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The Ellen White Research Project: Exposing the Subtle Attack on the Bible's Authority
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Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 31: Paul's Last Letter.

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Part:  A  B  C

Ministers of the gospel whose characters are otherwise almost faultless, frequently do great harm by allowing their forbearance toward the erring to degenerate into toleration of their sins, and even participation with them. In this easygoing way they excuse and palliate that which the word of God condemns; and after a time they become so blinded as even to commend the very ones whom God commands them to reprove. The only safe-guard against these dangers is to add to patience godliness,—to reverence God, his character and his law, and to keep his fear ever before the mind. By communion with God, through prayer and the reading of his word, we should cultivate such a sense of the holiness of his character that we shall regard sin as he regards it.

Godliness leads to brotherly kindness; and those who do not cherish the one, will surely lack the other. He who has blunted his moral perceptions by sinful leniency toward those whom God condemns, will erelong commit a greater sin by severity and harshness toward those whom God approves. Viewed through the perverted medium of an unconsecrated spirit, the very integrity and faithfulness of the true-hearted Christian will appear censurable.

By the pride of human wisdom, by contempt for the influence of the Holy Spirit, and disrelish for the humbling truths of God's word, many who profess to be Christians, and who feel competent to teach others, will be led to turn away from the requirements of God. Paul declared to Timothy: "The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves [p. 323] teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."

The apostle does not here refer to the openly irreligious, but to professed Christians who have indulged inclination until they are enslaved by their own ungoverned passions,—"led away with divers lusts." Such desire to hear doctrines that will not interfere with their sinful course, or condemn their pleasure-loving propensities. Hence they are offended by the plain words of the faithful servants of Christ, and choose those teachers who will praise and flatter them instead of rebuking their sins. These teachers "they heap to themselves" as special favorites. Even among the professed ministers of Christ, there are many who do not preach the word, but the opinions of men. They have turned away their ears from truth. The Lord has spoken to them in his word; but they do not care to hear his voice, because it condemns their practices.

In his ten holy precepts, God has given a rule for man's life, a law which Christ declares is not to abate one jot of its claims upon men through all their generations, to the close of time. That law is still the believer's rule of life, the sinner's condemnation. That law Christ came to magnify and make honorable. He showed that it is based upon the broad foundation of love to God and men, and that obedience to its precepts comprises the whole duty of man. In his own life he gave men a perfect example of obedience to the law of God. In his sermon on the mount he showed how its requirements extend beyond the outward acts, and take cognizance of the thoughts and intents of the heart. That law, [p. 324] obeyed, will lead men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live "soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world."

But the enemy of all righteousness has taken the world captive, and has led them to make void the law of God. As Paul foresaw, the people have turned away from the plain, searching truths of God's word, and, having itching ears, they have heaped to themselves teachers who present to them the fables that they desire. These teachers trample under their feet the fourth commandment, and instead of the day which God has blessed and sanctified, they honor a day which he has not commanded, and upon which he did not rest. The first day of the week, whose sacredness rests wholly on the authority of the papacy, "the man of sin," is observed as a holy day by Catholics and Protestants alike, instead of the day which God has set apart, and upon which he has placed his blessing. Thus the Creator of the world is insulted, and Satan laughs in triumph at the success of his devices.

With the growing contempt for God's holy law, there is an increasing distaste for religion, an increase of pride, love of pleasure, disobedience to parents, and self-indulgence; and thoughtful minds everywhere anxiously inquire, What can be done to correct these alarming evils? The answer is found in Paul's exhortation to Timothy: "Preach the word." In that word are the only safe principles of action. It is a transcript of the will of God, an expression of divine wisdom. It opens to man's understanding the great problem of life. It will prove a guide to all who heed it, so that their lives will not be wasted in [p. 325] misdirected efforts. God has declared his will, and it is absolute madness for men to change or even question that which has gone out of his lips. After Infinite Wisdom has spoken, there can be no doubtful questions for man to settle, no wavering probabilities for him to adjust. All the interests of time and of eternity are involved in a frank, earnest concurrence of the mind and will of men with the expressed will of God. Obedience is the highest dictate of reason as well as of conscience. Those who choose to listen to other voices and to follow other guides, will be turned unto fables, and, trusting to these, they will in the day of God meet with infinite loss.

Part:  A  B  C

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