearlessly reproved sin, he regarded the sinner with compassion. But while the servant of Christ should seek with all patience and love to save sinners, he should on no account give license to sin. He must not allow his perceptions to be dulled by contact with iniquity, or his judgment to be perverted by the world's opinion. By excusing and palliating sin, we lose a sense of its heinous character. Compassion for the erring should not degenerate into indulgence for transgression.” RH, December 20, 1881
“But to deal with minds is the nicest work in which men ever engaged. All are not fitted to correct the erring. They have not wisdom to deal justly, while loving mercy. They are not inclined to see the necessity of mingling love and tender compassion with faithful reproofs. Some are ever needlessly severe, and do not feel the necessity of the injunction of the apostle: ‘And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.’” 3T 269
“In the work of soul-winning, great tact and wisdom are needed. The Saviour never suppressed the truth, but He uttered it always in love. In His intercourse with others, He exercised the greatest tact, and He was always kind and thoughtful. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave unnecessary pain to a sensitive soul. He did not censure human weakness. He fearlessly denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity, but tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes. He never made truth cruel, but ever manifested a deep tenderness for humanity. Every soul was precious in His sight. He bore Himself with divine dignity; yet He bowed with the tenderest compassion and regard to every member of the family of God. He saw in all, souls whom it was His mission to save.” ChS 231
True love for souls versus so-called “love”
Here is some counsel which helps us further understand how to discern between true love for souls and the so-called “love” that would excuse a man’s sins, and leave him to perish in them:
“We must cherish love, not that which is falsely called charity, which would lead us to love sin and cherish sinners, but Bible charity and Bible wisdom, that is first pure, then peaceable, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits.” 4T 558
“We are admonished by the apostle: "Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another." Paul would have us distinguish between the pure, unselfish love which is prompted by the spirit of Christ, and the unmeaning, deceitful pretense with which the world abounds. This base counterfeit has misled many souls. It would blot out the distinction between right and wrong, by agreeing with the transgressor instead of faithfully showing him his errors. Such a course never springs from real friendship. The spirit by which it is prompted dwells only in the carnal heart. While the Christian will be ever kind, compassionate, and forgiving, he can feel no harmony with sin. He will abhor evil and cling to that which is good, at the sacrifice of association or friendship with the ungodly. The spirit of Christ will lead us to hate sin, while we are willing to make any sacrifice to save the sinner.” 5T 171
“Satan deceives many with the plausible theory that God's love for His people is so great that He will excuse sin in them;… But in all His dealings with his creatures God has maintained the principles of righteousness by revealing sin in its true character--by demonstrating that its sure result is misery and death. The unconditional pardon of sin never has been, and never will be. Such pardon would show the abandonment of the principles of righteousness, which are the very foundation of the government of God. It would fill the unfallen universe with consternation. God has faithfully pointed out the results of sin, and if these warnings were not true, how could we be sure that His promises would be fulfilled? That so-called benevolence which would set aside justice is not benevolence but weakness.” PP 522
“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.” 5T 540
“ Love is dwelt upon as the chief attribute of God, but it is degraded to a weak sentimentalism, making little distinction between good and evil. God's justice, His denunciations of sin, the requirements of His holy law, are all kept out of sight.” GC 558 (This was written of modern-day spiritualism. Let us beware, not to adopt this same attitude in our own churches.)
Aren’t you judging?
Is not this giving of the straight testimony, judging? No. “Judging and reproving are two different things. God has laid upon His servants the work of reproving in love those who err; but He has forbidden and denounced the thoughtless judging so common among professed believers.” RH, October 29, 1901
“Christ has plainly taught that those who persist in open sin must be separated from the church, but He has not committed to us the work of judging character and motive.” COL 71
What is the result in the lives of those who do receive the straight testimony?
“I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen, and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. This will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver, and will lead him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. Some will not bear this straight testimony. They will rise up against it, and this is what will cause a shaking among God's people. I saw that the testimony of the True Witness has not been half heeded. The solemn testimony upon which the destiny of the church hangs has been lightly esteemed, if not entirely disregarded. This testimony must work deep repentance; all who truly receive it will obey it, and be purified.” EW 270
“God leads His people on, step by step. He brings them up to different points calculated to manifest what is in the heart. Some endure at one point, but fall off at the next. At every advanced point the heart is tested and tried a little closer. If the professed people of God find their hearts opposed to this straight work, it should convince them that they have a work to do to overcome, if they would not be spewed out of the mouth of the Lord. Said the angel: "God will bring His work closer and closer to test and prove every one of His people." Some are willing to receive one point; but when God brings them to another testing point, they shrink from it and stand back, because they find that it strikes directly at some cherished idol. Here they have opportunity to see what is in their hearts that shuts out Jesus. They prize something higher than the truth, and their hearts are not prepared to receive Jesus. Individuals are tested and proved a length of time to see if they will sacrifice their idols and heed the counsel of the True Witness. If any will not be purified through obeying the truth, and overcome their selfishness, their pride, and evil passions, the angels of God have the charge: "They are joined to their idols, let them alone," and they pass on to their work, leaving these with their sinful traits unsubdued, to the control of evil angels. Those who come up to every point, and stand every test, and overcome, be the price what it may, have heeded the counsel of the True Witness, and they will receive the latter rain, and thus be fitted for translation.” 1T 187
But what is the reaction of many when the straight testimony is given?
“I saw that individuals would rise up against the plain testimonies. It does not suit their natural feelings. They would choose to have smooth things spoken unto them, and have peace cried in their ears. I view the church in a more dangerous condition than they ever have been. Experimental religion is known but by a few. The shaking must soon take place to purify the church. Preachers should have no scruples to preach the truth as it is found in God's word. Let the truth cut. I have been shown that why ministers have not more success is, they are afraid of hurting feelings, fearful of not being courteous, and they lower the standard of truth, and conceal if possible the peculiarity of our faith. I saw that God could not make such successful. The truth must be made pointed, and the necessity of a decision urged. And as false shepherds are crying, Peace, and are preaching smooth things, the servants of God must cry aloud, and spare not, and leave the result with God.” 2SG 284-285
“Sins exist in the church that God hates, but they are scarcely touched for fear of making enemies. Opposition has risen in the church to the plain testimony. Some will not bear it. They wish smooth things spoken unto them. And if the wrongs of individuals are touched, they complain of severity, and sympathize with those in the wrong.” 2SG 283-284
“ I was shown the state of God's professed people. Many of them were in great darkness, yet seemed to be insensible of their true condition. The sensibilities of a large number seemed to be benumbed in regard to spiritual and eternal things, while their minds seemed all awake to their worldly interests. Many were cherishing idols in their hearts and were practicing iniquity which separated them from God. Some who occupy the position of watchmen to warn the people of danger have given up their watch and recline at ease. They are unfaithful sentinels. They remain inactive, while their wily foe enters the fort and works successfully by their side to tear down what God has commanded to be built up. They see that Satan is deceiving the inexperienced and unsuspecting; yet they take it all quietly, as though they had no special interest, as though these things did not concern them. They apprehend no special danger; they see no cause to raise an alarm. To them everything seems to be going well, and they see no necessity of raising the faithful, trumpet notes of warning which they hear borne by the plain testimonies, to show the people their transgressions and the house of Israel their sins. These reproofs and warnings disturb the quiet of these sleepy, ease-loving sentinels, and they are not pleased. They say in heart, if not in words: ‘This is all uncalled for. It is too severe, too harsh. These men are unnecessarily disturbed and excited, and seem unwilling to give us any rest or quietude 'Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them.' They are not willing that we should have any comfort, peace, or happiness. It is active labor, toil, and unceasing vigilance alone which will satisfy these unreasonable, hard-to-be-suited watchmen. Why don't they prophesy smooth things, and cry: Peace, peace? Then everything would move on smoothly.’ These are the true feelings of many of our people. And Satan exults at his success in controlling the minds of so many who profess to be Christians. He has deceived them, benumbed their sensibilities, and planted his hellish banner right in their midst, and they are so completely deceived that they know not that it is he.” 2T 439, 440
“Many dare not condemn iniquity, lest they shall thereby sacrifice position or popularity. And by some it is considered uncharitable to rebuke sin. The servant of God . . . is under the most solemn obligation to present the Word of God, without fear or favor. He must call sin by its right name. . . . The love of God will never lead to the belittling of sin; it will never cover or excuse an unconfessed wrong.” SD 214
“ God says to His servants, "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins." But when the plain, straight testimony comes from lips under the moving of the Spirit of God, there are many who treat it with disdain. There are among us those who, in actions if not in words, "say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:…” TM 89
“Many who love self-indulgence and who murmur at the straight testimony of the Laodicean message, are ignorant of how sinful their actions really are; but in the judgment they will be ashamed of their course of ingratitude and rebellion against the One who has borne so long with them, and who has not cut them off in their sins. No confession, no weeping will then avail for those who have spoiled their record. Many who now claim to be the disciples of Christ, will be numbered among those who would not repent, but who have deceived their souls unto their eternal ruin. The evasion of truth will not give courage to any soul in the day of judgment to open his lips in self-defense. Then the books will be opened that bear the record of the works of every individual. . . .” TDG 278
“Hearing the straight testimony does not sound like a very comfortable experience; but “no one has ever said that the Laodicean message is to make people comfortable. If it were possible to trim it and refine it until all were comfortable with it, it would no longer be the straight testimony to Laodicea. The prophecy is that ‘some will rise up against it.’” Reaping the Whirlwind pg. 7. Oh, may this not be said of us, that we have risen up against the straight testimony, and will not hear it.
What is our only safety, that we will not be found on the world’s side and be unprepared to stand in the final test?
“ Our only safety is to stand as God's peculiar people. We must not yield one inch to the customs and fashions of this degenerate age, but stand in moral independence, making no compromise with its corrupt and idolatrous practices.” 5T 78
There can be NO compromise, NO riding the fence. We must draw the line where the word of God draws it, and then stand unmovingly on that line, unwilling to be swayed to the right or to the left. We must be wholly the Lord’s - His peculiar people; separate and distinct from the world. We have a high calling; let us aim for nothing lower!
THE BIG PICTURE - PUTTING THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE
I would like us to take a look at something which I believe will bring all this that we are talking about into perspective. My friends, we are living in the last days of this world’s history. We are living in the judgment hour. “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come:” Revelation 14:6,7.
“The judgment is now passing in the sanctuary above. For many years this work has been in progress. Soon--none know how soon--it will pass to the cases of the living. In the awful presence of God our lives are to come up in review. At this time above all others it behooves every soul to heed the Saviour's admonition: ‘Watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.’ Mark 13:33.” GC 490
I would plead with you to read the whole chapter in The Great Controversy called “Facing Life’s Record”, beginning on page 479. This is a very solemn time, a time for deep heart searching. We must ask ourselves, “Am I right with God?” “Have I confessed and forsaken every sin?” “Is anything standing between me and God?” “Am I living in harmony with all God’s requirements?” The day is coming soon when all who have ever lived or are living will be divided into two groups, those who love and obey God, and those who do not. “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth [his] sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” Matthew 25:31-33. “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” Malachi 3:18. Then it will be forever too late to make changes and bring our lives into harmony with God’s will. No excuses will be of any help. We are told that “excuses are valueless.” TM 421. Now is the time we are given to prepare.
I don’t believe that we can comprehend the anguish of the wicked when they realize that they are lost and it is forever too late to make any changes. There is no second chance. “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:49,50.
“ It is impossible to describe the horror and despair of those who have trampled upon God's holy requirements. The Lord gave them His law; they might have compared their characters with it and learned their defects while there was yet opportunity for repentance and reform; but in order to secure the favor of the world, they set aside its precepts and taught others to transgress…. Now they are condemned by that law which they have despised. With awful distinctness they see that they are without excuse.” GC 639, 640
Yet neither can we begin to comprehend the joy of the redeemed to be forever in heaven with their Savior! “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9. “And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Revelation 7: 14-17. “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” Revelation 21:3-7. “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, [was there] the tree of life, which bare twelve [manner of] fruits, [and] yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree [were] for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name [shall be] in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 22:1-5.
Quoting from Ellen White’s vision of heaven: “The wonderful things I there saw I cannot describe. Oh, that I could talk in the language of Canaan, then could I tell a little of the glory of the better world…. Then an angel bore me gently down to this dark world. Sometimes I think I can stay here no longer; all things of earth look so dreary. I feel very lonely here, for I have seen a better land. Oh, that I had wings like a dove, then would I fly away and be at rest! After I came out of vision, everything looked changed; a gloom was spread over all that I beheld. Oh, how dark this world looked to me. I wept when I found myself here, and felt homesick. I had seen a better world, and it had spoiled this for me.” EW 19, 20
Oh my friends, what are the things of earth in light of eternity?! Why are we holding back? We need not fear what is ahead if we are right with the Lord. Won’t you give Him your whole heart now, if you have not?
These subjects are so broad and so deep that I have barely scratched the surface on them. Please take the time to read two portions from the Spirit of Prophecy. They are very wonderful and moving. 1) The last four chapters of The Great Controversy, and 2) Early Writings pages 13-20. I have printed out here a third selection from Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2, pages 594-597 called “An Impressive Dream”. May it speak to your heart as it has to mine.
“While at Battle Creek in August, 1868, I dreamed of being with a large body of people. A portion of this assembly started out prepared to journey. We had heavily loaded wagons. As we journeyed, the road seemed to ascend. On one side of this road was a deep precipice; on the other was a high, smooth, white wall, like the hard finish upon plastered rooms.
“As we journeyed on, the road grew narrower and steeper. In some places it seemed so very narrow that we concluded that we could no longer travel with the loaded wagons. We then loosed them from the horses, took a portion of the luggage from the wagons and placed it upon the horses, and journeyed on horseback.
“As we progressed, the path still continued to grow narrow. We were obliged to press close to the wall, to save ourselves from falling off the narrow road down the steep precipice. As we did this, the luggage on the horses pressed against the wall and caused us to sway toward the precipice. We feared that we should fall and be dashed in pieces on the rocks. We then cut the luggage from the horses, and it fell over the precipice. We continued on horseback, greatly fearing, as we came to the narrower places in the road, that we should lose our balance and fall. At such times a hand seemed to take the bridle and guide us over the perilous way.
“As the path grew more narrow, we decided that we could no longer go with safety on horseback, and we left the horses and went on foot, in single file, one following in the footsteps of another. At this point small cords were let down from the top of the pure white wall; these we eagerly grasped, to aid us in keeping our balance upon the path. As we traveled, the cord moved along with us. The path finally became so narrow that we concluded that we could travel more safely without our shoes, so we slipped them from our feet and went on some distance without them. Soon it was decided that we could travel more safely without our stockings; these were removed, and we journeyed on with bare feet.
“We then thought of those who had not accustomed themselves to privations and hardships. Where were such now? They were not in the company. At every change some were left behind, and those only remained who had accustomed themselves to endure hardships. The privations of the way only made these more eager to press on to the end.
“Our danger of falling from the pathway increased. We pressed close to the white wall, yet could not place our feet fully upon the path, for it was too narrow. We then suspended nearly our whole weight upon the cords, exclaiming: "We have hold from above! We have hold from above!" The same words were uttered by all the company in the narrow pathway. As we heard the sounds of mirth and revelry that seemed to come from the abyss below, we shuddered. We heard the profane oath, the vulgar jest, and low, vile songs. We heard the war song and the dance song. We heard instrumental music and loud laughter, mingled with cursing and cries of anguish and bitter wailing, and were more anxious than ever to keep upon the narrow, difficult pathway. Much of the time we were compelled to suspend our whole weight upon the cords, which increased in size as we progressed.
“I noticed that the beautiful white wall was stained with blood. It caused a feeling of regret to see the wall thus stained. This feeling, however, lasted but for a moment, as I soon thought that it was all as it should be. Those who are following after will know that others have passed the narrow, difficult way before them, and will conclude that if others were able to pursue their onward course, they can do the same. And as the blood shall be pressed from their aching feet, they will not faint with discouragement; but, seeing the blood upon the wall, they will know that others have endured the same pain.
“At length we came to a large chasm, at which our path ended. There was nothing now to guide the feet, nothing upon which to rest them. Our whole reliance must be upon the cords, which had increased in size until they were as large as our bodies. Here we were for a time thrown into perplexity and distress. We inquired in fearful whispers: "To what is the cord attached?" My husband was just before me. Large drops of sweat were falling from his brow, the veins in his neck and temples were increased to double their usual size, and suppressed, agonizing groans came from his lips. The sweat was dropping from my face, and I felt such anguish as I had never felt before. A fearful struggle was before us. Should we fail here, all the difficulties of our journey had been experienced for nought.
“Before us, on the other side of the chasm, was a beautiful field of green grass, about six inches high. I could not see the sun; but bright, soft beams of light, resembling fine gold and silver, were resting upon this field. Nothing I had seen upon earth could compare in beauty and glory with this field. But could we succeed in reaching it? was the anxious inquiry. Should the cord break, we must perish. Again, in whispered anguish, the words were breathed: "What holds the cord?" For a moment we hesitated to venture. Then we exclaimed: "Our only hope is to trust wholly to the cord. It has been our dependence all the difficult way. It will not fail us now." Still we were hesitating and distressed. The words were then spoken: "God holds the cord. We need not fear." These words were then repeated by those behind us, accompanied with: "He will not fail us now. He has brought us thus far in safety."
“My husband then swung himself over the fearful abyss into the beautiful field beyond. I immediately followed. And, oh, what a sense of relief and gratitude to God we felt! I heard voices raised in triumphant praise to God. I was happy, perfectly happy.
“I awoke, and found that from the anxiety I had experienced in passing over the difficult route, every nerve in my body seemed to be in a tremor. This dream needs no comment. It made such an impression upon my mind that probably every item in it will be vivid before me while my memory shall continue.”
Let’s Make It Practical
I’d like you to consider with me five very practical areas which this separation from the world effects; and where we, as God’s professed people, need to seek for a revival and reformation. These subjects are very large, and it would be impossible here, to cover all the inspired counsel we have been given about them. So I have endeavored to share some basic thoughts, thought-provoking questions, and a few quotes and references for further study. Please take the time to look the references up and study the subjects out with a prayerful spirit, willing to be convicted and to make any changes needed in order that your life may be in harmony with God’s word. As we have seen, we are living in very solemn times. We dare not now resist the Spirit (“Quench not the Spirit.” 1Thessalonians 5:19), but we must surrender our lives to the Lord (“Submit yourselves therefore to God.” James 4:7) and strive to make our calling and election sure (“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:” 2 Peter 1:10).
“A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work.” Review and Herald, March 22, 1887
“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 the 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.” Review and Herald, Feb. 25, 1902
“Reformatory action is always attended with sacrifice. It demands that love of ease, selfish interest, and the lust of ambition be held in subjection to the principles of right. Whoever has the courage to reform must encounter obstacles.” 4T 636
“Before the final visitation of God's judgments upon the earth, there will be, among the people of the Lord, such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times…. It is only as the law of God is restored to its rightful position that there can be a revival of primitive faith and godliness among His professed people. "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16.” FLB 326
“Do not the Scriptures call for a more pure and holy work than we have yet seen? . . . God calls upon those who are willing to be controlled by the Holy Spirit to lead out in a work of thorough reformation. I see a crisis before us, and the Lord calls for His laborers to come into line. Every soul should now stand in a position of deeper, truer consecration to God than during the years that have passed.” General Conference Bulletin, May 29, 1913, p. 34
“Christians should be preparing for what is soon to break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise, and this preparation they should make by diligently studying the word of God, and striving to conform their lives to its precepts. . . . God calls for a revival and a reformation.” PK 626
“The old standard bearers knew what it was to wrestle with God in prayer, and to enjoy the outpouring of His Spirit. But these are passing off from the stage of action; and who are coming up to fill their places? How is it with the rising generation? Are they converted to God? Are we awake to the work that is going on in the heavenly sanctuary, or are we waiting for some compelling power to come upon the church before we shall arouse? Are we hoping to see the whole church revived? That time will never come. There are persons in the church who are not converted, and who will not unite in earnest, prevailing prayer. We must enter upon the work individually. We must pray more, and talk less. Iniquity abounds, and the people must be taught not to be satisfied with a form of godliness without the spirit and power. If we are intent upon searching our own hearts, putting away our sins, and correcting our evil tendencies, our souls will not be lifted up unto vanity; we shall be distrustful of ourselves, having an abiding sense that our sufficiency is of God. We have far more to fear from within than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world. Unbelievers have a right to expect that those who profess to be keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, will do more than any other class to promote and honor, by their consistent lives, by their godly example and their active influence, the cause which they represent. But how often have the professed advocates of the truth proved the greatest obstacle to its advancement! The unbelief indulged, the doubts expressed, the darkness cherished, encourage the presence of evil angels, and open the way for the accomplishment of Satan's devices.” 1SM 122
“We need now to begin over again. Reforms must be entered into with heart and soul and will. Errors may be hoary with age; but age does not make error truth, nor truth error. Altogether too long have the old customs and habits been followed. The Lord would now have every idea that is false put away…. We are not at liberty to teach that which shall meet the world's standard or the standard of the church, simply because it is the custom to do so. The lessons which Christ taught are to be the standard.” 6T 142
“If the church would manifest a greater interest in the reforms which God Himself has brought to them to fit them for His coming, their influence would be tenfold what it now is.” 3T 170
First, let us look at the area of heart work. This is the foundation, where it all begins. If we don’t have this, all the rest that we may do will be only an outward form and of no eternal worth. But if we do have a true heart conversion, it will be our delight to do what pleases our Lord in all other areas of our life.
My friends, we need to be earnestly searching our hearts. Take some time to honestly think about and ask yourself these questions: “Have I given my heart to God for today? Do I make it a habit to give Him my heart every day? Do I spend time daily in prayer, Bible study, and heart searching? Have I repented of and confessed my sins to God, and made right any wrongs I have done toward others? Am I holding back anything, or am I surrendered and allowing God to work His will in me? Am I consistently experiencing victory in my life throughout the day; or do irritations cause me to let go my hold upon God, do habits and inclinations control my actions, do I find myself wanting to do right but seemingly powerless to do it? Am I sharing my faith and love for the Lord with others, and is my practical experience worth sharing, or am I still floundering myself?”
The Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy are full of practical counsel on the issues raised in these questions. For a starting point, I would encourage you to read through Steps to Christ; Messages to Young People pages 51-166 and 247-268; and the New Testament (especially the epistles - they are full of promises to victory and practical instruction on the Christian life.)
There are a couple of these areas, though, that I would like to touch on specifically:
Time With God
One is spending time with God each day. If we have not given our hearts to God for this day, asking for Him to be Lord (ruler) of our lives, and surrendering our wills for His, we will be floundering through our day, without real purpose. We will find ourselves hopeless in the battle against temptation. We may get so busy with the cares of life, that we don’t even recognize our empty and powerless condition until the end of the day when things slow down and we have a quiet moment for contemplation.
But if we do spend time with God in prayer each morning, and continue to maintain that connection with Him throughout the day, we may have the opposite experience. We will have purpose and direction to our day, and will experience victory through the power of Christ over the temptations that beset us; and we will have peace in our hearts at the close of the day.
We are told, “Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, ‘Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee.’ This is a daily matter. Each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ.” SC 70
In addition to our daily time with God in prayer and reflection, we need also time with Him in His Holy Word (the Bible) and in the Spirit of Prophecy. And I am not just speaking of a casual reading, but of thorough searching and study. We desperately need the counsel we have been given. We are living in very serious times and Satan will use every means he can to deceive us. We must fortify our minds with the words of God, yet I am deeply troubled as I see how little many of us know of it, and how even less we practice what we do know. The willingness I so often see to justify our pet sins and indulgences, and to reason away the counsel in the Bible or Spirit of Prophecy which condemns them, as not really meaning what it says, or as not relevant to our time and culture, frightens me! My friends, what are we doing?! These are not man’s words. They are God’s words, and we are tampering with them! If we do not repent and cease interpreting the inspired counsels as we wish them to be, the curse will fall on us; “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:18,19.
We are warned that, “The very last deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God. ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’ (Proverbs 29:18). Satan will work ingeniously, in different ways and through different agencies, to unsettle the confidence of God's remnant people in the true testimony. There will be a hatred kindled against the testimonies which is satanic. The workings of Satan will be to unsettle the faith of the churches in them, for this reason: Satan cannot have so clear a track to bring in his deceptions and bind up souls in his delusions if the warnings and reproofs and counsels of the Spirit of God are heeded.” 1SM 48
Let us begin searching for the truth as for hid treasure, with a willingness to give up all that we have and are to possess it. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” Matthew 13:44-46.
“Christians should be preparing for what is soon to break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise, and this preparation they should make by diligently studying the word of God and striving to conform their lives to its precepts.” PK 626
We need to know why we believe and live as we do, and our reasons must be based on our own personal study of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, not on any church ruling or Pastor’s word. Friends, we need to be testing every sermon we hear in our churches by the word of God, because we are told that “Many will stand in our pulpits with the torch of false prophecy in their hands, kindled from the hellish torch of Satan.” TM 409,410. We cannot safely take everything we hear as truth. We must each know the truth for ourselves.
“ It is one thing to treat the Bible as a book of good moral instruction, to be heeded so far as is consistent with the spirit of the times and our position in the world; it is another thing to regard it as it really is--the word of the living God, the word that is our life, the word that is to mold our actions, our words, and our thoughts. To hold God's word as anything less than this is to reject it. And this rejection by those who profess to believe it, is foremost among the causes of skepticism and infidelity in the youth. An intensity such as never before was seen is taking possession of the world. In amusement, in moneymaking, in the contest for power, in the very struggle for existence, there is a terrible force that engrosses body and mind and soul. In the midst of this maddening rush, God is speaking. He bids us come apart and commune with Him.
"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10. Many, even in their seasons of devotion, fail of receiving the blessing of real communion with God. They are in too great haste. With hurried steps they press through the circle of Christ's loving presence, pausing perhaps a moment within the sacred precincts, but not waiting for counsel. They have no time to remain with the divine Teacher. With their burdens they return to their work. These workers can never attain the highest success until they learn the secret of strength. They must give themselves time to think, to pray, to wait upon God for a renewal of physical, mental, and spiritual power. They need the uplifting influence of His Spirit. Receiving this, they will be quickened by fresh life. The wearied frame and tired brain will be refreshed, the burdened heart will be lightened. Not a pause for a moment in His presence, but personal contact with Christ, to sit down in companionship with Him--this is our need.” ED 260
“’There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.’ Proverbs 16:25. Ignorance is no excuse for error or sin, when there is every opportunity to know the will of God. A man is travelling, and comes to a place where there are several roads, and a guide-board indicating where each one leads. If he disregards the guide-board, and takes whichever road seems to him to be right, he may be ever so sincere, but will in all probability find himself on the wrong road. God has given us his Word that we may become acquainted with its teachings, and know for ourselves what he requires of us…. Ignorance will not excuse young or old, or release them from the punishment due for the transgression of God's law, because there is in their hands a faithful presentation of that law and of its principles and its claims. It is not enough to have good intentions; it is not enough to do what a man thinks is right, or what the minister tells him is right. His soul's salvation is at stake, and he should search the Scriptures for himself. However strong may be his convictions, however confident he may be that the minister knows what is truth, this is not his foundation. He has a chart pointing out every way-mark on the heavenward journey, and he ought not to guess at anything. It is the first and highest duty of every rational being to learn from the Scriptures what is truth, and then to walk in the light, and encourage others to follow his example. We should day by day study the Bible diligently, weighing every thought, and comparing scripture with scripture.” GC88 597, 598
This brief look at taking daily time with God and knowing the truth for ourselves leads us to the question, “How does the theory of victory over sin work in my life throughout the day, or is it even really possible to overcome all sin?”
The Daily Walk
One of the most popular, and probably the most deadly error that is being taught in our churches today is the teaching that we cannot be perfect in this life, that Christ’s robe of righteousness covers the sins I am still holding on to as well as those I have forsaken, that we will keep sinning until Jesus comes, and that when we sin it’s just because of our human nature, and Christ understands and excuses us. It also teaches that Christ had a different nature than ours and thus did not have the inclination to sin that we do. You may hear such things as, “As long as we’re sincere, we are okay; God’s love is so great it makes up for our sins, as long as we’re living a pretty good life; when we sin, it does not change our relationship with God; We can still be in a ’saving relationship’ with God, even when we sin; Jesus can occupy a part of our heart, while another part may still have hidden or unknown sin in it; inherited personality traits do not need to be overcome, since they’re just a part of who I am; small or occasional sins are not that serious, and God overlooks them.” Have you ever heard things like this? They sound so pleasing, and make the Christian life look so easy - no heart searching, no repenting, no struggling to form new habits and overcome old ones, no resisting temptation. Actually, if we can’t overcome sin anyway, why take the time to study the Bible and know truth for ourselves? We can just do what comes naturally. Do you find yourself doing the things you do because they look, taste, or feel good? Are you following your senses instead of following the Word of God? Maybe you have bought into this lie of Satan that it is impossible to overcome all sin anyway. But if you have, I am warning you, my friends, that it is directly contrary to the Word of God.
The Bible says: “…thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21. “As thou hast given Him power over all flesh…” John 17:2. “ …Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:13,14. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13. “…bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5. “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh : is there anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27. “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” Jude 24. “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:27. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” 1John 3:9. And this is only a small sampling of the verses in the Bible which show us clearly that victory over all sin in our life is possible!
Did you know that victory over every sin is a prerequisite to receiving the latter rain and the seal of God, and that only those who have the seal of God can be saved. Take a look at these amazing quotes:
“Those who come up to every point, and stand every test, and overcome, be the price what it may, have heeded the counsel of the True Witness, and they will receive the latter rain, and thus be fitted for translation.” 1T 187
“Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement. Then the latter rain will fall upon us as the early rain fell upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost.” 5T 214
“ I was shown that if God's people make no efforts on their part, but wait for the refreshing to come upon them and remove their wrongs and correct their errors; if they depend upon that to cleanse them from filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and fit them to engage in the loud cry of the third angel, they will be found wanting. The refreshing or power of God comes only on those who have prepared themselves for it by doing the work which God bids them, namely, cleansing themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 1T 619
“Those who receive the seal of the living God and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully…. I saw that none could share the "refreshing" unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action.” EW 71
The Bible teaches that we must experience both justification and sanctification. Justification is the free and undeserved gift provided by Christ’s perfect life and death, which offers deliverance from eternal death to those who receive forgiveness of their sins by faith in Jesus. Sanctification is the daily process of growing in Christ and overcoming sin.
Christ is able to deliver us not only from the guilt of sin, but from the sin itself. Complete victory over all sin is made possible through the power of Christ. Denial of this is a denial of Christ and of His Word. The Bible is clear that we cannot be saved unless we have overcome all sin in our lives. “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” 2 Peter 3:13,14; “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” Revelation 3:5. It is also clear as we looked at before, that this victory is possible, now, in this life. God will not just change your character at the second coming. You have a responsibility, and all the power of heaven is on your side! Christ never promised us so much power from heaven, that we would have nothing left to do ourselves, and that it would be always perfectly easy and natural to resist evil and do right. He requires us to put in our wholehearted effort, and to call on Him for help, and He will supply the power to overcome, without which we could never obtain the victory no matter how hard we tried on our own. “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12,13.
Why is Satan working so hard to convince humanity that they cannot overcome sin? Allow me to quote once again a very insightful section from Joe Crews’ Reaping The Whirlwind:
“The plan of salvation was designed by God to vindicate His justice and honor before the universe; and to clear His name from the lying accusation that His law could not be obeyed. The purpose of His 6,000-year program has been to produce a people who will live without sin. If God’s plan is not able to restore man to that original position of obedience from which he fell, then Satan’s arguments will be upheld. On the other hand, if God is able to exhibit a people who have totally obeyed Him, under the most adverse conditions Satan can create, His character will be eternally vindicated before the unfallen worlds. The universe will be forever secure from further disobedience, because, age upon age, the living testimony of the redeemed remnant will be a reminder of God’s righteousness in dealing with His creatures…. Whatever Satan does against God’s faithful saints will be aimed at diluting their confidence in the law. Somehow he must prepare them to regard the law so lightly and see sin as so unobjectionable, that when their lives are on the line, they will choose to disobey rather than perish. Satan sees this as his last opportunity to strike out against God’s plan to bring His people to perfection.” pages 37, 38
Friends, let us not be found spreading the devil’s lies, that we cannot be perfect in this life. God is all powerful!
How then can we be practically victorious over temptation to sin? That is a whole study in itself; but simply put, we are to overcome the same way Jesus, our Example did. James 4:7-10 tells us the steps to victory: 1) submit yourselves to God, 2) resist the devil by the Word of God - “It is written” Matthew 4 (promise - and he will flee from you), 3) draw nigh to God (promise - and He will draw nigh to you), 4) cleanse your hands ye sinners, 5) purify your hearts ye double minded, 6) be afflicted, mourn, and weep (repent of your sins), 7) humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord (promise - and He will lift you up!) There are so many more wonderful counsels in the Bible on how to gain the victory, but these 7 keys alone are so basic yet complete, that I will leave it at that for now. I encourage you though, to continue to search this subject out for yourself, as it is so vital to our eternal welfare.
Following is a brief selection of Spirit of Prophecy quotations on this subject. Let them be a springboard for your further study. I would like to recommend also that you obtain a copy of Margaret Davis’ excellent compilation, What Shall I do to Inherit Eternal Life?
Perfection of Character
“Let no one take up with the delusion so pleasant to the natural heart, that God will accept of sincerity, no matter what may be the faith, no matter how imperfect may be the life. God requires of His child perfect obedience.” 1SM 374
“The righteousness of Christ will not cover one cherished sin. A man may be a law-breaker in heart; yet if he commits no outward act of transgression, he may be regarded by the world as possessing great integrity. But God's law looks into the secrets of the heart. Every act is judged by the motives that prompt it. Only that which is in accord with the principles of God's law will stand in the judgment. God is love. He has shown that love in the gift of Christ. When "He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life," He withheld nothing from His purchased possession. (John 3:16.) He gave all heaven, from which we may draw strength and efficiency, that we be not repulsed or overcome by our great adversary. But the love of God does not lead Him to excuse sin. He did not excuse it in Satan; He did not excuse it in Adam or in Cain; nor will He excuse it in any other of the children of men. He will not connive at our sins or overlook our defects of character. He expects us to overcome in His name.” COL 316
“Moral perfection is required of all. Never should we lower the standard of righteousness in order to accommodate inherited or cultivated tendencies to wrong-doing. We need to understand that imperfection of character is sin. All righteous attributes of character dwell in God as a perfect, harmonious whole, and every one who receives Christ as a personal Saviour is privileged to possess these attributes…. But Christ has given us no assurance that to attain perfection of character is an easy matter. A noble, all-round character is not inherited. It does not come to us by accident. A noble character is earned by individual effort through the merits and grace of Christ. God gives the talents, the powers of the mind; we form the character. It is formed by hard, stern battles with self. Conflict after conflict must be waged against hereditary tendencies. We shall have to criticize ourselves closely, and allow not one unfavorable trait to remain uncorrected. Let no one say, I cannot remedy my defects of character. If you come to this decision, you will certainly fail of obtaining everlasting life. The impossibility lies in your own will. If you will not, then you can not overcome. The real difficulty arises from the corruption of an unsanctified heart, and an unwillingness to submit to the control of God.” COL 330, 331
“God calls upon us to reach the standard of perfection and places before us the example of Christ's character. In His humanity, perfected by a life of constant resistance of evil, the Saviour showed that through co-operation with Divinity, human beings may in this life attain to perfection of character. This is God's assurance to us that we, too, may obtain complete victory. Before the believer is held out the wonderful possibility of being like Christ, obedient to all the principles of the law. But of himself man is utterly unable to reach this condition. The holiness that God's word declares he must have before he can be saved is the result of the working of divine grace as he bows in submission to the discipline and restraining influences of the Spirit of truth…. The part of the Christian is to persevere in overcoming every fault.” AA 531
“Holiness of heart and purity of life was the great subject of the teachings of Christ. In His Sermon on the Mount… He says: ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.’” 2T 444
“And do not forget the words of Christ, ‘The Father himself loveth you.’ John 16:27. He desires to restore you to Himself, to see His own purity and holiness reflected in you. And if you will but yield yourself to Him, He that hath begun a good work in you will carry it forward to the day of Jesus Christ.” FLB 118
“Christian perfection alone will win the spotless robes of character which will entitle you to stand before the throne of God among the blood-washed throng, bearing the palm branch of everlasting victory and eternal triumph.” OHC 242
“Christ Himself will decide who are worthy to dwell with the family of heaven. He will judge every man according to his words and his works. Profession is as nothing in the scale. It is character that decides destiny.” COL 74
“In the day of judgment, the course of the man who has retained the frailty and imperfection of humanity will not be vindicated. For him there will be no place in heaven. He could not enjoy the perfection of the saints in light. He who has not sufficient faith in Christ to believe that He can keep him from sinning, has not the faith that will give him an entrance into the kingdom of God.” Manuscript 161, 1897
“The Bible is an unerring guide. It demands perfect purity in word, in thought, and in action. Only virtuous and spotless characters will be permitted to enter the presence of a pure and holy God.” 4T 312
“The idea prevails that Christ has done all for us, and that we can go on transgressing the commandments and will not be held accountable for it. This is the greatest deception that the enemy ever devised.” 3MR 97
“We need not place the obedience of Christ by itself as something for which He was particularly adapted, by His particular divine nature, for He stood before God as man's representative and tempted as man's substitute and surety. If Christ had a special power which it is not the privilege of man to have, Satan would have made capital of this matter. The work of Christ was to take from the claims of Satan his control of man, and He could do this only in the way that He came--a man, tempted as a man, rendering the obedience of a man. . . . Bear in mind that Christ's overcoming and obedience is that of a true human being. In our conclusions, we make many mistakes because of our erroneous views of the human nature of our Lord. When we give to His human nature a power that it is not possible for man to have in his conflicts with Satan, we destroy the completeness of His humanity. His imputed grace and power He gives to all who receive Him by faith. The obedience of Christ to His Father was the same obedience
that is required of man. Man cannot overcome Satan's temptations without divine power to combine with His instrumentality. So with Jesus Christ, He could lay hold of divine power. He came not to our world to give the obedience of a lesser God to a greater, but as a man to obey God's Holy Law, and in this way He is our example.” 3SM 139, 140
“So perfect is the character represented which men must have in order to be Christ's disciples that the infidel has said that it is not possible for any human being to attain unto it. But no less a standard must be presented by all who claim to be children of God. Infidels know not that celestial aid is provided for all who seek for it by faith. Every provision has been made in behalf of every soul who shall seek to be a partaker of the divine nature and be complete in Jesus Christ. Every defect is to be discerned and cut away from the character with an unsparing decision.” HP 201
“Our Saviour does not require impossibilities of any soul. He expects nothing of His disciples that He is not willing to give them grace and strength to perform. He would not call upon them to be perfect if He had not at His command every perfection of grace to bestow on the ones upon whom He would confer so high and holy a privilege… He is our example.” TMK 130
“The people of God must purify their souls through obedience to the truth, and be prepared to stand without fault before Him at His coming.” Ev 695
“Now, while our great High Priest is making the atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ. Not even by a thought could our Saviour be brought to yield to the power of temptation. Satan finds in human hearts some point where he can gain a foothold; some sinful desire is cherished, by means of which his temptations assert their power. But Christ declared of Himself: "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me." John 14:30. Satan could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. He had kept His Father's commandments, and there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to his advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble. It is in this life that we are to separate sin from us, through faith in the atoning blood of Christ…. None can neglect or defer this work but at the most fearful peril to their souls.” GC 623
“Everyone who by faith obeys God's commandments, will reach the condition of sinlessness in which Adam lived before his transgression.” Mar 224
“God's ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." This command is a promise. The plan of redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan. Christ always separates the contrite soul from sin. He came to destroy the works of the devil, and He has made provision that the Holy Spirit shall be imparted to every repentant soul, to keep him from sinning. The tempter's agency is not to be accounted an excuse for one wrong act. Satan is jubilant when he hears the professed followers of Christ making excuses for their deformity of character. It is these excuses that lead to sin. There is no excuse for sinning. A holy temper, a Christlike life, is accessible to every repenting, believing child of God. The ideal of Christian character is Christlikeness. As the Son of man was perfect in His life, so His followers are to be perfect in their life…. His character is to be ours.” DA 311
“By His perfect obedience He has made it possible for every human being to obey God's commandments. When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness.” COL 312
“God will accept nothing but purity and holiness; one spot, one wrinkle, one defect in the character, will forever debar them from heaven, with all its glories and treasures. Ample provisions have been made for all who sincerely, earnestly, and thoughtfully set about the work of perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2T 453
How to Gain the Victory
“Jesus gained the victory through submission and faith in God, and by the apostle He says to us, ‘Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.’ James 4:7, 8. We cannot save ourselves from the tempter's power; he has conquered humanity, and when we try to stand in our own strength, we shall become a prey to his devices; but "the name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." Proverbs 18:10. Satan trembles and flees before the weakest soul who finds refuge in that mighty name.” DA 130
“God has made ample provision for His people; and if they rely upon His strength, they will never become the sport of circumstances. The strongest temptation cannot excuse sin. However great the pressure brought to bear upon the soul, transgression is our own act. It is not in the power of earth or hell to compel any one to do evil. Satan attacks us at our weak points, but we need not be overcome. However severe or unexpected the assault, God has provided help for us, and in His strength we may conquer.” MYP 62
“Do not put off the work of forsaking your sins and seeking purity of heart through Jesus. Here is where thousands upon thousands have erred to their eternal loss. I will not here dwell upon the shortness and uncertainty of life; but there is a terrible danger--a danger not sufficiently understood--in delaying to yield to the pleading voice of God's Holy Spirit, in choosing to live in sin; for such this delay really is. Sin, however small it may be esteemed, can be indulged in only at the peril of infinite loss. What we do not overcome, will overcome us and work out our destruction.” SC 32
“All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.” DA 668
“When you rise in the morning, do you feel your helplessness and your need of strength from God? and do you humbly, heartily make known your wants to your heavenly Father? If so, angels mark your prayers, and if these prayers have not gone forth out of feigned lips, when you are in danger of unconsciously doing wrong and exerting an influence which will lead others to do wrong, your guardian angel will be by your side, prompting you to a better course, choosing your words for you, and influencing your actions.” 3T 363
“Christ is our tower of strength, and Satan can have no power over the soul that walks with God in humility of mind. The promise, "Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me." In Christ there is perfect and complete help for every tempted soul. Dangers beset every path, but the whole universe of heaven is standing on guard, that none may be tempted above that which he is able to bear. Some have strong traits of character, that will need to be constantly repressed. If kept under the control of the Spirit of God, these traits will be a blessing; but if not, they will prove a curse. . . . If we will give ourselves unselfishly to the work, never swerving in the least from principle, the Lord will throw about us the everlasting arms, and will prove a mighty helper. If we will look to Jesus as the One in whom we may trust, He will never fail us in any emergency.” ML 316
“ At the sound of fervent prayer, Satan's whole host trembles. . . . And when angels, all-powerful, clothed with the armory of heaven, come to the help of the fainting, pursued soul, Satan and his host fall back, well knowing that their battle is lost.” MYP 53
“Believe that He is ready to help you by His grace, when you come to Him in sincerity. You must fight the good fight of faith. You must be wrestlers for the crown of life. Strive, for the grasp of Satan is upon you; and if you do not wrench yourselves from Him, you will be palsied and ruined. The foe is on the right hand and on the left, before you and behind you; and you must trample him under your feet. Strive, for there is a crown to be won. Strive, for if you win not the crown, you lose everything in this life and in the future life. Strive, but let it be in the strength of your risen Saviour.” MYP 428
“ 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.” 5T 541
“Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil.” GC 425
The Relationship of Faith and Works
“‘Without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him’ (Hebrews 11:6). There are many in the Christian world who claim that all that is necessary to salvation is to have faith; works are nothing, faith is the only essential. But God's Word tells us that faith without works is dead, being alone. Many refuse to obey God's commandments, yet they make a great deal of faith. But faith must have a foundation.
“God's promises are all made upon conditions. If we do His will, if we walk in truth, then we may ask what we will, and it shall be done unto us. While we earnestly endeavor to be obedient, God will hear our petitions; but He will not bless us in disobedience. If we choose to disobey His commandments, we may cry, "Faith, faith, only have faith," and the response will come back from the sure Word of God, "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:20). Such faith will only be as sounding brass and as a tinkling cymbal. In order to have the benefits of God's grace we must do our part; we must faithfully work and bring forth fruits meet for repentance.…
“We are to do all that we can do on our part to fight the good fight of faith. We are to wrestle, to labor, to strive, to agonize to enter in at the strait gate. We are to set the Lord ever before us. With clean hands, with pure hearts, we are to seek to honor God in all our ways. Help has been provided for us in Him who is mighty to save. The spirit of truth and light will quicken and renew us by its mysterious workings; for all our spiritual improvement comes from God, not from ourselves. The true worker will have divine power to aid him, but the idler will not be sustained by the Spirit of God.
“In one way we are thrown upon our own energies; we are to strive earnestly to be zealous and to repent, to cleanse our hands and purify our hearts from every defilement; we are to reach the highest standard, believing that God will help us in our efforts. We must seek if we would find, and seek in faith; we must knock, that the door may be opened unto us. The Bible teaches that everything regarding our salvation depends upon our own course of action. If we perish, the responsibility will rest wholly upon ourselves. If provision has been made, and if we accept God's terms, we may lay hold on eternal life. We must come to Christ in faith, we must be diligent to make our calling and election sure.
“The forgiveness of sin is promised to him who repents and believes; the crown of life will be the reward of him who is faithful to the end. We may grow in grace by improving through the grace we already have. We are to keep ourselves unspotted from the world if we would be found blameless in the day of God. Faith and works go hand in hand; they act harmoniously in the work of overcoming. Works without faith are dead, and faith without works is dead. Works will never save us; it is the merit of Christ that will avail in our behalf. Through faith in Him, Christ will make all our imperfect efforts acceptable to God. The faith we are required to have is not a do-nothing faith; saving faith is that which works by love and purifies the soul. He who will lift up holy hands to God without wrath and doubting will walk intelligently in the way of God's commandments.
“If we are to have pardon for our sins, we must first have a realization of what sin is, that we may repent and bring forth fruits meet for repentance. We must have a solid foundation for our faith; it must be founded on the Word of God, and its results will be seen in obedience to God's expressed will. Says the apostle, "Without . . . [holiness] no man shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14).
“Faith and works will keep us evenly balanced and make us successful in the work of perfecting Christian character. Jesus says, "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter in the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). Speaking of temporal food, the apostle said, "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The same rule applies to our spiritual nourishment; if any would have the bread of eternal life, let him make efforts to obtain it.
“We are living in an important and interesting period of this earth's history. We need more faith than we have yet had; we need a firmer hold from above. Satan is working with all power to obtain the victory over us, for he knows that he has but a short time in which to work. Paul had fear and trembling in working out his salvation; and should not we fear lest a promise being left us, we should any of us seem to come short of it, and prove ourselves unworthy of eternal life? We should watch unto prayer, strive with agonizing effort to enter in at the strait gate.
“There is no excuse for sin or for indolence. Jesus has led the way, and He wishes us to follow in His steps. He has suffered, He has sacrificed as none of us can, that He might bring salvation within our reach. We need not be discouraged. Jesus came to our world to bring divine power to man, that through His grace, we might be transformed into His likeness.
“When it is in the heart to obey God, when efforts are put forth to this end, Jesus accepts this disposition and effort as man's best service, and He makes up for the deficiency with His own divine merit. But He will not accept those who claim to have faith in Him and yet are disloyal to His Father's commandment. We hear a great deal about faith, but we need to hear a great deal more about works. Many are deceiving their own souls by living an easy-going, accommodating, crossless religion.
“But Jesus says, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24).” FW 47-50
“The part man has to act in the salvation of the soul is to believe on Jesus Christ as a perfect Redeemer, not for some other man, but for his own self. Christ imputes His perfection and righteousness to the believing sinner when he does not continue in sin, but turns from transgression to obedience of the commandments. While God can be just, and yet justify the sinner through the merits of Christ, no man can cover his soul with the garments of Christ's righteousness while practicing known sins, or neglecting known duties. The apostle James saw that dangers would arise in presenting the subject of justification by faith, and he labored to show that genuine faith cannot exist without corresponding works. The experience of Abraham is presented. "Seest thou," he says, "how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?" James 2:22. Thus genuine faith does a genuine work in the believer. Faith and obedience bring a solid, valuable experience. Faith and works are two oars which we must use equally if we [would] press our way up the stream against the current of unbelief. The so-called faith that does not work by love and purify the soul will not justify any man. "Ye see," says the apostle, "how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." James 2:24. Abraham believed God. How do we know that he believed? His works testified to the character of his faith, and his faith was accounted to him for righteousness. We need the faith of Abraham in our day, to lighten the darkness that gathers around us, shutting out the sweet sunlight of God's love, and dwarfing spiritual growth. Our faith should be prolific of good works; for faith without works is dead.” FLB 115
“Where there is not only a belief in God's word, but a submission of the will to Him; where the heart is yielded to Him, the affections fixed upon Him, there is faith--faith that works by love and purifies the soul. Through this faith the heart is renewed in the image of God.” SC 63
“Human effort of itself is not sufficient. Without the aid of divine power it avails nothing. God works and man works. Resistance of temptation must come from man, who must draw his power from God.” AA 482
“While good works will not save even one soul, yet it is impossible for even one soul to be saved without good works. God saves us under a law, that we must ask if we would receive, seek if we would find, and knock if we would have the door opened unto us.” FW 111
Justification and Sanctification
“The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed; the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven, the second is our fitness for heaven. Many commit the error of trying to define minutely the fine points of distinction between justification and sanctification. Into the definitions of these two terms they often bring their own ideas and speculations. Why try to be more minute than is Inspiration on the vital question of righteousness by faith? As the penitent sinner, contrite before God, discerns Christ's atonement in his behalf, and accepts this atonement as his only hope in this life and the future life, his sins are pardoned. This is justification by faith. Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, a day, but of a lifetime. It is not gained by a happy flight of feeling, but is the result of constantly dying to sin, and constantly living for Christ. Wrongs cannot be righted nor reformations wrought in the character by feeble, intermittent efforts. It is only by long, persevering effort, sore discipline, and stern conflict, that we shall overcome. It [sanctification] is not merely a theory, an emotion, or a form of words, but a living, active principle, entering into the everyday life. It requires that our habits of eating, drinking, and dressing be such as to secure the preservation of physical, mental, and moral health, that we may present to the Lord our bodies--not an offering corrupted by wrong habits but--"a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God." The Scriptures are the great agency in the transformation of character. . . . If studied and obeyed, the Word of God works in the heart, subduing every unholy attribute. There is no such thing as instantaneous sanctification. True sanctification is a daily work, continuing as long as life shall last.” FLB 116
Answers to Objections
Following are 10 common objections to the things we have studied on the topic of heart work.
1) I don’t have enough time for daily prayer and Bible study.
It’s all an issue of priorities. We will find time for the things that are most important in life. If we put daily time with God at the top of our priority list (above talking on the telephone, watching the news, reading other books or magazines, long “primping” sessions in front of the mirror, or countless other “little” things that so often crowd our days) we will find time for it. Pray and ask God to help you put your priorities in line in light of eternity, and He surely will. True, it will most surely require the sacrifice of some daily activities you have previously enjoyed, but it will be well worth it, both now, and in eternity.
2) I don’t know what to pray about.
Forming a new habit can seem awkward at first. Here’s an idea to help you get started. Take a sheet of paper and make a list of people you would like to pray for and any specific things you want to pray for them. Also list your prayer requests for yourself and your family (such as, “for a willing heart to obey as I discover more of God’s will concerning my life”, “for forgiveness of sins and a willingness to make any wrongs right as God brings them to my mind”, “for cleansing of my heart and the infilling of the Holy Spirit”, “for God’s Spirit to abide in our home today and help us to be kind and selfless toward each other”). You may also list other prayer requests for your church, your witnessing efforts, or whatever else the Lord may lay on your heart. Finally, be sure to include your praises, thankfulness for specific ways the Lord has blessed you or answered your prayers. Keep this list in your special prayer spot, and refer to it for reminders as you pray.
3) I don’t know how or what to study for devotions.
You will find that even simply reading some from the Bible and some from the Spirit of Prophecy, taking time to pay good attention to and absorb the things you read, will prove to be a great blessing. Always remember to ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance before you study. If you want to use helps such as a “read-your-Bible-through-in-a-year-plan” to keep better track of where you are, that is fine. Some may also enjoy keeping a notebook to write down verses or quotes that really impressed them. Another way to study that can be very helpful is a topical study, where you use the concordance and the Spirit of Prophecy indexes or CD-ROM to search out all that is said on a particular subject. It might be an area where you are struggling in your life, a subject you want to understand better, or a doctrine you want to know how to explain to a friend. Try to keep your devotions personal and practical, always looking for ways you can apply what you’re learning in your own life.
4) I find it hard to be consistent with prayer and study.
It is true that we often start out with enthusiasm and good intentions, fully intending to keep on faithfully as we have begun, but Satan is not content to give us an easy ride. He comes along with all the distractions he can come up with, to keep us from consistently spending time with God. “The spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak.” Matthew 26:41. Our first line of defense is to pray and ask God to help us be consistent. Then we can put time with God into our schedule, and set our alarm clock so we will be up on time. It is also important to “turn off” any distractions you can (TV or music or other noises you may have in your home, the ringer on the phone, etc.). Finally, if you fail to be consistent with your time with God one day, don’t let it get you down into the depths of discouragement, for that is just what Satan would like. Rather, go to the Lord in repentance, and ask Him to help you be more consistent, and then get up and try again!
5) My spouse doesn’t support my commitment to morning devotions.
This is a difficult situation, but we must remember that “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29. Pray for grace and wisdom how to best share with your spouse why you need this time with God each day, and then be sure that throughout that day your spouse can see (by your sweet disposition, helpful service, and loving care) that your spending time with God really makes a difference for the better.
6) I’m a night owl and can’t wake up in the morning.
For starters, make sure you get to bed early enough the night before (if you need to, set an alarm to remind you it‘s time to get ready for bed), then ask God to help you form a new habit of getting up early enough to spend quality time with Him, set your alarm clock (far enough from the bed that you have to get up to turn it off), and when you wake next morning, remember that your loving Savior is waiting to meet with you. If you can’t get to sleep right away for the first few nights, don’t give up; habits take time to change, but if you stick to it, you’ll eventually be rewarded.
7) I don’t think God cares so much if I know all of the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy counsel; He just wants me to be a helpful, loving Christian.
This is a serious deception of Satan, and one that has become very common among many of God’s professed people today. The devil knows that the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy are our weapons against his temptations and deceptions in these last days, and so he tries every means he can to keep us from studying them and laying them up in our hearts. We will not grow to be more like Christ unless we continue to diligently study and apply what we learn to our lives; and none of His counsel and instruction is unimportant, a minor matter, or irrelevant for our day. Let us be faithful Bereans, ever searching for a more perfect understanding of the truth as for hid treasure.
8) I have a good pastor, and I hear the truth from him every Sabbath; I don’t need to study so much.
Knowing God and His will for your life is a personal experience. No one can do it for you. While you are very blessed if you do indeed have a solid Biblical pastor, he still cannot give to you all that God is desiring to teach you in your personal time with Him. But especially in this crisis hour, when there are so few pastors who are truly holding up the torch of truth, and so many deceptions and false doctrines and teachings spreading about, we dare not base our faith on any man’s word, but must be firmly grounded in the truth for ourselves. This is the only course of which God can approve.
9) I’ve tried and tried to live victoriously, and I just can’t.
“And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men [it is] impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” Mark 10:27. “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present [you] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” Jude 24. “Behold, I [am] the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27. God’s promises are full and abundant; claim them, memorize them, put them to song, repeat them when you are tempted! Never give up; keep trying, keep praying, keep studying and applying how God would have you to obtain the victory, put away whatever you may be holding onto that is separating you from God! God is faithful; He will not fail you if you will surrender yourself entirely to Him and then cooperate with whatever He asks you to do in His strength!
10) I don’t seem to be able to keep my connection with God throughout the day; I get distracted and let go of Him.
As we mentioned before how Satan tries to keep us so busy and distracted that we do not find the time for daily devotions, so in overcoming temptation, Satan tries to keep us so busy that we let go of our hold upon God almost as soon as we get into our day, and when temptation comes our way we hastily respond to it in the flesh without ever asking God what He would have us do. Keeping our minds stayed on God all day is a discipline, and it takes prayer and practice to become natural to us. Recognize that the over commitments and busyness are Satan’s trap, and resist them. Singing hymns and Scripture songs, quoting Scriptures you’ve memorized, lifting up your heart in quiet prayer to God throughout the day, taking time out for midday prayer, hanging Scripture verses on the wall or refrigerator, or remembering to pray whenever you do some routine thing such as washing your hands are a few simple ways you can help yourself keep your thoughts on God all day.
The next four areas cover what we call Christian standards, which are one of the main focuses of this book. In many of our churches today, we are given the impression that “standards” is almost a bad word, something only fanatics and extremists talk about. We are told that the most important things are love, outreach, a warm and accepting church environment, etc., and are lead to believe that teaching on and upholding the standards is somehow unacceptable, and even the opposite of love and care for others’ souls. Oh my friends, nothing could be further from the truth! This is exactly what Satan would have us to believe as he lulls us into Laodicean slumber. Rather, God’s word tells us that our love is evidenced by the fact that we keep the words and commandments of God (John 14:15, 23). God’s standards are given us to guard us from temptation and to keep us In the narrow way. They are for our happiness and best good.
Someone else may say, “You don’t need to talk about the standards. Just talk about conversion, and when a person is converted, right actions and outward obedience will naturally come a s a result.” Yet this is only partly true, for how can we expect right actions and outward obedience to result when there has been no instruction as to what is right and what is wrong, as to where God sets the standards? We must not be afraid to teach and to follow the standards set forth in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy.
So I plead with you not to allow any prejudices that you may have acquired, to cause you to turn away from whatever God is asking you to do.
Before we begin, though, I would like to ask you to get yourself a copy of Joe Crews’ book Creeping Compromise. It is a powerful, thought-provoking work on a number of Christian standards and how they apply to the church today. This book, written by a faithful Seventh-day Adventist minister, is a must read for every church member. It is written with compassion, while not compromising the truth that we need to hear.
CHRISTIAN HOME AND FINANCES
Home and Family Relations
Take a look at the homes of your fellow church members. Perhaps take a look into your own home. What do you see? Tragically, many Adventist homes today are hardly any different than those of the world. Dating customs and premarital sex, the high rate of divorce, confusion of the man’s and woman’s roles, rebellious children and teenagers, and debt; in all of these areas we can in many cases see almost no difference between the homes of God’s professed people and those of the world.
It is time to come back to God’s plan for family happiness! Let’s take a look at it. Once again, I only have space to give you a very brief overview, so I’m pleading with you to take time to study these areas out further for yourself.
Marriage is to be entered into with proper preparation, and with the counsel of the parents. The time of courtship is to be conducted with propriety, reserving all interactions of a sexual nature for after the wedding. Divorce needs to be looked on as not an option (except in the case of adultery), as marriage vows are for life. Husband and wife are to live together in harmony, fulfilling the roles God has assigned to them, which we will look at next. I can give you the assurance from my own experience that this truly is the best and happiest way! I wouldn’t trade it for all the so-called “freedom” that the world’s way offers.
Here is a very brief sampling of quotes on this subject. I would encourage you to read through AH 43-128, 340-347; and MYP 433-466; on your own as well.
“Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh [but] in vain.” Psalms 127:1.
“Weigh every sentiment, and watch every development of character in the one with whom you think to link your life destiny. The step you are about to take is one of the most important in your life, and should not be taken hastily. While you may love, do not love blindly. Examine carefully to see if your married life would be happy or inharmonious and wretched. Let the questions be raised, Will this union help me heavenward? Will it increase my love for God? And will it enlarge my sphere of usefulness in this life? If these reflections present no drawback, then in the fear of God move forward.” AH 45
“Let every step toward a marriage alliance be characterized by modesty, simplicity, sincerity, and an earnest purpose to please and honor God. Marriage affects the afterlife both in this world and in the world to come. A sincere Christian will make no plans that God cannot approve.” AH 49
“Love is a precious gift, which we receive from Jesus. Pure and holy affection is not a feeling, but a principle. Those who are actuated by true love are neither unreasonable nor blind.” AH 50
“Love . . . is not unreasonable; it is not blind. It is pure and holy. But the passion of the natural heart is another thing altogether. While pure love will take God into all its plans, and will be in perfect harmony with the Spirit of God, passion will be headstrong, rash, unreasonable, defiant of all restraint, and will make the object of its choice an idol. In all the deportment of one who possesses true love, the grace of God will be shown. Modesty, simplicity, sincerity, morality, and religion will characterize every step toward an alliance in marriage.” AH 50
“The ideas of courtship have their foundation in erroneous ideas concerning marriage. They follow impulse and blind passion. The courtship is carried on in a spirit of flirtation. The parties frequently violate the rules of modesty and reserve and are guilty of indiscretion, if they do not break the law of God. The high, noble, lofty design of God in the institution of marriage is not discerned; therefore the purest affections of the heart, the noblest traits of character are not developed. Not one word should be spoken, not one action performed, that you would not be willing the holy angels should look upon and register in the books above. You should have an eye single to the glory of God. The heart should have only pure, sanctified affection, worthy of the followers of Jesus Christ, exalted in its nature, and more heavenly than earthly.” AH 55
“Never should God's people venture upon forbidden ground. Marriage between believers and unbelievers is forbidden by God.” AH 63
“If there is any subject that should be considered with calm reason and unimpassioned judgment, it is the subject of marriage. If ever the Bible is needed as a counselor, it is before taking a step that binds persons together for life.” AH 70
“If men and women are in the habit of praying twice a day before they contemplate marriage, they should pray four times a day when such a step is anticipated. Marriage is something that will influence and affect your life, both in this world and in the world to come. . .” AH 71
“The fifth commandment is the only commandment to which is annexed a promise, but it is held lightly and is even positively ignored by the lover's claim. Slighting a mother's love, dishonoring a father's care are sins that stand registered against many youth. If there ever was a subject that needed to be viewed from every standpoint, it is this. The aid of the experience of others and a calm, careful weighing of the matter on both sides are positively essential.” AH 73
“God made from the man a woman, to be a companion and helpmeet for him, to be one with him, to cheer, encourage, and bless him, he in his turn to be her strong helper. All who enter into matrimonial relations with a holy purpose--the husband to obtain the pure affections of a woman's heart, the wife to soften and improve her husband's character and give it completeness--fulfill God's purpose for them.” AH 99
“As life with its burden of perplexity and care meets the newly wedded pair, the romance with which imagination so often invests marriage disappears. Husband and wife learn each other's character as it was impossible to learn it in their previous association. This is a most critical period in their experience. The happiness and usefulness of their whole future life depend upon their taking a right course now. Often they discern in each other unsuspected weaknesses and defects; but the hearts that love has united will discern excellencies also heretofore unknown. Let all seek to discover the excellencies rather than the defects. Often it is our own attitude, the atmosphere that surrounds ourselves, which determines what will be revealed to us in another.” AH 105
“God tests and proves us by the common occurrences of life. It is the little things which reveal the chapters of the heart. It is the little attentions, the numerous small incidents and simple courtesies of life, that make up the sum of life's happiness; and it is the neglect of kindly, encouraging, affectionate words, and the little courtesies of life, which helps compose the sum of life's wretchedness. It will be found at last that the denial of self for the good and happiness of those around us constitutes a large share of the life record in heaven. And the fact will also be revealed that the care of self, irrespective of the good and happiness of others, is not beneath the notice of our heavenly Father.” AH 108, 109
“Men and women can reach God's ideal for them if they will take Christ as their helper. What human wisdom cannot do, His grace will accomplish for those who give themselves to Him in loving trust. His providence can unite hearts in bonds that are of heavenly origin. Love will not be a mere exchange of soft and flattering words. The loom of heaven weaves with warp and woof finer, yet more firm, than can be woven by the looms of earth. The result is not a tissue fabric, but a texture that will bear wear and test and trial. Heart will be bound to heart in the golden bonds of a love that is enduring.” AH 112, 113
“The Lord has constituted the husband the head of the wife to be her protector; he is the house-band of the family, binding the members together, even as Christ is the head of the church and the Saviour of the mystical body. Let every husband who claims to love God carefully study the requirements of God in his position. Christ's authority is exercised in wisdom, in all kindness and gentleness; so let the husband exercise his power and imitate the great Head of the church. The husband should remember that much of the burden of training his children rests upon the mother. . . . This should call into exercise his tenderest feelings, and with care should he lighten her burdens. He should encourage her to lean upon his large affections. Neither the husband nor the wife should attempt to exercise over the other an arbitrary control. Do not try to compel each other to yield to your wishes. You cannot do this and retain each other's love. Be kind, patient, and forbearing, considerate, and courteous. By the grace of God you can succeed in making each other happy, as in your marriage vow you promised to do. Marriage, a union for life, is a symbol of the union between Christ and His church. The spirit that Christ manifests toward His church is the spirit that the husband and wife are to manifest toward each other. If they love God supremely, they will love each other in the Lord. . . . In their mutual self-denial and self-sacrifice they will be a blessing to each other. . . . God wants the home to be the happiest place on earth, the very symbol of the home in heaven. Bearing the marriage responsibilities in the home, linking their interests with Jesus Christ, leaning upon His arm and His assurance, husband and wife may share a happiness in this union that angels of God commend. Marriage does not lessen their usefulness, but strengthens it.” FLB 259
“The husband is the head of the family, as Christ is the head of the church; and any course which the wife may pursue to lessen his influence and lead him to come down from that dignified, responsible position is displeasing to God. It is the duty of the wife to yield her wishes and will to her husband. Both should be yielding, but the Word of God gives preference to the judgment of the husband. And it will not detract from the dignity of the wife to yield to him whom she has chosen to be her counselor, adviser, and protector. The husband should maintain his position in his family with all meekness, yet with decision.” 1T 307, 308
“’For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, and He [referring to Christ], is the Saviour of the body,’ or church. Christ's rule is one of wisdom and love, and when husbands fulfill their obligations to their wives, they will use their authority with the same tenderness as Christ uses toward the church. When the Spirit of Christ controls the husband, the wife's subjection will only result in rest and benefit, for he will require from her only that which will result in good, and in the same way that Christ requires submission from the church. . . .” 7MR 207
“The requirements of the husband may sometimes seem unreasonable to the wife, when if she should calmly, candidly take the second view of the matter, in as favorable a light for him as possible, she would see that to yield her own way and submit to his judgment, even if it conflicted with her feelings, would save them both from unhappiness and would give them great victory over the temptations of Satan.” 1T 308
“The question is often asked, ‘Shall a wife have no will of her own?’ The Bible plainly states that the husband is the head of the family. ‘Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands.’ If this injunction ended here, we might say that the position of the wife is not an enviable one; it is a very hard and trying position in very many cases, and it would be better were there fewer marriages. Many husbands stop at the words, ‘Wives, submit yourselves,’ but we will read the conclusion of the same injunction, which is. ‘As it is fit in the Lord.’ God requires that the wife shall keep the fear and glory of God ever before her. Entire submission is to be made only to the Lord Jesus Christ, who has purchased her as His own child by the infinite price of His life. God has given her a conscience, which she cannot violate with impunity. Her individuality cannot be merged into that of her husband, for she is the purchase of Christ. It is a mistake to imagine that with blind devotion she is to do exactly as her husband says in all things, when she knows that in so doing, injury would be worked for her body and her spirit, which have been ransomed from the slavery of Satan. There is One who stands higher than the husband to the wife; it is her Redeemer, and her submission to her husband is to be rendered as God has directed—‘as it is fit in the Lord.’ We must have the Spirit of God, or we can never have harmony in the home. The wife, if she has the spirit of Christ, will be careful of her words; she will control her spirit, she will be submissive, and yet will not feel that she is a bondslave, but a companion to her husband. If the husband is a servant of God, he will not lord it over his wife; he will not be arbitrary and exacting. We cannot cherish home affection with too much care; for the home, if the Spirit of the Lord dwells there, is a type of heaven. If one errs, the other will exercise Christlike forbearance and not draw coldly away.” CCh 138
“Every marriage engagement should be carefully considered, for marriage is a step taken for life. Both the man and the woman should carefully consider whether they can cleave to each other through the vicissitudes of life as long as they both shall live.” AH 340
“A woman may be legally divorced from her husband by the laws of the land and yet not divorced in the sight of God and according to the higher law. There is only one sin, which is adultery, which can place the husband or wife in a position where they can be free from the marriage vow in the sight of God. Although the laws of the land may grant a divorce, yet they are husband and wife still in the Bible light, according to the laws of God.” AH 344 (see Matthew 19:8,9 ).
“There is a sacred circle around every family which should be preserved. No other one has any right in that sacred circle. The husband and wife should be all to each other. The wife should have no secrets to keep from her husband and let others know, and the husband should have no secrets to keep from his wife to relate to others. The heart of his wife should be the grave for the faults of the husband, and the heart of the husband the grave for his wife's faults. Never should either party indulge in a joke at the expense of the other's feelings. Never should either the husband or wife in sport or in any other manner complain of each other to others, for frequently indulging in this foolish and what may seem perfectly harmless joking will end in trial with each other and perhaps estrangement. I have been shown that there should be a sacred shield around every family.” AH 177
Biblical Roles For Men and Women
We need to willingly accept the roles God has assigned to us as men or as women. The Bible is absolutely clear what these roles are. When God created man, He made the woman to be his helpmeet. ‘…the head of the woman is the man;…For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” 1 Corinthians 11:3-9 (see also Genesis 2:18-24). After Adam and Eve sinned, God told Eve, “…thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Genesis 3:16. And these roles are repeatedly confirmed throughout the New Testament. “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands…Likewise ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel,…” 1 Peter 3:1-7. “teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, [To be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Titus 2:4, 5. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. (Colossians 3:18 says, “as it is fit in the Lord”. In other words, obey them only as long as what they’re asking you to do is in harmony with God’s word. God must always come first in everything.) For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;… Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife [see] that she reverence [her] husband.” Ephesians 5:22-25, 33.
My friends, let’s be honest with ourselves. Isn’t this women’s liberation and women’s rights movement in direct opposition to the commands of Scripture? Ellen White wrote, “Those who feel called out to join the movement in favor of woman's rights… might as well sever all connection with the third angel's message. The spirit which attends the one cannot be in harmony with the other.” 1T 457. That is serious! Sisters, please won’t you come in line with God’s word and come back home where you belong, especially if you have children? God has given you a work to do, and it is not in developing a big career for yourself outside the home. Your career is in your home. Cut back on spending and live simpler if need be, but if at all possible, be at home for your husband and your children, where God intends for you to be.
This encouragement and counsel is for you: “All the work we do that is necessary to be done, be it washing dishes, setting tables, waiting upon the sick, cooking, or washing, is of moral importance. . . . The humble tasks before us are to be taken up by someone; and those who do them should feel that they are doing a necessary and honorable work, and that in their mission, humble though it may be, they are doing the work of God just as surely as was Gabriel when sent to the prophets. All are working in their order in their respective spheres. Woman in her home, doing the simple duties of life that must be done, can and should exhibit faithfulness, obedience, and love, as sincere as angels in their sphere. Conformity to the will of God makes any work honorable that must be done.” AH 24
“The mother's work often seems to her an unimportant service. It is a work that is rarely appreciated. Others know little of her many cares and burdens. Her days are occupied with a round of little duties, all calling for patient effort, for self-control, for tact, wisdom, and self-sacrificing love; yet she cannot boast of what she has done as any great achievement. She has only kept things in the home running smoothly; often weary and perplexed, she has tried to speak kindly to the children, to keep them busy and happy, and to guide the little feet in the right path. She feels that she has accomplished nothing. But it is not so. Heavenly angels watch the care-worn mother, noting the burdens she carries day by day. Her name may not have been heard in the world, but it is written in the Lamb's book of life.” MH 376
“There is a God above, and the light and glory from His throne rests upon the faithful mother as she tries to educate her children to resist the influence of evil. No other work can equal hers in importance. She has not, like the artist, to paint a form of beauty upon canvas, nor, like the sculptor, to chisel it from marble. She has not, like the author, to embody a noble thought in words of power, nor, like the musician, to express a beautiful sentiment in melody. It is hers, with the help of God, to develop in a human soul the likeness of the divine. The mother who appreciates this will regard her opportunities as priceless. Earnestly will she seek, in her own character and by her methods of training, to present before her children the highest ideal. Earnestly, patiently, courageously, she will endeavor to improve her own abilities, that she may use aright the highest powers of the mind in the training of her children. Earnestly will she inquire at every step, "What hath God spoken?" Diligently she will study His word. She will keep her eyes fixed upon Christ, that her own daily experience, in the lowly round of care and duty, may be a true reflection of the one true Life.” MH 378
“What an important work! And yet we hear mothers sighing for missionary work! If they could only go to some foreign country, they would feel that they were doing something worth while. But to take up the daily duties of the home life and carry them forward seems to them like an exhausting and thankless task. Mothers who sigh for a missionary field have one at hand in their own home circle. . . . Are not the souls of her own children of as much value as the souls of the heathen? With what care and tenderness should she watch their growing minds and connect God with all their thoughts! Who can do this as well as a loving, God-fearing mother? There are some who think that unless they are directly connected with active religious work, they are not doing the will of God; but this is a mistake. Everyone has a work to do for the Master; it is a wonderful work to make home pleasant and all that it ought to be. The humblest talents, if the heart of the recipient is given to God, will make the home life all that God would have it. A bright light will shine forth as the result of wholehearted service to God. Men and women can just as surely serve God by giving earnest heed to the things which they have heard, by educating their children to live and fear to offend God, as can the minister in the pulpit. These women who are doing with ready willingness what their hands find to do, with cheerfulness of spirit aiding their husbands to bear their burdens and training their children for God, are missionaries in the highest sense.” AH 245
“If you ignore your duty as a wife and mother and hold out your hands for the Lord to put another class of work in them, be sure that He will not contradict Himself; He points you to the duty you have to do at home. If you have the idea that some work greater and holier than this has been entrusted to you, you are under a deception. By faithfulness in your own home, working for the souls of those who are nearest to you, you may be gaining a fitness to work for Christ in a wider field. But be sure that those who are neglectful of their duty in the home circle are not prepared to work for other souls. The Lord has not called you to neglect your home and your husband and children. He never works in this way; and He never will. . . . Never for a moment suppose that God has given you a work that will necessitate a separation from your precious little flock. Do not leave them to become demoralized by improper associations and to harden their hearts against their mother. This is letting your light shine in a wrong way, altogether; you are making it more difficult for your children to become what God would have them and win heaven at last. God cares for them, and so must you if you claim to be His child.” AH 245, 246
“If married men go into the work, leaving their wives to care for the children at home, the wife and mother is doing fully as great and important a work as is the husband and father. While one is in the missionary field, the other is a home missionary, whose cares and anxieties and burdens frequently far exceed those of the husband and father. The mother's work is a solemn and important one,--to mould the minds and fashion the characters of her children, to train them for usefulness here, and to fit them for the future immortal life. The husband, in the open missionary field, may receive the honor of men, while the home toiler may receive no earthly credit for her labor; but if she works for the best interests of her family, seeking to fashion their characters after the divine Model, the recording angel writes her name as one of the greatest missionaries in the world.” GW 203
The home is to be made the happiest place on earth, a place where husband and children love to be, and a testimony for God to those who see it. “Home should be made all that the word implies, a little heaven on earth….” AH 15. “The home should be to the children the most attractive place in the world, and the mother’s presence should be its greatest attraction.” AH 21. “One well-ordered, well-disciplined family tells more in behalf of Christianity than all the sermons that can be preached…. The greatest evidence of the power of Christianity that can be presented to the world is a well-ordered, well-disciplined family. This will recommend the truth as nothing else can, for it is a living witness of its practical power upon the heart.” AH 32
Parents, it is your responsibility to raise your children, those precious blessings God has lent to you, in the fear of the Lord. No one else (daycare, teachers, Sabbath school leaders, Pastors, etc.) can take this responsibility for you, because God has given it to you. He has placed your children in your care, and it is of you that He will require an account of how you have raised them. Firmly and consistently, but in love, teach them to love and obey the Lord, and to love and obey you as their parents. Let your example show them how to find true happiness. I would encourage you to read Adventist Home 159-302, and Child Guidance, for invaluable practical counsel on how to be the parents God wants you to be.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6. “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4.
“Children are the heritage of the Lord, and we are answerable to Him for our management of His property. . . . In love, faith, and prayer let parents work for their households, until with joy they can come to God saying, ‘Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me.’” AH 159
“Children are committed to their parents as a precious trust, which God will one day require at their hands. We should give to their training more time, more care, and more prayer. They need more of the right kind of instruction. . . . Remember that your sons and daughters are younger members of God's family. He has committed them to your care, to train and educate for heaven. You must render an account to Him for the manner in which you discharge your sacred trust.” AH 161
“Parents, you carry responsibilities that no one can bear for you. As long as you live, you are accountable to God to keep His way. . . . Parents who make the word of God their guide, and who realize how much their children depend upon them for the characters they form, will set an example that it will be safe for their children to follow.” AH 187
“The Lord has entrusted to parents a solemn, sacred work. They are to cultivate carefully the soil of the heart. Thus they may be laborers together with God. He expects them to guard and tend carefully the garden of their children's hearts. They are to sow the good seed, weeding out every unsightly weed. Every defect in character, every fault in disposition, needs to be cut away; for if allowed to remain, these will mar the beauty of the character.” AH 200
“Parents, your own home is the first field in which you are called to labor. The precious plants in the home garden demand your first care. To you it is appointed to watch for souls as they that must give account. Carefully consider your work, its nature, its bearing, and its results.” AH 200
“You have before your own door a little plot of ground to care for, and God will hold you responsible for this work which He has left in your hands.” AH 200
“Children derive life and being from their parents, and yet it is through the creative power of God that your children have life, for God is the Life-giver. Let it be remembered that children are not to be treated as though they were our own personal property. Children are the heritage of the Lord, and the plan of redemption includes their salvation as well as ours. They have been entrusted to parents in order that they might be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, that they might be qualified to do their work in time and eternity.” AH 280
Along this same line, I want to encourage you to seriously consider home schooling your children. The corrupt influences in public schools and church schools alike are such that they will almost surely bring ruin to your children’s souls. Shield them from these. The same goes for the college years. A child may be trained at home or apprenticed in some useful trade and not need to go to college at all. Do not feel that you are unqualified to teach your children. You, as their mother, are the best qualified; and God will help you!
I was home schooled for 11 of my 12 grades and I will never regret it. I am so thankful that my Mother taught me at home! As far as lack of social interaction, I never found it to be a problem. My parents and my sister were my best friends, and I had plenty of opportunity to interact with others of all ages at church, and meet godly friends at camp meetings.
The Spirit of Prophecy gives a very clear picture of what is at stake in sending your children to public schools, and if this was the case a hundred years ago, how much more is it so today! “In sending children to the public schools, parents are placing them under demoralizing influences--influences that injure the morals and habits. In such surroundings, children often receive instruction that trains them to be enemies of Christ. They lose sight of piety and virtue. Many public schools are permeated by the baneful influence of boys and girls who are experts in sin.” CT 200.
These same influences can creep into our homes if we allow them to, through TV, books, magazines, movies, etc.; but we will look at these areas more later. You have the power to choose to keep these attractions of sin out of your home. Fill your home with the happiness of love for each other and love for the Lord instead, and your children will not need these things to keep them occupied.
Do you have family worship in your home morning and evening? You need to. This will help greatly in drawing your family together. We are told in EV 499, “Evening and morning join with your children in God’s worship, reading His Word and singing His praise.”
I would really like to encourage you to get a copy of the books Escape to God and Empowered Living by Jim Hohnberger. They offer extremely practical Biblical solutions with personal experiences for how to learn to walk with God and revitalize your marriage and family. Our family has been extremely blessed by them. They are available through the ABC Center or directly from Empowered Living Ministries.
How about where we live? Does it matter to God? It certainly does! I believe with all my heart that God wants us to live in the country, away from the corrupting influences of the world. This has been God’s plan since creation, and can be seen in the experiences of Adam and Eve, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, Jesus, and many others.
I have personally experienced (and continue to every day) the blessing of country living. When I was ten, my family made the move from our new home in a nice housing development to an old farmhouse on a farm in the mountains. That decision my parents made greatly affected my life for the good, and I am a different person today than I would have been had we stayed where we were there. I will be forever grateful for the sacrifice they made of comforts, conveniences, a good job, and an elegant home for the well-being of their children.
Now I will let the inspired writings speak for themselves on this subject. All of these quotations are taken from the little book Country Living. I would encourage you to get a copy for yourself and read it, as well as AH 131-147.
“In the beginning He placed our first parents amidst the beautiful sights and sounds He desires us to rejoice in today. The more nearly we come into harmony with God's original plan, the more favorable will be our position to secure health of body, and mind, and soul.” CL 6
“There is not one family in a hundred who will be improved physically, mentally, or spiritually, by residing in the city. Faith, hope, love, happiness, can far better be gained in retired places, where there are fields and hills and trees.” CL 13
She also wrote of how “the work of character building is tenfold harder for both parents and children” in the city. CL 13
“Are you preparing the members of your families for translation into the heavenly courts?… How will ease, comfort, convenience, compare with the value of the souls of your children?” CL 13
“It would be well for you to lay by your perplexing cares, and find a retreat in the country, where there is not so strong an influence to corrupt the morals of the young…. you would there avoid many evils and close the door against a flood of temptations which threaten to overpower the minds of your children.” CL 16
“If we place ourselves under objectionable influences, can we expect God to work a miracle to undo the results of our wrong course? --No, indeed. Get out of the cities as soon as possible…” CL 17
“Who will be warned? We say again, Out of the cities. Do not consider it a great deprivation, that you must go into the hills and mountains, but seek for that retirement where you can be alone with God, to learn His will and way. . . . I urge our people to make it their lifework to seek for spirituality. Christ is at the door. This is why I say to our people, Do not consider it a privation when you are called to leave the cities and move out into the country places. Here there await rich blessings for those who will grasp them. By beholding the scenes of nature, the works of the Creator, by studying God's handiwork, imperceptibly you will be changed into the same image.” CL 14
An Agrarian Life
Along with the call to country living comes the call to be an agrarian people. My friends, there is too much easy indoor living and office working among our people today. We are missing out on some of the greatest character-building opportunities God has provided for us if we are not growing a garden and raising our own food; and the time is coming soon when we will be dependant on this means for survival.
“Again and again the Lord has instructed that our people are to take their families away from the cities, into the country, where they can raise their own provisions; for in the future the problem of buying and selling will be a very serious one. We should now ( written in 1904; how much more today!) begin to heed the instruction given us over and over again: Get out of the cities into rural districts, where the houses are not crowded closely together, and where you will be free from the interference of enemies.” CL 9, 10
“If the land is cultivated, it will, with the blessing of God, supply our necessities.” CL 17
“Many are unwilling to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow, and they refuse to till the soil. But the earth has blessings hidden in her depths for those who have courage and will and perseverance to gather her treasures. Fathers and mothers who possess a piece of land and a comfortable home are kings and queens.” CL 18
“I see the necessity of the people of God moving out of the cities into retired country [places,] where they may cultivate the land and raise their own produce…. I see the necessity of making haste to get all things ready for the crisis.” (1897) CL 21
How Far Out?
The question may come to your mind, how far out do we need to be? To get an idea, in Ellen White’s time, Los Angelos was one of the major cities in the U.S., and it’s population (in 1900) was around 100,000. Today it is close to 4,000,000. Speaking of San Francisco, then a city of around 300,000, she wrote, “our people should be miles from such cities.” In speaking of a sight where a school was to be established, which was 8-10 miles from the little town of St. Helena, she wrote that it was a perfect distance away. The objective was to be close enough to evangelize it, but far enough away so as not to be tempted by its corrupting influences. So let’s put this into perspective for today’s era of automobiles. It would have taken from 1-2 hours to go 8-10 miles by horse and buggy, depending on the terrain; so today we could be much farther away from a city or town than 8-10 miles, and still be able to get there in the same amount of time.
The Simple Life
The call to the country is also a call to a simple life. Now is no time for us to be buying up for ourselves treasures on earth - a large home, elegant furnishings, a wardrobe full of expensive clothes, a fancy car, etc. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-21. Soon all our earthly possessions will be burnt up. The only things that will last are the treasures we have laid up in heaven - ourselves, our family, and others we have led to Christ, saved eternally.
We are told, “Puritan plainness and simplicity should mark the dwellings and apparel of all who believe the solemn truths for this time. All means needlessly expended in dress or in the adorning of our houses is a waste of our Lord's money.” 5T 189
“Should we dress in plain, modest apparel without reference to the fashions; should our tables at all times be set with simple, healthful food, avoiding all luxuries, all extravagance; should our houses be built with becoming plainness, and furnished in the same manner, it would show the sanctifying power of the truth, and would have a telling influence upon unbelievers. But while we conform to the world in these matters, in some cases apparently seeking to excel worldlings in fanciful arrangement, the preaching of the truth will have but little or no effect. Who will believe the solemn truth for this time, when those who already profess to believe it contradict their faith by their works?” CD 90
Let’s look at the life of Jesus, our Example: “ An expensive dwelling, elaborate furnishings, display, luxury, and ease, do not furnish the conditions essential to a happy, useful life. Jesus came to this earth to accomplish the greatest work ever accomplished among men. He came as God's ambassador, to show us how to live so as to secure life's best results. What were the conditions chosen by the infinite Father for His Son? A secluded home in the Galilean hills; a household sustained by honest, self-respecting labor; a life of simplicity; daily conflict with difficulty and hardship; self-sacrifice, economy, and patient, gladsome service; the hour of study at His mother's side, with the open scroll of Scripture; the quiet of dawn or twilight in the green valley; the holy ministries of nature; the study of creation and providence; and the soul's communion with God,--these were the conditions and opportunities of the early life of Jesus.” CL 14, 15
A Loitering Spirit
I’d like to wrap up this brief study of the call to simple country living with a look at the danger of a loitering spirit. We are all familiar with the story in Genesis 19 of how God saved Lot out of Sodom before it was destroyed. It would be good for you to read it again. The lessons it contains are very applicable to us today. Verse 16 says that even after the angels hastened Lot to leave the doomed city, “he lingered”. We are told in CL 6,7 that if Lot had hastened as he was told to, and not had such a lingering spirit, his wife would not have become a pillar of salt. Oh, what a fatal mistake! But my friends, are you lingering? Are you taking your merry time to obey the counsel because you don’t want to give up your nice home or comfortable, easy lifestyle? Ellen White spoke of “pleading with some families to avail themselves of God's appointed means, and get away from the cities to save their children. Some were loitering, making no determined efforts.” CL 6
If you have been convicted that the Lord would have you move your family into the country, you need to step forward; make an effort to begin to do what God is calling you to do. Please don’t linger, as Lot did, until it is too late.
This really leads us right into the next area we will look at, which is the area of finances.
In the face of current financial instabilities in our nation and in the world, is it necessary for God’s people to be in unstable financial situations in their own lives? No, it is not. God has given us some very helpful counsel, which, if followed, will be a great blessing in any home.
#1 Learn the lesson of economy.
Learn to buy only what supplies genuine needs; not mere wants. Learn to restrain yourself from spending money needlessly - even little bits here and there add up very quickly. You might find it helpful to follow the rule not to buy anything unless you have had it on your shopping list at least a week, and still need it. Don’t fall into the trap of materialism - thinking that money and possessions brings happiness. Don’t try to compete with wealthy neighbors, friends, or relatives; but be content to live simply, and learn to enjoy the things that don’t cost anything - a walk in nature, family time, sharing with someone in need, etc. Experience the blessing of giving your extra to the cause of God rather than spending it on yourself.
Let’s take a look at the counsel:
“We should ever remember that in the judgment we must meet the record of the way we use God's money. Much is spent in self-pleasing, self-gratification, that does us no real good, but positive injury. If we realize that God is the giver of all good things, that the money is His, then we shall exercise wisdom in its expenditure, conforming to His holy will. “ AH 368
“Money is a constant test of the affections. Whoever acquires more than sufficient for his real needs should seek wisdom and grace to know his own heart and to keep his heart diligently, lest he have imaginary wants and become an unfaithful steward, using with prodigality his Lord's entrusted capital. When we love God supremely, temporal things will occupy their right place in our affections.” AH 372
“You can and should make determined efforts to bring under control your disposition to spend means beyond your income.” AH 393
“I wish I could impress on every mind the grievous sinfulness of wasting the Lord's money on fancied wants. The expenditure of sums that look small may start a train of circumstances that will reach into eternity. When the judgment shall sit, and the books are opened, the losing side will be presented to your view--the good that you might have done with the accumulated mites and the larger sums that were used for wholly selfish purposes.” AH 383
“ Church-members…should practice self-denial and economy,…. We are pilgrims and strangers, seeking a better country, and every soul should make a covenant with God by sacrifice. The time for saving souls is short, and whatever is not needed in supplying positive necessities, should be brought as a thank-offering to God.” GW 454
Ask yourself honestly, my friend, “Did I really need that stylish dress I just bought, or the sporty truck, or the new digital camera? Was it necessary to eat out five days last week, or to buy that ticket for the ballgame? Won’t you make a commitment from this moment on, by the power of God, to learn to practice self-denial and self-control in your spending, even if it means throwing your credit cards away (I’m serious), and limiting your shopping trips to once a month. You will not regret it in the long-run.
#2 Get out and stay out of debt.
“Be determined never to incur another debt. Deny yourself a thousand things rather than run in debt. This has been the curse of your life, getting into debt. Avoid it as you would the smallpox. Make a solemn covenant with God that by His blessing you will pay your debts and then owe no man anything if you live on porridge and bread…. Take care of the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves. It is the mites here and the mites there that are spent for this, that, and the other that soon run up into dollars…. Deny your taste, deny the indulgence of appetite, save your pence, and pay your debts. Work them off as fast as possible. When you can stand forth a free man again, owing no man anything (Romans 13:8), you will have achieved a great victory.” AH 393, 394
“The practice of borrowing money to relieve some pressing necessity, and making no calculation for canceling the indebtedness, however common, is demoralizing. The Lord would have all who believe the truth converted from these self-deceiving practices. They should choose rather to suffer want than to commit a dishonest act.” CS 255
I believe this counsel speaks for itself. It may take some radical decisions, but once you have gotten free from the bondage of debt, if you will follow the principles in point #1, you will be able to stay out.
#3 Pay your tithe faithfully for the purpose God ordained.
Malachi 3:8-10 says, “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].” Verses 11-12 continue with more blessings.
What is the purpose for the tithe? “I have had special instruction from the Lord that the tithe is for a special purpose, consecrated to God to sustain those who minister in the sacred work, as the Lord's chosen to do His work not only in sermonizing, but in ministering.” 1MR 187
What does the Lord say of those who are diverting the tithe for any other purpose than this? “A very plain, definite message has been given to me for our people. I am bidden to tell them that they are making a mistake in applying the tithe to various objects which, though good in themselves, are not the object to which the Lord has said that the tithe should be applied. Those who make this use of the tithe are departing from the Lord's arrangement. God will judge for these things. One reasons that the tithe may be applied to school purposes. Still others reason that canvassers and colporteurs should be supported from the tithe. But a great mistake is made when the tithe is drawn from the object for which it is to be used--the support of the ministers. There should be today in the field one hundred well qualified laborers where now there is but one.” 9T 248, 249
My friends, it is your God-given responsibility to know, not just assume, where your tithe money is going, and to be sure that it is being used for the only purpose God intended it. If it is not being used for that purpose, it is your duty to send it where it will be.
“As there are woes for those who preach the truth while they are unsanctified in heart and life, so there are woes for those who receive and maintain the unsanctified in the position which they cannot fill.” 2T 552
“ The churches must arouse. The members must awake out of sleep and begin to inquire, How is the money which we put into the treasury being used? The Lord desires that a close search be made. Are all satisfied with the history of the work for the past fifteen years? Where is the evidence of the co-working with God? Where has been heard throughout the churches the prayer for the help of the Holy Spirit? Dissatisfied and disheartened, we turn away from the scene.” Kress Collection 120
Sabbath - Keeping
Let’s take a look now at God’s special day, the Sabbath. We are all probably familiar with how the beautiful truth of the Sabbath, God’s memorial and seal, is taught throughout the Bible. Now let’s look at the Sabbath very practically and ask, how does God want me to keep it? What is your typical Sabbath like? Sleep in, hurried breakfast, no time for devotions, rush off in time to barely make it to church service, try to stay awake through the sermon, eat a big fellowship dinner or eat out at a restaurant, go home and take a nap…? Does any of this sound familiar to you? As in the other areas we have been looking at, God has a better plan for us. Remember, He has our best interest and happiness in view.
What is going on in heaven on Sabbath?
“All heaven is keeping the Sabbath, but not in a listless, do-nothing way. On this day every energy of the soul should be awake, for are we not to meet with God and with Christ our Saviour?” 6T 362
How shall we prepare for the Sabbath?
“On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. See that all the clothing is in readiness and that all the cooking is done. Let the boots be blacked and the baths be taken. It is possible to do this. If you make it a rule you can do it. The Sabbath is not to be given to the repairing of garments, to the cooking of food, to pleasure seeking, or to any other worldly employment. Before the setting of the sun let all secular work be laid aside and all secular papers be put out of sight….We should jealously guard the edges of the Sabbath. Remember that every moment is consecrated, holy time.” 6T 355
“Before the setting of the sun, let the members of the family assemble to read God's Word, to sing and pray.” 6T 356
What should Sabbath morning be like?
“Let not the precious hours of the Sabbath be wasted in bed. On Sabbath morning the family should be astir early. If they rise late, there is confusion and bustle in preparing for breakfast and Sabbath school. There is hurrying, jostling, and impatience. Thus unholy feelings come into the home. The Sabbath, thus desecrated, becomes a weariness, and its coming is dreaded rather than loved.” 6T 357
Is going to church important?
“ Some have made a serious mistake in neglecting to attend the public worship of God. The privileges of divine service will be as beneficial to them as to others, and are fully as essential.” 4T 539
It is not really important whether your church is large or small or even in a home. Jesus said wherever two or three were gathered in His name, He would be in their midst (Matthew 18:20). As long as you come together reverently to worship Him and learn His will for your life, He will be there.
It would be well for each of us to study out the subject of reverence in church as well. The church is God’s house, a place where we come to worship Him, and we should behave as we would in the visible presence of the King of the universe - very reverently. How do you think God feels when children are running around laughing and screaming, cell phones are ringing/playing and we’re rushing to answer them, and young people and adults are whispering during the sermon and loudly laughing and chatting in the sanctuary afterwards? I’m afraid that sometimes without realizing it, we treat our Lord very rudely. May we make a commitment to come higher, by God’s grace.
What should our words and acts on the Sabbath be?
“ When the Sabbath commences, we should place a guard upon ourselves, upon our acts and our words, lest we rob God by appropriating to our own use that time which is strictly the Lord's…. God requires not only that we refrain from physical labor upon the Sabbath, but that the mind be disciplined to dwell upon sacred themes. The fourth commandment is virtually transgressed by conversing upon worldly things or by engaging in light and trifling conversation. Talking upon anything or everything which may come into the mind is speaking our own words.” 2T 702, 703
“Work that is neglected until the beginning of the Sabbath should remain undone until it is past.” PP 296
“Those who discuss business matters or lay plans on the Sabbath are regarded by God as though engaged in the actual transaction of business. To keep the Sabbath holy, we should not even allow our minds to dwell upon things of a worldly character.” PP 307
How shall we eat and prepare food on the Sabbath?
“All who are really anxious to observe the Sabbath according to the commandment, will not cook any food upon the Sabbath. They will, in the fear of that God who gave his law from Sinai, deny themselves, and eat food prepared upon the sixth day, even if it is not as palatable. God forbade the children of Israel baking and boiling upon the Sabbath. That prohibition should be regarded by every Sabbath-keeper, as a solemn injunction from Jehovah to them.” 3SG 254
“ We should not provide for the Sabbath a more liberal supply or a greater variety of food than for other days. Instead of this the food should be more simple, and less should be eaten, in order that the mind may be clear and vigorous to comprehend spiritual things. Overeating befogs the brain…. While cooking upon the Sabbath should be avoided, it is not necessary to eat cold food. In cold weather let the food prepared the day before be heated. And let the meals, though simple, be palatable and attractive. Provide something that will be regarded as a treat, something the family do not have every day.” 6T 357
There is an increasing practice among some Adventists to go and eat out on Sabbath. If you have found yourself going along with this, I plead with you to put it away. Sabbath is not a day for buying and selling (see Nehemiah 13:17-22), and a restaurant does not surround you with a sacred atmosphere conducive to thinking on heavenly things.
How should we guide our children on the Sabbath?
“The Sabbath school and the meeting for worship occupy only a part of the Sabbath. The portion remaining to the family may be made the most sacred and precious season of all the Sabbath hours…. The children can be interested in good reading or in conversation about the salvation of their souls. But they will have to be educated and trained. The natural heart does not love to think of God, of heaven, or of heavenly things…. Parents, above everything take care of your children upon the Sabbath. Do not suffer them to violate God's holy day by playing in the house or out-of-doors. You may just as well break the Sabbath yourselves as to let your children do it, and when you suffer your children to wander about and suffer them to play upon the Sabbath, God looks upon you as Sabbathbreakers. The parents may take their children outdoors to view God in nature.” CG 532
How important is this?
Is this even a matter of much importance to God? Will my small infractions on the hours of the Sabbath be brought up in the judgment , or won’t God overlook them?
Here is the counsel given in 4T 249 to one brother who was breaking the Sabbath: “Brother K, how dare you venture to transgress a commandment so solemn and important? Has the Lord made an exception by which you are absolved from the law He has given to the world? Are your transgressions omitted from the book of record? Has He agreed to excuse your disobedience when the nations come before Him for judgment? Do not for a moment deceive yourself with the thought that your sin will not bring its merited punishment. Your transgressions will be visited with the rod, because you have had the light, yet have walked directly contrary to it.”
Memorize and keep in your heart the promise and instruction given in Isaiah 58:13, 14: “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, [from] doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it].”
This concludes our look at the Christian home. Always remember that our home life here is a preparation for the home in heaven. Won’t you make the commitment to surrender to God in the areas where you’ve been holding back from obedience, and be faithful in the “little” things so that He may account you worthy to be entrusted with greater things, and safe to bring into the heavenly kingdom?
Answers to Objections
Following are 16 common objections to the things we have studied on the topic of the Christian home and finances. (The first 4 deal specifically with the wife’s role.)
1) I’m an independent person and like to think for myself. I don’t like to submit.
You don’t need to take into account your natural feelings or temperaments, you just need to humbly accept the beautiful role God has assigned to you as wives and mothers, and find true happiness and contentment in obedience to God’s plan.
2) I want a career myself. I can’t afford to stay home with the children.
The question you must ask yourself is, where has God, through His Word, called you to be? Don’t let Satan rob you of the noble privileges of being a homemaker by convincing you that you will have more honor, prestige, and respect out in the career world. Likely, you would, but how much more valuable is the honor and approbation of heaven?!
3) I need to be out doing missionary work, not cooped up at home.
We are told that the greatest missionary work in the world is that of a godly mother, who day by day is faithfully forming characters and fashioning lives for the heavenly kingdom.
4) Ellen White didn’t stay home with her children.
This is an objection that seems to confuse many, but there are several things to keep in mind. First, Ellen White was specifically called to a very special work as prophetess, and as such she had to make many sacrifices to get the message out to the people. Second, we do not know that it was the best choice for her to have children, given her special work, but God provided a way that while she traveled, her children were able to stay in the homes of other godly Adventists whose influence could be trusted. We would not be wise to take Sister White’s peculiar situation and apply it to our own lives, in spite of all the counsel that she herself gave that God’s ideal plan is for the mother to stay home with the children.
5) We shouldn’t drive our young people away from us by such rigid standards.
In reality, children who are raised in a loving stable home where Bible principles are the rule of the household, are usually far more happy, contented, and devoted to their parents (and also grow up to be far more solid and committed Christians), then the youth who grow up in indulgent homes where only the parent’s mood at the moment rules, who most often grow up unhappy, rebellious, and unfulfilled.
6) I’m not qualified enough to home school my children.
You have likely heard it said, “God does not call the qualified; He qualifies the called”. What God asks of you, He will surely enable you to do. You can use well prepared textbooks with detailed teacher’s manuals, and learn just ahead of your child if need be, but all the effort will be well worth it as you see your child growing into noble adulthood without the corrupting influences of public school affecting their lives.
7) If my children are home schooled, they won’t get any socialization.
We heard this one a lot when I was home schooled, but actually, home schooled children usually get far better and more balanced socialization than their public school counterparts. Home schooled children interact with and learn to relate well to those of all age groups rather than just their peers (church members, older folks in visits to the nursing home, business contacts in running a small home industry, friends at solid Bible camp meetings, pen friends by mail, etc.)
8) We can’t afford to move to the country.
Moving to the country does take commitment and willingness to sacrifice, but it can be done. God will open up doors as you trust in Him, if you are committed to do whatever it takes to follow. It may mean you have to sell all but one vehicle, or have a yard sale and sell all those elegant furnishings and excess toys, but it will be worth it. If you have nothing, not even a home, to sell, look into other options such as caretaking a place in the country for someone else, or working for an older couple who can’t maintain their farm any more in exchange for a corner of land to build on.
9) I couldn’t make a good enough living in the country.
Perhaps you should first ask yourself what standard of living you hope to maintain. Are you willing to live a lot more simply in your country home than you did on your large city income, because most likely you will have to? Are you willing to rough it a bit, especially as you’re starting out? Learn to be content now with less, and lay aside the money you save to help you out in your first year or two in the country. Remember also that when you can grow a garden, you will save a lot on food bills; and the more off-the-grid you can live, the fewer bills you’ll have as well, so cost of living should be far less in the country than it is in your present urban or suburban home.
10) We’ll move to the country once I reach retirement; it’s only a few more years.
Why procrastinate? Remember the serious warning we read in the Spirit of Prophecy about a loitering spirit? Whatever the excuse, putting off obedience is never a safe course to follow. It is better to obey now while we can, for the time will soon come when we will not be able to leave the cities and towns no matter how much we may want to. Then too, if your children are still at home, will you wait until they are totally lost to you, entangled in the net of the world, or will you start your rescue mission now, while yet there is hope of saving the whole crew?
11) I like all my conveniences here in my urban home. I don’t want to leave.
What is more important to you: getting ready for heaven and helping your children get ready for heaven, or enjoying the pleasures of this life for a short time, only to lose all and eternal life too when Jesus returns? The choice is yours!
12) I’m a shop-aholic. Shopping gives me joy. I wouldn’t want to give that up.
All our money and all we own belongs to God, and is simply lent to us. We are responsible to use it wisely. Therefore, if we are spending the Lord’s money on unnecessary things, we are really robbing from God - which is something I hope none of us would want to do for any reason, let alone just for the pleasure we get out of it. Ask God to help you learn to find your joy in serving Him and doing His will instead.
13) I buy a lot, but only what’s on sale or a good deal. Isn’t that just good buying sense?
It’s never good saving sense to buy things you don’t really need or could do fine without, just because they’re a good price; it’s still money lost. What you end up with is a house full of things you don’t need and will likely never use, or else you start throwing away things that aren’t worn out yet to make room for the things you’ve just bought. So, if something is on sale, only buy it if it’s something you truly do need or use regularly (soap, toilet paper, flour, etc.) and can use up within a year or so.
14) If we live so simply, we’re bringing on the time of trouble before it comes.
The simple life is one of blessing, contentment, and fulfillment, not of misery or deprivation. It is a life of being thankful for the many blessings God has strewn in our pathway, rather than fretting over all the things we wish we could have. True, there are hardships to endure and sacrifices to make in living the simple life, but they are well worth it when compared to the blessings received. This is certainly not bringing on a time of trouble, but rather preparing for the time of trouble and the soon coming of Jesus, preparing characters fit for heaven. God gave Ellen White a vision of the Christian’s journey to heaven. In it she saw this: “We then thought of those who had not accustomed themselves to privations and hardships. Where were such now? They were not in the company. At every change some were left behind, and those only remained who had accustomed themselves to endure hardships. The privations of the way only made these more eager to press on to the end.” 2T 595.
15) I’m already in debt way over my head. It would take years or a lifetime to get out of it.
Far better to start working earnestly toward the goal of getting out of your debts than to give up and not try. As we are told in the Spirit of prophecy, it is better to live on porridge and bread than to remain in debt any longer than absolutely necessary.
16) All these Sabbath-keeping rules are legalism.
Obedience to God freely rendered from a heart full of love is never legalism. God gave us specific guidelines how He would have us keep His Sabbath holy so that we could know how to best please Him, for which we should be truly thankful.
ENTERTAINMENT OR RECREATION
One of Satan’s most successful ways to enter our minds is through our senses. Today’s numerous forms of entertainment attack two of them especially, our eyes and our ears. Competitive sports, rock and other carnal styles of music (even so-called “Christian” ones), movies, TV, video games, much of the internet, theater going, drama, novel reading, dances, races, parties, ballgames, gambling, lottery, and other entertainments appeal to the lower passions of the mind, bypassing the frontal lobe of the mind where our conscience is located. Thus, these forms of entertainment easily become an addiction to many.
You may say, “Oh, I’m not addicted, I just enjoy this in my leisure time.” But are you? Do you frequently, while watching TV, reading a novel, surfing the internet, or some other form of entertainment find yourself thinking, “I really need to stop this and take the trash out, or start the meal preparation, but this is so good…” or “My wife is calling me to supper, or to family worship, but I’ve just got to get to the end of this…” or “I know I really shouldn’t be watching/reading/listening to this; it’s not drawing me closer to the Lord and getting me ready for heaven, but it’s so much fun. I’ll just do it this one more time.” Now, stop and think, and ask yourself honestly my friend, are you addicted?
Tragically, love of entertainment is ruling in the lives of many Seventh-day Adventists, young and old alike. It’s spell must be broken if we ever hope to perfect our characters and be fit to enter heaven.
A good test which, if honestly applied, will rule out every wrong form of entertainment, is found in Philippians 4:8. Is the activity true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, with virtue, and with praise? If it is, then it is safe to think on. This test excludes any entertainment which promotes or portrays lying, make-believe, deceit, dishonesty, injustice, competition, gambling, theft, crime, violence, immorality, adultery, affairs, premarital sex, vulgar gestures and words, swearing, depravity, fighting, wars, ungodliness, materialism, love of the world, or any other wicked thing.
Guard the Senses
We are given much counsel about guarding against Satan’s entering our minds.
“All should guard the senses, lest Satan gain victory over them; for these are the avenues of the soul.” AH 401
“Every Christian must stand on guard continually, watching every avenue of the soul where Satan might find access.” AH 403
“All who name the name of Christ need to watch and pray and guard the avenues of the soul, for Satan is at work to corrupt and destroy if the least advantage is given him.” AH 402
For the sake of covering each of the different forms of entertainment in an orderly fashion, I have divided them up into four sections. I will only be able to share here a very small portion of the vast amount of counsel given on any of these four areas we will be looking at. I am encouraging you to read Adventist Home pages 401-418, 493-530; and The Voice in Speech and Song pages 407-469. You will find much more instruction there.
1) Movies, TV, Video Games, Internet, Theater, Drama, Other Forms of Media, Reading Materials, and Novels
Keep in mind that in Ellen White’s day, most of these things did not yet exist. There was no such thing as television or internet. Yet the principles she taught then as applying to the theater, apply today to the TV and movies as well. The principles she gave then about the newspaper apply equally as much to the 6’oclock news.
It is by beholding, whether good or evil, that we become changed into the same image (GC 478); and whatever we allow our minds to think and dwell on, is what we become like. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so [is] he” Proverbs 23:7. Therefore, the TV shows we watch or the books we read have a profound impact on the kind of person we are and will grow to be. Jesus teaches also that, even if we never commit the sinful act that we have allowed our eyes to behold and our mind to think on, we are just as guilty as if we had (see Matthew 5:27, 28). How much better to instead, make 2 Corinthians 3:18 our experience: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
I’d like to mention a few things about TV specifically (by “TV” I’m referring to outside programming coming in through cable, satellite, or other means, and movies; not using a VCR to watch sermon videos, videos of your family, religious nature videos, or the like). Television is a menace in the Christian home. No one will deny that there may be some programs which are educational and instructive, but we must face the reality that Satan has taken almost entire control of this avenue to the point where even the “good” programs are no longer good, but are littered with worldly-dressed made-up people, sensual materialistic adds, “mild” swear words, silly jokes, worldly beating music, and such things. You may say, “Oh, but I have to be able to keep up with what’s going on in the world. I have to watch the news.” I want to challenge you with the thought that God has given us the “news” we need to know about, ahead of time, in The Great Controversy and Revelation. Most of what is portrayed on the daily news nowadays is either trash, trivia, or trouble, and it is not healthy for our spiritual life to be feeding on it. My friends, for you own sake, for your children’s sake, for your brethren’s sake, for your neighbor’s sake, and for your Heavenly Father’s sake, if you have the television in your home, get rid of it! If you have the world’s movies in your home, get rid of them! Your decision to do right, or lack thereof, will influence those around you as well.
Following are some of the reasons not to have a TV in your home:
1) It establishes the practice of tolerating evil to enjoy some good. “The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil:” Proverbs 8:13.
2) Its amusement format lowers your children’s / your resistance to evil. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23.
3) It provides constant access to the world’s system and its false concepts. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Colossians 2:8. “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction [that causeth] to err from the words of knowledge.” Proverbs 19:27.
4) It deadens your children’s / your conscience and respect of Scriptural authority by providing comparisons with new lows of evil and immorality. “Quench not the Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19.
5) It allows your children / you to relate to (and even, tragically, to make role models of) evil individuals whom you would otherwise never allow in your home. “He that walketh with wise [men] shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Proverbs 13:20.
6) It devours one of your children’s / your most precious recourses - time. “So teach [us] to number our days, that we may apply [our] hearts unto wisdom.” Psalms 90:12. “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:16.
7) It stifles your children’s / your creativity, interest in simple things, and enjoyment of work.
8) It leads your children / you to live in an imaginative or unreal world to escape the problems of real life.
9) It is addictive, leading your children / you to shirk responsibility in order to indulge in it. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Luke 16:10.
10) It ultimately makes your children / you an enemy of God. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4:4.
Let us consider just a small portion of the counsel given in the Spirit of Prophecy, remembering that the principles taught apply to all forms of entertainment.
“…we should shun any amusement which so fascinates the mind that the ordinary duties of life seem tame and uninteresting.” AH 513
“Through the drama he has worked for ages to excite passion and glorify vice. The opera, with its fascinating display and bewildering music, the masquerade, the dance, the card table, Satan employs to break down the barriers of principle and open the door to sensual indulgence…. The true Christian will not desire to enter any place of amusement or engage in any diversion upon which he cannot ask the blessing of God. He will not be found at the theater, the billiard hall, or the bowling saloon. He will not unite with the gay waltzers or indulge in any other bewitching pleasure that will banish Christ from the mind. To those who plead for these diversions we answer, We cannot indulge in them in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. The blessing of God would not be invoked upon the hour spent at the theater or in the dance. No Christian would wish to meet death in such a place. No one would wish to be found there when Christ shall come.” AH 515, 516
“Among the most dangerous resorts for pleasure is the theater. Instead of being a school for morality and virtue, as is so often claimed, it is the very hotbed of immorality. Vicious habits and sinful propensities are strengthened and confirmed by these entertainments. Low songs, lewd gestures, expressions, and attitudes deprave the imagination and debase the morals. Every youth who habitually attends such exhibitions will be corrupted in principle. There is no influence in our land more powerful to poison the imagination, to destroy religious impressions, and to blunt the relish for the tranquil pleasures and sober realities of life than theatrical amusements. The love for these scenes increases with every indulgence as the desire for intoxicating drink strengthens with its use. The only safe course is to shun the theater, the circus, and every other questionable place of amusement.” AH 516
“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…. Everything that can be done should be done to place ourselves and our children where we shall not see the iniquity that is practiced in the world. We should carefully guard the sight of our eyes and the hearing of our ears so that these awful things shall not enter our minds. When the daily newspaper comes into the house, I feel as if I want to hide it, that the ridiculous, sensational things in it may not be seen. It seems as if the enemy is at the foundation of the publishing of many things that appear in newspapers. Every sinful thing that can be found is uncovered and laid bare before the world. Those who would have that wisdom which is from God must become fools in the sinful knowledge of this age, in order to be wise. They should shut their eyes, that they may see and learn no evil. They should close their ears, lest they hear that which is evil and obtain that knowledge which would stain their purity of thoughts and acts.” AH 403, 404
“Many of the popular publications of the day are filled with sensational stories that are educating the youth in wickedness and leading them in the path to perdition. Mere children in years are old in a knowledge of crime. They are incited to evil by the tales they read. In imagination they act over the deeds portrayed, until their ambition is aroused to see what they can do in committing crime and evading punishment.” AH 407
“This is an age when corruption is teeming everywhere. The lust of the eye and corrupt passions are aroused by beholding and by reading. The heart is corrupted through the imagination. The mind takes pleasure in contemplating scenes which awaken the lower and baser passions. These vile images, seen through defiled imagination, corrupt the morals and prepare the deluded, infatuated beings to give loose rein to lustful passions.” AH 408
“To those who feel free to read story magazines and novels I would say: You are sowing seed the harvest of which you will not care to garner. From such reading there is no spiritual strength to be gained. Rather it destroys love for the pure truth of the word. Through the agency of novels and story magazines, Satan is working to fill with unreal and trivial thoughts minds that should be diligently studying the word of God. Thus he is robbing thousands upon thousands of the time and energy and self-discipline demanded by the stern problems of life.” AH 411
“The readers of fiction are indulging an evil that destroys spirituality, eclipsing the beauty of the sacred page…. The practice of story reading is one of the means employed by Satan to destroy souls. It produces a false, unhealthy excitement, fevers the imagination, unfits the mind for usefulness, and disqualifies it for any spiritual exercise. It weans the soul from prayer and from the love of spiritual things. Works of romance, frivolous, exciting tales, are, in hardly less degree, a curse to the reader. The author may profess to teach a moral lesson; throughout his work he may interweave religious sentiments, but often these serve only to veil the folly and worthlessness beneath…. In the education of children and youth fairy tales, myths, and fictitious stories are now given a large place….. How can Christian parents permit their children to use books so filled with falsehood? When the children ask the meaning of stories so contrary to the teaching of their parents, the answer is that the stories are not true; but this does not do away with the evil results of their use. The ideas presented in these books mislead the children. They impart false views of life and beget and foster a desire for the unreal. . . .” AH 412, 413
“Say firmly: "I will not spend precious moments in reading that which will be of no profit to me, and which only unfits me to be of service to others. I will devote my time and my thoughts to acquiring a fitness for God's service. I will close my eyes to frivolous and sinful things.” AH 409
“Even among Christian parents there has been too much sanctioning of the love of amusements. Parents have received the world's maxim, have conformed to the general opinion that it was necessary that the early life of children and youth should be frittered away in idleness, in selfish amusements, and in foolish indulgences. In this way a taste has been created for exciting pleasure, and children and youth have trained their minds so that they delight in exciting displays; and they have a positive dislike for the sober, useful duties of life…. They have no thoughts of God or of eternal realities, but flit like butterflies in their season. They do not act like sensible beings whose lives are capable of measuring with the life of God, and who are accountable to Him for every hour of their time.” AH 526
Will you make David’s commitment in Psalms 101:3, your own? “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.” Will you purge your home completely of every corrupting influence that is in it, whether it be the TV, movies, reading materials, or any other thing? Will you do it today? You will be eternally glad that you did.
2) Competitive Sports
“Some of the most popular amusements, such as football and boxing, have become schools of brutality. They are developing the same characteristics as did the games of ancient Rome. The love of domination, the pride in mere brute force, the reckless disregard of life, are exerting upon the youth a power to demoralize that is appalling. Other athletic games, though not so brutalizing, are scarcely less objectionable because of the excess to which they are carried. They stimulate the love of pleasure and excitement, thus fostering a distaste for useful labor, a disposition to shun practical duties and responsibilities. They tend to destroy a relish for life's sober realities and its tranquil enjoyments. Thus the door is opened to dissipation and lawlessness with their terrible results.” AH 500, 501
Friend, how would today’s competitive sports measure up to the instruction given in Philippians 2:3, 4? “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
Following are some characteristics of competitive sports games and reasons why Christians should avoid playing or watching them:
1) Love of supremacy and domination - Christians are to prefer others better than themselves, and be happy to serve faithfully in a humble position.
2) Pride and self-exaltation - Christians are to be meek and humble.
3) Brutality and force - Christians are not to retaliate or take vengeance, but are to be gentle and forgiving. Non-resistance is the Christian’s way, not violence, brutality, or force.
4) Disregard for others’ well-being and safety - Christians are to care for others and would never intentionally harm or injure them in order to get ahead or win a game.
5) Deception - Christians are to be honest in all things, never using deception or trickery for any reason, especially not for their own advantage.
6) Creates love for pleasure and excitement - Christians are to find their greatest pleasure in serving the Lord, and in enjoyment of the wholesome pleasures God has given them. They are not to crave excitement or thrive on that which is brutal and competitive.
7) Creates disposition to shun practical duties - Christians are to faithfully and cheerfully perform the duties and responsibilities that lay in their path.
8) Waste of time and money - Christians are to be good stewards of the Lord’s time and money, which He has entrusted to them.
I believe that, although only a sampling of the Biblical principles which apply to competitive sports, the above counsel is very clear. How can God’s professed people, in light of this, indulge their desire for competition, whether observed or participated in?
3) Gatherings of Worldlings (dances, races, parties, ballgames, other games, gambling, lottery playing, etc.)
“Those who in the way of duty are brought into trial may be sure that God will preserve them; but if men willfully place themselves under the power of temptation, they will fall, sooner or later.” PP 568.
“It is by leading the followers of Christ to associate with the ungodly and unite in their amusements, that Satan is most successful in alluring them into sin. . . . The followers of Christ are to separate themselves from sinners, choosing their society only when there is opportunity to do them good. We cannot be too decided in shunning the company of those who exert an influence to draw us away from God. While we pray, "Lead us not into temptation," we are to shun temptation, so far as possible. By the choice of evil companions many have been led step by step from the path of virtue into depths of disobedience and dissipation to which at one time they would have thought it impossible for them to sink. We may refuse to be corrupted, and place ourselves where evil association shall not corrupt our hearts. Individually the youth should seek for association with those who are toiling upward with unfaltering steps. Better than all the friendship of the world is the friendship of Christ's redeemed.” FLB 234
“There are amusements, such as dancing, card playing, chess, checkers, etc., which we cannot approve because Heaven condemns them. These amusements open the door for great evil. They are not beneficial in their tendency, but have an exciting influence, producing in some minds a passion for those plays which lead to gambling and dissipation. All such plays should be condemned by Christians…. While we shun the false and artificial, discarding horse racing, card playing, lotteries, prize fights, liquor drinking, and tobacco using, we must supply sources of pleasure that are pure and noble and elevating.” AH 498, 499
“Card playing should be prohibited. The associations and tendencies are dangerous. The prince of the powers of darkness presides in the gaming room and wherever there is card playing. Evil angels are familiar guests in these places. There is nothing in such amusements beneficial to soul or body.” AH 518
“The many holidays encourage idleness. The exciting sports—theatergoing, horse racing, gambling, liquor-drinking, and reveling—stimulate every passion to intense activity. The youth are swept away by the popular current. Those who learn to love amusement for its own sake open the door to a flood of temptations.” CSA 23
“Pleasure lovers are still crowding to theaters, horse races, gambling hells. The highest excitement prevails, yet probation's hour is fast closing, and every case is about to be eternally decided.” ChS 51
“The lessons given our youth by world-loving professors are doing great harm. The festal gatherings, the gluttonous feasts, the lotteries, tableau and theatrical performances, are doing a work that will bear a record with its burden of results to the judgment. All these inconsistencies, sanctioned by professed Christians under a garb of Christian beneficence, to collect means to pay church expenses, have their influence with the youth to make them lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. They think if Christians can encourage and engage in these lotteries and scenes of festivities, and connect them with sacred things, why may not they be safe in taking an interest in lotteries and in engaging in gambling to win money for special objects. It is Satan's studied plan to clothe sin with garments of light to hide its deformity and make it attractive.” Con 68
“Satan has invented many ways in which to squander the means which God has given. Card playing, betting, gambling, horse racing, and theatrical performances are all of his own inventing, and he has led men to carry forward these amusements as zealously as though they were winning for themselves the precious boon of eternal life. Men lay out immense sums in following these forbidden pleasures; and the result is, their God-given power, which has been purchased by the blood of the Son of God, is degraded and corrupted.” CS 134
“The liquor-drinking, the smoking and gambling, the horse racing, the theater going, the great importance placed upon holidays,-- are all a species of idolatry, a sacrifice upon idol altars.” FE 312
“Governor Washburn, of Wisconsin, in his annual message declared ‘that church fairs, charitable raffles, concert lotteries for charitable and other purposes, prize packages, ‘grabbags,’ Sabbath-school and other religious chances by ticket, are nurseries of crime, inasmuch as they promise something for nothing, are games of chance, and are really gambling. He says that the pernicious spirit of gambling is fostered, encouraged, and kept alive by these agencies to a degree little known by good citizens; and that, but for them, the ordinary laws against gambling would be much less violated and much more easily enforced. These practices, he declares, ought not to be permitted any longer to debauch the morals of the young.’” GC88 387
“As ordinarily conducted, parties of pleasure . . . are a hindrance to real growth, either of mind or of character…. Many such gatherings have been presented to me. I have seen the gaiety, the display in dress, the personal adornment. All want to be thought brilliant, and give themselves up to hilarity, foolish jesting, cheap, coarse flattery, and uproarious laughter. The eyes sparkle, the cheek is flushed, conscience sleeps. With eating and drinking and merrymaking, they do their best to forget God. The scene of pleasure is their paradise. And Heaven is looking on, seeing and hearing all.” AH 514, 515
We see now the kind of gatherings which are not pleasing to God, but let us look, in contrast, at a description of social gatherings that are pleasing to God, and how we may know that they are.
“Gatherings for social intercourse are made in the highest degree profitable and instructive when those who meet together have the love of God glowing in their hearts, when they meet to exchange thoughts in regard to the word of God or to consider methods for advancing His work and doing good to their fellow men. When the Holy Spirit is regarded as a welcome guest at these gatherings, when nothing is said or done to grieve Him away, God is honored, and those who meet together are refreshed and strengthened. Our gatherings should be so conducted, and we should so conduct ourselves, that when we return to our homes, we can have a conscience void of offense toward God and man, a consciousness that we have not wounded or injured in any manner those with whom we have been associated, or had an injurious influence over them.” AH 502, 503
Let us make the determination by the strength of God to test all of our social interactions by this standard, putting away any which do not harmonize with it. As we cooperate with Him, God will help us to bring our lives into harmony with His will in all things.
Lastly, let us look at the area of music. What are the characteristics of music that is pleasing to God? What music is appropriate for church? What kind of music is not acceptable to God? Have you ever asked yourself these questions? Read through the following quotes from the book The Voice in Speech and Song, then go through the lists of the characteristics of good music (which I have also underlined) and the characteristics of wrong music. These lists will be a good starting point in your endeavoring to choose music which is pleasing to God. You can use them to test the different kinds of music you enjoy listening to.
“Music forms a part of God's worship in the courts above, and we should endeavor, in our songs of praise, to approach as nearly as possible to the harmony of the heavenly choirs.” VSS 430
“Some think that the louder they sing the more music they make; but noise is not music. Good singing is like the music of the birds--subdued and melodious.” VSS 415
“The art of sacred melody was diligently cultivated (in the schools of the prophets). No frivolous waltz was heard, nor flippant song that should extol man and divert the attention from God; but sacred, solemn psalms of praise to the Creator, exalting His name and recounting His wondrous works.” VSS 447
“As a part of religious service, singing is as much an act of worship as is prayer.” VSS 432
“All the service should be conducted with solemnity and awe, as if in the visible presence of the Master of assemblies.” VSS 416
“Those who make singing a part of divine worship should select hymns with music appropriate to the occasion, not funeral notes, but cheerful, yet solemn, melodies. The voice can and should be modulated, softened, and subdued.” VSS 434
“True ministers know the value of the inward working of the Holy Spirit upon human hearts. They are content with simplicity in religious services. Instead of making much of popular singing, they give their principal attention to the study of the Word,… The hearts of many in the world as well as many church members are hungering for the Bread of Life and thirsting for the waters of salvation…. They see everything round them changing. Human feelings, human ideas of what constitutes religion, change. They come to hear the Word just as it reads.” VSS 438
“In some of our churches I have heard solos that were altogether unsuitable for the service in the Lord's house. The long-drawn-out notes and the peculiar sounds common in operatic singing are not pleasing to the angels. They delight to hear the simple songs of praise sung in a natural tone. The songs in which every word is uttered clearly, in a musical tone, are the songs that they join us in singing.” VSS 416
“The things you have described as taking place in Indiana, the Lord has shown me would take place just before the close of probation. Every uncouth thing will be demonstrated. There will be shouting, with drums, music, and dancing. The senses of rational beings will become so confused that they cannot be trusted to make right decisions. And this is called the moving of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit never reveals itself in such methods, in such a bedlam of noise. This is an invention of Satan to cover up his ingenious methods for making of none effect the pure, sincere, elevating, ennobling, sanctifying truth for this time. Better never have the worship of God blended with music than to use musical instruments to do the work which last January was represented to me would be brought into our camp meetings. The truth for this time needs nothing of this kind in its work of converting souls. A bedlam of noise shocks the senses and perverts that which if conducted aright might be a blessing. The powers of satanic agencies blend with the din and noise, to have a carnival, and this is termed the Holy Spirit's working. . . . No encouragement should be given to this kind of worship.” VSS 418
“Music was made to serve a holy purpose, to lift the thoughts to that which is pure, noble, and elevating, and to awaken in the soul devotion and gratitude to God. What a contrast between the ancient custom and the uses to which music is now too often devoted! How many employ this gift to exalt self, instead of using it to glorify God! A love for music leads the unwary to unite with world-lovers in pleasure-gatherings where God has forbidden His children to go. Thus that which is a great blessing when rightly used, becomes one of the most successful agencies by which Satan allures the mind from duty and from the contemplation of eternal things.” VSS 448
“The presentation before me was that if Elder _____ would heed the counsel of his brethren, and not rush on in the way he does in making a great effort to secure large congregations, he would have more influence for good, and his work would have a more telling effect. He should cut off from his meetings everything that has a semblance of theatrical display; for such outward appearances give no strength to the message that he bears…. He will not place so much dependence on the musical program. This part of his services is conducted more after the order of a concert in a theater, than a song service in a religious meeting.” VSS 436
“Singing is just as much the worship of God in a religious meeting as speaking, and any oddity or peculiarity cultivated attracts the attention of the people and destroys the serious, solemn impression which should be the result of sacred music. Anything strange and eccentric in singing detracts from the seriousness and sacredness of religious service. Bodily exercise profiteth little. Everything that is connected in any way with religious worship should be dignified, solemn, and impressive. God is not pleased when ministers professing to be Christ's representatives so misrepresent Christ as to throw the body into acting attitudes, making undignified and coarse gestures, unrefined, coarse gesticulations. All this amuses, and will excite the curiosity of those who wish to see strange, odd, and exciting things, but these things will not elevate the minds and hearts of those who witness them. The very same may be said of singing. You assume undignified attitudes. You put in all the power and volume of the voice you can. You drown the finer strains and notes of voices more musical than your own. This bodily exercise and the harsh, loud voice makes no melody to those who hear on earth and those who listen in heaven. This singing is defective and not acceptable to God as perfect, softened, sweet strains of music. There are no such exhibitions among the angels as I have sometimes seen in our meetings. Such harsh notes and gesticulations are not exhibited among the angel choir. Their singing does not grate upon the ear. It is soft and melodious and comes without this great effort I have witnessed. It is not forced and strained, requiring physical exercise.” VSS 422, 423
“They have a keen ear for music, and Satan knows what organs to excite to animate, engross, and charm the mind so that Christ is not desired. The spiritual longings of the soul for divine knowledge, for a growth in grace, are wanting. Frivolous songs and the popular sheet music of the day seem congenial to their taste.” VSS 419
“When turned to good account, music is a blessing; but it is often made one of Satan's most attractive agencies to ensnare souls.” VSS 421
“Music, when not abused, is a great blessing; but when put to a wrong use, it is a terrible curse. It excites, but does not impart that strength and courage which the Christian can find only at the throne of grace while humbly making known his wants and with strong cries and tears pleading for heavenly strength to be fortified against the powerful temptations of the evil one. Satan is leading the young captive. Oh, what can I say to lead them to break his power of infatuation! He is a skillful charmer, luring them on to perdition.” VSS 420
Characteristics of Good Music
*like the music of the birds
*approaches as nearly as possible to the harmony of the heavenly choirs
*subdued and melodious
*sacred, solemn psalms of praise to the Creator
*cheerful, yet solemn, melodies
*simple songs of praise sung in a natural tone
*every word is uttered clearly in a musical tone
*lifts the thoughts to that which is pure, noble, and elevating
*awakens in the soul devotion and gratitude to God
*serious, solemn impression is the result
*dignified, solemn, and impressive
*perfect, softened, sweet strains of music
*soft and melodious and comes without great effort
Characteristics of Bad Music
*frivolous waltzes, and flippant songs
*extol man and divert the attention from God
*long-drawn-out notes and peculiar sounds common in operatic singing
*shouting, with drums, music, and dancing
*a bedlam of noise
*using musical instruments to create a bedlam of noise
*resembles a theatrical display
*conducted more after the order of a concert in a theater
*any oddity or peculiarity which attracts the attention of the people and destroys the serious, solemn impression which should be the result of sacred music
*anything strange and eccentric in singing
*throwing the body into acting attitudes, making undignified and coarse gestures
*using all the power and volume of the voice till you drown the finer strains and notes
*bodily exercise and harsh, loud voice
*harsh notes and gesticulations
*singing that grates upon the ear
*Frivolous songs and the popular sheet music of the day
*excites, but does not impart godly strength and courage
Obviously, we must rule out all worldly styles of music such as rock, jazz, country, etc. which do not in any way lift our hearts and thoughts to God and heaven, but rather lower them to the wicked ways of this world. But often, the place where professing Christians get confused on the question of music is when it comes to so-called “Christian” music (“Christian” rock, “Christian” contemporary). Let us consider a few principles. A number of these I have adapted from the last chapter of Vance Ferrell’s book Inside rock Music, entitled, “Guide to Selecting Good Music”.
All “Christian” or “religious” music fits into three categories. First, there is truly godly music that helps you and gives you strength in your Christian walk. Second, there is useless shallow music that doesn’t do much of anything for you, except to make you a shallow person. This kind of music should be rejected. Third, there is music that definitely hurts and weakens you, tempting you to do bad things, and can lead to demon possession. You must totally avoid being around such music.
Following are some guidelines for choosing good music:
1) Above all else, all “Christian” music must glorify God - or it is not Christian.
2) We can not use the excuse that “we must use music the sinner is used to and can identify with in order to reach him.”
3) If it is to glorify God, Christian music must be of a style that is not associated with the world, its sin, objectives, and impurities. We should not borrow from rock, jazz, popular, rhythm and blues, country, etc., since these styles originated in dance halls, barrooms, night clubs, discotheques, and earlier still from heathen rituals to establish communion with evil spirits. The style of music which emphasizes beat, rhythm, slides, and bass notes, was taken from heathen and devil-worshipping cultures. It focuses on the physical and on the emotions, and stirs up unholy passions. How then, can putting Christian words to such tunes, make them pure, good, and sanctifying in their influence? Never! This is truly blasphemy!
4) We must also consider the way in which music is sung, the appearance of the performers, and the atmosphere of the performance. Do the singers sing in a way to give glory to God, or to bring glory to themselves? Do they hold the microphone right up to their mouth, crooning and wailing into it as a worldly singer would? Do they sway and gesture dramatically? These are not characteristics of heavenly music. The loud, hollering, raucous style common to rock; the suggestive, sentimental, breathy, crooning style of the nightclub performer; and other distortions of the human voice must be carefully avoided. Many contemporary performers wear styles of hair and clothing that are not Biblical, and their lives and appearance are not consistent with the message they claim to be giving. Anything which calls undue attention to the performer(s), such as excessive, affected bodily movement or inappropriate clothing or hairstyles should find no place in worship or witnessing. Many performances feature elaborate sound systems, designed to make the music as loud as possible, along with flashing colored lights and billowing smoke to provide an eerie, demonic atmosphere.
5) Truly Christian music must be doctrinally sound if it is to glorify God and help human beings. Many current “gospel songs” are doctrinally incorrect. Others, especially the so-called “praise music” are so shallow and repetitious that there is almost no message to them at all, if not a wrong message of cheep grace and keep on sinning. We must not let ourselves be attracted to a nice, catchy tune and forget to weigh the words in the light of Scripture.
6) In summary, ask yourself: Are the words doctrinally correct? Is the message clear? Does the music fit the words? Is it people-oriented or God-oriented? Does it draw attention to the performer/performance or to the message? What is the message that it teaches? The way it is given, will it actually teach that message?
Music is definitely not morally neutral, as some people claim. Instead, the music you listen to has a tremendous effect on the kind of person you are and will become. The Bible tells us there is to be a distinct difference between believers and non-believers, and this includes their music as well. “Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen” Jeremiah 10:2. “Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5: 17. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:17.
Won’t you choose to listen to music which is pleasing to God, is in harmony with the principles of His Word, and will draw you closer to Him; music which inspires in you pure and noble thoughts, and love and reverence for the Lord? And if you have in your home music which does not follow these criterion, are you willing to throw it away so that it will not continue to be a temptation to you, and separate you from the Lord? Your decision will bring honor to the Lord, and will encourage others who need to make such a decision as well.
Avoid the First Step
Now we will wrap up our study on entertainment with a few final thoughts. In all that we do, the principle we should follow is to avoid the first step in the wrong direction. If we do this, we may be sure to stay in the right way, true to God, not making any compromises with Satan or allowing him to distract us from our goal.
“Do not see how close you can walk upon the brink of a precipice and be safe. Avoid the first approach to danger.” AH 404
“You may see no real danger in taking the first step in frivolity and pleasure seeking and think that when you desire to change your course, you will be able to do right as easily as before you yielded yourselves to do wrong. But this is a mistake. By the choice of evil companions many have been led step by step from the path of virtue into depths of disobedience and dissipation to which at one time they would have thought it impossible for them to sink.” AH 519
“As the time of their probation was closing, the antediluvians gave themselves up to exciting amusements and festivities. Those who possessed influence and power were bent on keeping the minds of the people engrossed with mirth and pleasure, lest any should be impressed by the last solemn warning. Do we not see the same repeated in our day? While God's servants are giving the message that the end of all things is at hand, the world is absorbed in amusements and pleasure seeking. There is a constant round of excitement that causes indifference to God and prevents the people from being impressed by the truths which alone can save them from the coming destruction.” AH 524
Replace the Bad With the Good
When we remove the wrong forms of entertainment from our homes, it is important that we replace the bad with the good. God’s plan is for us to replace harmful amusement with wholesome recreation.
“While sinful amusements are condemned, as they should be, let parents, teachers, and guardians of youth provide in their stead innocent pleasures which will not taint or corrupt the morals.” AH 498
“It is the privilege and duty of Christians to seek to refresh their spirits and invigorate their bodies by innocent recreation, with the purpose of using their physical and mental powers to the glory of God. Our recreations should not be scenes of senseless mirth, taking the form of the nonsensical. We can conduct them in such a manner as will benefit and elevate those with whom we associate, and better qualify us and them to more successfully attend to the duties devolving upon us as Christians.” AH 493
“There is a distinction between recreation and amusement. Recreation, when true to its name, re-creation, tends to strengthen and build up. Calling us aside from our ordinary cares and occupations, it affords refreshment for mind and body and thus enables us to return with new vigor to the earnest work of life. Amusement, on the other hand, is sought for the sake of pleasure and is often carried to excess; it absorbs the energies that are required for useful work and thus proves a hindrance to life's true success.” AH 512
Here’s how to choose which activities are safe to partake in: “Christians have many sources of happiness at their command, and they may tell with unerring accuracy what pleasures are lawful and right. They may enjoy such recreations as will not dissipate the mind or debase the soul, such as will not disappoint and leave a sad after-influence to destroy self-respect or bar the way to usefulness. If they can take Jesus with them and maintain a prayerful spirit, they are perfectly safe.” AH 513
Here are some ideas for starters: do a special project around the home, build something, put on a cooking school. visit a shut-in, give free literature door-to-door, have a family picnic, go on a camping trip, take a hike out in nature, go for a treasure hunt, have a family “pioneer day” where you do everything the old way, make a song tape together, bake a special treat for everyone at church. There are many more ideas you can come up with as a family, and you will make many treasured memories together as you seek to spend your “spare time” God’s way.
Answers to Objections
Following are 6 common objections to the things we have studied on the topic of entertainment or recreation.
1) We need to be exposed to the world’s media so we know what’s going on and how to resist it. It’s not good to be too sheltered.
This is one of Satan’s lies. No, we don’t need to fill our minds and our children’s minds with the garbage of the world to be sure we know it’s wrong. We can learn how to recognize and resist the wrong, and choose the right from God’s Word. Remember the Bible injunction to fill your mind with whatever is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, with virtue, and with praise. Your children will be thankful if you “shelter” them in this way.
2) I don’t watch any bad TV programs or movies, only the “good ones”.
Ask yourself honestly, “are there any good ones out there?” Do the ones you call “good” meet the Bible’s standard of what is good, or merely the world’s standard of “good”? And even if you found one or two “good” programs on TV, would they merit your bringing that source of all manner of wickedness and corruption into your home? And how would you guarantee that in a moment of curiosity you or your spouse or children would not flip the channel and see something they could never again put out of their minds? Is it worth the risk for a few moments of fleeting pleasure enjoying a “good” or “educational” program or movie? No, it surely isn’t.
3) Sports are just a game, and young people have to have something to get their energy out.
There are plenty of wholesome activities and useful work projects young people can engage in to exercise and get their energy out. Sports, which are contrary to Bible principles and strengthen unholy character traits, are not a safe pastime for our youth.
4) But I just love watching my… (whatever sports team). It’s harmless entertainment.
We cannot safely continue to indulge in something which the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy condemn, no matter how much we may enjoy it. God does not ask us to decide whether or not we will obey based on how we feel about it, but rather on what He says about it. It is not harmless entertainment which goes against God’s Word and promotes the attitudes and principles by which Satan operates (pride, force, deception, brutality, etc.).
5) When I go to parties, games, and other gatherings, and hang out with my worldly friends, I’m able to be a witness and share my faith with them. If I don’t go, they’ll never get to hear the truth.
If we, in carrying out our daily duties, find ourselves surrounded by those who do not love and fear God, or if we meet with them for the express purpose of sharing our faith with them,
we may ask God to keep us from temptation, and He will. But if we mingle and associate with worldlings in their pleasure gatherings where God is not present, partaking with them of their laughter, frivolity, and fun, we are warned that we will fall to temptation sooner or later. When you go places Jesus cannot and will not go with you, and partake of the shallow spirit there, you are not giving a witness for your faith, but rather for your hypocrisy and compromise. If you claim to be a true Christian and follower of Christ, your worldly acquaintances expect you to be different from them, and most of them will respect you for the principles you hold, even when those principles mean you must kindly say, “No thank you, I can’t attend.”
6) I was raised listening to this kind of music. It’s just a cultural thing for me.
We should be willing to lay aside even our upbringing and culture, if we find that they are not in harmony with God’s Word. Be assured that even though you may miss your old style of music at first, God is only asking you to give up those things that are not for your best good to retain, and that are keeping you back from Him. He has something far better and more satisfying in store for you than anything the world’s kind of music can give.
DIET AND HEALTH
Here is another area, like the area of entertainment, which involves our senses. This time it is the sense of taste. On the subject of diet and health, there is much medical and scientific information available today which gives further support to the principles shared in this study. I have chosen here, for simplicities’ sake, to stick mostly with the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy for instruction, but I would highly recommend that you research further if you are interested. Books such as Dr. Neil Nedley’s Proof Positive are excellent resources to begin with.
Reasons for Diet Reform
*Our bodies are the temple of God. We belong to Him by creation and redemption, and He has the authority and wisdom to tell us how to care for our bodies.
*Our purpose for this life is to bring glory to God and to serve Him.
*We are told to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God, not a sickly, dying one.
*God has warned us that whoever defiles their body temple, He will destroy.
*God requires of us obedience to the laws of health. Disobedience is sin.
*The health reform is a part of the three angel’s messages, and of our preparation for heaven.
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] ye are.” 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17. “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.” Romans 12:1
“By the inspiration of the Spirit of God, Paul the apostle writes that "whatsoever ye do," even the natural act of eating or drinking, should be done, not to gratify a perverted appetite, but under a sense of responsibility,--"do all to the glory of God." Every part of the man is to be guarded; we are to beware lest that which is taken into the stomach shall banish from the mind high and holy thoughts. May I not do as I please with myself? ask some, as if we were seeking to deprive them of a great good, when we present before them the necessity of eating intelligently, and conforming all their habits to the laws God has established…. We are His (God’s) by creation and by redemption. Our very bodies are not our own, to treat as we please, to cripple by habits that lead to decay, making it impossible to render to God perfect service. Our lives and all our faculties belong to Him. He is caring for us every moment; He keeps the living machinery in action; if we were left to run it for one moment, we should die. We are absolutely dependent upon God.” CD 56
“Our habits of eating and drinking show whether we are of the world or among the number whom the Lord by His mighty cleaver of truth has separated from the world.” CD 58
“The living organism is God's property. It belongs to Him by creation and by redemption; and by a misuse of any of our powers we rob God of the honor due to Him. A failure to care for the living machinery is an insult to the Creator. There are divinely appointed rules which if observed will keep human beings from disease and premature death.” CD 16
“All are being proved to see whether they will accept the principles of health reform or follow a course of self-indulgence. Let no one think that he can do as he pleases in the matter of diet. But before all who sit at the table with you, let it appear that you follow principle in the matter of eating, as in all other matters, that the glory of God may be revealed. You cannot afford to do otherwise; for you have a character to form for the future immortal life.” CD 34
“God requires the body to be rendered a living sacrifice to Him, not a dead or a dying sacrifice…. He tells us that our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost; and He requires us to take care of this temple, that it may be a fit habitation for His Spirit…. All should be very careful to preserve the body in the best condition of health, that they may render to God perfect service, and do their duty in the family and in society.” CD 21
“It is impossible for a man to present his body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, while continuing to indulge habits that are depriving him of physical, mental, and moral vigor.” CD 119
“There are conditions to be observed by all who would preserve health. All should learn what these conditions are. The Lord is not pleased with ignorance in regard to His laws, either natural or spiritual. We are to be workers together with God for the restoration of health to the body as well as to the soul.” CD 121
“Disease never comes without a cause. The way is prepared, and disease invited, by disregard of the laws of health.” CD 122
“Only when we are intelligent in regard to the principles of healthful living, can we be fully aroused to see the evils resulting from improper diet. Those who, after seeing their mistakes, have courage to change their habits, will find that the reformatory process requires a struggle and much perseverance; but when correct tastes are once formed, they will realize that the use of the food which they formerly regarded as harmless, was slowly but surely laying the foundation for dyspepsia and other diseases.” CD 127
“Ignorance is no excuse now for the transgression of law. The light shines clearly, and none need be ignorant, for the great God Himself is man's instructor. All are bound by the most sacred obligations to God to heed the sound philosophy and genuine experience which He is now giving them in reference to health reform…. If man will cherish the light that God in mercy gives him upon health reform, he may be sanctified through the truth, and fitted for immortality. But if he disregards that light, and lives in violation of natural law, he must pay the penalty.” CD 70
“God does not require His children to deny themselves to the injury of physical strength. He requires them to obey natural law, to preserve physical health. Nature's path is the road He marks out, and it is broad enough for any Christian. God has, with a lavish hand, provided us with rich and varied bounties for our sustenance and enjoyment. But in order for us to enjoy the natural appetite, which will preserve health and prolong life, He restricts the appetite. He says, Beware; restrain, deny, unnatural appetite. If we create a perverted appetite, we violate the laws of our being, and assume the responsibility of abusing our bodies and of bringing disease upon ourselves.” CD 72
“It is a duty to know how to preserve the body in the very best condition of health, and it is a sacred duty to live up to the light which God has graciously given. If we close our eyes to the light for fear we shall see our wrongs, which we are unwilling to forsake, our sins are not lessened, but increased. If light is turned from in one case, it will be disregarded in another.” CD 44, 45
“It is as truly a sin to violate the laws of our being as it is to break the ten commandments. To do either is to break God's laws. Those who transgress the law of God in their physical organism, will be inclined to violate the law of God spoken from Sinai.” CD 17
“Since the laws of nature are the laws of God, it is plainly our duty to give these laws careful study. We should study their requirements in regard to our own bodies, and conform to them. Ignorance in these things is sin. When men and women are truly converted, they will conscientiously regard the laws of life that God has established in their being, thus seeking to avoid physical, mental, and moral feebleness. Obedience to these laws must be made a matter of personal duty.” CD 18
“God has formed laws which govern our constitutions, and these laws which He has placed in our being are divine, and for every transgression there is affixed a penalty, which must sooner or later be realized.” CD 19
“The time of ignorance God winked at, but as fast as light shines upon us, He requires us to change our health-destroying habits, and place ourselves in a right relation to physical laws.” CD 20
“There are many among professed Christians today who… consider the matter of eating and drinking of too little consequence to require such a decided stand (as that taken by Daniel),--one involving the probable sacrifice of every earthly advantage. But those who reason thus will find in the day of judgment that they turned from God's express requirements, and set up their own opinion as a standard of right and wrong. They will find that what seemed to them unimportant was not so regarded of God. His requirements should be sacredly obeyed. Those who accept and obey one of His precepts because it is convenient to do so, while they reject another because its observance would require a sacrifice, lower the standard of right, and by their example lead others to lightly regard the holy law of God. "Thus saith the Lord" is to be our rule in all things. . . .” CD 30
“The health reform, I was shown, is a part of the third angel's message and is just as closely connected with it as are the arm and hand with the human body. I saw that we as a people must make an advance move in this great work…. God's people are not prepared for the loud cry of the third angel. They have a work to do for themselves which they should not leave for God to do for them. He has left this work for them to do. It is an individual work; one cannot do it for another. "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." ” 1T 486
“ I was again shown that the health reform is one branch of the great work which is to fit a people for the coming of the Lord. It is as closely connected with the third angel's message as the hand is with the body…. To make plain natural law, and urge the obedience of it, is the work that accompanies the third angel's message, to prepare a people for the coming of the Lord.” CD 69
“Let it ever be kept before the mind that the great object of hygienic reform is to secure the highest possible development of mind and soul and body. All the laws of nature--which are the laws of God--are designed for our good. Obedience to them will promote our happiness in this life, and will aid us in a preparation for the life to come.” CD 23
“You need clear, energetic minds, in order to appreciate the exalted character of the truth, to value the atonement, and to place the right estimate upon eternal things. If you pursue a wrong course, and indulge in wrong habits of eating, and thereby weaken the intellectual powers, you will not place that high estimate upon salvation and eternal life which will inspire you to conform your life to the life of Christ; you will not make those earnest, self-sacrificing efforts for entire conformity to the will of God, which His word requires and which are necessary to give you a moral fitness for the finishing touch of immortality.” CD 47
“The failure to follow sound principles has marred the history of God's people. There has been a continual backsliding in health reform, and as a result God is dishonored by a great lack of spirituality. God calls upon every church member to dedicate his life unreservedly to the Lord's service. He calls for decided reformation. All creation is groaning under the curse. God's people should place themselves where they will grow in grace, being sanctified, body, soul, and spirit, by the truth. When they break away from all health-destroying indulgences, they will have a clearer perception of what constitutes true godliness. A wonderful change will be seen in the religious experience.” CD 33, 34
“The work of health reform is the Lord's means for lessening suffering in our world and for purifying His church.” CD 77
“Some have sneered at this work of reform, and have said it was all unnecessary; that it was an excitement to divert minds from present truth. They have said that matters were being carried to extremes. Such do not know what they are talking about. While men and women professing godliness are diseased from the crown of their head to the soles of their feet, while their physical, mental, and moral energies are enfeebled through gratification of depraved appetite and excessive labor, how can they weigh the evidences of truth, and comprehend the requirements of God…. Viewing matters from high religious standpoint, we must be thorough reformers in order to be Christlike.” CD 50, 51
“There are but few as yet who are aroused sufficiently to understand how much their habits of diet have to do with their health, their characters, their usefulness in this world, and their eternal destiny.” CD 51, 52
“Our physical health is maintained by that which we eat; if our appetites are not under the control of a sanctified mind, if we are not temperate in all our eating and drinking, we shall not be in a state of mental and physical soundness to study the word with a purpose to learn what saith the Scripture --what shall I do to inherit eternal life? Any unhealthful habit will produce an unhealthful condition in the system, and the delicate, living machinery of the stomach will be injured, and will not be able to do its work properly. The diet has much to do with the disposition to enter into temptation and commit sin.” CD 52
“He who indulges self must bear the penalty. In the judgment we shall see how seriously God regards the violation of the laws of health.” CD 40
“There are some professed believers who accept certain portions of the Testimonies as the message of God, while they reject those portions that condemn their favorite indulgences. Such persons are working contrary to their own welfare, and the welfare of the church. It is essential that we walk in the light while we have the light. Those who claim to believe in health reform, and yet work counter to its principles in the daily life practice, are hurting their own souls and are leaving wrong impressions upon the minds of believers and unbelievers.” CD 37
“Beware how you place yourself in opposition to the work of health reform. It will go forward; for it is the Lord's means of lessening the suffering in our world, and of purifying His people. Be careful what attitude you assume, lest you be found causing division….. The light which God has given upon health reform cannot be trifled with without injury to those who attempt it; and no man can hope to succeed in the work of God while, by precept and example, he acts in opposition to the light which God has sent.” CD 38
“Said the angel: "Abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul." You have stumbled at the health reform. It appears to you to be a needless appendix to the truth. It is not so; it is a part of the truth. Here is a work before you which will come closer and be more trying than anything which has yet been brought to bear upon you. While you hesitate and stand back, failing to lay hold upon the blessing which it is your privilege to receive, you suffer loss. You are stumbling over the very blessing which Heaven has placed in your path to make your progress less difficult. Satan presents this before you in the most objectionable light, that you may combat that which would prove the greatest benefit to you, which would be for your physical and spiritual health.” 1T 546
“I was shown that the work of health reform has scarcely been entered upon yet. While some feel deeply and act out their faith in the work, others remain indifferent and have scarcely taken the first step in reform. There seems to be in them a heart of unbelief, and, as this reform restricts the lustful appetite, many shrink back. They have other gods before the Lord. Their taste, their appetite, is their god; and when the ax is laid at the root of the tree and those who have indulged their depraved appetites at the expense of health are touched, their sin pointed out, their idols shown them, they do not wish to be convinced; and although God's voice should speak directly to them to put away those health-destroying indulgences, some would still cling to the hurtful things which they love. They seem joined to their idols, and God will soon say to His angels: Let them alone.” 1T 486
“Those who elevate the standard as nearly as they can to the order of God, according to the light God has given them through His word and the testimonies of His Spirit, will not change their course of action to meet the wishes of their friends or relatives, be they one or two or a host, who are living contrary to God's wise arrangement. If we move from principle in these things, if we observe strict rules of diet, if as Christians we educate our tastes after God's plan, we shall exert an influence which will meet the mind of God. The question is, "Are we willing to be true health reformers?"“ CD 35, 36
What is the Proper Diet?
“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which [is] upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which [is] the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” Genesis 1:29 (vegetables added in Gen. 3:17, 18)
“In order to know what are the best foods, we must study God's original plan for man's diet. He who created man and who understands his needs appointed Adam his food. "Behold," He said, "I have given you every herb yielding seed,. . . . and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food." Upon leaving Eden to gain his livelihood by tilling the earth under the curse of sin, man received permission to eat also ‘the herb of the field.’ Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator. These foods, prepared in as simple and natural a manner as possible, are the most healthful and nourishing. They impart a strength, a power of endurance, and a vigor of intellect, that are not afforded by a more complex and stimulating diet.” CD 81
“God is trying to lead us back, step by step, to His original design--that man should subsist upon the natural products of the earth.” LDE 81
“The Lord intends to bring His people back to live upon simple fruits, vegetables, and grains.”
Principles for Good Digestion
Do not overeat
“The Lord has instructed me that as a general rule, we place too much food in the stomach. Many make themselves uncomfortable by overeating, and sickness is often the result. The Lord did not bring this punishment on them. They brought it on themselves; and God desires them to realize that pain is the result of transgression. If men and women would only remember how greatly they afflict the soul when they afflict the stomach, and how deeply Christ is dishonored when the stomach is abused, they would be brave and self-denying, giving the stomach opportunity to recover its healthy action.” CD 136
“Overtaxing the stomach is a common sin, and when too much food is used, the entire system is burdened. Life and vitality, instead of being increased, are decreased. This is as Satan plans to have it. Man uses up his vital forces in unnecessary labor in taking care of an excess of food. By taking too much food, we not only improvidently waste the blessings of God, provided for the necessities of nature, but do great injury to the whole system. We defile the temple of God; it is weakened and crippled; and nature cannot do its work wisely and well, as God has made provision that it should…. Were all men acquainted with the living, human machinery, they would not be guilty of doing this, unless, indeed, they loved self-indulgence so well that they would continue their suicidal course and die a premature death, or live for years a burden to themselves and to their friends.” CD 131
“It is possible to eat immoderately, even of wholesome food. It does not follow that because one has discarded the use of hurtful articles of diet, he can eat just as much as he pleases. Overeating, no matter what the quality of the food, clogs the living machine, and thus hinders it in its work. Intemperance in eating, even of healthful food, will have an injurious effect upon the system, and will blunt the mental and moral faculties.” CD 131
“The word of God places the sin of gluttony in the same catalogue with drunkenness. So offensive was this sin in the sight of God that He gave directions to Moses that a child who would not be restrained on the point of appetite, but would gorge himself with anything his taste might crave, should be brought by his parents before the rulers of Israel, and should be stoned to death (see Deuteronomy 21:20, 21). The condition of the glutton was considered hopeless. He would be of no use to others, and was a curse to himself. No dependence could be placed upon him in anything. His influence would be ever contaminating others, and the world would be better without such a character; for his terrible defects would be perpetuated. None who have a sense of their accountability to God will allow the animal propensities to control reason. Those who do this are not Christians, whoever they may be, and however exalted their profession.” CD 133
Avoid drinking with your meals
“Many make a mistake in drinking cold water with their meals. Taken with meals, water diminishes the flow of the salivary glands; and the colder the water, the greater the injury to the stomach. Ice water or ice lemonade, drunk with meals, will arrest digestion until the system has imparted sufficient warmth to the stomach to enable it to take up its work again. Hot drinks are debilitating; and besides, those who indulge in their use become slaves to the habit. Food should not be washed down; no drink is needed with meals. Eat slowly, and allow the saliva to mingle with the food. The more liquid there is taken into the stomach with the meals, the more difficult it is for the food to digest; for the liquid must first be absorbed. Do not eat largely of salt; give up bottled pickles; keep fiery spiced food out of your stomach; eat fruit with your meals, and the irritation which calls for so much drink will cease to exist. But if anything is needed to quench thirst, pure water, drunk some little time before or after the meal, is all that nature requires.” CD 420
Avoid very cold or very hot food
“Food should not be eaten very hot or very cold. If food is cold, the vital force of the stomach is drawn upon in order to warm it before digestion can take place. Cold drinks are injurious for the same reason; while the free use of hot drinks is debilitating.” CD 106
Chew your food thoroughly
“In order to secure healthy digestion, food should be eaten slowly. Those who wish to avoid dyspepsia, and those who realize their obligation to keep all their powers in a condition which will enable them to render the best service to God, will do well to remember this. If your time to eat is limited, do not bolt your food, but eat less, and masticate slowly. The benefit derived from food does not depend so much on the quantity eaten as on its thorough digestion; nor the gratification of taste so much on the amount of food swallowed as on the length of time it remains in the mouth…. Food should be eaten slowly, and should be thoroughly masticated. This is necessary, in order that the saliva may be properly mixed with the food, and the digestive fluids be called into action.” CD 107
Eat your meals with a pleasant atmosphere and a cheerful heart
“When one is excited, anxious, or hurried, it is better not to eat until rest or relief is found…. At mealtime cast off care and anxious thought; do not feel hurried, but eat slowly and with cheerfulness, with your heart filled with gratitude to God for all His blessings.” CD 109
Eat simple foods, and not too many varieties at once
“If we would work for the restoration of health, it is necessary to restrain the appetite, to eat slowly, and only a limited variety at one meal. This instruction needs to be repeated frequently. It is not in harmony with the principles of health reform to have so many different dishes at one meal.” CD 107
“Do not have too great a variety at a meal; three or four dishes are a plenty. At the next meal you can have a change.” CD 109
“There should not be many kinds at any one meal, but all meals should not be composed of the same kinds of food without variation. Food should be prepared with simplicity, yet with a nicety which will invite the appetite.” CD 110
“We must care for the digestive organs, and not force upon them a great variety of food. He who gorges himself with many kinds of food at a meal is doing himself injury. It is more important that we eat that which will agree with us than that we taste of every dish that may be placed before us. There is no door in our stomach by which we can look in and see what is going on; so we must use our mind, and reason from cause to effect.” CD 111
Avoid mixing fruits and veggies together in the same meal
“It is not well to eat fruit and vegetables at the same meal. If the digestion is feeble, the use of both will often cause distress, and inability to put forth mental effort. It is better to have the fruit at one meal, and the vegetables at another.” CD 112
Have regular times for eating and never snack between meals
“ After the regular meal is eaten, the stomach should be allowed to rest for five hours. Not a particle of food should be introduced into the stomach till the next meal. In this interval the stomach will perform its work, and will then be in a condition to receive more food. In no case should the meals be irregular. If dinner is eaten an hour or two before the usual time, the stomach is unprepared for the new burden; for it has not yet disposed of the food eaten at the previous meal, and has not vital force for new work. Thus the system is overtaxed. Neither should the meals be delayed one or two hours, to suit circumstances, or in order that a certain amount of work may be accomplished. The stomach calls for food at the time it is accustomed to receive it. If that time is delayed, the vitality of the system decreases, and finally reaches so low an ebb that the appetite is entirely gone. If food is then taken, the stomach is unable to properly care for it. The food cannot be converted into good blood. If all would eat at regular periods, not tasting anything between meals, they would be ready for their meals, and would find a pleasure in eating that would repay them for their effort. Regularity in eating is of vital importance. There should be a specified time for each meal. At this time, let every one eat what the system requires, and then take nothing more until the next meal. There are many who eat when the system needs no food, at irregular intervals, and between meals, because they have not sufficient strength of will to resist inclination. When traveling, some are constantly nibbling if anything eatable is within their reach. This is very injurious…. Regularity in eating should be carefully observed. Nothing should be eaten between meals, no confectionery, nuts, fruits, or food of any kind. Irregularities in eating destroy the healthful tone of the digestive organs, to the detriment of health and cheerfulness.” CD 170, 180
“Never should a morsel of food pass the lips between meals.” CD 181
“The stomach must have careful attention. It must not be kept in continual operation. Give this misused and much-abused organ some peace and quiet and rest. After the stomach has done its work for one meal, do not crowd more work upon it before it has had a chance to rest and before a sufficient supply of gastric juice is provided by nature to care for more food. Five hours at least should elapse between each meal, and always bear in mind that if you would give it a trial, you would find that two meals are better than three.” CD 173
Eat 2-3 meals a day; make your first meal the best; if you eat supper, make it light and not too late
“In most cases, two meals a day are preferable to three. Supper, when taken at an early hour, interferes with the digestion of the previous meal. When taken later, it is not itself digested before bedtime. Thus the stomach fails of securing proper rest. The sleep is disturbed, the brain and nerves are wearied, the appetite for breakfast is impaired, the whole system is unrefreshed, and is unready for the day's duties. The practice of eating but two meals a day is generally found a benefit to health; yet under some circumstances, persons may require a third meal. This should, however, if taken at all, be very light, and of food most easily digested.” CD 176
“At breakfast time the stomach is in a better condition to take care of more food than at the second or third meal of the day. The habit of eating a sparing breakfast and a large dinner is wrong. Make your breakfast correspond more nearly to the heartiest meal of the day.” CD 173
“It is quite a common custom with people of the world to eat three times a day, beside eating at irregular intervals between meals; and the last meal is generally the most hearty, and is often taken just before retiring. This is reversing the natural order; a hearty meal should never be taken so late in the day. Should these persons change their practice, and eat but two meals a day, and nothing between meals, not even an apple, a nut, or any kind of fruit, the result would be seen in a good appetite and greatly improved health.” CD 181
Why Not Tea, Coffee, and colas?
“In health and in sickness, pure water is one of Heaven's choicest blessings. Its proper use promotes health. It is the beverage which God provided to quench the thirst of animals and man. Drunk freely, it helps to supply the necessities of the system, and assists nature to resist disease.” CD 419
“Tea is poisonous to the system. Christians should let it alone. The influence of coffee is in a degree the same as tea, but the effect upon the system is still worse. Its influence is exciting, and just in the degree that it elevates above par, it will exhaust and bring prostration below par. Tea and coffee drinkers carry the marks upon their faces. The skin becomes sallow, and assumes a lifeless appearance. The glow of health is not seen upon the countenance.” CD 421
“The habit of drinking tea and coffee is a greater evil than is often suspected. Many who have accustomed themselves to the use of stimulating drinks, suffer from headache and nervous prostration, and lose much time on account of sickness. They imagine they cannot live without the stimulus, and are ignorant of its effect upon health.” CD 422
Cola drinks have the same effect as tea and coffee because of their caffeine content. They also have the added problem of a high sugar content. It has been found that a piece of cooked meat dropped into a glass of Coco Cola will be dissolved because the drink is so caustic. Imagine how hard it must be on your body!
It would be good to mention chocolate here as well. Chocolate contains caffeine and the similar chemical, theobromine. These chemical substances can cause or contribute to imperfect balance, racing heart, insomnia and sleep disturbances, bedwetting, fatigue, obesity, dizziness, irritability, agitation, anxiety, acne, and more. Some diseases and health problems, including heart disease, allergies, diabetes, stomach disturbances, and depression, can be exacerbated by these substances. Also, chromosome damage, birth deformities, and cancer have been associated with these chemicals, and resistance to disease is lowered. Some physicians also believe that they contribute to breast disease and prostate problems by stepping up cell growth in certain tissues.
Along with this, we find that during the chocolate production process, the cocoa beans are left out to ferment, and insects and rodents are allowed to get to them and contaminate them. These contaminants remain in the finished product. The FDA allows up to 10 milligrams of animal excrement per pound, or up to 25 insect fragments per tablespoon of cocoa powder.
Carob can be used as an excellent substitute for chocolate, because it does not contain these harmful chemicals or contaminants, and is also very nutritious as well as therapeutic for several health problems.
As Seventh-day Adventists, we should put away all substances such as tea, coffee, colas, and chocolate, which have a drug-induced stimulating affect, and are harmful to our bodies which God created for His glory.
Why Not “Junk Food”?
Good food makes good blood. So as we endeavor to eat what is best for us, we will avoid the empty-calorie foods, the high-sugar foods, and the highly processed and refined foods; choosing instead the simple, nutritious, minimally processed, high-fiber foods in their most natural state.
“It is better to let sweet things alone. Let alone those sweet dessert dishes that are placed on the table. You do not need them. You want a clear mind to think after God's order. We should now come into line with health reform principles.” CD 335
“Sweet breads and cookies we seldom have on our table. The less of sweet foods that are eaten, the better; these cause disturbances in the stomach, and produce impatience and irritability in those who accustom themselves to their use.” CD 321
“Far too much sugar is ordinarily used in food. Cakes, sweet puddings, pastries, jellies, jams, are active causes of indigestion…. Sugar clogs the system. It hinders the working of the living machine.” CD 327
“For use in breadmaking, the superfine white flour is not the best…. Fine-flour bread is lacking in nutritive elements to be found in bread made from the whole wheat. It is a frequent cause of constipation and other unhealthful conditions.” CD 320
Why Not Meat?
“Vegetables, fruits, and grains should compose our diet. Not an ounce of flesh meat should enter our stomachs. The eating of flesh is unnatural. We are to return to God's original purpose in the creation of man.” CD 380
“Is it not time that all should aim to dispense with flesh foods? How can those who are seeking to become pure, refined, and holy, that they may have the companionship of heavenly angels, continue to use as food anything that has so harmful an effect on soul and body? How can they take the life of God's creatures that they may consume the flesh as a luxury? Let them, rather, return to the wholesome and delicious food given to man in the beginning, and themselves practice, and teach their children to practice, mercy toward the dumb creatures that God has made and has placed under our dominion.” CD 380
“Among those who are waiting for the coming of the Lord, meat eating will eventually (written in 1890) be done away; flesh will cease to form a part of their diet. We should ever keep this end in view, and endeavor to work steadily toward it. I cannot think that in the practice of flesh eating we are in harmony with the light which God has been pleased to give us.” CD 380, 381
“Greater reforms should be seen among the people who claim to be looking for the soon appearing of Christ. Health reform is to do among our people a work which it has not yet done. There are those who ought to be awake to the danger of meat eating, who are still eating the flesh of animals, thus endangering the physical, mental, and spiritual health. Many who are now only half converted on the question of meat eating will go from God's people to walk no more with them.” CD 382
“It has been clearly presented to me that God's people are to take a firm stand against meat eating. Would God for thirty years give His people the message that if they desire to have pure blood and clear minds, they must give up the use of flesh meat, if He did not want them to heed this message? By the use of flesh meats the animal nature is strengthened and the spiritual nature weakened.” CD 383
“The moral evils of a flesh diet are not less marked than are the physical ills. Flesh food is injurious to health, and whatever affects the body has a corresponding effect on the mind and the soul. Think of the cruelty to animals that meat eating involves, and its effect on those who inflict and those who behold it. How it destroys the tenderness with which we should regard these creatures of God!” CD 383
“Oh, if every one could discern these matters as they have been presented to me, those who are now so careless, so indifferent in regard to their character building; those who plead for indulgence in a flesh meat diet, would never open their lips in justification of an appetite for the flesh of dead animals. Such a diet contaminates the blood in their veins, and stimulates the lower animal passions. It enfeebles keen perception and vigor of thought to the understanding of God and the truth, and a knowledge of themselves.” CD 384
“When will those who know the truth take their stand on the side of right principles for time and for eternity? When will they be true to the principles of health reform? When will they learn that it is dangerous to use flesh meat? I am instructed to say that if ever meat eating were safe, it is not safe now.” CD 384
“Could you know just the nature of the meat you eat, could you see the animals when living from which the flesh is taken when dead, you would turn with loathing from your flesh meats. The very animals whose flesh you eat, are frequently so diseased that, if left alone, they would die of themselves; but while the breath of life is in them, they are killed and brought to market. You take directly into your system humors and poison of the worst kind, and yet you realize it not.” CD 385
“The liability to take disease is increased tenfold by meat eating.” CD 386
“Cancers, tumors, and all inflammatory diseases are largely caused by meat eating. From the light God has given me, the prevalence of cancer and tumors is largely due to gross living on dead flesh.” CD 388
“It is impossible for those who make free use of flesh meats to have an unclouded brain and an active intellect.” CD 389
“A meat diet changes the disposition and strengthens animalism. We are composed of what we eat, and eating much flesh will diminish intellectual activity…. A religious life can be more successfully gained and maintained if meat is discarded, for this diet stimulates into intense activity lustful propensities, and enfeebles the moral and spiritual nature.” CD 389
“Many die of diseases wholly due to meat eating, when the real cause is scarcely suspected by themselves or others. Some do not immediately feel its effects, but this is no evidence that it does not hurt them. It may be doing its work surely upon the system, yet for the time being the victim may realize nothing of it.” CD 391
“Those who eat flesh are but eating grains and vegetables at second hand; for the animal receives from these things the nutrition that produces growth. The life that was in the grains and vegetables passes into the eater. We receive it by eating the flesh of the animal. How much better to get it direct by eating the food that God provided for our use!” CD 396
“Those who are in a position where it is possible to secure a vegetarian diet, but who choose to follow their own preferences in this matter, eating and drinking as they please, will gradually grow careless of the instruction the Lord has given regarding other phases of the present truth, and will lose their perception of what is truth; they will surely reap as they have sown…. Seventh-day Adventists are handling momentous truths. More than forty years ago [WRITTEN IN 1909.] the Lord gave us special light on health reform, but how are we walking in that light? How many have refused to live in harmony with the counsels of God! As a people we should make advancement proportionate to the light received. It is our duty to understand and respect the principles of health reform.” CD 404
To study further what the Bible says on this subject, the flesh diet was allowed after the flood (Gen. 9:3), but they were never allowed to eat the fat or the blood or any unclean or sick animal (Gen. 9:4, Lev. 3:17, Lev. 11, Deut. 14). The Israelites lusted for flesh, and God gave it to them, but while they ate it, they were struck with a plague and many died (Num. 11:4-6, 31-34). We are told that these things are for an example to us “to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” (1 Cor. 10:6).
How can we, fellow Seventh-day Adventists, be partaking of meat when we are plainly shown how diseased it is and the terrible effects it has on our physical and spiritual health? We are also told that among those who are waiting for the coming of their Lord, meat eating will be done away with. Do we really believe that Jesus’ coming is imminent? I plead with you to delay no longer, but put flesh foods out of your diet and thus cooperate with God’s plan for your sanctification and preparation to stand faithful in these last days.
What About Dairy and Eggs?
Regarding the question of dairy products and eggs, we have the counsel that some dairy products (such as cheese) are wholly unfit for food and should never enter the stomach. It seems that other highly-refined and high-sugar foods (such as ice cream, puddings, etc.) would fall into this same category. “Cheese should never be introduced into the stomach. Cheese is still more objectionable (than butter); it is wholly unfit for food.” CD 368
Yet we are counseled that milk, eggs, and butter are not to be classed with flesh meat, and that they were part of a nourishing, healthful diet. Warnings were given to avoid extremes and the counsel was that in some cases, the use of these articles of food were beneficial, if they could be obtained from animals that were healthy and well cared for. Sister White spoke of those whose physical appearance injured the cause of health reform, and who were weak and unable to work because they abstained from milk, eggs, and butter and failed to supply their system with proper nourishment in its place. She wrote that these foods were not to be forbidden especially for those who were too poor to afford a nutritious diet without them.
Ellen White’s stand on these things seemed to be to allow each person to decide for himself, between him and God, whether or not he would eat these articles of food.
However, at the same time, Ellen White spoke of the progressive nature of diet reform. She warned of the rapidly increasing disease among animals due to the wickedness of man, and wrote that because of this the time would soon come when it would no longer be safe to use milk and eggs as freely as they were used in her day, or simply that there would be no safety in using them. She told us that God would make it very clear to us when that time came.
She also gave the counsel even for her day that those in full flesh with strong animal passions, or children given to sensual habits should avoid dairy products, and eggs especially.
Following is a selection of quotes arranged by year from earliest to latest:
“Animals from which milk is obtained are not always healthy. They may be diseased. A cow may be apparently well in the morning, and die before night. Then she was diseased in the morning, and her milk was diseased, but you did not know it. The animal creation is diseased.” CD 356, 357 (1870)
“God has furnished man with abundant means for the gratification of an unperverted appetite. He has spread before him the products of the earth,--a bountiful variety of food that is palatable to the taste, and nutritious to the system. Of these our benevolent heavenly Father says we may freely eat. Fruits, grains, and vegetables, prepared in a simple way, free from spice and grease of all kinds, make, with milk or cream, the most healthful diet. They impart nourishment to the body, and give a power of endurance and a vigor of intellect that are not produced by a stimulating diet.” CD 355 (1890)
“The light given me is that it will not be very long before we shall have to give up using any animal food. Even milk will have to be discarded. Disease is accumulating rapidly. The curse of God is upon the earth, because man has cursed it. The habits and practices of men have brought the earth into such a condition that some other food than animal food must be substituted for the human family.” CD 384 (written specifically dealing with the issue of flesh foods) (1899)
“We see that cattle are becoming greatly diseased, the earth itself is corrupted, and we know that the time will come when it will not be best to use milk and eggs. But that time has not yet come. We know that when it does come, the Lord will provide. The question is asked, meaning much to all concerned, Will God set a table in the wilderness? I think the answer may be made, Yea, God will provide food for His people. In all parts of the world provision will be made to supply the place of milk and eggs. And the Lord will let us know when the time comes to give up these articles. He desires all to feel that they have a gracious heavenly Father who will instruct them in all things. The Lord will give dietetic art and skill to His people in all parts of the world, teaching them how to use for the sustenance of life the products of the earth.” CD 359 (1901)
“Do not go to extremes in regard to the health reform. Some of our people are very careless in regard to health reform. But because some are far behind, you must not, in order to be an example to them, be an extremist. You must not deprive yourself of that class of food which makes good blood. Your devotion to true principles is leading you to submit yourself to a diet which is giving you an experience that will not recommend health reform. This is your danger. When you see that you are becoming weak physically, it is essential for you to make changes, and at once. Put into your diet something you have left out. It is your duty to do this. Get eggs of healthy fowls. Use these eggs cooked or raw. Drop them uncooked into the best unfermented wine you can find. This will supply that which is necessary to your system. Do not for a moment suppose that it will not be right to do this.... The time will come when milk cannot be used as freely as it is now used; but the present is not the time to discard it. And eggs contain properties which are remedial agencies in counteracting poisons.... While I would discard flesh meat as injurious, something less objectionable may be used, and this is found in eggs. Do not remove milk from the table or forbid its being used in the cooking of food. The milk used should be procured from healthy cows, and should be sterilized.... But I wish to say that when the time comes that it is no longer safe to use milk, cream, butter, and eggs, God will reveal this. No extremes in health reform are to be advocated. The question of using milk and butter and eggs will work out its own problem. At present we have no burden on this line. Let your moderation be known unto all men.” CD 366, 367 (1901)
“We are to be brought into connection with the masses. Should health reform be taught them in its most extreme form, harm would be done. We ask them to leave off eating meat and drinking tea and coffee. That is well. But some say that milk also should be given up. This is a subject that needs to be carefully handled. There are poor families whose diet consists of bread and milk, and, if they can get it, a little fruit. All flesh food should be discarded, but vegetables should be made palatable with a little milk or cream or something equivalent. The poor say, when health reform is presented to them, "What shall we eat? We cannot afford to buy the nut foods." As I preach the gospel to the poor, I am instructed to tell them to eat that food which is most nourishing. I cannot say to them, "You must not eat eggs or milk or cream. You must use no butter in the preparation of food." The gospel must be preached to the poor, and the time has not yet come to prescribe the strictest diet. The time will come when we may have to discard some of the articles of diet we now use, such as milk and cream and eggs, but my message is that you must not bring yourself to a time of trouble beforehand, and thus afflict yourself with death. Wait till the Lord prepares the way before you. . . The time will come when milk cannot be used as freely as it is now used; but the present is not the time to discard it. . . .” CD 358 (1901)
“There is danger that in presenting the principles of health reform some will be in favor of bringing in changes that would be for the worse instead of for the better. Health reform must not be urged in a radical manner. As the situation now is, we cannot say that milk and eggs and butter should be entirely discarded. We must be careful to make no innovations, because under the influence of extreme teaching there are conscientious souls who will surely go to extremes. Their physical appearance will injure the cause of health reform; for few know how to properly supply the place of that which they discard.” CD 352 (1901)
“I cannot see but that you are trying your best to live out the principles of health reform. Study economy in everything, but do not withhold from the diet food which the system needs. With regard to the nut foods, there are many who cannot eat them. If your husband enjoys dairy butter, let him eat it until he is convinced that this is not best for his health.” CD 352 (1901)
“Milk, eggs, and butter should not be classed with flesh meat. In some cases the use of eggs is beneficial. The time has not come to say that the use of milk and eggs should be wholly discarded. There are poor families whose diet consists largely of bread and milk. They have little fruit, and cannot afford to purchase the nut foods. In teaching health reform, as in all other gospel work, we are to meet the people where they are. Until we can teach them how to prepare health reform foods that are palatable, nourishing, and yet inexpensive, we are not at liberty to present the most advanced propositions regarding health reform diet.” CD 351 (1902)
“Let the diet reform be progressive. Let the people be taught how to prepare food without the use of milk or butter. Tell them that the time will soon come when there will be no safety in using eggs, milk, cream, or butter, because disease in animals is increasing in proportion to the increase of wickedness among men. The time is near when, because of the iniquity of the fallen race, the whole animal creation will groan under the diseases that curse our earth.” CD 356 (1902)
“We must remember that there are a great many different minds in the world, and we cannot expect every one to see exactly as we do in regard to all questions of diet. Minds do not run in exactly the same channel. I do not eat butter, but there are members of my family who do. It is not placed on my table; but I make no disturbance because some members of my family choose to eat it occasionally. Many of our conscientious brethren have butter on their tables, and I feel under no obligation to force them to do otherwise. These things should never be allowed to cause disturbance among brethren. I cannot see the need of butter, where there is abundance of fruit and of sterilized cream. Those who love and serve God should be allowed to follow their own convictions. We may not feel justified in doing as they do, but we should not allow differences of opinion to create disunion.” CD 351, 352 (1904)
“Those who live in new countries or in poverty-stricken districts where fruits and nuts are scarce, should not be urged to exclude milk and eggs from their dietary. It is true that persons in full flesh and in whom the animal passions are strong need to avoid the use of stimulating foods. Especially in families of children who are given to sensual habits, eggs should not be used. But in the case of persons whose blood-making organs are feeble,--especially if other foods to supply the needed elements cannot be obtained,-- milk and eggs should not be wholly discarded. Great care should be taken, however, to obtain milk from healthy cows and eggs from healthy fowls, that are well fed and well cared for; and the eggs should be so cooked as to be most easily digested. The diet reform should be progressive. As disease in animals increases, the use of milk and eggs will become more and more unsafe. An effort should be made to supply their place with other things that are healthful and inexpensive. The people everywhere should be taught how to cook without milk and eggs, so far as possible, and yet have their food wholesome and palatable.” CD 365 (1905)
“While warnings have been given regarding the dangers of disease through butter, and the evil of the free use of eggs by small children, yet we should not consider it a violation of principle to use eggs from hens that are well cared for and suitably fed. Eggs contain properties that are remedial agencies in counteracting certain poisons. Some, in abstaining from milk, eggs, and butter, have failed to supply the system with proper nourishment, and as a consequence have become weak and unable to work. Thus health reform is brought into disrepute. The work that we have tried to build up solidly is confused with strange things that God has not required, and the energies of the church are crippled. But God will interfere to prevent the results of these too-strenuous ideas. The gospel is to harmonize the sinful race. It is to bring the rich and poor together at the feet of Jesus.” CD 352, 353 (1909)
In summary of the counsel we are given, we reach the following conclusions:
1) Cheese and other highly refined dairy products are never to be used.
2) Commercially raised eggs and dairy products should never be eaten as they are not safe. Animals in commercial farms are cramped into tight quarters, cruelly treated, stressed, diseased, pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones, fed other animal products from diseased animals in their feed, and unnaturally bred and raised for maximum production.
3) Those who are in full flesh (overweight) or who have strong sensual habits or passions do not need to eat dairy products and eggs, and should avoid them.
4) Those who are thin or weakly or unable to afford nuts or olives and other healthy substitutes, may on an individual basis choose to raise their own chickens, cows, goats, or procure eggs and dairy products from animals which are healthy and well-raised.
What About Potlucks?
When at the church fellowship dinner, or any other gathering where food is served, let us follow the example of Daniel and his friends when offered the king of Babylon’s delicacies. Let us purpose in our heart not to defile our self with that which is harmful for our bodies.
“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8
“What if Daniel and his companions had made a compromise with those heathen officers, and had yielded to the pressure of the occasion by eating and drinking as was customary with the Babylonians? That single instance of departure from principle would have weakened their sense of right and their abhorrence of wrong. Indulgence of appetite would have involved the sacrifice of physical vigor, clearness of intellect, and spiritual power. One wrong step would probably have led to others, until, their connection with heaven being severed, they would have been swept away by temptation.” CD 155
Don’t let the Devil tempt you to think that once-in-a-while disobedience to the laws of health is okay. God requires entire, all-the-time obedience. Our consistent obedience to principle will be a witness to those around us as well, of the better way that we have chosen to follow. Of course, we should always do this with utmost Christian kindness, recognizing that others may not yet understand these things as we do. Note this counsel:
“It is not always safe to comply with invitations to meals, even though given by your brethren and friends, who wish to lavish upon you many kinds of food. You know that you can eat two or three kinds of food at a meal without injury to your digestive organs. When you are invited out to a meal, shun the many varieties of food that those who have invited you set before you. This you must do if you would be a faithful sentinel…. God expects us to decide for ourselves to eat that food only which will not cause suffering to the digestive organs.” CD 169
“In your association with unbelievers (in this case, those not practicing health reform), do not allow yourselves to be swerved from right principles. If you sit at their table, eat temperately, and only of food that will not confuse the mind. Keep clear of intemperance. You cannot afford to weaken your mental or physical powers, lest you become unable to discern spiritual things. Keep your mind in such a condition that God can impress it with the precious truths of His word.” CD 168
Encouragement for the Obedient
“Persons who have accustomed themselves to a rich, highly stimulating diet, have an unnatural taste, and they cannot at once relish food that is plain and simple. It will take time for the taste to become natural, and for the stomach to recover from the abuse it has suffered. But those who persevere in the use of wholesome food will, after a time, find it palatable. Its delicate and delicious flavors will be appreciated, and it will be eaten with greater enjoyment than can be derived from unwholesome dainties. And the stomach, in a healthy condition, neither fevered nor overtaxed, can readily perform its task.” CD 84
“Some are continually anxious lest their food, however simple and healthful, may hurt them. To these let me say: Do not think that your food will injure you; do not think about it at all. Eat according to your best judgment; and when you have asked the Lord to bless the food for the strengthening of your body, believe that He hears your prayer, and be at rest.” CD 109
The Control of Appetite
“When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what [is] before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou [be] a man given to appetite.” Proverbs 23:1, 2
“(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, [that they are] the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end [is] destruction, whose God [is their] belly, and [whose] glory [is] in their shame, who mind earthly things.)” Philippians 3:18, 19
“Dearly beloved, I beseech [you] as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;” 1 Peter 2:11
“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.” 1 Corinthians 9:25-27
“Blessed [art] thou, O land, when thy king [is] the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!” Ecclesiastes 10:17
“The strength of the temptation to indulge appetite can be measured only by the inexpressible anguish of our Redeemer in that long fast in the wilderness. He knew that the indulgence of perverted appetite would so deaden man's perceptions that sacred things could not be discerned. Adam fell by the indulgence of appetite; Christ overcame by the denial of appetite. And our only hope of regaining Eden is through firm self-control. If the power of indulged appetite was so strong upon the race, that, in order to break its hold, the divine Son of God, in man's behalf, had to endure a fast of nearly six weeks, what a work is before the Christian! Yet, however great the struggle, he may overcome. By the help of that divine power which withstood the fiercest temptations that Satan could invent, he too may be entirely successful in his warfare with evil, and at last may wear the victor's crown in the kingdom of God.” CD 167
“Adam and Eve fell through intemperate appetite. Christ came and withstood the fiercest temptation of Satan, and, in behalf of the race, overcame appetite, showing that man may overcome. As Adam fell through appetite, and lost blissful Eden, the children of Adam may, through Christ, overcome appetite, and through temperance in all things regain Eden.” CD 70
“As our first parents lost Eden through the indulgence of appetite, our only hope of regaining Eden is through the firm denial of appetite and passion.” CD 59
“Those who have received instruction regarding the evils of the use of flesh foods, tea, and coffee, and rich and unhealthful food preparations, and who are determined to make a covenant with God by sacrifice, will not continue to indulge their appetite for food that they know to be unhealthful. God demands that the appetite be cleansed, and that self-denial be practiced in regard to those things which are not good. This is a work that will have to be done before His people can stand before Him a perfected people.” CD 381
“The controlling power of appetite will prove the ruin of thousands, when, if they had conquered on this point, they would have had moral power to gain the victory over every other temptation of Satan. But those who are slaves to appetite will fail in perfecting Christian character. The continual transgression of man for six thousand years has brought sickness, pain, and death as its fruits. And as we near the close of time, Satan's temptation to indulge appetite will be more powerful and more difficult to overcome.” CD 163
“Through appetite, Satan controls the mind and the whole being. Thousands who might have lived, have passed into the grave, physical, mental, and moral wrecks, because they sacrificed all their powers to the indulgence of appetite.” CD 167
“Few have moral stamina to resist temptation, especially of the appetite, and to practice self-denial. To some it is a temptation too strong to be resisted to see others eat the third meal; and they imagine they are hungry, when the feeling is not a call of the stomach for food, but a desire of the mind that has not been fortified with firm principle, and disciplined to self-denial. The walls of self-control and self-restriction should not in a single instance be weakened and broken down… Those who do not overcome in little things, will have no moral power to withstand greater temptations.” CD 168
“Christ fought the battle upon the point of appetite, and came off victorious; and we also can conquer through strength derived from Him. Who will enter in through the gates into the city?--Not those who declare that they cannot break the force of appetite. Christ has resisted the power of him who would hold us in bondage; though weakened by His long fast of forty days, He withstood temptation, and proved by this act that our cases are not hopeless.” CD 169, 170
“It is impossible for those who give the reins to appetite to attain to Christian perfection.” CD 236
“The Spirit of God cannot come to our help, and assist us in perfecting Christian characters, while we are indulging our appetites to the injury of health…” CD 57
“We need to learn that indulged appetite is the greatest hindrance to mental improvement and soul sanctification.” CD 127
“Notwithstanding all that is said and written in regard to how we should treat our bodies, appetite is the great law which governs men and women generally.” CD 119
“Gluttony is the prevailing sin of this age. Lustful appetite makes slaves of men and women, and beclouds their intellects and stupefies their moral sensibilities to such a degree that the sacred, elevated truths of God's word are not appreciated.” 1T 486
“Far better give up the name of Christian than make a profession and at the same time indulge appetites which strengthen unholy passions.” CD 34
“To every one who is tempted to indulge appetite I would say, Yield not to temptation, but confine yourself to the use of wholesome foods. You can train yourself to enjoy a healthful diet. The Lord helps those who seek to help themselves; but when men will not take special pains to follow out the mind and will of God, how can He work with them? Let us act our part, working out our salvation with fear and trembling,--with fear and trembling lest we make mistakes in the treatment of our bodies, which, before God, we are under obligation to keep in the most healthy condition possible.” CD 35
“In order for the people of God to be in an acceptable state with Him, where they can glorify Him in their bodies and spirits, which are His, they must with interest and zeal deny the gratification of their appetites, and exercise temperance in all things. Then may they comprehend the truth in its beauty and clearness, and carry it out in their lives…” CD 50
“Let none who profess godliness regard with indifference the health of the body, and flatter themselves that intemperance is no sin, and will not affect their spirituality. A close sympathy exists between the physical and the moral nature. The standard of virtue is elevated or degraded by the physical habits…. Wrong habits of eating and drinking lead to errors in thought and action. Indulgence of appetite strengthens the animal propensities, giving them the ascendancy over the mental and spiritual powers.” CD 62
“If Christians will keep the body in subjection, and bring all their appetites and passions under the control of enlightened conscience, feeling it a duty that they owe to God and to their neighbors to obey the laws which govern health and life, they will have the blessing of physical and mental vigor.” CD 65
The 8 Laws of Health
“Pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in divine power,--these are the true remedies. Every person should have a knowledge of nature's remedial agencies and how to apply them…. The use of natural remedies requires an amount of care and effort that many are not willing to give. Nature's process of healing and upbuilding is gradual, and to the impatient it seems slow. The surrender of hurtful indulgences requires sacrifice. But in the end it will be found that nature, untrammeled, does her work wisely and well. Those who persevere in obedience to her laws will reap the reward in health of body and health of mind.” CD 301
*Pure air - breathe deeply the fresh invigorating country air
*Sunlight - get outdoors every day and take in the sunshine
*Abstemiousness - avoid all harmful substances (tobacco, alcohol, drugs, unhealthy foods, etc.), and use in moderation what is good
*Rest - get 7-8 hours of quality sleep in a dark room each night, and rest from the week’s labors as you worship God on Sabbath
*Exercise - get lots of good exercise regularly, enough to get your pulse and breathing rates up
*Proper diet - follow the guidelines from the book Counsels on Diets and Foods given in this section
*The use of water - drink 6-8 glasses of pure water each day, use hydrotherapy to treat sickness
*Trust in divine power - surrender your life fully to God, spend time with Him each day, and learn to trust in Him no matter what circumstances you face
The Use of Medicinal Drugs
What does inspiration tell us about the use of medicinal drugs? Is this God’s preferred method for healing disease, or should we strive, wherever possible, to aim for something better? I believe that God has simple natural remedies and herbs to use in helping the human body overcome disease, which do not have the harmful side effects that modern drug medications do, and which will truly help to bring a cure rather than to merely mask the symptoms as most of the drugs do. The following is a very small sampling of the great amount of counsel on this subject.
“A practice that is laying the foundation of a vast amount of disease and of even more serious evils is the free use of poisonous drugs. When attacked by disease, many will not take the trouble to search out the cause of their illness. Their chief anxiety is to rid themselves of pain and inconvenience. So they resort to patent nostrums, of whose real properties they know little, or they apply to a physician for some remedy to counteract the result of their misdoing, but with no thought of making a change in their unhealthful habits. If immediate benefit is not realized, another medicine is tried, and then another. Thus the evil continues. People need to be taught that drugs do not cure disease. It is true that they sometimes afford present relief, and the patient appears to recover as the result of their use; this is because nature has sufficient vital force to expel the poison and to correct the conditions that caused the disease. Health is recovered in spite of the drug. But in most cases the drug only changes the form and location of the disease. Often the effect of the poison seems to be overcome for a time, but the results remain in the system and work great harm at some later period. By the use of poisonous drugs, many bring upon themselves lifelong illness, and many lives are lost that might be saved by the use of natural methods of healing. The poisons contained in many so-called remedies create habits and appetites that mean ruin to both soul and body. Many of the popular nostrums called patent medicines, and even some of the drugs dispensed by physicians, act a part in laying the foundation of the liquor habit, the opium habit, the morphine habit, that are so terrible a curse to society. The only hope of better things is in the education of the people in right principles. Let physicians teach the people that restorative power is not in drugs, but in nature. Disease is an effort of nature to free the system from conditions that result from a violation of the laws of health. In case of sickness, the cause should be ascertained. Unhealthful conditions should be changed, wrong habits corrected. Then nature is to be assisted in her effort to expel impurities and to re-establish right conditions in the system. Pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in divine power--these are the true remedies. Every person should have a knowledge of nature's remedial agencies and how to apply them. It is essential both to understand the principles involved in the treatment of the sick and to have a practical training that will enable one rightly to use this knowledge. The use of natural remedies requires an amount of care and effort that many are not willing to give. Nature's process of healing and upbuilding is gradual, and to the impatient it seems slow. The surrender of hurtful indulgences requires sacrifice. But in the end it will be found that nature, untrammeled, does her work wisely and well. Those who persevere in obedience to her laws will reap the reward in health of body and health of mind.” MH 126, 127
“Our people should become intelligent in the treatment of sickness without the aid of poisonous drugs. Many should seek to obtain the education that will enable them to combat disease in its varied forms by the most simple methods. Thousands have gone down to the grave because of the use of poisonous drugs, who might have been restored to health by simple methods of treatment.” MM 227
“ Make use of the remedies that God has provided. Pure air, sunshine, and the intelligent use of water are beneficial agents in the restoration of health. But the use of water is considered too laborious. It is easier to employ drugs than to use natural remedies.” HL 247
“That which we lack in faith we make up by the use of drugs. Let us give up the drugs, believing that Jesus does not desire us to be sick, and that if we live according to the principles of health reform, He will keep us well.” 19MR 51
“Special instruction should be given in the art of treating the sick without the use of poisonous drugs and in harmony with the light that God has given. In the treatment of the sick, poisonous drugs need not be used.” 9T 175
“The endless variety of medicines in the market, the numerous advertisements of new drugs and mixtures, all of which, as they say, do wonderful cures, kill hundreds where they benefit one. Those who are sick are not patient. They will take the various medicines, some of which are very powerful, although they know nothing of the nature of the mixtures. All the medicines they take only make their recovery more hopeless. Yet they keep dosing, and continue to grow worse until they die. Some will have medicine at all events. Then let them take these hurtful mixtures, and the various deadly poisons, upon their own responsibility. God's servants should not administer medicines which they know will leave behind injurious effects upon the system, even if they do relieve present suffering.” 2SM 454
“This is God's method. The herbs that grow for the benefit of man, and the little handful of herbs kept and steeped and used for sudden ailments, have served tenfold, yes, one hundred fold better purposes, than all the drugs hidden under mysterious names and dealt out to the sick.” PH144 12
“These old-fashioned, simple herbs, used intelligently, would have recovered many sick who have died under drug medication.” 2SM 294
“The drug science has been exalted, but if every bottle that comes from every such institution were done away with, there would be fewer invalids in the world today. Drug medication should never have been introduced into our institutions. There was no need of this being so, and for this very reason the Lord would have us establish an institution where He can come in and where His grace and power can be revealed…. The true method for healing the sick is to tell them of the herbs that grow for the benefit of man…. true education will lead us to teach the sick that they need not call in a doctor any more than they would call in a lawyer. They can themselves administer the simple herbs if necessary.” PH144 13
“We must leave drugs entirely alone, for in using them we introduce an enemy into the system. I write this because we have to meet this drug medication in the physicians in this country, and we do not want this practice, as in Battle Creek, to steal into our midst as a thief. We want the door closed against the enemy before the lives of human beings are imperiled.” 16MR 289
“As to drugs' being used in our institutions, it is contrary to the light which the Lord has been pleased to give. The drugging business has done more harm to our world and killed more than it has helped or cured.” MM 27
“We have been instructed that in our treatment of the sick we should discard the use of drugs.” 2SM 288
“Thousands who are afflicted might recover their health if, instead of depending upon the drugstore for their life, they would discard all drugs and live simply, without using tea, coffee, liquor, or spices, which irritate the stomach and leave it weak, unable to digest even simple food without stimulation. The Lord is willing to let His light shine forth in clear, distinct rays to all who are weak and feeble.” MM 229
“The drugs administered to the sick do not restore, but destroy. Drugs never cure. Instead, they place in the system seeds which bear a very bitter harvest. . . .” 2SM 289
“Drugs never cure disease. They only change the form and location. Nature alone is the effectual restorer, and how much better could she perform her task if left to herself…. When drugs are introduced into the system, for a time they may seem to have a beneficial effect. A change may take place, but the disease is not cured. It will manifest itself in some other form.” 4aSG 134, 135
“The effects of the poison may not be immediately perceived, but it is doing its work surely in the system, undermining the constitution, and crippling nature in her efforts. They are seeking to correct an evil, but produce a far greater one, which is often incurable. Those who are thus dealt with are constantly sick, and constantly dosing. And yet, if you listen to their conversation, you will often hear them praising the drugs they have been using, and recommending their use to others, because they have been benefited by their use. It would seem that to such as can reason from cause to effect, the sallow countenance, the continual complaints of ailments and general prostration of those who claim to be benefited, would be sufficient proofs of the health-destroying influence of drugs. And yet many are so blinded they do not see that all the drugs they have taken have not cured them, but made them worse.” 4aSG 137
“Those who sin against knowledge and light, and resort to the skill of a physician in administering drugs, will be constantly losing their hold on life. The less there is of drug dosing, the more favorable will be their recovery to health. Drugs, in the place of helping nature, are constantly paralyzing her efforts. . . .” MM 224
“In all their habits they have manifested a recklessness in regard to health and life;… When in distress they send for the doctor, and trust their bodies in his hands, expecting that he will make them well. He deals out to them drugs, the nature of which they know nothing, and in their blind confidence they swallow anything that the doctor may choose to give. Thus powerful poisons are often administered which fetter nature in all her friendly efforts to recover the abuse the system has suffered, and the patient is hurried out of this life.” 2SM 441
“In the Saviour's manner of healing there were lessons for His disciples…. While He did not give countenance to drug medication, He sanctioned the use of simple and natural remedies.” DA 824
“ We are not excusable if, through ignorance, we destroy God's building by taking into the stomach poisonous drugs under a variety of names we do not understand. It is our duty to refuse all such prescriptions.” HL 246
“Those who make a practice of taking drugs sin against their intelligence and endanger their whole afterlife.” 2SM 290
“I was shown that more deaths have been caused by drug-taking than from all other causes combined.” 4aSG 133
The Effect of the Mind on Health
The following thoughts and counsels have been taken from the book Ministry of Healing, the chapter entitled “Mind Cure”, and also from Mind, Character, and Personality, Volumes 1 and 2. It would be beneficial to anyone seeking to enjoy the best spiritual, mental, and physical health to read these sources in their entirety.
“The relation that exists between the mind and the body is very intimate. When one is affected, the other sympathizes. The condition of the mind affects the health to a far greater degree than many realize. Many of the diseases from which men suffer are the result of mental depression. Grief, anxiety, discontent, remorse, guilt, distrust, all tend to break down the life forces and to invite decay and death. Disease is sometimes produced, and is often greatly aggravated, by the imagination. Many are lifelong invalids who might be well if they only thought so. Many imagine that every slight exposure will cause illness, and the evil effect is produced because it is expected. Many die from disease the cause of which is wholly imaginary. Courage, hope, faith, sympathy, love, promote health and prolong life. A contented mind, a cheerful spirit, is health to the body and strength to the soul. "A merry [rejoicing] heart doeth good like a medicine." Proverbs 17:22.” MH 241
“The power of the will is not valued as it should be. Let the will be kept awake and rightly directed, and it will impart energy to the whole being and will be a wonderful aid in the maintenance of health. It is a power also in dealing with disease…. There are thousands who can recover health if they will. The Lord does not want them to be sick. He desires them to be well and happy, and they should make up their minds to be well.” MH 246
“It is not wise to look to ourselves and study our emotions. If we do this, the enemy will present difficulties and temptations that weaken faith and destroy courage. Closely to study our emotions and give way to our feelings is to entertain doubt and entangle ourselves in perplexity. We are to look away from self to Jesus.” MH 249
“Nothing tends more to promote health of body and of soul than does a spirit of gratitude and praise. It is a positive duty to resist melancholy, discontented thoughts and feelings--as much a duty as it is to pray.” MH 251
“ When someone asks how you are feeling, do not try to think of something mournful to tell in order to gain sympathy. Do not talk of your lack of faith and your sorrows and sufferings. The tempter delights to hear such words. When talking on gloomy subjects, you are glorifying him. We are not to dwell on the great power of Satan to overcome us. Often we give ourselves into his hands by talking of his power. Let us talk instead of the great power of God to bind up all our interests with His own. Tell of the matchless power of Christ, and speak of His glory. All heaven is interested in our salvation. The angels of God, thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand, are commissioned to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. They guard us against evil and press back the powers of darkness that are seeking our destruction. Have we not reason to be thankful every moment, thankful even when there are apparent difficulties in our pathway?” MH 253
“Let praise and thanksgiving be expressed in song. When tempted, instead of giving utterance to our feelings, let us by faith lift up a song of thanksgiving to God…. Song is a weapon that we can always use against discouragement. As we thus open the heart to the sunlight of the Saviour's presence, we shall have health and His blessing.” MH 254
“One of the surest hindrances to the recovery of the sick is the centering of attention upon themselves. Many invalids feel that everyone should give them sympathy and help, when what they need is to have their attention turned away from themselves, to think of and care for others.” MH 256
“Let the invalid, instead of constantly requiring sympathy, seek to impart it. Let the burden of your own weakness and sorrow and pain be cast upon the compassionate Saviour. Open your heart to His love, and let it flow out to others. Remember that all have trials hard to bear, temptations hard to resist, and you may do something to lighten these burdens. Express gratitude for the blessings you have; show appreciation of the attentions you receive. Keep the heart full of the precious promises of God, that you may bring forth from this treasure, words that will be a comfort and strength to others. This will surround you with an atmosphere that will be helpful and uplifting. Let it be your aim to bless those around you, and you will find ways of being helpful, both to the members of your own family and to others. If those who are suffering from ill-health would forget self in their interest for others; if they would fulfill the Lord's command to minister to those more needy than themselves, they would realize the truthfulness of the prophetic promise, "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily."“ MH 257, 258
“Sickness of the mind prevails everywhere. Nine tenths of the diseases from which men suffer have their foundation here.” 1MCP 59
“The condition of the mind affects the health of the physical system. If the mind is free and happy, from a consciousness of right doing and a sense of satisfaction in causing happiness to others, it creates a cheerfulness that will react upon the whole system, causing a freer circulation of the blood and a toning up of the entire body. The blessing of God is a healing power, and those who are abundant in benefiting others will realize that wondrous blessing in both heart and life.” 1MCP 59
“But few realize the power that the mind has over the body. A great deal of the sickness which afflicts humanity has its origin in the mind and can only be cured by restoring the mind to health. There are very many more than we imagine who are sick mentally.” 2MCP 396
“The consciousness of rightdoing is the best medicine for diseased bodies and minds. The special blessing of God resting upon the receiver is health and strength. A person whose mind is quiet and satisfied in God is in the pathway to health. To have a consciousness that the eyes of the Lord are upon us and His ears open to our prayers is a satisfaction indeed. To know that we have a never-failing friend in whom we can confide all the secrets of the soul is a privilege which words can never express.” 2MCP 403
“In order to have perfect health our hearts must be filled with hope and love and joy.” 2MCP 403
“Many are suffering from maladies of the soul far more than from diseases of the body, and they will find no relief until they shall come to Christ, the wellspring of life. Complaints of weariness, loneliness, and dissatisfaction will then cease. Satisfying joys will give vigor to the mind, and health and vital energy to the body.” 2MCP 403
Friend, as we conclude this section on diet and health, I pray that if you see that you are not living in harmony with the counsel we have been given (even a small portion of it), that you will take up the challenge which has been here so beautifully presented, and determine by the strength of God not to defile your body temple any longer, but to learn to conquer appetite and experience the joy of obedience.
Answers to Objections
Following are 10 common objections to the things we have studied on the topic of diet and health.
1) God doesn’t care what we eat. Diet has nothing to do with our salvation.
The Bible says, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” 3 John 1:2. God does very much care what we eat, for He knows that what we eat has a tremendous impact on both our physical and spiritual health. If we do not have healthy bodies, we cannot have clear minds to serve Him. God has shown us how important this subject is to Him by giving us so much counsel on it in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. And yes, our diet does have something to do with our salvation. In addition to the previously mentioned point that we can’t have clear minds while eating wrong foods, we also know that “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth [it] not, to him it is sin.” James 4:17, and no one who is clinging to sin will be able to enter the New Jerusalem. So if God has in His great love revealed to you the truth on this subject of health reform, He wants you now to make the right choice about what you’ll do with it.
2) People need time to grow. Not everyone is at the same place in their experience.
(see answer to objection #6 under “dress and appearance”)
3) Some New Age people and Satanists promote vegetarianism too.
This is true, and it is a sad thing too, for when we were first given the message of health reform, we were called to be the head and not the tail in presenting it to the world. But because we have not been faithful to our trust as we should have been, but have in many ways tried to teach health and practice medicine just as the world does, others have risen to the forefront of promoting a healthy diet and healing disease using herbs and simple water treatments. This is no excuse, however, for our not picking up where we have fallen short, and beginning now to follow the counsel we have been given.
4) There are so many pesticides sprayed on veggies nowadays, it’s safer to eat meat.
True, there are many chemicals sprayed on fruits and veggies, but there are also many growth hormones and antibiotics shot into the animals people eat for meat and get their dairy products and eggs from, thus contaminating them from the inside out. If you can, follow the Spirit of Prophecy counsel and grow your own organic garden to avoid all those chemical sprays. If you can’t grow everything you eat, buy the healthiest grown foods you can, wash the fresh foods well, and don’t worry - you still have much healthier food than meat.
5) I’ve known a lot of people who eat animal products and seem to be healthier and stronger and to live longer than the vegetarians I know.
Our health depends largely upon how we care for our bodies (the food we eat, how much we exercise, etc.), but some other factors (such as genetics and heredity) do play into the picture as well. Because of this, we sometimes see people who eat all the wrong things, smoke, have a poor lifestyle, and abuse their health in other ways, yet who still seem to be strong, healthy, and energetic. Their bad choices will likely catch up with them later in life, but in some cases, they may seem not to. On the other hand, we sometimes see people who eat all the right things and live a very strict and healthy lifestyle, yet who seem to be far less than the ideal picture of health. Likely, these people who are living healthy have a weaker constitution, and were they not guarding their health so carefully, they would be in a far worse condition, or perhaps even have died. This is the unfairness of sin, that sometimes innocent people must have a harder struggle because of choices their parents, grandparents, or ancestors farther back made.
6) Vegetarian foods are too expensive and unavailable. I’d rather use the money in the Lord’s work.
Vegetarian foods need not be unaffordable or unavailable. Stick to the simpler, make-from-scratch foods for the most part, rather than the processed dairy substitutes or canned veggie-meats. Grow your own fruits and veggies whenever you can. When you do this, you’ll find that a vegetarian diet is actually far less expensive then a diet of meat, eggs, dairy products, and pre-prepared foods would be.
7) I like the taste of it; I don’t care if it’s bad for me.
We would encourage you to do some real heart searching, and ask yourself, “Who is really Lord in my life - God or me? Am I truly surrendered to God and His will for me? Do I want, more than anything else, to do what is pleasing to Jesus, Who gave His life for me? Is Jesus number one to me?”
8) I don’t have time to eat a good meal. I’m too busy.
If your schedule is very busy and you have too much to do already, first have a look at your priorities. Weed out the extra activities and commitments that are not absolutely necessary. This should free up some time. Secondly, look for ways to save time like cooking something in a crock pot overnight, planning simpler menus, baking and then freezing an extra batch of bread, nut loaf, etc. when you have extra time (to reheat on a busy day), canning brown beans or vegetable soup for quick meals later, or doing more than one thing at a time (have sweet potatoes in the oven with the timer set while you do the ironing, etc.).
9) Diseases aren’t caused by diet. They’re caused by heredity.
This is a common belief, though it is largely false. It is true that some diseases are caused or at least predisposed to largely by heredity, yet the most common diseases people are suffering and dying with today (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, hypertension, obesity, etc.) are almost entirely caused by poor lifestyle habits.
10) I’m too old to change.
No, you’re never too old to change. God’s grace is sufficient for everyone, young and old alike. When you make the right choices with your health, no matter what age you are, you will see improvements in your health (physically and spiritually), and you will also set a good example for your children and grandchildren after you, showing that God’s health plan can be lived and it is well worth it.
DRESS AND APPEARANCE - An Appeal From Sister To Sister
This, for many, may be the hardest area to talk about, yet it is one which we must address. Sisters, this area of dress and appearance is one where many of us have fallen far short, and God is calling us to come up higher. I truly believe that Satan holds many of his captives by the chain “pride of appearance”, as I have seen almost no other area of Christian standards to which there is so much opposition, even among many who claim to be “conservative” or “historic” Seventh-day Adventists, as this area of dress. I plead with you to surrender to God in this area, and no longer build up your excuses and your walls of resistance. God is looking for a perfected people, who are willing to follow Him every particular. Will you be among them?
We are bombarded in stores, magazines, billboards, and sadly, even at church, with visual appeals to follow fashion. The world’s fashions have become so accepted in the church that one can often scarcely tell many a Seventh-day Adventist from someone of the world. This is very displeasing to God. Review the earlier section on separation from the world, and think of what those counsels say to us in regards to how we dress. In addition, God has given us very clear and specific counsel in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy on how He wants us to dress. That is what we will be looking at together here.
Keep in mind as you study, that the fashions in Ellen White’s day were very different from those we have today. In her time she was combating such things as restricting corsets, abundance of ribbons and ruffles, skirts dragging in the filth of the streets, hoops with their tendencies to cause indecent exposure in certain situations, the American Costume (consisting of a knee-length dress over pants) which arose with the feminist movement, layers of skirts hanging from the hips, and other such styles. None of these are still being worn in our country today the same as they were then. So you may ask, how can we then expect to find counsel in the writings of Ellen White which will be applicable for our day of short skirts, mini skirts, tight clothing, sleeveless shirts, cap sleeves, sheer clothing, pants for women, shorts, plunging necklines, bathing suits, bikinis, and a host of other such things? You will be amazed as we study to see how clearly God addressed each of these issues through the principles of dress He gave us in the Bible and the Spirit of prophecy. The counsel is as relevant for today as it was then. Much of the counsel on dress reform was written specifically to women, but we will also touch briefly on the area of dress reform for men, as it is very important as well. So, shall we begin?
An Overview of Dress Principles
Let’s first take a look on some general quotes on the subject of dress. These will help lay a solid foundation for our more specific study next. Is there a problem with the dress of God’s people today? Is God calling us to make a change? Why is the issue of our dress so important?
“ I was shown that the people of God should not imitate the fashions of the world. Some have done this, and are fast losing the peculiar, holy character which should distinguish them as God's people. I was pointed back to God's ancient people, and was led to compare their apparel with the mode of dress in these last days. What a difference! what a change! Then the women were not so bold as now. When they went in public, they covered their faces with a veil. In these last days, fashions are shameful and immodest. They are noticed in prophecy. They were first brought in by a class over whom Satan has entire control, who, "being past feeling [without any conviction of the Spirit of God] have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." If God's professed people had not greatly departed from Him, there would now be a marked difference between their dress and that of the world. The small bonnets, exposing the face and head, show a lack of modesty. The hoops are a shame. The inhabitants of earth are growing more and more corrupt, and the line of distinction between them and the Israel of God must be more plain, or the curse which falls upon worldlings will fall on God's professed people.” 1T 189
“The Lord is displeased with the pride manifested among His professed people. He is dishonored by their conformity to the unhealthful, immodest, and expensive fashions of this degenerate age.” CH 598
“The idolatry of dress is a moral disease. It must not be taken over into the new life. In most cases submission to the gospel requirements will demand a decided change in the dress.” CG 432
“A person's character is judged by his style of dress. A refined taste, a cultivated mind, will be revealed in the choice of simple and appropriate attire. Chaste simplicity in dress, when united with modesty of demeanor, will go far toward surrounding a young woman with that atmosphere of sacred reserve which will be to her a shield from a thousand perils.” ED 248
“This is true sanctification. It is not merely a theory, an emotion, or a form of words, but a living, active principle, entering into the everyday life. It requires that our habits of eating, drinking, and dressing be such as to secure the preservation of physical, mental, and moral health, that we may present to the Lord our bodies,--not an offering corrupted by wrong habits, but "a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God."“ CD 57, 58
“Those who are truly seeking to follow Christ will have conscientious scruples in regard to the dress they wear;” MYP 345, 346
“Having before us the picture of the world's demoralization upon the point of fashion, how dare professed Christians follow in the path of the worldling? Shall we appear to sanction these demoralizing fashions by adopting them? Many do adopt the fashions of the world, but it is because Christ is not formed within them, the hope of glory…. Pride and vanity are manifested everywhere; but those who are inclined to look into the mirror to admire themselves, have little inclination to look into the law of God, the great moral mirror. This idolatry of dress destroys all that is humble, meek, and lovely in the character. It consumes the precious hours that should be devoted to meditation, to searching the heart, to the prayerful study of God's word.” MYP 359, 360
“The habits and customs of the world, pride of appearance, selfishness, and self-exaltation, too often intrude, and these sins of His professed followers are so offensive to God that He cannot work in power for them or through them… When there has been a departure from the right path, it is difficult to return. Barriers have been removed, safeguards broken down. One step in the wrong direction prepares the way for another…. The least deviation from right and principle will lead to separation from God and may end in apostasy. What we do once, we more readily and naturally do again; and to go forward in a certain path, be it right or wrong, is more easy than to start. It takes less time and labor to corrupt our ways before God than to engraft upon the character habits of righteousness and truth. Whatever a man becomes accustomed to, be its influence good or evil, he finds it difficult to abandon.” 4T 576, 578
“The sum and substance of true religion is to own and continually acknowledge, by words, by dress, by deportment, our relationship to God.” 4T 582
“As we see our sisters departing from simplicity in dress, and cultivating a love for the fashions of the world, we feel troubled. By taking steps in this direction they are separating themselves from God and neglecting the inward adorning.” 4T 628
“Satan invented the fashions in order to keep the minds of women so engrossed with the subject of dress that they could think of but little else.” 4T 629
“Satan is constantly devising some new style of dress that shall prove an injury to physical and moral health; and he exults when he sees professed Christians eagerly accepting the fashions that he has invented.” 4T 634
“To protect the people of God from the corrupting influence of the world, as well as to promote physical and moral health, the dress reform was introduced among us. It was not intended to be a yoke of bondage, but a blessing; not to increase labor, but to save labor; not to add to the expense of dress, but to save expense. It would distinguish God's people from the world, and thus serve as a barrier against its fashions and follies. He who knows the end from the beginning, who understands our nature and our needs,--our compassionate Redeemer,--saw our dangers and difficulties, and condescended to give us timely warning and instruction concerning our habits of life, even in the proper selection of food and clothing.” 4T 634
“Will my sisters accept this style of dress and refuse to imitate the fashions that are devised by Satan and continually changing? No one can tell what freak fashion will take next. Worldlings whose only care is, "What shall we eat, and what shall we wear?" should not be our criterion.” 4T 640
“It is a shame to our sisters to so forget their holy character and their duty to God as to imitate the fashions of the world. There is no excuse for us except the perversity of our own hearts. We do not extend our influence by such a course. It is so inconsistent with our profession of faith that it makes us ridiculous in the eyes of worldlings. Many a soul who was convinced of the truth has been led to decide against it by the pride and love of the world displayed by our sisters…. How little did those professedly believing sisters know of the sermon their dress was preaching! Our words, our actions, and our dress are daily, living preachers, gathering with Christ or scattering abroad. This is no trivial matter to be passed off with a jest. The subject of dress demands serious reflection and much prayer. Many unbelievers have felt that they were not doing right in permitting themselves to be slaves of fashion; but when they see some who make a high profession of godliness dressing as worldlings dress, enjoying frivolous society, they decide that there can be no wrong in such a course. "We are," said the inspired apostle, "made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men." All heaven is marking the daily influence which the professed followers of Christ exert upon the world. My sisters, your dress is telling either in favor of Christ and the sacred truth or in favor of the world. Which is it? Remember we must all answer to God for the influence we exert.” 4T 641
“The love of dress endangers the morals and makes woman the opposite of the Christian lady characterized by modesty and sobriety. Showy, extravagant dress too often encourages lust in the heart of the wearer and awakens base passions in the heart of the beholder. God sees that the ruin of the character is frequently preceded by the indulgence of pride and vanity in dress. He sees that the costly apparel stifles the desire to do good.” 4T 645
“ Christ is ashamed of His professed followers. Wherein do we bear any resemblance to Him? Wherein does our dress conform to the Bible requirements? I do not want the sins of the people upon me, and I will give the trumpet a certain sound. For years I have borne a plain and decided testimony upon this subject, in print and upon the speaker's stand. I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God. I must be clear of the blood of all. The fact that worldliness and pride bear almost universal sway is no excuse for one Christian to do as others do. God has said: "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil." Do not, my sisters, trifle longer with your own souls and with God. I have been shown that the main cause of your backsliding is your love of dress. This leads to the neglect of grave responsibilities, and you find yourselves with scarcely a spark of the love of God in your hearts. Without delay, renounce the cause of your backsliding, because it is sin against your own soul and against God. Be not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Fashion is deteriorating the intellect and eating out the spirituality of our people. Obedience to fashion is pervading our Seventh-day Adventist churches and is doing more than any other power to separate our people from God. I have been shown that our church rules are very deficient. All exhibitions of pride in dress, which is forbidden in the word of God, should be sufficient reason for church discipline. If there is a continuance, in face of warnings and appeals and entreaties, to still follow the perverse will, it may be regarded as proof that the heart is in no way assimilated to Christ. Self, and only self, is the object of adoration, and one such professed Christian will lead many away from God. There is a terrible sin upon us as a people, that we have permitted our church members to dress in a manner inconsistent with their faith. We must arise at once and close the door against the allurements of fashion. Unless we do this, our churches will become demoralized.” 4T 647, 648
“God will have a people separate and distinct from the world. And as soon as any have a desire to imitate the fashions of the world, that they do not immediately subdue, just so soon God ceases to acknowledge them as His children. They are the children of the world and of darkness.” 1T 137
“While you make yourselves appear like the world, and as beautiful as you can, remember that the same body may in a few days be food for worms. And while you adorn it to your taste, to please the eye, you are dying spiritually. God hates your vain, wicked pride, and He looks upon you as a whited sepulcher, full of corruption and uncleanness within.” 1T 134
“Christians should not take pains to make themselves a gazing-stock by dressing differently from the world. But if, when following out their convictions of duty in respect to dressing modestly and healthfully, they find themselves out of fashion, they should not change their dress in order to be like the world; but they should manifest a noble independence and moral courage to be right, if all the world differ from them.” 1T 458
“When told of their mistake, many will immediately exclaim, 'Why, such a style of dress would be old-fashioned!' What if it is? I wish we could be old-fashioned in many respects. If we could have the old-fashioned strength that characterized the old-fashioned women of past generations, it would be very desirable.” 1T 461
“To many the dress reform is too simple and humbling to be adopted. They cannot lift the cross. God works by simple means to separate and distinguish His children from the world; but some have so departed from the simplicity of the work and ways of God that they are above the work, not in it.” 1T 523, 524
“Something must arise to lessen the hold of God's people upon the world. The reform dress is simple and healthful, yet there is a cross in it. I thank God for the cross and cheerfully bow to lift it. We have been so united with the world that we have lost sight of the cross and do not suffer for Christ's sake. We should not wish to invent something to make a cross; but if God presents to us a cross, we should cheerfully bear it. In the acceptance of the cross we are distinguished from the world, who love us not and ridicule our peculiarity. Christ was hated by the world because He was not of the world. Can His followers expect to fare better than their Master?” 1T 525
“Many who profess to believe the Testimonies live in neglect of the light given. The dress reform is treated by some with great indifference and by others with contempt, because there is a cross attached to it. For this cross I thank God. It is just what we need to distinguish and separate God's commandment-keeping people from the world. The dress reform answers to us as did the ribbon of blue to ancient Israel. The proud, and those who have no love for sacred truth, which will separate them from the world, will show it by their works.” 3T 171
“Self-denial in dress is a part of our Christian duty.” 3T 366
“It would be pleasing to God if there was greater uniformity in dress among believers. The style of dress formerly adopted by the Friends (Quakers), is the least objectionable. Many of them have backslidden, and although they may preserve the uniformity of color, yet they have indulged in pride and extravagance, and their dress has been of the most expensive material. Still their selection of plain colors, and the modest and neat arrangement of their clothing, is worthy of imitation by Christians. The children of Israel, after they were brought out of Egypt, were commanded to have a simple ribbon of blue in the border of their garments, to distinguish them from the nations around them, and to signify that they were God's peculiar people. The people of God are not now required to have a special mark placed upon their garments. But in the New Testament we are often referred to ancient Israel as examples. If God gave such definite directions to his ancient people in regard to their dress, will not the dress of his people in this age come under his notice? Should there not be in their dress a distinction from that of the world? Should not the people of God, who are his peculiar treasure, seek even in their dress to glorify God? And should they not be examples in point of dress, and by their simple style rebuke the pride, vanity and extravagance of worldly, pleasure-loving professors? God requires this of his people. Pride is rebuked in his word.” 2SM 473, 474
“ It would be pleasing to God if there was greater uniformity in dress among Christians. The style of dress formerly adopted by the Friends is commendable.” HR, February 1, 1872
The 1927 General Conference Dress Statement
In 1927, the General Conference committee of Seventh-day Adventists, printed this article in Standards of Christian Living, pages 15-16. It is very valuable to see how specific and detailed they were then regarding dress standards, with how lenient and general our churches are now on the subject.
“The adoption of fads and extreme fashion in either men’s or women’s dress indicate a lack of attention to serious matters, and creates in all thoughtful observers a suspicion of the ability and worth of the wearer. The jewelry is a bid for attention which is not is keeping with Christian self-forgetfulness. In the same case is the exhibition of brilliant and flashy colors. A sincere mind will not seek the camouflage of showy dress….
“Let our young women consider themselves well-dressed only when the demands of modesty are met. The dress should be such in material and form as to allow no suggestion of sex lure. Extremely short sleeves, low necks, and skirts that do not fall well below the knees fail to accord with the Christian standard of modesty and refinement. Such attire reveals its inadequacy in the nervous self-consciousness of unsophisticated wearers. Beauty as well as virtue requires adherence to the fullest conservatism in these particulars.
“As a matter of health as well as of beauty and utility, low-heeled shoes should be worn. High heels, by throwing the body off balance, cause strain which often results in serious physical disorders; while it takes a distorted sense of beauty to find any grace either in the shoe or in the posture and walk of the wearer.
“The head is the seat of intelligence and should give evidence of it. The soul is expressed in the face; the elements of beauty lie not so much in feature and color as in the expression of intelligence and benevolence. Let the mind and soul be cultivated, and the face will be beautiful. The use of rouge, lipstick, and similar cosmetics is always false and usually disfiguring. Their use we sincerely discourage. The hair should be neatly but not elaborately dressed. Allowing it to remain in its natural unshorn state enhances women’s charm of femininity and show a becoming sense of her distinction from man. The hats worn should be conservative in style and color, and should be without striking ornamentation. In all matters of dress and physical appearance, there should be wide distinction between men and women.”
A Little History on the Dress Reform Message in the Seventh-day Adventist Church
In 1865, God gave Ellen White a vision about dress reform, after which she promoted a specific dress pattern among the Adventist sisters which she called the reform or short dress. This dress was designed by God to be a blessing and to bring greater uniformity in dress. It was a most modest, healthful, and simple style. It was adopted by many of our people, however some who adopted it began to think of it as a galling yoke and to complain of it, while others made the pattern according to their own ideas which manifested a great diversity and made a poor representation of that which God intended, and still others opposed it from the start. Because of this, Ellen White wrote:
“ In a vision given me at Battle Creek, January 3, 1875, I was shown the state of things which I have here represented, and that the wide diversity in dress was an injury to the cause of truth. That which would have proved a blessing, if uniformly adopted and properly worn, had been made a reproach, and, in some cases, even a disgrace. Some who wore the dress sighed over it as a heavy burden. The language of their hearts was: "Anything but this. If we felt free to lay off this peculiar style, we would willingly adopt a plain, untrimmed dress of ordinary length. The limbs could be as warmly clothed as before, and we could secure all the physical benefits, with less effort. It requires much labor to prepare the reform dress in a proper manner." Murmuring and complaining were fast destroying vital godliness…. One year ago the subject of dress was again presented before me. I saw that our sisters were departing from the simplicity of the gospel. The very ones who had felt that the reform dress required unnecessary labor, and who claimed that they would not be influenced by the spirit of the world, had now taken up the fashions they once condemned. Their dresses were arranged with all the unnecessary adornments of worldlings in a manner unbecoming to Christians and entirely at variance with our faith.” 4T 637
“While none were compelled to adopt the reform dress, our people could and should have appreciated its advantages and accepted it as a blessing. The evil results of an opposite course may now be seen.” 4T 639
“God designed the reform dress as a barrier to prevent the hearts of our sisters from becoming alienated from Him by following the fashions of the world. Those who removed that barrier did not take upon themselves the burden to avert the dangers which must follow. Some in responsible positions have exerted an influence in favor of worldly customs and entirely at variance with the Bible standard. They have done their part in bringing about the present state of worldliness and backsliding. God has been testing His people. He allowed the testimony concerning dress to become silent, that our sisters might follow their own inclination and thus develop the real pride existing in their hearts. It was to prevent the present state of worldliness that the reform dress was recommended. Many scorned the idea that this dress was necessary to preserve them from following the fashions; but the Lord has permitted them to prove that pride was cherished in their hearts, and that this was just what they would do. It is now shown that they needed the restriction which the reform dress imposed.” 4T 639, 640
She then gave this counsel: “If all our sisters would adopt a simple, unadorned dress of modest length, the uniformity thus established would be far more pleasing to God, and would exert a more salutary influence on the world, than the diversity presented four years ago. As our sisters would not generally accept the reform dress as it should be worn, another, less objectionable style is now presented. It is free from needless trimmings, free from the looped-up, tied back overskirts. It consists of a plain sack or loose-fitting basque, and skirt, the latter short enough to avoid the mud and filth of the streets. The material should be free from large plaids and figures, and plain in color. The same attention should be given to the clothing of the limbs as with the short dress. Will my sisters accept this style of dress and refuse to imitate the fashions that are devised by Satan and continually changing?” 4T 640
Let us take a lesson from the way the early Adventist sisters reacted to the dress reform when it was brought to them, and be careful that we do not follow their example when we are presented with a call to come higher in our dress. Let us lift the cross joyfully, and encourage others to lift it too.
Following is a comparison of the “Reform Dress” and the “Less-Objectionable Dress” adapted from the book Thy Nakedness by Rick and Gwen Shorter. These details can mostly all be found in 1T 456-466, 1T 521-525, and 4T 628-648.
The “Reform Dress” or “Short Dress”
1) Made by a precise or definite pattern
2) From 8-10 inches from the floor
3) High neck, arms and legs covered. The latter by lined, full pants tapering at the ankle and reaching below the hem of the dress
4) Loose-fitting so as not to reveal the woman’s form (top or bottom)
5) Healthful and modest
6) Inexpensive, yet made of durable material
8) Raised much prejudice
9) This dress was later discarded. Instructions were given later not to promote the short dress with long pants unless given the word of the Lord for it.
The “Less-Objectionable Dress”
1) Made by no definite pattern or style
2) No precise length given, but longer than the “short dress” and avoided the mud of the street. Approximately ankle length; the dress meets the shoe or ankle boot.
3) Modest, covering the arms; with a loose-fitting jacket to cover the upper body. Did not reveal the woman’s form (top or bottom).
4) Healthful. Legs were to be as well clad as with the “short dress”, although the lined pants worn underneath the skirt did not show. The dress covered the pants completely. It was also loose-fitting so as not to restrict movement, and was suspended from the shoulders.
5) Simple and unadorned, free from large plaids and figures, plain in color
6) Neat and clean
7) Inexpensive, yet made of durable material
8) Convenient most of the time
9) Raised less prejudice
The “less-objectionable dress” is the last dress Ellen White advocated. It embodies all of the dress principles that heaven requires, and is still to be worn today. Let us look at a few areas more specifically.
How Would God Have Us to Dress Today?
Modesty can be defined as being fully covered (except, of course, for the hands and face), and as not wearing anything that attracts attention by sensual clothing or a “look at me” appearance. From a thorough study of the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy we see clearly that God considers the following to be immodest dress: makeup or nail polish of any kind, elaborate or fashionable hairstyles that draw attention to the hair, short man-like haircuts for women, jewelry, any clothing resembling that of the opposite sex, exposure of the legs, feet, or upper arms, clothing which is tight or formfitting, showy apparel, ornaments, or trimmings, sheer clothing, low-cut clothing, expensive clothing, anything that attracts attention to the wearer and says “look at me”.
Our dresses are to be long enough that they cover the leg and the pants worn underneath, but not so long that they drag the ground as you walk - this means around ankle length. They are to be loose enough (with plenty of fullness and gathers or pleats over the hips - not narrow A-line), and thick enough (not lacy, sheer, or semi-sheer) so as not to reveal the shape or the skin of the body when standing, sitting, squatting, reaching, or bending. The bodice of the dress should have some sort of loose cape, pinafore, vest, or jacket over it to cover the bosom better. The neckline should be high enough and small enough (not lower than the collar bone) that nothing of the chest or undergarments is revealed when standing or bending over. Clingy fabrics (such as thin knits or silky materials) should be avoided. Slits should not be worn in skirts. It is wise to wear a slip in order to avoid the skirt clinging to the legs or becoming see-through when you stand in a lighted doorway. The sleeves should be worn at least to the elbows for modesty. The bare or hose-covered feet and ankle should not be exposed. No clothing should be worn that resembles that of the opposite sex (we will look at this more specifically later on).
Here are some other ways in which we can preserve and encourage modesty besides dressing modestly ourselves: testify against immodesty and teach the importance of modesty on your own and in the church, uphold and require high standards of modesty among church members, avoid careless immodesty even in our own homes so that our children will develop high moral principles and standards, do not allow sensual clothing advertisements to come into our homes (this includes catalogues, magazines such as National Geographic and Reader’s Digest), do not intermingle unnecessarily with the world, strictly avoid attending or viewing places such as public swimming pools or beaches, overcome sinful imaginations, and keep your mind’s eye uplifted to heavenly things.
We must remember that God created men and women with very different sexual natures. The man is very easily stirred to sensual thoughts by the sight of a scantily clad woman, or one in form fitted clothes. Whereas, the woman is stirred more by touch. God has placed in women a sense of modesty in order to protect the men and aid them in their endeavor to keep their thoughts pure, but Satan has been hard at work and very successful in destroying this natural modesty in women and making them bold and provocative in their dress and behavior. We must not allow the devils’ lies to cheapen us, but must realize that we are our brothers’ keeper, and preserve that God-given gift of modesty and reserve.
“The Bible teaches modesty in dress. "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel." 1 Timothy 2:9. This forbids display in dress, gaudy colors, profuse ornamentation. Any device designed to attract attention to the wearer or to excite admiration, is excluded from the modest apparel which God's word enjoins.” MH 287
“How contrary to the principles given in the Scriptures are many of the modes of dress that fashion prescribes! Think of the styles that have prevailed for the last few hundreds of years or even for the last few decades. How many of them, when not in fashion, would be declared immodest; how many would be pronounced inappropriate for a refined, God-fearing, self-respecting woman.” MH 290
“We judge of a person's character by the style of dress worn. A modest, godly woman will dress modestly. A refined taste, a cultivated mind, will be revealed in the choice of a simple, appropriate attire. . . . The one who is simple and unpretending in her dress and in her manners shows that she understands that a true woman is characterized by moral worth.” CG 413
“Virtue and modesty are rare. I appeal to you as followers of Christ, making an exalted profession, to cherish the precious, priceless gem of modesty. This will guard virtue.” CG 417
“When one commandment of the Decalogue is broken, the downward steps are almost certain. When once the barriers of female modesty are removed, the basest licentiousness does not appear exceeding sinful. Alas, what terrible results of woman's influence for evil may be witnessed in the world today! Through the allurements of "strange women," thousands are incarcerated in prison cells, many take their own lives, and many cut short the lives of others. How true the words of Inspiration, "Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell."“ AH 58, 59
“Our example and influence must be a power on the side of reform. We must abstain from any practice which will blunt the conscience or encourage temptation. We must open no door that will give Satan access to the mind of one human being formed in the image of God.” 5T 360
Let us now look at what Ellen White wrote about hoops (and other clothing which led to immodest exposure), for although hoops are no longer worn today, the counsel gives us some important principles of just what kind of exposures God considers to be immodest.
“From what has been shown me, hoops are an abomination. They are indecent; and God's people err if they in the least degree follow, or give countenance to, this fashion…. While traveling in the cars and stages, I have often been led to exclaim: O Modesty, where is thy blush! I have seen large companies crowding into the cars, and in order to make any headway, the hoops had to be raised and placed in a shape which was indecent. And the exposure of the form was tenfold more with those who wore hoops, than with those who did not. Were it not for fashion, those who thus immodestly expose themselves would be hissed at; but modesty and decency must be sacrificed to the god of fashion. May the Lord deliver His people from this grievous sin! God will not pity those who will be slaves to fashion.” 1T 277, 278
“The hoops are a shame.” 1T 189
“Hoops, I was shown, are an abomination, and every Sabbathkeeper's influence should be a rebuke to this ridiculous fashion, which has been a screen to iniquity, and which arose from a house of ill fame in Paris.” 1T 270
“Among these pernicious fashions were the large hoops, which frequently caused indecent exposure of the person.” 4T 635
“Because, under certain circumstances, it is, to say the least, not the most modest, on account of exposures of the female form. This evil is greatly aggravated by the wearing of hoops. Ladies with long dresses, especially if extended with hoops, as they go up and down stairs, as they pass up the narrow door-way of the coach and the omnibus, or as they raise their skirts, to clear the mud of the streets, sometimes expose the form to that degree as to put modesty to the blush.” RH, April 14, 1868
“We have traveled extensively the past twenty-five years, and have been eye-witnesses to many indecent exposures of the limbs. But the most common exposure is seen upon the streets in light snow, or wet and mud. Both hands are required to elevate the dress, that it may clear the wet and filth. It is a common thing to see the dress raised one-half of a yard, exposing an almost unclad ankle to the sight of gentlemen, but no one seems to blush at this immodest exposure. No one's sensitive modesty seems shocked for the reason that this is customary. It is fashion, and for this reason it is endured. No outcry of immodesty is heard, although it is so in the fullest sense.
“But does the popular style of woman's dress always hide her feet from the public gaze? See that lady passing over the muddy street, holding her skirts nearly twice as far from the ground as ours, exposing, not only her feet, but her nearly-naked limbs. Similar exposures are frequent as she ascends and descends the stairs, as she is helped into, and out of carriages. These exposures are disagreeable, if not shameful; and a style of dress which makes their frequent occurrence almost certain, we must regard as a poor safeguard of modesty and virtue.” HR, May 1, 1872
“The slaves to fashion may say the feet and limbs are exposed (with the reform dress of the 1860s). I beg pardon: the limbs are not exposed. It is true the reform dress reveals the fact that women have feet and limbs, and when they are modestly and sensibly clothed, making exposure impossible, she is not ashamed of the fact. But the fact that women have feet and limbs is not, as we have said, concealed by the length of the dress. We have decided that health and modesty require that women clothe their limbs as thoroughly as they do other parts of the body.” HR, March 1, 1874
If God inspired Ellen White to write these things regarding a style of dress which at times exposed 18 inches of a stocking-covered leg to the public, what would she have to say about the styles that are commonly worn today?!
To find more Biblical principles of modesty, please read Genesis 3:7,21; 1 Timothy 2:9,10; Revelation 1:13; 1 John 2:15-17; 1 Peter 2:9,11; Luke 8:27,35; Isaiah 47:1-3; Revelation 3:18.
The clothing should be perfectly loose so that you can move easily. There should be no tight bands at the waistline or around the chest (as with bras), as this impedes the circulation. The clothes should be, as much as possible, suspended from the shoulders. The arms and legs should be well-clothed to prevent any chilliness. High-heeled shoes should not be worn, as they throw the back and internal organs off balance and create health problems.
“In order to secure the most healthful clothing, the needs of every part of the body must be carefully studied. The character of the climate, the surroundings, the condition of health, the age, and the occupation must all be considered. Every article of dress should fit easily, obstructing neither the circulation of the blood nor a free, full, natural respiration. Everything worn should be so loose that when the arms are raised the clothing will be correspondingly lifted.” MH 293
“Another serious evil is the wearing of skirts so that their weight must be sustained by the hips. This heavy weight, pressing upon the internal organs, drags them downward and causes weakness of the stomach and a feeling of lassitude, inclining the wearer to stoop, which further cramps the lungs, making correct breathing more difficult.” MH 292
“Many females drag down the bowels and hips by hanging heavy skirts upon them. These were not formed to sustain weights. In the first place, heavy quilted skirts should never be worn. They are unnecessary, and a great evil. The female dress should be suspended from the shoulders.” 2SM 473
“Our skirts are few and light, not taxing our strength with the burden of many and longer ones. Our limbs being properly clothed, we need comparatively few skirts; and these are suspended from the shoulders. Our dresses are fitted to sit easily, obstructing neither the circulation of the blood, nor natural, free, and full respiration. Our skirts being neither numerous nor fashionably long, do not impede the means of locomotion, but leave us to move about with ease and activity. All these things are necessary to health.” HR, September 1, 1868
“We object to the popular style of woman's dress because it is neither healthful nor convenient. The skirts generally rest upon the hips, which were not designed to sustain weights. Every article of clothing should be suspended from the shoulders. The habit of fastening the skirts about the body with bands, allowing the weight to rest upon the hips to keep them from slipping off is decidedly injurious to health. For exactly where these bands girt are nerves, and large blood-vessels, which carry the blood into the limbs. These veins and nerves should not be pressed, but allowed the most perfect freedom to fulfill the purpose for which nature designed them. I have heard young ladies complain of pain in the side when in a sitting position. I have found upon examination that the only cause was the tight bands pressing upon the tender nerves and veins, impeding the free circulation of blood. When the under clothing, as well as the dress waist, was made loose, and all the garments were suspended from the shoulders by straps, the pain disappeared.” HR, April 1, 1872
“Tight bands or waists hinder the action of the heart and lungs, and should be avoided. No part of the body should at any time be made uncomfortable by clothing that compresses any organ or restricts its freedom of movement. The clothing of all children should be loose enough to admit of the freest and fullest respiration, and so arranged that the shoulders will support its weight.” CG 426
“An almost endless train of disease results from unhealthful modes of dress, and careful instruction on this point should be given. Impress upon the pupils the danger of allowing the clothing to weigh on the hips or to compress any organ of the body. The dress should be so arranged that a full respiration can be taken and the arms be raised above the head without difficulty. The cramping of the lungs not only prevents their development, but hinders the processes of digestion and circulation, and thus weakens the whole body.” ED 199
“After their sin Adam and Eve were no longer to dwell in Eden….. In humility and unutterable sadness they bade farewell to their beautiful home and went forth to dwell upon the earth, where rested the curse of sin. The atmosphere, once so mild and uniform in temperature, was now subject to marked changes, and the Lord mercifully provided them with a garment of skins as a protection from the extremes of heat and cold.” PP 61
“If any part of the body should be favored with extra coverings, it should be the limbs and feet, which are at a distance from the great wheel of life, which sends the blood through the system. The limbs should ever be clothed with a warm covering to protect them from a chill current of air. . . . If the feet are clothed with good-sized, thick-soled, warm boots or shoes, for comfort rather than for fashion, the blood will be induced to circulate freely in the limbs and feet, as well as other portions of the body. . . . If we give the lungs and feet ample room to do the work God designed they should, we shall be rewarded with better health and a clearer conscience. There is but one woman in a thousand who clothes her limbs as she should. . . . Women should clothe their limbs as thoroughly as do men. The portions of the body close to the life springs, need less covering than the limbs which are remote from the vital organs. If the limbs and feet could have the extra coverings usually put upon the shoulders, lungs, and heart, and healthy circulation be induced to the extremities, the vital organs would act their part healthfully, with only their share of clothing. The extremities are chilled, and the heart has thrown upon it double labor, to force the blood into these chilled extremities; and when the blood has performed its circuit through the body, and returned to the heart, it is not the same vigorous, warm current which left it. It has been chilled in its passage through the limbs. The heart, weakened by too great labor and poor circulation of poor blood, is then compelled to still greater exertion, to throw the blood to the extremities which are never as healthfully warm as other parts of the body. The heart fails in its efforts, and the limbs become habitually cold; and the blood, which is chilled away from the extremities, is thrown back upon the lungs and brain, and inflammation and congestion of the lungs or the brain is the result. It is impossible for women to have, habitually, chilled limbs and cold feet, without some of the internal organs' being congested. . . . The many extra coverings over the chest and back and lower part of the body, induce the blood to these parts, and the animal heat, thus retained, weakens and debilitates the delicate organs, and congestion and inflammation result. When the extremities, which are remote from the vital organs, are not properly clad, the blood is driven to the head, causing headache or nosebleed; or there is a sense of fulness about the chest producing cough or palpitation of the heart, on account of too much blood in that locality; or the stomach has too much blood, causing indigestion.” HL 124-125
“Another evil which custom fosters is the unequal distribution of the clothing, so that while some parts of the body have more than is required, others are insufficiently clad. The feet and limbs, being remote from the vital organs, should be especially guarded from cold by abundant clothing. It is impossible to have health when the extremities are habitually cold; for if there is too little blood in them there will be too much in other portions of the body. Perfect health requires a perfect circulation; but this cannot be had while three or four times as much clothing is worn upon the body, where the vital organs are situated, as upon the feet and limbs.” MH 293
“In some countries the custom of leaving bare the shoulders and limbs of little children still prevails. This custom cannot be too severely condemned. The limbs being remote from the center of circulation, demand greater protection than the other parts of the body. The arteries that convey the blood to the extremities are large, providing for a sufficient quantity of blood to afford warmth and nutrition. But when the limbs are left unprotected or are insufficiently clad, the arteries and veins become contracted, the sensitive portions of the body are chilled, and the circulation of the blood hindered.” MH 382
“Special attention should be given to the extremities, that they may be as thoroughly clothed as the chest and the region over the heart, where is the greatest amount of heat. Parents who dress their children with the extremities naked, or nearly so, are sacrificing the health and lives of their children to fashion. If these parts are not so warm as the body, the circulation is not equalized….. The limbs were not formed by our Creator to endure exposure, as was the face. The Lord provided, . . . also, large veins and nerves for the limbs and feet, to contain a large amount of the current of human life, that the limbs might be uniformly as warm as the body. They should be so thoroughly clothed as to induce the blood to the extremities.” CG 426
“Another great cause of mortality among infants and youth, is the custom of leaving their arms and shoulders naked. This fashion cannot be too severely censured. It has cost the life of thousands. The air, bathing the arms and limbs, and circulating about the armpits, chills these sensitive portions of the body, so near the vitals, and hinders the healthy circulation of the blood, and induces disease, especially of the lungs and brain…. It is a sin in the sight of Heaven for parents to dress their children as they do. The only excuse that they can make is, it is fashion. They cannot plead modesty to thus expose the limbs of their children with only one covering drawn tight over them. They cannot plead that it is healthful, or really attractive. Because others will continue to follow this health and life-destroying practice, it is no excuse for those who style themselves reformers. Because everybody around you follow a fashion which is injurious to health, it will not make your sin a whit the less, or be any guarantee for the health and life of your children.” 2SM 468-472
Simplicity, Plainness, Economy, Durability, Neatness:
Our clothes should be simple, plain, economical, durable, neat, and clean. They should be modest in color, and free from large, bold plaids and prints. We should not use shiny or glittery material, or clothing with words and slogans or pictures displayed on them, as these things attract attention to the wearer. They should not present an expensive or extravagant appearance, or have showy buttons or unnecessary accessories. They are not to be patterned after or conformed to the fads or fashions of the world in any way.
“Puritan plainness and simplicity should mark the dwellings and apparel of all who believe the solemn truths for this time. All means needlessly expended in dress or in the adorning of our houses is a waste of our Lord's money.” 5T 189
“We do not discourage neatness in dress. Correct taste is not to be despised nor condemned. Our faith, if carried out, will lead us to be so plain in dress, and zealous of good works, that we shall be marked as peculiar. But when we lose taste for order and neatness in dress, we virtually leave the truth; for the truth never degrades, but elevates. When believers are neglectful of their dress, and are coarse and rough in their manners, their influence hurts the truth…. Simplicity of dress will make a sensible woman appear to the best advantage. We judge of a person's character by the style of dress worn. A modest, godly woman will dress modestly. A refined taste, a cultivated mind, will be revealed in the choice of a simple, appropriate attire. The young women who break away from the slavery of fashion will be ornaments to society. The one who is simple and unpretending in her dress and in her manners shows that she understands that a true woman is characterized by moral worth. How charming, how interesting, is simplicity in dress, which in comeliness can be compared with the flowers of the field.” MYP 353
“Such madness concerning the changing fashions of the world should call forth an army of reformers who would take their position for simple and plain attire.” MYP 359
“The material should be free from large plaids and figures, and plain in color.” 4T 640
“Ever have your dress of good, durable material, and modest colors; let it be made plainly, without adornment.” Lt 7, 1894.
“I believe Sabbathkeepers should dress plainly and study economy in dress.” 1T 251
“Simple, plain, unpretending dress will be a recommendation to my youthful sisters. In no better way can you let your light shine to others than in your simplicity of dress and deportment. You may show to all that, in comparison with eternal things, you place a proper estimate upon the things of this life.” 3T 376
“Taste should be manifested as to colors. Uniformity in this respect is desirable as far as convenient. Complexion, however, may be taken into account. Modest colors should be sought for. When figured material is used, figures that are large and fiery, showing vanity and shallow pride in those who choose them, should be avoided. And a fantastic taste in putting on different colors is bad. Our clothing, while modest and simple, should be of good quality, of becoming colors, and suited for service. It should be chosen for durability rather than display. It should provide warmth and proper protection.” CG 420
“ Dress as Christians should dress--simply, plainly adorn yourselves as becometh women professing godliness, with good works.” CG 421
“Let the wearing of useless trimmings and adornments be discarded. Extravagance should never be indulged in to gratify pride. Our dress may be of good quality, made up with plainness and simplicity, for durability rather than for display.” HL 120
“When the mind is fixed upon pleasing God alone, all the needless embellishments of the person disappear.” 4T 645
“Should we dress in plain, modest apparel without reference to the fashions;… it would show the sanctifying power of the truth, and would have a telling influence upon unbelievers.” 5T 206
“Our faith, if carried out, will lead us to be so plain in dress, and zealous of good works, that we shall be marked as peculiar.” 1T 275
“All should be taught to be neat, clean, and orderly in their dress, but not to indulge in that external adorning which is wholly inappropriate for the sanctuary. There should be no display of the apparel; for this encourages irreverence. The attention of the people is often called to this or that fine article of dress, and thus thoughts are intruded that should have no place in the hearts of the worshipers. God is to be the subject of thought, the object of worship; and anything that attracts the mind from the solemn, sacred service is an offense to Him. The parading of bows and ribbons, ruffles and feathers, and gold and silver ornaments is a species of idolatry and is wholly inappropriate for the sacred service of God, where the eye of every worshiper should be single to His glory. All matters of dress should be strictly guarded, following closely the Bible rule.” 5T 499
“Our ministers and their wives should be an example in plainness of dress; they should dress neatly, comfortably, wearing good material, but avoiding anything like extravagance and trimmings, even if not expensive; for these things tell to our disadvantage. We should educate the youth to simplicity of dress, plainness with neatness. Let the extra trimmings be left out, even though the cost be but a trifle.” CG 422
Ellen White‘s testimony: “I have not changed in character or in my manner of labor since you first listened to the messages of comfort, encouragement, and warning which God has given me for his people. I am the same in plainness and severe simplicity of dress; the same in bearing an earnest, decided testimony for God; the same in deep interest in the truth. I cherish the same faith, the same hope, the same love for souls for whom Christ died.” RH, August 28, 1883
“We are nearing the close of this world's history. A plain, direct testimony is now needed, as given in the word of God, in regard to the plainness of dress. This should be our burden.” 5MR 404
What About Women Wearing Pants?
You may be thinking, “How can I get counsel as to whether or not I should wear pants from the Spirit of Prophecy, since in Ellen White’s day, women only wore dresses?” In the 1850’s and 1860‘s, a situation arose about which God gave the prophetess some very pointed instruction, and it is from this instruction that we may clearly see God’s will regarding the issue of women in pants today. As you read the following counsels, bear in mind that although the specific style of clothing written about may not be worn today, the principles given in regard to that style of clothing are still fully relevant for us. Principles never change, and if God said that something was an abomination to Him 100 years ago, it is still an abomination to Him today. Following is what God had to say about the “American Costume”, an outfit which consisted of dress or coat, pants, vest, cap, and boots. The dress or coat reached to somewhere between mid-thigh and just below the knees, and the pants reached down to the ankles. It was created as a result of the feminist movement.
“"I saw that God's order has been reversed, and His special directions disregarded, by those who adopt the American costume. I was referred to Deuteronomy 22:5: "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.' God would not have His people adopt the so-called reform dress. It is immodest apparel, wholly unfitted for the modest, humble followers of Christ. There is an increasing tendency to have women in their dress and appearance as near like the other sex as possible, and to fashion their dress very much like that of men, but God pronounces it abomination. 'In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety.' 1 Timothy 2:9. Those who feel called out to join the movement in favor of woman's rights and the so-called dress reform might as well sever all connection with the third angel's message. The spirit which attends the one cannot be in harmony with the other. The Scriptures are plain upon the relations and rights of men and women…. With the so-called dress reform there goes a spirit of levity and boldness just in keeping with the dress. Modesty and reserve seem to depart from many as they adopt that style of dress….’ The foregoing was given me as a reproof to those who are inclined to adopt a style of dress resembling that worn by men;… "We do not think it in accordance with our faith to dress in the American costume…’” 1T 457, 458
“In wide contrast with this modest dress (the “reform short dress” which was 8-10” from the floor) is the so-called American costume, resembling very nearly the dress worn by men. It consists of a vest, pants, and a dress resembling a coat and reaching about halfway from the hip to the knee. This dress I have opposed, from what has been shown me as in harmony with the word of God;…” 1T 465
“"There is still another style of dress which is adopted by a class of so-called dress reformers. They imitate the opposite sex as nearly as possible. They wear the cap, pants, vest, coat, and boots, the last of which is the most sensible part of the costume. Those who adopt and advocate this style of dress carry the so-called dress reform to very objectionable lengths. Confusion will be the result. Some who adopt this costume may be correct in their general views upon the health question, but they would be instrumental in accomplishing vastly more good if they did not carry the matter of dress to such extremes. In this style of dress God's order has been reversed and His special directions disregarded. Deuteronomy 22:5: "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.' God would not have His people adopt this style of dress. It is not modest apparel, and is not at all fitting for modest, humble women who profess to be Christ's followers. God's prohibitions are lightly regarded by all who advocate doing away with the distinction of dress between males and females. The extreme position taken by some dress reformers upon this subject cripples their influence. God designed that there should be a plain distinction between the dress of men and women, and has considered the matter of sufficient importance to give explicit directions in regard to it; for the same dress worn by both sexes would cause confusion and great increase of crime. Were the apostle Paul alive, and should he behold women professing godliness with this style of dress, he would utter a rebuke.” 1T 459, 460
Let us summarize here 23 points regarding styles that resemble men’s clothing (these points were taken from quotations in 1T, 4T, and 5T about the “American Costume” ):
1) “It is immodest apparel”
2) “God’s order is reversed”
3) “Might as well sever all connections with the third angel’s message”
4) “With it goes a spirit of levity and boldness just in keeping with the dress”
5) “Modesty and reserve seem to depart”
6) “Wholly unfitted for the modest, humble followers of Christ”
7) “Confusion will be the result”
8) “His special directions disregarded” [Deut. 22:5]
9) “God’s prohibitions are lightly regarded”
10) “Would cause confusion and great increase of crime”
11) “This dress I have opposed from what has been shown me as in harmony with the word of God”
12) “God designed that there should be a plain distinction between the dress of men and women”
13) “God would not have His people adopt this style of dress”
14) It was “The extreme position taken by some dress reformers”
15) “Some are deceived in thinking there is much benefit to be received from this costume”
16) “Were the Apostle Paul alive and should he behold women professing godliness with this style of dress, he would utter a rebuke”
17) “The foregoing was given me as a reproof to those who are inclined to adopt a style of dress resembling that worn by men”
18) “God pronounces it an abomination”
19) “It would cripple our influence”
20) “Place them on a level with spiritualists”
21) “Destroy their own influence and that of their husbands”
22) “Would become a byword and a derision”
23) “Their influence is dead”
Some may argue that points 19-23 were related to how such an outfit would be perceived in that era when dresses were the acceptable clothes for women, but that now since pants are accepted modern attire for women, they are okay. But my friend, please stop and reconsider, for you cannot in any way honestly say that the first 18 points had anything to do with the time in which they were written. Instead, they are eternal principles, and they reveal to us clearly what God thinks of women wearing pants today: it is an abomination! It does not matter how loose your pants may be, or if they have a jacket over them which covers the hips, or if they are “women’s” pants; they are an abomination, and that is a pretty strong word which is not to be taken lightly. Dear sisters, I know this may not be a pleasant or easy thing for you to consider. Sadly, it is true that in our culture, pants have become totally acceptable women’s attire, and it is very hard for some of us to see this as God sees it, but we must accept that in God’s sight, in heaven’s “culture”, pants are not acceptable attire for women. Are you willing to obey? I do want to encourage you with this thought, that whatever God requires, He is more than able to empower you to cheerfully obey.
Cosmetics, Jewelry, and Hairstyles
“To dress plainly, abstaining from display of jewelry and ornaments of every kind, is in keeping with our faith.” 3T 366
“But many who profess to be children of God feel no scruples against conforming to the customs of the world in the wearing of gold and pearls and costly array. Those who are too conscientious to wear these things are regarded as narrow-minded, superstitious, and even fanatical. But it is God who condescends to give us these instructions; they are the declarations of Infinite Wisdom, and those who disregard them do so at their own peril and loss. Those who cling to the ornaments forbidden in God's word cherish pride and vanity in the heart. They desire to attract attention. Their dress says: Look at me; admire me. Thus the vanity inherent in human nature is steadily increasing by indulgence. When the mind is fixed upon pleasing God alone, all the needless embellishments of the person disappear.” 4T 644
“Dear youth, a disposition in you to dress according to the fashion, and to wear lace and gold and artificials for display, will not recommend to others your religion or the truth that you profess. People of discernment will look upon your attempts to beautify the external as proof of weak minds and proud hearts.” 3T 376
“Christians are not to decorate the person with costly array or expensive ornaments. All this display imparts no value to the character. The Lord desires every converted person to put away the idea that dressing as worldlings dress, will give value to his influence. The ornamentation of the person with jewels and luxurious things is a species of idolatry. This needless display reveals a love for those things which are supposed to place a value upon the person. It gives evidence to the world of a heart destitute of the inward adornment. Expensive dress and adornments of jewelry give an incorrect representation of the truth that should always be represented as of the highest value. An over-dressed, outwardly adorned person bears the sign of inward poverty. A lack of spirituality is revealed.” BTS, May 1, 1908
“The life of nine tenths of those who are devotees of fashion is a living lie. Deception, fraud, is their daily practice; for they wish to appear that which they are not.” MYP 359
“Any device designed to attract attention to the wearer or to excite admiration is excluded from the modest apparel which God's Word enjoins.” CG 423
“But what about my wedding ring?”, you may ask. The Inspired counsel gives us a clear answer to this question as well.
“Some have had a burden in regard to the wearing of a marriage ring, feeling that the wives of our ministers should conform to this custom. All this is unnecessary. Let the ministers' wives have the golden link which binds their souls to Jesus Christ, a pure and holy character, the true love and meekness and godliness that are the fruit borne upon the Christian tree, and their influence will be secure anywhere. The fact that a disregard of the custom occasions remark is no good reason for adopting it. Americans can make their position understood by plainly stating that the custom is not regarded as obligatory in our country. We need not wear the sign, for we are not untrue to our marriage vow, and the wearing of the ring would be no evidence that we were true. I feel deeply over this leavening process which seems to be going on among us, in the conformity to custom and fashion. Not one penny should be spent for a circlet of gold to testify that we are married. In countries where the custom is imperative, we have no burden to condemn those who have their marriage ring; let them wear it if they can do so conscientiously; but let not our missionaries feel that the wearing of the ring will increase their influence one jot or tittle.” TM 180, 181
“Here ( 1 Tim. 2:9, 10) the Lord, through His apostle, speaks expressly against the wearing of gold. Let those who have had experience see to it that they do not lead others astray on this point by their example. That ring encircling your finger may be very plain, but it is useless, and the wearing of it has a wrong influence upon others.” 4T 630
What about cosmetics, makeup, hair dying, perms, and showy hairstyles? All these things, the same as jewelry, are put on the person in order to make her look “better”, “prettier”, or more “attractive”. They are worn to attract attention or admiration. In essence, they say that you’re not content with how God made you, and you want to try to make yourself more beautiful. These things really are deception, because they are not the way God made you to be.
Following are 12 reasons why makeup and jewelry are not in harmony with the consecrated Christian life, as adapted from Shorter’s book, Thy Nakedness.
1) It’s a waste of money.
2) It fosters pride and vanity in the heart.
3) It destroys simplicity and modesty of demeanor and appearance.
4) It covers your natural beauty-as God made you.
5) It develops feelings of insecurity (you don’t look your “best” without it).
6) It is a waste of time (making up). Time is a talent, and every minute is from God.
7) It will encourage you into associations which are frivolous and un-Christ like.
8) It is unhealthful to clog the pores and risk damaging the eyes with these chemicals and dyes.
9) Make-up and jewelry are meant to attract, therefore you might attract-you know not what!
10) It’s a lie, and Satan is the father of lies.
11) It destroys love of eternal realities.
12) Your Heavenly Father doesn’t like it.
To find what the Bible says about jewelry and makeup, please read Isaiah. 3:16-24; 1 Peter 3: 3-5; Genesis 35:1-4; Exodus 33:4-6 (and 1 Corinthians 10:11); 2 Kings 9:30; Ezekiel 23:40-44; Judges 8:24; Revelation 17:4,5; Jeremiah 4:30; Hosea 2:13; In contrast, the Christians’ “jewels and ornaments” are the robe of righteousness which Christ has put on them - Isaiah 61:10.
What Is Your Influence?
Dear sisters, what kind of influence are we exerting on those around us? Are we encouraging others to follow the Bible teachings in every particular, or are we, by our example, saying that God is not so particular, and doesn’t really care about these little details like dress and ornamentation? I would encourage you to prayerfully read the following story and appeal from the writings of Ellen White, and consider what God is saying to your heart.
“A sister who had spent some weeks at one of our institutions in _____, said that she felt much disappointed in what she saw and heard there. . . . Before accepting the truth, she had followed the fashions of the world in her dress, and had worn costly jewelry and other ornaments; but upon deciding to obey the Word of God, she felt that its teachings required her to lay aside all extravagant and superfluous adorning. She was taught that Seventh-day Adventists did not wear jewelry, gold, silver, or precious stones, and that they did not conform to worldly fashions in their dress. When she saw among those who profess the faith such a wide departure from Bible simplicity, she felt bewildered. Had they not the same Bible which she had been studying, and to which she had endeavored to conform her life? Had her past experience been mere fanaticism? Had she misinterpreted the words of the apostle, "The friendship of the world is enmity with God, for whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God"?
“Mrs. D, a lady occupying a position in the institution, was visiting at Sr. _____'s room one day, when the latter took out of her trunk a gold necklace and chain, and said she wished to dispose of this jewelry and put the proceeds into the Lord's treasury. Said the other, "Why do you sell it? I would wear it if it was mine." "Why," replied Sr. _____, "when I received the truth, I was taught that all these things must be laid aside. Surely they are contrary to the teachings of God's Word." And she cited her hearer to the words of the apostles, Paul and Peter, upon this point, "In like manner, also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but, as becometh women professing godliness, with good works." "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."
“In answer, the lady displayed a gold ring on her finger, given her by an unbeliever, and said she thought it no harm to wear such ornaments. "We are not so particular," said she, "as formerly. Our people have been overscrupulous in their opinions upon the subject of dress. The ladies of this institution wear gold watches and gold chains, and dress like other people. It is not good policy to be singular in our dress; for we cannot exert so much influence."
“We inquire, Is this in accordance with the teachings of Christ? Are we to follow the Word of God, or the customs of the world? Our sister decided that it was the safest to adhere to the Bible standard. Will Mrs. D and others who pursue a similar course be pleased to meet the result of their influence, in that day when every man shall receive according to his works?
“God's Word is plain. Its teachings cannot be mistaken. Shall we obey it, just as He has given it to us, or shall we seek to find how far we can digress and yet be saved? Would that all connected with our institutions would receive and follow the divine light, and thus be enabled to transmit light to those who walk in darkness.
“Conformity to the world is a sin which is sapping the spirituality of our people, and seriously interfering with their usefulness. It is idle to proclaim the warning message to the world, while we deny it in the transactions of daily life.” Review and Herald, March 28, 1882.
Dress Reform for Men
Let us take a moment to look at how the dress reform principles we have been studying apply to men’s clothing as well. Oftentimes it seems that women have to bear the whole “cross” of dress reform alone, but this should not be so, for the principles apply equally as much to men. It is true perhaps, that the devil has had more success in corrupting and perverting women’s clothing over the years, but he has also been hard at work on men’s apparel. Brothers, your clothing is to represent in every way the dignity and nobility of your calling as a child of God, the priest of your home, and heir of the glories of eternal life. Your clothing is to be healthful: your arms and legs well-clad and warm, pants preferably suspended from the shoulders by suspenders, and without tight belts or elastics around the waist. It is to be modest: no tank tops, shorts, tight pants or shirts, or going without a shirt. It is to be plain and simple: not following the fashions or trendy styles, not displaying slogans or name brands, without gold or gaudy buckles/clasps/clips,
without bold or flashy colors or prints, and without gaudy or showy ties. The hair should be short and neatly arranged without spikes or fancy styling. Your clothing should be also economical, durable, neat (not the baggy, sloppy, careless look), and manly (avoiding all feminine colors or styles).
Consistency of Principle
I would like to look just briefly at this area of consistency. God is calling us as his people to be true to our principles. Our manner of dressing is not to change with the styles, fads, and trends of the world. Neither is it to change according to the occasion or the company we are with. Let me illustrate: Have you ever known someone, or perhaps been such a one yourself, who generally holds to high standards of dress, but when taking part in a wedding or some such occasion, seems to feel that it is okay “just this once” to wear a little lower neckline than they usually would, to wear a skirt without much fullness, or to wear something with cap sleeves? Or perhaps it’s that situation where, “Oh, I wear dresses at home, but you see, I’m a nurse, so I do have to wear pants when I’m at work.” For some others, most likely those who have not accepted the dress reform message, but feel, none-the-less, that they are pretty careful about what they wear and that their clothes are pretty modest; yet somehow, they don’t seem to see any inconsistency with going to the beach or swimming pool in a “modest” one-piece bathing suit. My friends, there is no consistency in this kind of reasoning or practice. If God said something is proper attire for Christian women, that is what He meant. And just the same, if He said something is not appropriate attire, but rather an abomination, that is what He meant. We must learn to take God at His word and obey Him because we love Him and we trust that He knows what is best for us.
“Those who elevate the standard as nearly as they can to the order of God, according to the light God has given them through His word and the testimonies of His Spirit, will not change their course of action to meet the wishes of their friends or relatives, be they one or two or a host, who are living contrary to God's wise arrangement. If we move from principle in these things, if we observe strict rules of diet [and dress], if as Christians we educate our tastes after God's plan, we shall exert an influence which will meet the mind of God. The question is, "Are we willing to be true health reformers [and dress reformers]?"“ CD 35, 36
“Christians should follow Christ, and conform their dress to God's word. They should shun extremes (dress trailing the ground or short dress over pants). They should humbly pursue a straight-forward course, irrespective of applause or of censure, and should cling to the right because of its own merits.” MYP 350
“As soldiers of Christ we must deliberately and intelligently accept His terms of salvation under every circumstance, cherish right principles, and act upon them.” MYP 30
“Your salvation depends on your acting from principle--serving God from principle, not from feeling, not from impulse.” 1T 698
“Move from principle, from thorough understanding. Search the Scriptures, and be able to give to every man that asketh you the reasons of the hope which is in you, with meekness and fear.” 2T 92, 93
“God has established immutable principles, which He cannot change without a revision of His whole nature. If the word of God were faithfully studied by all who profess to believe the truth, they would not be dwarfs in spiritual things. Those who disregard the requirements of God in this life would not respect His authority were they in heaven.” 4T 312
“We are always to be as firm as a rock to principle. Bible principles are to be taught and then backed up by holy practice.” 6T 418
Answers to Objections
Following are 25 common objections to the dress reform. A number of them can apply to other areas of reform as well:
1) I get too hot wearing all that clothing
We believe in following the principles of dress given in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, even if such a way of dress does cause us some discomfort or perspiration at times. For hundreds of years, people have worn much more clothing in the summertime than is worn today even by some of the most conservative dressers, and if they were able to be fully clothed, why should not we? Certainly, the modern styles of skimpy clothing did not come about because of any change in the climate. We do not believe in the idea, “If it feels good, do it,” in dress, or in any other area of our lives.
2) My job requires me to wear pants.
You will find that many jobs that people say require pants, can very easily be done in a dress. I found this out when I worked as a nurse aid in a nursing home. Friends told me that it would be just about impossible to do this job in a dress, but I studied and prayed about it very earnestly, and decided to obey the counsel, and I found it to be no problem at all. Indeed, modest dress will help you to maintain proper reserve and Christian demeanor. If you cannot wear clothing that is in harmony with the dress reform in your job, then I believe this is a good indication that your job is not appropriate for a Christian lady.
3) It’s too expensive to change my whole wardrobe over.
If you’re really committed to do what’s right, you’ll put every effort toward it. There are lots of ways to work around the obstacle of expense. For some starters, try selling your old clothes in a yard sale and use the money to buy fabric to make one or two modest dresses. Or deny yourself some of the foods or other purchases you would usually make, and use that money. Maybe you can find a nice long, loose jumper at a second-hand store for a good price. After all, you don’t need a complete new wardrobe to start out. Two or three outfits will be plenty. Do not believe Satan’s lie that you are doing God’s work by sending all your money to missions, while you continue wearing your wrong clothing. You spent money to buy your old clothes, and you may have to spend a reasonable amount of money to make some new ones. But obedience is always necessary, and God will make a way so that it is always possible.
“Some have said: "After I wear out this dress, I will make the next plainer." Now, if conformity to the fashions of the world is right and pleasing to God, where is the need of making a change at all? But if it is wrong, is it best to continue in the wrong any longer than is positively necessary to make the change?” 4T 640
4) I feel like I stick out in the crowd, and I get stared at so much. We shouldn’t call attention to ourselves.
It is true that if you dress modestly and plainly, you will stand out in the crowd and attract some attention, for right-doing always stands out in the midst of wickedness. It would not be right to try to blend in with the crowd simply to avoid being stared at. If people comment, we may turn their attention to Christ, who is the reason for our manner of dressing. You can be encouraged knowing that you are doing God’s will and upholding His standards. It grieves my heart so to see sisters who call themselves “dress reformers”, compromising the principles of true dress reform by trying to avoid looking so different (with faded denim a-line skirts, stretchy bottom-hugging long skirts, jean jackets, fitted shape-revealing knit t-sirts, and the list could go on). God calls us to look different from the world around us.
5) There are so many more important issues to deal with than dress. You are majoring in the minors.
The Bible says, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Luke 16:10. If we do not watch out for the “little” areas of compromise, and be sure to be faithful in the “little” areas of obedience, we will sooner or later find ourselves being fitted into the world’s mold and having lost our position as God‘s peculiar people. It is true that dress reform should not be the main focus of our religion, but on the other hand, it cannot be neglected, or this neglect will lead to unfaithfulness in all other areas, large and small.
In addition, as we studied earlier, the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy are clear that those who are yielding step by step to worldly customs and fashions, making compromise with the world, are preparing to receive the mark of the beast and will not stand faithful in the great test before us (PK 188, 5T 216). So in actuality, the issue of dress is not a minor or side issue at all.
6) It takes time for people to change. Everyone’s different, and you can’t expect them to all think like you and be at the same level in their experience as you.
It does take many people a long time to change, but this is often because pride, self, or fear of what others will say holds them back. Thus it is not God’s will or “okay” for it to take so long to change. The Bible says, “Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” “Now is the excepted time.” True, God does bear long with us and still draw us even when we procrastinate to obey (disobey), but it grieves Him and it is sin, and thus not excusable.
While we certainly agree that not everyone is at the same level in their experience, yet if a certain point of truth is clearly revealed to you, and you do not obey it, God holds you accountable for that.
Every evangelist presenting the Sabbath ends with an appeal to those listening to obey God’s call and start keeping the Sabbath. I have never heard one end by saying, “Now I realize this is something new to you and it takes time to change. I realize also that you’re all at different places in your experience. So God understands if you keep going to church on Sunday and breaking Sabbath for a few more months and years.” So why when dress reform or some other standard is presented do people rise up and say, “Oh, you shouldn’t press this (Bible) teaching on the people. They’re not all at the same point you are, and it takes time to change.”? Of course, all teaching must be done with Christian tact, kindness, and love; and not all reforms should be heaped on a person at once, but Bible reforms need to be presented and upheld just the same.
7) Why do you think it’s better to make your own clothes? Why not just buy modest clothes in the stores or even second hand?
I do not believe that it is wrong to buy any factory-made clothing. There are rare times when it is possible to find a dress or jumper at a second-hand or other store which does adhere to the principles of dress reform, being modest, healthful, plain, durable, and economical. But for the most part, I would encourage you to make your own clothing. If you do not know how to sew, it is a very important skill which will be of great benefit for you to learn. The reasons I encourage you to make your own clothes are many, but the primary one is this: I have seen so many sisters purchase clothing which truly does not harmonize with dress reform principles, and yet feel that it is a great find because it is so much better that most of what is available out there, or is so close to alright with only a little thing wrong in it. This is very easily done, and when the only comparison we have is clothing which is wholly unacceptable, it is not hard to see how bit by bit, the standard is brought lower and lower, and the spirit of compromise and worldliness takes possession of the church. How much better it would be for our sisters to make their own clothes so that they can adjust or make patterns to be in full harmony with the dress reform, and so their clothing may glorify God.
8) If a person is truly converted, the dress question will take care of itself. We don’t need a bunch of rules.
This is the ideal situation, but it very rarely happens in real life. The world’s influences are very strong. God has given the responsibility to His church to give specific guidelines to its members, that will help them maintain their commitment to God and their separation from the world. These guidelines will also help to maintain the church’s purity. The reason general suggestions are not sufficient in this matter, is that the world will then invariably fill in the details with its fashions. Meanwhile, we must continue to strive for that ideal, and seek to deal with the heart issues and lead others to true heart conversion. Consider this balance as presented in the following two quotes:
1) Specific counsel to one who was trying to change others outward appearance without dealing with the heart. Encouragement to deal with the heart issues first, and if the battle could be won there, the outward changes would come as a result.
“There are many who try to correct the life of others by attacking what they consider are wrong habits. They go to those whom they think are in error, and point out their defects. They say, "You don't dress as you should." They try to pick off the ornaments, or whatever seems offensive, but they do not seek to fasten the mind to the truth. Those who seek to correct others should present the attractions of Jesus. They should talk of His love and compassion, present His example and sacrifice, reveal His Spirit, and they need not touch the subject of dress at all. There is no need to make the dress question the main point of your religion. There is something richer to speak of. Talk of Christ, and when the heart is converted, everything that is out of harmony with the Word of God will drop off. It is only labor in vain to pick leaves off a living tree. The leaves will reappear. The ax must be laid at the root of the tree, and then the leaves will fall off, never to return.” EV 272
Is this quote inferring that we should never talk or teach about the dress reform? Most certainly not, or it would be contradicting many other quotes on the subject, such as the following. It was written for a specific situation, and helps us to have a proper understanding of how, in what spirit, and with what focus we should present the dress reform.
2) Warning against the seriousness of allowing worldly dress to invade the church, and appeal to take action at once against it.
“ Fashion is deteriorating the intellect and eating out the spirituality of our people. Obedience to fashion is pervading our Seventh-day Adventist churches and is doing more than any other power to separate our people from God. I have been shown that our church rules are very deficient. All exhibitions of pride in dress, which is forbidden in the word of God, should be sufficient reason for church discipline. If there is a continuance, in face of warnings and appeals and entreaties, to still follow the perverse will, it may be regarded as proof that the heart is in no way assimilated to Christ. Self, and only self, is the object of adoration, and one such professed Christian will lead many away from God. There is a terrible sin upon us as a people, that we have permitted our church members to dress in a manner inconsistent with their faith. We must arise at once and close the door against the allurements of fashion. Unless we do this, our churches will become demoralized.” 4T 647, 648
9) Dress reform clothing looks too old-fashioned.
What shame is there in looking old-fashioned if we look the way that is pleasing to God?
“Many will immediately exclaim, "Why such a style of dress would be old-fashioned!" What if it is? I wish we could be old-fashioned in many respects. If we could have the old-fashioned strength that characterized the old-fashioned women of past generations it would be very desirable.” 2SM 478, 479
10) Following all these rules about dress is legalism and fanaticism.
First, let’s look at the definitions of these two words. Legalism is trying to merit salvation by the keeping of the law. Fanaticism is coming up with some man-made theory, making that the main point of your religion, and trying to get everyone else to think like you do about it. If you study out these words in the Spirit of Prophecy, you will clearly see that she defines them thus.
So let us ask, is following dress rules legalism? No, because we fully realize that we cannot in any way merit our salvation. Christ is our only hope and the only way by which we may be saved. But if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15, 1 John 5:3); and if we do not keep His commandments, we give evidence that we do not really love Him and that we would not be safe to save eternally. Thus, our following the principles of dress reform is one way we show our love for God.
Is following dress rules fanaticism? No, because dress reform is no man-made theory. It was given us by God, and to call obedience to God’s requirements fanaticism would be blasphemy. We do not aim to make dress reform the main point of our religion, yet on the other hand, because it has been so neglected and so toned down, we need to speak of it and uphold it far more than most of us do.
11) God isn’t so concerned about what I wear. He sees my heart, He knows I love Him, and that’s really all that matters to Him.
If your heart is right, it will not produce wrong behavior. The person whose heart is right with the Lord will not choose to wear clothing which the Lord condemns. The condition of a tree is judged by its outward appearance, not by cutting it down and examining the center “heart”. Likewise, whether or not you and I are true Christians will be discerned by our outward appearance. We are told that we will be judged by our works, whether they be good or evil. Knowingly disobeying any of God’s requirements is rebellion against God, and the person who does this does not truly love God or have a sincere heart. Yes, God does care about what you and I wear, very much.
“In the life of the true Christian the outward adorning is always in harmony with the inward peace and holiness…. Evidence that the taste is converted will be seen in the dress of all who walk in the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord.” AA 523
12) The dress reform is a hindrance to our witness, as people think we’re “holier-than-thou” and unapproachable. We need to dress more like the world in order to have any influence with them.
“Many dress like the world in order to have an influence over unbelievers, but here they make a sad mistake. If they would have a true and saving influence, let them live out their profession, show their faith by their righteous works, and make the distinction plain between the Christian and the worldling. The words, the dress, the actions, should tell for God. Then a holy influence will be shed upon all around them, and even unbelievers will take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus. If any wish to have their influence tell in favor of truth, let them live out their profession and thus imitate the humble Pattern.” 4T 633, 634
“Should we dress in plain, modest apparel, without reference to the fashions;… it would show the sanctifying power of the truth and would have a telling influence upon unbelievers. But while we conform to the world in these matters,… the preaching of the truth will have but little or no effect. Who will believe the solemn truth for this time when those who already profess to believe it contradict their faith by their works?” 5T 206
I have been asked about my faith so many times because someone noticed the way I was dressed, and many others who follow the dress reform have had the same experience. Indeed, it is when we live hypocritically, making a profession of godliness, but dressing like a worldling, that we do not have any saving influence with the world. It is the love of Christ and the joy of serving Him shining out of your countenance that will draw others to you and make them feel that you are approachable.
13) Some dress reformers don’t act like true Christians. I don’t want to be thought of as one of them.
True, there are some who are wolves in sheep’s clothing. But it does not seem any more consistent or right to be sheep in wolves’ clothing. We would rather be sheep in sheep’s clothing. We cannot let the inconsistency or lack of conversion of some to be an excuse for us to do what is not right.
14) Christ dressed like everybody else in His day, so why can’t we?
Christ dressed like every other Jew, but not like a Roman or a Samaritan. Remember that the Jews were required to wear a ribbon of blue around the border of their garments to show their obedience to God, and to distinguish them from other nations (Num.15:38, 39).
Along this same line, some also object that in Jesus’ day, both men and women wore robes, so what is wrong with women’s pants today? History records that in those garments where there was some similarity between the man’s and the woman’s, there was always enough difference in embossing, embroidery, and color so that the line of demarcation between the two sexes was readily detected. It is not so today with pants, unless the woman’s pants are so tight that they are clearly provocative and immodest. But there is generally little or no difference in color or otherwise. Yet even if there were a very great difference in appearance between men’s and women’s pants, we would still have no need to consider advocating and wearing women’s pants since God has pronounced them to be an abomination and immodest apparel.
15) My dressing this way would be a stumbling block to others accepting the truth.
The Spirit of Prophecy is clear that the stumbling blocks are the unsanctified lives of lukewarm professors, not those who are living in harmony with God’s principles and standards. These are rather a witness and a help to those who would follow the truth.
16) I want to dress attractive for my husband so he won‘t be embarrassed of me when we go out places.
A godly wife may dress attractively so that her husband need never be ashamed of her, without wearing clothes which are immodest and conformed to the fashions of the world; and a godly husband will appreciate having his wife neatly and modestly clothed when she goes out in public. The husband who wishes to have his wife dressed seductively in front of others is not being her spiritual head, protecting her from danger, and guarding her purity. He is putting his own pride and desire to show off before her spiritual and physical well-being, and that of those who behold her.
17) The Spirit of Prophecy counsels on dress were just for Ellen White’s day. In our day, we just have to take the basic principles of modesty, health, etc. and apply them the way we think they should be applied in the framework of our culture.
“I have been shown that the principles that were given us in the early days of the message are as important and should be regarded just as conscientiously today as they were then.” CH 132
This excuse is a most terrible deception, and one that Satan tries very hard to get God’s professed people to believe. If this were true, it would make the Spirit of Prophecy virtually of none effect, because it would enable us to consult our own thinking as to how we would like any and all of her writings to apply to us. It would enable us to reason away whatever we do not like. If there are things in her writings which applied to her time specifically, or were conditional upon the response of the people, that will be made clear as we read the context of the quote. Let us beware of trying to make God’s counsels so “culturally relevant” that we destroy their direct application and their authority.
“I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth [it], that [men] should fear before him. That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.” Ecclesiastes 3:14, 15
18) Ellen White said our clothing should be “appropriate for the age”. Doesn’t that mean we should wear clothing like everybody else wears now?
“Let our sisters dress plainly, as many do, having the dress of good, durable material, appropriate for this age, and let not the dress question fill the mind.” CG 414
In our age, most anything goes. Long dresses are worn in our country by the Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites, Brethren, and some Muslims and Holiness Churches. In other lands, Indians wear saris, Japanese wear kimonos, and Arabs wear long robes. National distinctions and religious convictions should be and are honored in this country. Many of the groups who dress the most distinctly (such as the Amish) are highly respected for their modesty and plainness.
God designed the same for Seventh-day Adventist women in the mid-1800’s when He gave in vision “a precise style of dress” for all to wear, which would distinguish them from people of other faiths. If this “reform dress” had been accepted and followed, people today would be able to identify the remnant by their dress from afar off. They would be heard saying admirably and respectfully, “She is a Seventh-day Adventist”, “Here come the Seventh-day Adventists”. But today you cannot tell Seventh-day Adventist sisters from afar off or close distance. What a sad commentary on God’s people. And so we have given this honor to the Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites, etcetera.
Let us not deceive ourselves in saying that a modest dress is not appropriate for this age.
19) She also said “Let not the dress question fill the mind”. You shouldn’t be making such an issue of it.
“Let our sisters dress plainly, as many do, having the dress of good, durable material, appropriate for this age, and let not the dress question fill the mind.” 3SM 254
Let us remember that this quotation was written at a time when many or most of the Adventist sisters wore fairly plain, long, long-sleeved, high-necked dresses, as evidenced by the phrase, “as many do”, and by an earlier portion in the same article where she wrote, “There is no need now for any special alteration in our dress. The plain simple style of dress now worn, made in the most healthful way, demands no hoops, and no long trails and is presentable anywhere.” These women were thoroughly covered. Ellen White had no burden in view of this to make a big issue over dress. It is a completely different scenario today, when professedly Christian women are wearing sleeveless shirts, plunging necklines, formfitting attire, short skirts, pants, shorts, high-heeled shoes, and a whole host of other provocative and indecent apparel. In a situation such as this, our people need to be thoroughly instructed in the principles of dress reform. This does not mean that it should fill the mind as the all-absorbing interest. By no means! But it must receive proper attention none the less.
“There is no need to make the dress question the main point of your religion.” EV 272. On the same paragraph, the point she was making is clarified:
“There are many who try to correct the life of others by attacking what they consider are wrong habits. They go to those whom they think are in error, and point out their defects. They say, "You don't dress as you should." They try to pick off the ornaments, or whatever seems offensive, but they do not seek to fasten the mind to the truth.” EV 272
This kind of criticizing and looking for faults in others should not be confused with studying the principles of dress reform and upholding them in the church. As stated in objection #4: It is true that dress reform should not be the main focus of our religion, but on the other hand, it cannot be neglected, or this neglect will lead to unfaithfulness in all other areas, large and small. Ellen White wrote: “The subject of dress demands serious reflection and much prayer.” 4T 641
20) What about when she wrote that “Christians should not take pains to make themselves gazing stocks”; and also that “we should not be odd or singular in our dress for the sake of differing from the world”?
“Christians should not take pains to make themselves gazing-stocks by dressing differently from the world… (Let us continue with the next line.) …But if, in accordance with their faith and duty in respect to their dressing modestly and healthfully, they find themselves out of fashion, they should not change their dress in order to be like the world. But they should manifest a noble independence and moral courage to be right, if all the world differs from them.” MYP 350
I found it interesting to look up the definition of gazing stock in Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary: “GAZINGSTOCK, n. A person gazed at with scorn or abhorrence; an object of curiosity or contempt.” This is clearly not talking about someone dressed in neat, clean, modest apparel, but rather someone who is untidy, disorderly, unkempt, or dressed in outrageous, ridiculous, or laughable looking clothing.
Here are some examples of the “gazing stock clothing” that Ellen White condemned: “There is a class who are continually harping upon pride and dress, who are careless of their own apparel, and who think it a virtue to be dirty, and dress without order and taste; and their clothing often looks as if it flew and lit upon their persons. Their garments are filthy, and yet such ones will ever be talking against pride. They class decency and neatness with pride…. They sometimes consider oddity and coarseness humility.” CG 415
“In some of our churches I have seen all kinds of reform dresses, and yet not one answering the description presented before me. Some appear with white muslin pants, white sleeves, dark delaine dress, and a sleeveless sack of the same description as the dress. Some have a calico dress with pants cut after their own fashioning, not after "the pattern," without starch or stiffening to give them form, and clinging close to the limbs. There is certainly nothing in these dresses manifesting taste or order. Such a dress would not recommend itself to the good judgment of sensible-minded persons. In every sense of the word it is a deformed dress.” 1T 521, 522
“We as a people do not believe it our duty to go out of the world to be out of the fashion. If we have a neat, plain, modest, and comfortable plan of dress, and worldlings choose to dress as we do, shall we change this mode of dress in order to be different from the world? No, we should not be odd or singular in our dress for the sake of differing from the world, lest they despise us for so doing.” 1T 424, 425
Let’s notice a few points from this quote: 1) we are not to be different just for the sake of being different. It is right to be different for the sake of glorifying God and obeying His principles. 2) we are to decide on our style of dress first; then, if the world decides to copy it someday [which they most likely never would], we do not need to change it just to be different.
21) Ellen White also wrote that “there is a medium position” which we should find and keep, and also that we should avoid extremes. Doesn’t this mean that we should just find some style of dressing that we’re comfortable with, that doesn’t look too peculiar, and not worry about all the particulars?
“I must… pursue an even and independent course and not be driven to extremes in regard to dress. There is a medium position in these things. Oh, that we all might wisely find that position and keep it.” 1T 425
Does finding the medium position mean that I may disobey God? No, the medium position is found in explicit obedience, not erring to the right or to the left! Now let us find out what the extreme position which Sister White was referring to was. “ We do not think it in accordance with our faith to dress in the American costume, to wear hoops, or to go to an extreme in wearing long dresses which sweep the sidewalks and streets.’ 1T 424. Then what was the medium position? “And if women would wear their dresses so as to clear the filth of the streets an inch or two, their dresses would be modest, and they could be kept clean much more easily, and would wear longer. Such a dress would be in accordance with our faith.” 1T 424
22) She said that if we err at all, it should be “on the side next to the people”.
“In reforms we would better come one step short of the mark than to go one step beyond it. And if there is error at all, let it be on the side next to the people.” 3T 21
This quote, and several others like it, are actually counsel about presenting the health message to unbelievers and new believers. When the entire section from which the quote is taken is read, it becomes crystal clear that the counsel is 1) not to rush people too fast, 2) not to present our strongest positions first, and 3) not to advocate positions which you are not willing to practice.
But even if we apply these principles to the dress reform, it is still good counsel. We are to give the people the WHOLE truth, never watered down or mixed with a little error, but we must give it to them under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, a step at a time, and having our own practices in harmony with what we teach.
In another place, Sister White clarifies that there is no need to err at all, but to stick right to the truth. “If you err, let it not be in getting as far from the people as possible, for then you cut the thread of your influence and can do them no good. Better err on the side of the people than altogether away from them, for there is hope in that case that you can carry the people with you, but there is no need of error on either side. You need not go into the water, or into the fire, but take the middle path, avoiding all extremes.” CD 211
Here she also shows us what the extremes were that the people were falling into in the area of diet reform. “Brother and Sister ----- carried the matter of indulgence in eating to extreme, and the institute became demoralized. Now the enemy would push you into the opposite extreme if he could, to have a poverty-stricken diet.” CD 211
23) Ellen White wrote that we’re not to make dress a test, didn’t she?
The quotation which is cited to prove this objection is found in 3SM 252 - 254. Here are some of the lines referred to: “We have now the most solemn, important tests given to us from the Word of God for this special period of time. This test is for the whole world. The Lord does not require that any tests of human inventions shall be brought in to divert the minds of the people or create controversy in any line.” “This (plainness of dress) should be our burden. But it is too late now to become enthusiastic in making a test of this matter…. Our sisters may be assured that the Lord has not inspired them to make a test of that which was once given as a blessing, but which by many was hated and despised as a curse (the reform dress of the 1860‘s).” “The people of God will have all the test that they can bear. The Sabbath question is a test that will come to the whole world. We need nothing to come in now to make a test for God's people that shall make more severe for them the test they already have.”
I would encourage you to read the whole section in 3SM. It is always important to read the context before we form a conclusion. You will see that this was a specific testimony to a few sisters who had written to Ellen White, proposing to return to the reform dress made from a specific pattern that had been advocated in the 1860’s. The test that was not to be made was that of all the sisters returning to this specific pattern of dress. Ellen White was in no way negating her other clear statements about the importance of dress reform and the necessity of adherence to it. Also, the styles of dress worn by Adventist sisters at that time were modest, healthful, and simple, so there was no need to agitate the subject of the reform dress again. Sister White made it very clear that the subject of dress reform was still very important. Consider the following lines in regards to these points:
“There is no need now for any special alteration in our dress. The plain simple style of dress now worn, made in the most healthful way, demands no hoops, and no long trails and is presentable anywhere, and these things should not come in to divert our minds from the grand test which is to decide the eternal destiny of a world--the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. We are nearing the close of this world's history. A plain, direct testimony is now needed, as given in the Word of God, in regard to the plainness of dress. This should be our burden.” “Our sisters may be assured that the Lord has not inspired them to make a test of that which was once given as a blessing, but which by many was hated and despised as a curse…. The burden of advocating the reform dress was removed because that which was given as a blessing was turned into a curse. (the issue is clearly over making a test of that specific 1860’s reform dress, not over the clear principles of dress reform)” “But a more sensible style of dress has now been adopted which does not embrace these objectionable features (hoops, trailing skirts).” “The dress of our people should be made most simple…. Simple dresses should be worn. Try your talent, my sisters, in this essential reform.” “Let our sisters dress plainly, as many do, having the dress of good material, durable, modest, appropriate for this age, and let not the dress question fill the mind.”
24) We just need to keep our focus on Jesus, and not bother with all this dress reform.
It’s hard to keep your focus on Jesus when you’re filled with vain or lustful thoughts. Let’s be honest, the styles of today are very distracting. We must be sure we do not participate in or add to the distraction. If we’re really keeping our eyes on Jesus, we will live in harmony with His teachings; we will do the things that please Him (which includes proper dress).
25) I just don’t feel personally convicted about the dress reform. I’m sure that if God ever wants me to follow it, He’ll impress me of it.
“Your feelings, your impressions, your emotions, are not to be trusted, for they are not reliable….” 5T 513. “Impressions alone are not a safe guide to duty. The enemy often persuades men to believe that it is God who is guiding them, when in reality they are following only human impulse.” AA 279
Impressions from God will never contradict His Word. Impressions from the Holy Spirit will never tell you it’s alright to disobey, or give you peace in disobedience. If you learn what God’s will is for His children from the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy, you do not need to wait to feel like obeying, or wait for an impression to obey; you need to obey. May the following quote be an encouragement to you, not to be a halting, hesitant, doubting one, but to go forward in obedience, in the strength of the Lord:
“Often the Christian life is beset with dangers, and duty seems hard to perform. The imagination pictures impending ruin before, and bondage and death behind. Yet the voice of God speaks clearly, Go forward. Let us obey the command, even though our sight cannot penetrate the darkness. The obstacles that hinder our progress will never disappear before a halting, doubting spirit. Those who defer obedience till every uncertainty disappears, and there remains no risk of failure or defeat, will never obey. Faith looks beyond the difficulties, and lays hold of the unseen, even Omnipotence, therefore it cannot be baffled.” GW 262
(Answers to objections 17-21 adapted from Thy Nakedness.)
In summarizing our study of these standards (Christian home and finances, Entertainment, Diet and health, and Dress and appearance), I would like to share two poems with you. May they speak to your heart as they have to mine, inspiring you to surrender yourself fully to Christ and live in obedience to all the light He has revealed to you.
Under The Eyes of the Lord
What ever you think, never think what you feel
You would blush, in the presence of God to reveal;
What ever you speak, in a whisper or clear,
Say nothing you would not like Jesus to hear.
What ever you read though the page may allure
Read nothing of which you are perfectly sure
Consternation at once would be seen in your look
If God should say solemnly, “Show me that book.”
What ever you write, though in haste or in heed,
Write nothing you would not like Jesus to read;
What ever you sing, in the midst of your glees,
Sing nothing His listening ear would displease.
When ever you go, never go where you fear
Lest the great God should ask you, “How comest thou here?”
Turn away from each pleasure you’d shrink from pursuing
If God should look down and say, “What are you doing?”
What ever you wear, can you be very sure
That the feelings it quickens are blameless and pure?
Would your face be unblushing and conscience be clear
Should your wardrobe be opened and Jesus appear?
When you think, when you speak, when you read, when you write,
When you sing, when you walk, when you seek for delight,
To be kept from all wrong when at home or abroad,
Live always as under the eyes of the Lord.
If Jesus Came to Your House
If Jesus came to your house to spend a day or two,
If He came unexpectedly, I wonder what you’d do.
Oh, I know you’d give your nicest room to such an honored Guest,
And all the food you’d serve Him would be the very best,
And you would keep assuring Him you’re glad to have Him there,
That serving Him in your own home is joy beyond compare.
But, when you saw Him coming, would you meet Him at the door
With arms outstretched in welcome to your heavenly Visitor?
Or would you have to change your clothes before you let Him in?
Or hide some magazines and put the Bible where they’d been?
Would you turn off the radio and hope He hadn’t heard?
And wish you hadn’t uttered that last, loud, hasty word?
Would you hide your worldly music and put some hymn books out?
Could you let Jesus walk right in, or would you rush about?
And I wonder, if the Saviour spent a day or two with you,
Would you go right on doing the things you always do?
Would you go right on saying the things you always say?
Would life for you continue as it does from day to day?
Would your family conversation keep up its usual pace?
And would you find it hard each meal to say a table grace?
Would you sing the songs you always sing, and read the books you read,
And let Him know the things on which your mind and spirit feed?
Would you take Jesus with you everywhere you’d planned to go?
Or would you, maybe, change your plans for just a day or so?
Would you be glad to have Him meet your very closest friends?
Or would you hope they’d stay away until His visit ends?
Would you be glad to have Him stay forever on and on?
Or would you sigh with great relief when He at last was gone?
It might be interesting to know the things that you would do
If Jesus Christ in person came to spend some time with you.
Lois Blanchard Eades
It has come to the time to conclude our study together. As we close, I would like to try to summarize what we have studied into a nutshell for you.
My dear Friends, Jesus is coming back very soon! We must prepare our hearts and lives, so that we may meet Him in peace! We must awaken out of our Laodicean slumber, and work to arouse others around us who are sleeping. We must cooperate with the Lord and allow Him to work a thorough revival and reformation in our lives. We must seek for that primitive godliness by which our hearts may be brought in harmony with God’s heart. The road is straight and narrow, requiring self-denial all along the way, but it leads to the heavenly city.
We have looked at God’s call for us to be separate from the world. We have seen how subtly Satan works to bring the world into the church by gradual compromise. We have studied together several areas where Satan is working overtime to bring confusion and backsliding, and we have learned, in contrast, what God’s will is for us in each of these areas: heart work first and foremost, the Christian home, the way we spend our leisure time, the food we eat, and the way we dress.
Why has God given us standards in all these areas? It is for our happiness and our best good, in this life and in the life to come. It is to keep us separated from the world and close to the Lord.
Why should I obey? I should obey cheerfully and speedily because I love my Saviour Who has given His all for me so much that I want nothing better than to please Him in every way I can. I am driven and motivated by love for Him. I also recognize His authority as Lord of my life, and choose to put Him first because I know His way is best.
We have been challenged together to give the straight testimony, to call sin by its right name, and to lift high the standard of truth as set forth in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. This means that we ourselves will not desire to have smooth things spoken to us, but will praise the Lord for the straight testimony when we receive it, knowing that it is one of the instrumentalities God uses to perfect our characters and fit us for heaven.
We have soberly looked into the future, and considered the reward of the righteous and the wicked. We have seen that we are living, even now, in the judgment hour, and how vital it is that we make our calling and election sure.
Today is the day of salvation. Right now is the time to bring our hearts and lives into harmony with God and obey all His commands. Who knows how much longer the angel of mercy will linger, before he withdraws and it is forever too late. Please, don’t let anything hold you back from entire surrender, from full obedience. Don’t let the devil tell you that God doesn’t care so much about the little things, or that it won’t matter that much if you put off full obedience till a more convenient time.
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth [it] not, to him it is sin.” James 4:17. “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” Heb. 10:26
“There is need of decided changes. It is time for us to humble our proud, self-willed hearts, and seek the Lord while He may be found. As a people we need to humble our hearts before God; for the scars of inconsistency are on our practice. The Lord is calling upon us to come into line. The day is far spent. The night is at hand. The judgments of God are already seen, both on land and on sea. No second probation will be granted us. This is no time for making false moves. Let every one thank God that we still have an opportunity to form characters for the future eternal life.” CD 40
God is looking for a holy people, a perfected people, a peculiar people separate from the world. It is only these people who He can take to heaven to be with Him for eternity. Will you be among them? The answer, my friend, is up to you.