From Defeat to Victory

WORKS

By John Thiel

The night is dark and I am far from home. Is that true?  Is the night dark? We live according to the Word of God in a time of gross darkness. The danger for us is that we may not know it, but because we have living truth that has been given us through the three angels’ messages we become more conscious of it. So indeed, you and I, who dwell under the three angels’ messages are aware of the fact that we must be of the number that are recorded in Revelation.

Revelation 14:1  And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty [and] four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: 3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred [and] forty [and] four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, [being] the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.

This speaks of the 144,000. As it states in verses 4 and 5, they are not defiled with women for they are virgins. This is speaking in reference to the churches that they are not defiled  by the false teachings of the different churches. We are either part of that company under this message or we are lost. As we know this, have you ever read verse 5 with a terrible foreboding wanting to go over you? I must be among this number and this number are without fault and there is no guile in their mouth. Have you discovered faults in your life and even guile? I must be among this number or be lost.

Zephaniah 3:12 I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD. 13 The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make [them] afraid.

What are they? An afflicted and poor people, they shall trust in the name of the LORD.

We shall see how important these words are. Have you ever read these things and thought, that leaves me out? Shuddered at the thought of seeing yourself in contrast to these characteristics and then the overwhelming sense of, oh dear, am I lost then? The whole thing is made more unpleasant like insult to injury when we read Early Writings.

Those who receive the seal of the living God and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully. {EW 71.1}

Do you? How do you feel? I must be without sin to be among the 144,000. I must reflect the image of Christ fully to be among that number. Am I in the category of these kinds of people in reference to condition?

Hopefully we will come away from this study with encouragement and not with a state of despair. In the reading of the following, does this describe the sense of your own experience?

As they review the past, their hopes sink for in their whole lives they can see little good. They are fully conscious of their weakness and unworthiness. Satan endeavors to terrify them with the thought that their cases are hopeless, that the stain of their defilement will never be washed away. He hopes so to destroy their faith that they will yield to his temptations and turn from their allegiance to God. {GC 618.3}

Satan’s power to turn your allegiance from God is to crush your hope. You will say, too bad, I’m not going to be saved. So we are tempted to turn our allegiance from God. This is what Satan wants.

In this description, who was I reading about? The 144,000 in the time of Jacob’s Trouble. How do the 144,000 feel? As they review their past, their hopes sink for in their whole lives they can see little good. They are fully conscious of their weakness and unworthiness. Satan is permitted to overwhelm them with the thought that their cases are hopeless, that the stain of their defilement will never be washed away. This is the 144,000 in the time of Jacob’s Trouble.

How can it be that the Scriptures write of them that they are without fault and have no sin and no guile or iniquity when all their life they see the opposite? It is my purpose to display the Word of God on this apparent contradiction of terms so that we can find our way through these statements of a thus saith the Lord.

We live at this time in the most perilous period of earth’s history, where Satan is at work to deceive, if possible, the very elect. The 144,000 are the very elect. He will, if possible, deceive even them. Here is the deception:  On one hand Satan is influencing the minds of the people with liberalism, with the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. What is the doctrine of the Nicolaitans? The very thing that is being taught today. You can be saved simply by believing in Jesus, don’t worry about the keeping of the commandments of God. This is a doctrine that has really taken root.

The doctrine is now largely taught that the gospel of Christ has made the law of God of no effect; that by “believing” we are released from the necessity of being doers of the Word. But this is the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which Christ so unsparingly condemned (ST Jan. 2, 1912). {7BC 957.6}

We are surrounded by that doctrine, are we not? Besides that doctrine, there is Satan’s other pressure. On the other side we become guilt-ridden by the imposition of a legalism and legalistic doctrines. Liberalism and legalism is Satan’s power ploy to throw people away from absolute correct appreciations of their relationship with God.

There are two errors against which the children of God–particularly those who have just come to trust in His grace–especially need to guard. The first, already dwelt upon, is that of looking to their own works, trusting to anything they can do, to bring themselves into harmony with God. He who is trying to become holy by his own works in keeping the law, is attempting an impossibility. All that man can do without Christ is polluted with selfishness and sin. It is the grace of Christ alone, through faith, that can make us holy. {SC 59.4}

 The opposite and no less dangerous error is that belief in Christ releases men from keeping the law of God; that since by faith alone we become partakers of the grace of Christ, our works have nothing to do with our redemption. {SC 59.5}

These two errors are the power ploy of Satan to confuse the mind of believers. If you believe that the law of God is binding and that sin is the transgression of that law and that the wages of sin is death, is this not a recipe for anxiety for those who discover their sinfulness? I hear this. Under this beautiful doctrine of pure commandment-keeping there is anxiety in many people’s lives because try as they may they keep discovering that they are sinners and they’re not reaching that purity that they believe is contained in this message. To believe we must be among the sinless living at the coming of Christ, only exacerbates that anxiety. This is Satan’s power ploy so that people who believe what we believe, he may throw into horrible mind exercises.

The liberalists don’t worry, they’re going to be saved. The legalists, they don’t worry because; we keep the commandments of God, legalistically. They’re the Pharisees, the Laodicean’s rich and increased with goods, having need of nothing.

What is he trying to do with us by pointing to our doctrines and telling us how hopeless we are? He is attempting to obliterate from our mind something very important that is part of our doctrines. A part that applies to my salvation in the knowledge of the purity of God’s commandments and the importance to keep them. He tries to obliterate something from our memory which was there when we first gave our heart to the Lord.

Isaiah 51:1 Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock [whence] ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit [whence] ye are digged. 2 Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah [that] bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. 3 For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.

Satan does not want us to remember the pit from which we have been dug. He wants us to forget the rock from whence we have been hewn. When we first came to discover the truth in Jesus as our great saving power of the grace of God, He found us in the pit. He Himself, the rock of our salvation came into the pit, drew us out of the pit of sin and hopelessness and made us part of Himself. As we reflect upon our first experience, what touched our hearts? We who were such hopeless, depraved, helpless, thirsting people, were filled with a love, a first love, so ardent, so comforted, by the fact that I’ve got hope even though I am such a desperate sinner.

Having come up and having been brought in this message for this period of time, Satan comes to the believer and he wants to trip him up again. He wants him to sin so that after he knows already that he has been redeemed from the broken law, he causes him to sin again, and then fills him with a state of hopelessness. Besides that, the description of God’s law becomes bigger, the light of truth becomes more revealing and we see more of our depraved condition. I’d like to enlarge these two factors. This is what he does with a person who has been redeemed, who has the first love within his heart and then slowly works to break down that wonderful love.

The work of Satan as an accuser began in heaven. This has been his work on earth ever since man’s fall, and it will be his work in a special sense as we approach nearer to the close of this world’s history. As he sees that his time is short, he will work with greater earnestness to deceive and destroy. He is angry when he sees a people on the earth who, even in their weakness and sinfulness, have respect to the law of Jehovah. He is determined that they shall not obey God. He delights in their unworthiness, and has devices prepared for every soul, that all may be ensnared and separated from God. He seeks to accuse and condemn God and all who strive to carry out His purposes in this world in mercy and love, in compassion and forgiveness. {COL 167.1}

 Every manifestation of God’s power for His people arouses the enmity of Satan. Every time God works in their behalf, Satan with his angels works with renewed vigour to compass their ruin. He is jealous of all who make Christ their strength. His object is to instigate evil, and when he has succeeded, throw all the blame upon the tempted ones. He points to their filthy garments, their defective characters. He presents their weakness and folly, their sins of ingratitude, their unlikeness to Christ, which have dishonored their Redeemer. All this he urges as an argument proving his right to work his will in their destruction. {COL 168.1}

He is angry with those who still believe the law of God is abiding. This is the time we are living in right now. You’ve been born again, you are an honest willing servant of the Ten Commandments, you really love them and you stand for the truth of those laws. What does Satan do? He instigates evil. He creates a circumstance to cause you to fall. When he has succeeded to cause us to fall, then he says, see, you’ve got no hope. You want to be among the 144,000? Is there hope for such people?

Satan will work to defeat you and me. I wonder if there is anyone here who can say that they haven’t been defeated on a few issues. Why? Because we have just read it, this is what Satan does. Then having defeated us, having instigated evil, he has devices prepared for every soul to instigate evil in their life. Then he can accuse and condemn them for having done so.

Brethren and sisters let us be aware that this is part of the experience. At such a time when Satan has succeeded to do that in your life and you can reflect back where he has achieved a fall in your life, a fall in your friend or your husband or wife’s life and he wants to crush out the hope out of your life. What are we to remember?

1 John 1:8;10 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in usIf we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

I’m trying to be sinless and I can’t say that I am because if I do I am lying and I’ve got guile in my mouth. That’s weird isn’t it? There are so many things in the Bible that makes you think, is there any rationale in this? There is, but to the human thinking it is all topsy turvy.

We can never come to God and say I am without sin otherwise I am sinning if I say so. I am lying. If I say, no I haven’t sinned. But I have. The truth is not in me. The word is not in me.

1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

Don’t Sin

In other words, don’t look carelessly upon sin. Don’t sin. There is the danger of people that think because God is so gracious and Satan is there tempting me, and I fall it’s not so bad. He’s going to forgive me any way. This is often voiced among people who Satan has managed to throw into the wrong way of thinking. It’s all right, it’s not so serious, you can be forgiven. The sin is made of little magnitude but it says My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. Because the wages of sin is death.

1 John 2:1 And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Here is something we need to remember when Satan has trapped us. We believe sincerely that we must not commit sin. We know that if I commit sin, I am doomed to death. I know that I must be among the 144,000 who do not commit sin. So that we understand when we have been surprised into sin by these Satanic influences that we have been caught out by his temptations we read;

 How careful is the Lord Jesus to give no occasion for a soul to despair. How He fences about the soul from Satan’s fierce attacks. If through manifold temptations we are surprised or deceived into sin, He does not turn from us and leave us to perish. No, no, that is not our Saviour…. He was tempted in all points like as we are; and having been tempted, He knows how to succor those who are tempted. Our crucified Lord is pleading for us in the presence of the Father at the throne of grace. His atoning sacrifice we may plead for our pardon, our justification, and our sanctification. The Lamb slain is our only hope. Our faith looks up to Him, grasps Him as the One who can save to the uttermost, and the fragrance of the all-sufficient offering is accepted of the Father. {OHC 49.2}

  If you make failures and are betrayed into sin, do not feel then you cannot pray … but seek the Lord more earnestly. {OHC 49.3}

  The blood of Jesus is pleading with power and efficacy for those who are backslidden, for those who are rebellious, for those who sin against great light and love. Satan stands at our right hand to accuse us, and our Advocate stands at God’s right hand to plead for us. He has never lost a case that has been committed to Him. We may trust in our Advocate; for He pleads His own merits in our behalf…. He is making intercession for the most lowly, the most oppressed and suffering, for the most tried and tempted ones. With upraised hands He pleads, “I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” {OHC 49.2-4}

This is what really overwhelmed me when Satan came to me and said, you have been preaching to others and look at you. You’ve had all this light and you’ve done such and such. This is to be applied when we have been rebellious when we have sinned against great light and when all the backslidden conditions have overwhelmed us, we are to trust this picture. Instead of despairing we must do what it says when Satan has managed to succeed to defeat us.

 All are fallible, all make mistakes and fall into sin; but if the wrongdoer is willing to see his errors, as they are made plain by the convicting Spirit of God, and in humility of heart will confess them. . . , then he may be restored. . . . {TMK 238.2}

No one can point at the other and say ooohhh, because there’s three fingers pointing back. No excuses. No explanations as to why or wherefore we have done these things. Absolutely nothing like that, just a plain heart broken confession that I am a whatever I am by what I’ve done. If I have lied, I am a liar, Lord forgive me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. If I have committed adultery, I am an adulterer. If I have hated somebody, I am a murderer. I must confess without any explanation as to why, because that’s an excuse. If I do this, in humility of heart confess, then we may be restored.

 All are liable to err, therefore the Word of God tells us plainly how to correct and heal these mistakes. None can say that he never makes a mistake, that he never sinned at all, but it is important to consider what disposition you make of these wrongs. The apostle Paul made grievous mistakes, all the time thinking that he was doing God service, but when the Spirit of the Lord set the matter before him in its true light, he confessed his wrongdoing, and afterward acknowledged the great mercy of God in forgiving his transgression. You also may have done wrong, thinking you were perfectly right, but when time reveals your error, then it is your duty to humble the heart and confess your sin. . . . {TMK 239.2}

  Whatever the character of your sin, confess it. If it is against God only, confess only to Him. If you have wronged or offended others, confess also to them, and the blessing of the Lord will rest upon you. In this way you die to self, and Christ is formed within. . {TMK 239.2}

It is important to consider the disposition I have in reference to those wrongs. Do I belittle them because grace is sufficient for me? No. Whether the character of the sin is extremely terrible or just a little one, confess it. Are we not to develop the nature of Christ within us? That’s how it is done.

In our appreciation of being the people who must be of the 144,000, here is the criterion. We notice that Satan has defeated us and we are blessed if we come in confession. In this experience of coming to this, God even assists in the program.

God has a perfect photograph of every man’s character, and this photograph He compares with His law. He reveals to man the defects that mar his life, and calls upon him to repent and turn from sin (ST July 31, 1901). {5BC 1085.4}

Not only does Satan stand there and say, look, see, you’ve done this and you’ve done that and fills us with a sense of condemnation but Jesus comes along and through His work, He reveals to us too, all the depths of our sins. It’s marring our life, He wants to tell us.

 One ray of the glory of God, one gleam of the purity of Christ, penetrating the soul, makes every spot of defilement painfully distinct, and lays bare the deformity and defects of the human character. It makes apparent the unhallowed desires, the infidelity of the heart, the impurity of the lips. The sinner’s acts of disloyalty in making void the law of God, are exposed to his sight, and his spirit is stricken and afflicted under the searching influence of the Spirit of God. He loathes himself as he views the pure, spotless character of Christ. {SC 29.1}

God reveals to us the things that mar our life and that’s how He does it. The light shines and penetrates. It shows things within me and Satan goes along and does it as well. That is the experience of the 144,000. Satan has managed to cause them to fall. They are shown things in their life that if they had opportunity they would do them. They discover through some of their actions, I’ve done something that I never thought I would ever do. The reasoning is it’s a terrible mistake, I’m not like that. If you weren’t like that, you wouldn’t have done it. Any sin we do is a revelation of what I would have done if I had opportunity. I had to learn that very, very soundly. He doesn’t just come and show you, look, see, you would have done that. He shows you, Satan has just tempted you and you’ve just done it. Now, follow the path of recovery.

  When, under the temptations of Satan, men fall into error, and their words and deportment are not Christlike, they may not realize their condition, because sin is deceptive and tends to deaden the moral perceptions. But through self-examination, searching of the Scriptures, and humble prayer, they will, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, be enabled to see their mistake. If they then confess their sins and turn from them, the tempter will not appear to them as an angel of light, but as a deceiver. . . . {TMK 239.4}

  Those who acknowledge reproof and correction as from God, and are thus enabled to see and correct their errors, are learning precious lessons, even from their mistakes. Their apparent defeat is turned into victory. They stand, trusting not to their own strength, but to the strength of God. They have earnestness, zeal, and affection, united with humility and regulated by the precepts of God’s Word. . . . They walk not stumblingly, but safely, in a path where the light of heaven shines. {TMK 239.5}

This is the problem when we do act in a un-Christlike manner, when we do sin. Sin is so deceptive that I’m not even seeing that I’m doing it. Remember God is at work to show me.

While we are under the sin we say many times what a beautiful thing I’m going through, such a lovely experience. In reality it’s the angel who’s turned himself into an angel of light. But when the truth shines it exposes all that. The sins that we are permitted to be plunged into are mistakes from which we may learn. That’s God’s part of the program. Their apparent defeat is turned into victory. While Satan has managed to instigate evil, while he has managed to surprise them into sin, they have learned their own condition and they have observed how Satan has done it, and they have learned a lesson to avoid it in the future. The church triumphant is victorious through their experiences.

Victory

Apparent defeat turned into victory. Satan has defeated us and we are still victorious, Satan hates that. That’s why he wants us to lose sight of our first love. What God had said back there, and what He will say now is a direct answer as to why the 144,000 are without sin.

Isaiah 44:22 I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.

What does return unto me mean? It means you were once there and you’ve been lead astray, you’ve backslidden, you have fallen into terrible sin that Satan has instigated. Now God says do what I have shown you. I’m ready to welcome you again, my rebellious child. I’m ready to welcome you, you sinner. Yes, you have sinned miserably, but I have blotted out as a thick cloud if you will return unto me, because I have redeemed thee.

Save me in spite of myself, my weak, unchristlike self. {COL 159.3}

That language of the soul is repeated it says it throughout the entire journey towards heaven. As God’s light shines brighter and brighter upon our sin-stained life, the initial light that shone and caused my first conversion, because of the amazing love of God, that will intensify at every step along the path as the light shines brighter showing more sin and more things by which Satan has conquered in my life. My love will become deeper, more intense, rather than losing my first love.

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” Thine is a decay, a declension in holy zeal–not forsaken is the object of it, but lost is the fervour. The first affection of the convert to Christ is deep, full, and ardent. It is not necessary that this love should become less as knowledge increases, as the more and increased light shines upon him. That love should become more fervent as he becomes better acquainted with his Lord. . . {7BC 956}

As you become better acquainted with the Lord, your love will become more ardent because the light is shining and shines more detail into your life and shows you more clearly the painful disease of the soul and God’s amazing love.

The 144,000 will follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. Who presses closest to Jesus on the earth made new? Who is the one that presses closest to Him? He who has been forgiven most. You wonder why the 144,000 are around Jesus and nobody else can get as close to Him as they can? That’s the reason, because they have been forgiven more than any one else. They have come out of the most horrible tribulation. As you and I meet this tribulation which is Satan instigating evil creating your fall and defeat, and you come out of that. You battle through it and learn your experiences and you will be of all people the most deeply in love with your Lord and Saviour.

Take courage. The reason that the 144,000 are without sin is because they have become conscious of all their sins and trusted to the mercy of God, instead of turning away in despair or seeking to cover themselves with the lies of modern theology. Here is the great danger we will avert if we understand this.

 God leads His people on, step by step. He brings them into positions which are calculated to reveal the motives of the heart. Some endure at one point, but fall off at the next. At every advance step the heart is tested, and tried a little closer. If any find their hearts opposed to the straight work of God, it should convince them that they have a work to do in overcoming, or they will be finally rejected of the Lord. {OHC 162.2}

Who will be rejected? Those who go through the terrible experience and want to walk out from it.

Individuals will here show what power affects their hearts, and controls their actions. . . . If they prize anything higher than the truth, their hearts are not prepared to receive Jesus, and He is consequently shut out. If individuals, when tested, refuse to sacrifice their idols, . . . the Spirit of God will leave them with their sinful traits unsubdued, to the control of evil angels. {OHC 162.3}

  Many who profess to be Christ’s followers are unwilling to closely examine their own hearts, to see whether they have passed from death unto life. Some lean upon an old experience, seeming to think a mere profession of the truth will save them; but God’s Word reveals the terrible fact that all such are cherishing a false hope. . . . {OHC 162.4}

  Young and old, God is now testing you. You are now deciding your own eternal destiny. Pride, fashion, empty conversation, and selfishness are evils which, if fostered, will increase, and choke the good seed sown in your hearts. {OHC 162.5}

If I don’t want to confess my sin, if I want to shield myself by false doctrine or by despair, negative pride, (that is what despair is, I’m too bad to be saved, I’m too bad, I can’t trust the Lord, I will rely on my own imagination, too proud to come out of despair), it will be revealed what controls their actions.

If I will examine my heart, the Lord will show me all my deadly sinfulness and I will submit to what we have studied here, I will pass from death to life. Isn’t it true that we are all dead men any way? We are all sinners, we are all heading for death and it’s only through the beautiful application of Christ and His righteousness that we can pass from death to life. This is the process. God is taking us through great tribulation so that my love for Him will intensify, because when I see my deplorable sinfulness, I see the contrasting love. Only he who sees his own sinfulness can appreciate the preciousness of the Saviour. May we decide to persevere through the most horrifying discoveries of my sinful self, so that I may be among the 144,000.

Amen.

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Posted on December 1, 2011, in Divine Service Sermons, Sermons by John Thiel, The Love of God and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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