A Self-Willed Generation

By John Thiel, mp3

Scripture reading: 2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: 10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous [are they], selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.

To this generation, the Lord knows “to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government.” They despise government. What else? They are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. This is the reality that surrounds us today is it not? You see protest marches against those who are governing them, resistance to those who are their superiors. They are diminishing the spirit of superiority that is to be safeguarded because there is someone who is superior over us.

The Experience of Enoch

He also saw the corrupt state of the world at the time when Christ should appear the second time–that there would be a boastful, presumptuous, self-willed generation arrayed in rebellion against the law of God and denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ, and trampling upon His blood and despising His atonement. He saw the righteous crowned with glory and honor while the wicked were separated from the presence of the Lord and consumed with fire. {SR 58.3}

Enoch saw our generation in prophecy. That generation we have grown up in. This is what we should do as Enoch did.

Enoch, separating himself from the world, and spending much of his time in prayer and in communion with God, represents God’s loyal people in the last days, who will be separate from the world. Unrighteousness will prevail to a dreadful extent upon the earth. Men will give themselves up to follow every imagination of their corrupt hearts and carry out their deceptive philosophy and rebel against the authority of high heaven. {SR 60.3}

We are called upon to come out from this kind of influence. We are to separate and fill our mind with the influence that comes from Jesus to develop characters. The very reason for Bible study is that we would develop a character that is different from the character that we have already been affected by in the society in which we live.

I will be sharing message after message to ensure that we are preparing to enter the society of heaven which is totally different to the society in which we are dwelling. To separate ourselves as Enoch did, this is our challenge. Enoch was admired by God because he separated himself from the world and he represents God’s loyal people in the last days. It is well worth while to study Enoch so that we can be like him. In order to be separated from this kind of society which we are affected and surrounded by, this is what has to be done.

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. {CD 40.3}

This is the testimony of Jesus telling us our problem in this generation. The scars of inconsistency are on our practice. We need to make decided changes and humble our proud, self-willed hearts.

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. {CD 40.4}

In 1902 that was the case and it has only got worse since the First and Second World Wars. God’s judgements are already seen.

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. {Ibid.}

As we realise how very close the time is when Jesus will close probation, how meaningful are these words. There will be no second probation. Here is the call of Jesus in the testimony of Jesus. We have no time for making false moves. Decided changes must be made. So let us thank God that we still have opportunity to form these characters. Let us take it diligently and place ourselves on the right side in reference to what we have been reading – a self-willed generation.

Is this our case? Are we by nature self-willed? See where you can identify with that which has scarred us because we are surrounded with this kind of society.

Are we self-willed? How can we tell whether we are? These are important questions which I want to pose so that you can examine yourself and I can examine myself. Is my nature self-willed? How can I tell whether I have this self-willed disposition? How does self-will manifest itself? Is it a reality that it can be present among believers? These questions are to be hung in our memory now as we proceed.

The scripture of 2 Timothy tells us what we are affected by in these last days:

2 Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

Why are these times perilous?

2 Timothy 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:

And what Enoch did in his day we are called upon to do now:

2 Timothy 3:5 …from such turn away.

We want here to select the important bits that deal with self-will in the most prominent manner. What are they in these last days?

Disobedient to Parents

This is the characteristic of the last generation. How true that is. I was just in a shop the other day, and the shop owner was frustrated because the parents were there with their children, and their children were touching certain things which were not to be touched and he was nearly out of his mind thinking, what a terrible thing it is, we can’t even get these children to respect and obey what we are instructing them to do; they keep on doing it. Disobedient to authority, disobedient to parents. I said to him, yes, this is out of habit nowadays. It is out of character, out of fashion, to have children obey. He had to smile. How true. This condition of disobedience to parents is frequently brought out in the testimony of Jesus.

Brother and Sister E have not regarded the directions of God’s word in the training of their children. These children have been allowed to control at home to a very great degree and have come and gone as they pleased. Unless they are placed under entirely different influences they will be found in the enemy’s ranks, warring against order, discipline, and subordination. Children thus left to have their own way are not happy; and where parental authority is lightly regarded, the authority of God will not be respected. {5T 305.1}

They will disrespect authority, even the authority of God. Why? Where did this come from? In this last generation we are looking at the consequence of the lack of parental authority over the children. This is something which is anathema today in the eyes even of those who are claiming to be counsellors. Children are not to control in the home, not to be able to come and go as they please. An entirely different influence must be put around them because they will not be found on God’s side if this is continued. They will be found in the enemy’s ranks, warring against order. How true this is today. To have order, people say, Oh, that’s boring; I want to have something different. They don’t love order at all; they war against it. They also war against discipline. Do you like to be disciplined? We will see as we keep on examining this, How do I respond to discipline? They war against subordination. To be subordinate to somebody over you, is that an easy thing? This is the generation – disobedient to parents, heady, high-minded, and having a form of godliness – still claiming to be godly. This is the characteristic which is revealed.

The wickedness which exists in the world today may be traced to the neglect of parents rightly to discipline themselves and their children. {ST, September 25, 1901 par. 15}

It is not just that the children are to be disciplined under the parents. The parents don’t even know how to discipline themselves. This is our age.

Thousands and thousands of Satan’s victims are what they are because of the injudicious way in which they were managed during childhood. The stern rebuke of God is upon this mismanagement. The records of heaven show the awful history of the men and women who as children were left to follow their own way. {Ibid.}

I have to humbly admit to God that I, as a child, was already coloured by that brush. In Sr. White’s time, my great grandparents were like that also. You can see how the degeneracy has transpired to our time. Today it is regarded as an imposition to be subordinate. “That’s not correct! We must have freedom! I must be free from anybody controlling me.” That is the mentality.

Heady, High-minded

We are heady. Heady means, I am the head here, no one else. We are high-minded. And I will even exercise that in the church that I am in. These people speak against dignitaries. This is so rampant today.

I was shown that independence, a firm, set, unyielding will, a lack of reverence and due respect for others, selfishness and too great self-confidence, mark the character of Sister A. {3T 305.1}

That was back in Sr. White’s time. What is it? Independence, a firm, set, unyielding will, a lack of reverence and due respect for others, selfishness and too great self-confidence.

If she does not watch closely and overcome these defects in her character she will surely fail of sitting with Christ in His throne. {Ibid.}

In regard to Brother A, I was shown that many of the things mentioned in the testimony to B applied to you. I was pointed back to your past life. {3T 305.2}

This brother was a minister.

I saw that from a child you have been self-confident, headstrong, and self-willed, and have followed your own mind. You have an independent spirit, and it has been very difficult for you to yield to anyone. When it was your duty to yield your way and your wishes to others, you would carry matters out in your own rash way. You have felt that you were fully competent to think and act for yourself independently. {Ibid.}

Here was a person who, from childhood, was so full of his own opinion and self-will.

The truth of God has been accepted and loved by you and has done much for you, {Ibid.}

The truth of God has done much, but then what happens?

…but it has not wrought all that transformation necessary for the perfection of Christian character. When you first started out to labor in the cause of God you felt more humble and were willing to be advised and counseled. But as you began to be successful in a degree, your self-confidence increased, and you were less humble and became more independent. {Ibid.}

That which was inscribed in childhood was affected by the truth and the adult became humble and followed counsel from others. But then, when he began to become familiar with the beautiful truths and all the success of following God, his independent self-will returned.

As we consider carefully our own situations, when we first came to the truth we thought, Yes, that’s wonderful, I will submit to that. The lovely work of Jesus upon the heart caused us to be willing to be submissive to the counsel of others, and we learnt from them. But then what happens? After a while we become confident about our own convictions, and all of a sudden, like in this man’s story, a labourer in the cause, this truth did not fully transform that character defect. When he first started in the cause of God he felt more humble and was willing to be advised and counselled; and then that particular spirit wore off, and the old self-willed way came back for him to become independent.

…as you began to be successful in a degree, your self-confidence increased, and you were less humble and became more independent. {Ibid.}

This characteristic has developed within the church from Sr. White’s time onwards, in the Adventist faith, and this is how the result was unfolding.

This transfer of responsibilities to laborers whose experience is more or less limited is attended with some dangers against which we need to guard. The world is filled with strife for the supremacy. The spirit of pulling away from our fellow laborers, the spirit of disorganization, is in the very air we breathe. {TM 488.4}

“The spirit of” – It is not necessarily always done, but it is a spirit there that goes on inside – the spirit of pulling away from our fellow labourers. It is in the air we breathe. We are surrounded by it, it is in the atmosphere. This is the last generation – self-will. The spirit of pulling away from our fellow labourers, the spirit of disorganisation, because we don’t want to be disciplined; it’s in the very air we breathe.

By some, all efforts to establish order are regarded as dangerous–as a restriction of personal liberty, and hence to be feared as popery. They declare that they will not take any man’s say-so; {Ibid.}

Because that is regarded as popery. The pope does that; he tells people what to do. We’re not going to let anybody tell us what to do. They declare that they will not take any man’s say-so;

…that they are amenable to no man. I have been instructed that it is Satan’s special effort to lead men to feel that God is pleased to have them choose their own course, independent of the counsel of their brethren. {Ibid.}

It is this spirit that has caused modern Seventh-day Adventism to leave behind the counsel of brethren who have been brought through the whole history of the development of the Seventh-day Adventist faith. They say, no, they were wrong. What are they doing? They are ignoring submission and subordination to these brethren who have gone before us. And they have come up with a new philosophy, a new theology, different from those who have gone before us. To think that we have to submit to those who have gone before us is out of the question with the spirit of independence that has been engendered in this generation.

Jesus speaks to us in His prayer of John seventeen, where He calls upon our conscience:

John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

Through whose word? Through their word. We don’t want to hear another person’s word, we’ve got our own ideas now. Jesus prays for those who believe on Him through the apostles’ word.

John 17:21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

The glory which thou gavest me – the character that Jesus developed as a human being He has imparted to us, that we may be one, even as the Father and the Son are one.

John 17:23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

This prayer that we would be one in heart and mind and faith, like the Father and Jesus are one, is further expressed here:

1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and [that] there be no divisions among you; but [that] ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

This is the prayer of unity. To be in that kind of unity requires a willingness to be subordinate to those of longer years of experience in the very truth that we profess. We need to be subordinate. We need to receive counsel. We need to be helped along the way by those of longer years of experience in character building.

God would have His people disciplined and brought into harmony of action, that they may see eye to eye and be of the same mind and of the same judgment. {3T 360.2}

What is required? To be disciplined and brought into harmony of action, to be of the same mind and of the same judgment.

In order to bring about this state of things, there is much to be done. {Ibid.}

Indeed, because we have the exact opposite around us today. What is to be done?

The carnal heart must be subdued and transformed. God designs that there shall ever be a living testimony in the church. It will be necessary to reprove and exhort, and some will need to be rebuked sharply, as the case demands. {Ibid.}

When somebody rebukes you sharply, what rises up inside of you? “Who is he to tell me what to do??” Yes? There is a spirit that comes up within that say, “Oh! No!” But to come into the unity that Jesus prayed for, the people must be disciplined to see eye to eye, to have the same mind. For this to happen the carnal heart must be subdued and transformed. God designs that there shall ever be a living testimony in the church. God designs that in the church this unity be developed in a living reality of someone in front of us. It will be necessary to reprove, to rebuke sharply.

Remember, we are here trying to understand how this self-willed spirit reveals itself.

We hear the plea: “Oh, I am so sensitive, I cannot bear the least reflection!” {Ibid.}

I can’t bear to be corrected. I’m so sensitive. Be careful of my sensitive nature.

If these persons would state the case correctly, they would say: “I am so self-willed, so self-sufficient, so proud-spirited, that I will not be dictated to; I will not be reproved. I claim the right of individual judgment; I have a right to believe and talk as I please.” The Lord would not have us yield up our individuality. But what man is a proper judge of how far this matter of individual independence should be carried? {Ibid.}

Here is a suggestion that I am to have my individuality, no one is to destroy my individuality; but how far do you carry that? We need to come into the unity of the faith in God’s church, to come out of this spirit of 2 Timothy 3:1-4, this form of godliness but denying the power thereof, where people are heady, high-minded, disobedient to parents and authority. The authority can’t be exercised in the church anymore because that has gone out of fashion; it has gone out of the habit. With this before us in the testimony of Jesus there comes this terrible statement. If I am so sensitive, what really is my problem? If, when someone corrects me, I am there trying to protect myself, what does it mean? “I am so self-willed, so self-sufficient, so proud-spirited, that I will not be dictated to; I will not be reproved. I claim the right of individual judgment.” To get it right in this last generation is extremely difficult.

This is the call of the testimony of Jesus to come into unity, to answer the prayer of Jesus, to admire His authority, when we are so much in love with Him that we will do whatever He says. His authority is one I will now gladly obey.

Now comes a very serious word of Jesus: if I will disregard His appeal to me to be submissive, to come into the unity with my brethren, to be subordinate, to be obedient; if I will not have this, if I will retain my self-will, how does Jesus respond to that?

If you have indeed entered the school of Christ, He expects you to manifest in your character and deportment the lowliness which is so beautifully exemplified in His character. Christ will not undertake to teach the self-righteous, self-conceited, and self-willed. {3T 448.3}

What will He not do? He won’t teach them. Christ will not undertake to teach the self-righteous, self-conceited, and self-willed.

If such come to Him with the inquiry, What is truth? He gives them no answer. {Ibid.}

Oh. What is that? When the self-willed comes to Jesus and says, What is truth? and Jesus knows that they are insubordinate, unwilling to be submissive to counsel, He will not give them an answer! That is frightening.

It is only the meek that He will guide in judgment; the meek will He teach His way. Solomon was naturally endowed with good judgment and large reasoning powers, {Ibid.}

He was the wisest man on earth,

…but he acknowledged himself before God as a little child. He sought for wisdom from God with humility, and he sought not in vain. If you really search for the truth with the right motive you will come with the body, for they have the truth. {Ibid.}

What is she referring to? You will come with the church, the body of Christ.

If you are searching the Scriptures and different authors that you may find doctrines which will coincide with your own preconceived opinions, and if you have already settled your faith, then you will be boastful, self-confident, and unyielding. {Ibid.}

How real this is in the ranks of Adventism and modern Adventism? We will go to all sorts of writers and authors outside of the Spirit of Prophecy and the Bible, and look for something that we agree with, “Yes, this is exactly how I feel about it.” Self and self-will is aggrandised; it is lifted up, and the person becomes heady and high-minded, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. This is a frightful condition. Jesus will only reveal the truth and judgment and wisdom to the meek. We are here getting a good understanding of what meekness is. It is the opposite of self-will. It is a willingness to be subordinate to someone who has already been shown of the Lord and who directs our minds back to what the Lord is saying and which is different to what I believe and think.

This is a frightful condition to awaken to. Am I somewhere in that category? How can I shake myself from this spirit of self-will, this heady, high-minded, hard-headed mentality? How can I shake myself from this condition that has been surrounding my life from my childhood up?

There is a great lack of Christian fortitude and serving God from principle. We should not seek to please and gratify self, but to honor and glorify God, and in all we do and say to have an eye single to His glory. If we would let our hearts be impressed with the following important words, and ever bear them in mind, we should not so easily fall into temptation and our words would be few and well chosen: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” “Thou God seest me.” {EW 111.3}

If we would let our hearts be impressed with these words; He was wounded for our transgressions. Justification through Jesus – if I will let that affect me and if I will let it affect me that God sees me, and that every idle word that I speak I will have to give an account thereof, I will be able to shake myself from this self-willed spirit.

We could not think of these important words, and call to mind the sufferings of Jesus that we poor sinners might receive pardon and be redeemed unto God by His most precious blood, without feeling a holy restraint upon us and an earnest desire to suffer for Him who suffered and endured so much for us. If we dwell on these things, dear self, with its dignity, will be humbled, and its place will be occupied by a childlike simplicity which will bear reproof from others and will not be easily provoked. A self-willed spirit will not then come in to rule the soul. {EW 112.1}

We have here a wonderful answer. It is found, once again, in the atonement of Jesus. As our mind dwells upon the great sacrifice that Jesus has made, what will happen to my self-will? As I dwell on these things “dear self, with its dignity, will be humbled, and its place will be occupied by a childlike simplicity which will bear reproof from others and will not be easily provoked.” What a wonderful answer. Here lies the answer to all my internal struggles. Yes, my animal nature, my fleshly nature, has been perverted. The character that has been developed is the one described in 2 Timothy 3:1-4 and in the statements we have read. As I realise, “Oh dear, I am not going to be saved while I hold tenaciously to my own character developments. If I do not dwell upon Jesus and let my hard head be totally softened and subdued that is going to keep me out;” I am going to become subdued and meek by beholding and meditating upon this self-sacrificing Jesus. That is how we can shake ourselves out of the prevailing dominance of this self-will atmosphere that is around us and in the very air we breathe.

To meet Jesus in peace our effort should be to meditate upon Him and remove ourselves from all that affects me in my relationship in the society in which I dwell. I must remove myself as did Enoch, so that I don’t associate with their spirit, which is the spirit of great peril to our salvation.

God’s people will separate themselves from the unrighteous practices of those around them and will seek for purity of thought and holy conformity to His will until His divine image will be reflected in them. Like Enoch, they will be fitting for translation to heaven. {SR 61.1}

Candidates for the heavenly society, just like Enoch.

While they endeavor to instruct and warn the world, they will not conform to the spirit and customs of unbelievers but will condemn them by their holy conversation and godly example. {Ibid.}

This is a very important understanding. Does it mean that we segregate ourselves from the people? No, we segregate ourselves from their practices. We will not do what they are doing, but we will reach out to them in love and endeavour to instruct them and warn the world. But we will not conform to the spirit and customs of unbelievers. We will condemn them; how? Not with loud words of condemnation, no, no; love is still to be practised. They will be condemned by our holy conversation and example.

Enoch’s translation to heaven just before the destruction of the world by a flood represents the translation of all the living righteous from the earth previous to its destruction by fire. The saints will be glorified in the presence of those who have hated them for their loyal obedience to God’s righteous commandments. {Ibid.}

The people that crucified Jesus did so because His righteous life condemned them. People become frantic when you practise what God wants you to practise. They will hammer you; they will give you a hard time, correct? And that is to be expected. When there arises within us anything that doesn’t like to be corrected, just like them, we recognise, Hello, that’s what they are having trouble with. But I shake myself from this because I will look upon Jesus, not at the wrongs around me, not at something that stirs me into greater activity of becoming a harsh judge over others, nothing like that. We will concentrate on Jesus and remove ourselves from the prevailing atmosphere of this self-willed generation.

We have seen from God’s word what it means to be self-willed and where it comes from. We can look back at our past experience and we can see all the things we have done wrong. But here is the wonderful comfort: If I can see myself in those descriptions of the self-willed spirit, then let us focus on Jesus and we will be humbled and self-will will melt away under the wonderful influence of the justification and sanctification of the righteousness of Jesus, who Himself went through the experiences that I am going through.

May God bless us to appreciate this and keep our eyes focused on Jesus, so that the self-willed nature that I naturally have will be humbled.

Amen.

Posted on May 7, 2016, in Divine Service Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Sent from my iPad

    N

  2. Dear pastor thief Peace unto you. Lam sincerely. Email you financial help to help me buy laptop computer and projector for medical out reach or. You can. Buy it for. Yourself and send. Whatever. You. Chose. 700us dollars. Can buy both. Thank you for consideration , Contact address elder Anthony Cedric Adjei p,o,boxkf 1220 ,koforidua er Ghana

    Thanks Anthony

    Sent from my iPad

    > >

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