08 The Fashions of the World

By John Thiel, The Last Generation Challenge series, mp3

Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

To be a Christian, a true Christian, in this period of time is a challenge indeed. The challenge is that there needs to be a complete and absolute surrender to everything that God has said, whether we eat, or drink, or whatsoever do – things which are very much part of our sense of satisfaction, indulgence, and pleasure. When you eat, or when you drink, when you dress – these are all very, very personal and individual attachments. And when God reveals to us that certain things that we do are not part of His desire for us, we are challenged whether we will let them go. The challenge is met with the sense of His great love. If I love Him I will sacrifice everything for Him, as He has loved us so much, and sacrificed so much for us. So may God help us as we venture into this topic of separation from the world. We will enlarge what this means in reference to its customs, its practices, and its ways, so that we may stand to God’s glory in a world that glories in its practices.

Our message and practice emerges from the messages for this last period of earth’s history – the three angels’ messages. The everlasting gospel is preached in the first angel’s message, and the call of that first angel is there:

Revelation 14:7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

Then the second angel follows to identify Babylon that is fallen:

Revelation 14:8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. 

The whole world has been affected by Babylon.

Revelation 14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive [his] mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. 12 Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

A beautiful message for this time – a differentiation between what the world is doing under the beast and what the saints are doing – patiently keeping God’s commandments and the faith of Jesus. Then there is a wonderful announcement to the people in this generation and those who have died under this message:

Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed [are] the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

Their works – in this time of judgment they have put their works into harmony with God’s will, in a desire to be ready for His coming. That is why they are especially blessed, because they will be there alive. If they have died under the messages of the three angels, on the special resurrection they will rise to see Him coming – their works will follow them.

The other angel of Revelation 18 is also for us in this period of time, especially in its concluding work of the three angels, which is here summarised:

Revelation 18:1 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

These are the people of God who are proclaiming the message with the glory of this angel. The glory of the Lord will be seen upon them.

Revelation 18:2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. 3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. 4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

This is the subject of this hour: to come out. What does it mean to come out of Babylon, by which the whole world is being contaminated? We are not to be partakers of her sins, and then not to receive of her plagues. These are urgent callings for the people in the last generation.

Through the Dark Ages the earth helped the woman and swallowed up the attack of the dragon;

Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

This is also the experience of God’s people highlighted in the last generation – a remnant of the woman’s seed, a little remnant who keep God’s commandments, have the faith of Jesus and the testimony of Jesus, the Spirit of Prophecy. In general, the gospel of Jesus Christ delivered to the people ever since Jesus came to this earth, and rose again, and returned to heaven, is now being rejected. And because the world is now where it is, in its crucifixion of Christ, in the rejection of Christ in general, where only certain people have accepted this message, the message of 2 Corinthians 6 punctuates the message for us in these last days. It makes this call to come out of Babylon so affectionately connected:

2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you,

Here is the affection:

2 Corinthians 6:18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

There is something that God wants us to part of. He wants us to be part of His kin, his next of kin, as it were, His sons and daughters, like Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We can be sons and daughters of God, as Jesus was and is. To do that, we are called upon to come apart and separate from the world. “Come out from the world, come out from Babylon, be separate.” Jesus qualifies this call:

John 17:15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 

This qualifies for us precisely what is meant by, Come out from among them, touch not the unclean thing. Not that we are no longer to be intermingling with the people of the world – we are in the world – but that we would be kept from the evil of the world, just as Jesus was separate from the world, yet came to this world, mingled amongst the people, showed Himself kind and courteous, entered into their social activities, but not participating with them. Interesting. To be socially interconnected with the world, and yet not partaking of their social practices. That seems to be the difficulty for people to understand. So it is my purpose here to face the challenge of the wording, To be separate from the world. Not to be of the world, while we are still in it.

These lessons are for us. Those who claim to know the truth and understand the great work to be done for this time are to consecrate themselves to God, soul, body, and spirit. {FE 311.1}

It encompasses many things.

In heart, in dress, in language, in every respect they are to be separate from the fashions and practices of the world. They are to be a peculiar and holy people. It is not their dress that makes them peculiar, but because they are a peculiar and holy people, they cannot carry the marks of likeness to the world. {Ibid.

The marks – because what you dress like is a mark whether you are in any way still linked in the world. This takes us back to our previous meditation and the detail of dress. What we are looking at now is not just the dress of the world, but the customs – the fashions and practices. In heart, in dress, in language, in every respect we are to be separate.

Every iota of ability God has given us must be put to use in preparing the people after God’s fashion, after His spiritual mold, to stand in this great day of God’s preparation; and the serious question may be awakened in world-loving hearts, “What is eternity to us? How will my case stand in the investigative judgment? What will be my lot and place?” … The heart is divided, the carnal mind craves conformity, {FE 311.2}

What craves conformity? The fleshly part of us craves conformity

…similarity to the world in so many ways that the mark of distinction from the world is scarcely distinguishable. Money, God’s money, is expended in order to make an appearance after the world’s customs; the religious experience is contaminated with worldliness, and the evidence of discipleship — Christ’s likeness in self-denial and cross-bearing — is not discernible by the world or by the universe of heaven. {Ibid.}

There is a battle between the Spirit and the flesh; and the flesh is an element within us that hates to be different. You know the term peer pressure. The peer pressure is upon the people, and under the pressure they crumble to keep up with their peers; and God’s people have a challenge to not permit peer pressure to have its bearing upon them when the word of God plainly states to them what is His mold and His desire for them. And because these people are the remnant of the woman’s seed, they find themselves in the minority, so extreme minority that they are under temptation to think, “Maybe we are just being a little bit over the top in being separated from all these little details of their practice. Let’s just not be too different.” That’s the mentality that we pick up on the world around us and the churches.

What is meant with fashions, customs, ways of the world, in detail of application?

Fashions

What is encompassed in such a world as fashions?

Thus has been developed the pride of heart indulged by a people that profess to have come out from the world and to be separate. Inspiration declares that the friendship of the world is enmity with God; yet His professed people have expended their God-given time and means upon the altar of fashion. {4T 638.1} 

Our people have been steadily retrograding in the work of reform. Wisdom and judgment have seemed paralyzed. Selfishness and love of display have been corrupting the heart and deteriorating the character. {4T 638.2}

We are studying into character building, and Satan is at work to deteriorate this character building.

There is a growing disposition to sacrifice health and the favor of God upon the altar of ever-changing, never-satisfying fashion. {Ibid.}

Ever-changing, never satisfying fashion – another word for fashion is, fashionable. You like to be fashionable, don’t you? We like to be fashionable; we like to feel that we are not standing out as drab in comparison to what the world is doing. That deals with the way we wear our hair, what we do with the fine details of our features. The world is plucking their eyebrows; the world is shaving their legs, etc, etc. All these different things going on in the ways of the world, the fashionable activity that they do, we feel, Oh, that makes sense. I’ll never forget the reasoning that comes across from the world and that is picked up by even reformers today. They do certain things for tidiness’ sake, for health’s sake. When I was talking to one worker about women shaving their legs, he said, “Well, that’s quite in order, that’s being clean and trim.” Is that right? Where does that come from? Where do these plucking of eyebrows come from? Why do people always follow the things that people do? It comes from pride of heart, indulged by a people that profess to have come out from the world. They indulge. And this kind of practice, the fashions, change – people do this and that, according to what they see in the changing fashion. You see it even in the technology of today – ever-changing fashion of technology. We’ve got to keep up with all the technology. That’s part of fashion. Instead of being contented with what we have, we’ve got to keep up with all the new developments – fashion. Whether in clothing, whether in practices of any kind, we have to keep up with fashion. This is what is meant when it says, Upon the altar of ever-changing, never-satisfying fashion. We are always dissatisfied. We get bored so quickly. What is boredom? Always doing the same. I don’t like it, it’s too hard. I want change. We’ve been brought up that way as children. Parents with their children, what are they doing all the time? The child gets bored with something, so they give him something else, and they give him something else; and they buy this toy, and that toy; and the children grow up with that, and the toys of adulthood are still governing the practice – the customs and fashions of the world – and they have to keep up. And God’s money, the money that is to be used for the wellbeing of God’s people, is being used for that. Satan is at work to bind us together with the world. Never get bored, brethren and sisters, with sameness!

When it comes to fashions there are certain things that we do which are God’s will – whether we dress, what we do, or whatever it is – and fashion sometimes comes across our path; and all because we are told not to follow fashion, we sometimes think, Well, if fashion does what I’m doing, then I better change, so I’ll be different. But that’s not true.

“Christians should not take pains to make themselves a gazing-stock by dressing differently from the world. {1T 458.4}

You leave that statement on its own and you think, Hmm…

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. {Ibid.}

Can you see a challenge? We have a moral courage to exercise. There is a challenge on this subject.

If the world introduce a modest, convenient, and healthful mode of dress, which is in accordance with the Bible, it will not change our relation to God or to the world to adopt such a style of dress. Christians should follow Christ and make their dress conform to God’s word. They should shun extremes. They should humbly pursue a straightforward course, irrespective of applause or of censure, and should cling to the right because of its own merits. {Ibid.}

You can see that if statements from Sr. White are taken out of their correct setting, people can say, “See? Sr. White says we should not make pains to make ourselves a gazing stock by dressing differently from the world.” So they look at that statement without seeing what she is actually meaning. She is simply saying, under inspiration, that we must follow the convictions of duty according to God’s direction, and if that makes us stand out different to the world, then we will continue to follow God’s way; because changing fashion swings this way and that. There was once a time when men wore very baggy pants, and that was accepted, it was fashion. Of course, for God’s people, to wear baggy pants for men is absolutely correct, not to be tight fitting. But then, when the baggy pants went out of fashion and they wore real tight, slim, kind of revealing trousers, to walk around with baggy pants made you look odd. That’s the kind of thing that Satan works at. So you begin to alter your practices, even though God says your clothing is to be the enshrouding of your body; we follow the fashion. But this is the counsel – not to follow the fashion, the ever-changing fashions of the world.

Customs

The customs of the world is a term that applies to many different subjects, such as the adornment of the body, the way that hair is worn, the wedding-ring and ornamentation of jewellery, the holidays and picnics, such as Sunday, Christmas, Easter, pagan festivals, and the sports that are associated with all that. Let us go into some of these details, as they were enunciated under the Spirit of Prophecy, the testimony of Jesus. This is a customary behaviour surrounding us in this generation, and ever since my generation has come in, that is exactly what has transpired:

Isaiah 3:16 Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing [as] they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:

The daughters of Zion, the women, are haughty. Is that a custom today? What has women’s liberation done? It has actually put a woman, in the custom of today’s society, as a ruling force. Haughty. Then she uses her physical make-up, according to this – stretched forth necks, wanton eyes, mincing as they go, with their tinkling, high-heel shoes. You know, when a man is confronted by a woman like this, and she is haughty on top of it, it’s a bewildering experience for a man. And with her haughtiness connected with all that, men are today being ruled by women. This is a very interesting reality today.

Isaiah 3:18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of [their] tinkling ornaments [about their feet], and [their] cauls, and [their] round tires like the moon, 19 The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, 20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, 21 The rings, and nose jewels,

The nose jewels – don’t you see plenty of them nowadays?

Isaiah 3:22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins,

Crisping pins? When they crisp their hair and make curls in their hair

Isaiah 3:23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the veils. 24 And it shall come to pass, [that] instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; [and] burning instead of beauty. 

That scripture is for you to identify what we are surrounded with today, the haughtiness of the female in society and its customs.

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. Our dress is to be inexpensive–not with “gold, or pearls, or costly array.” Verse 9. {MH 287.1-2}

Money is a trust from God. It is not ours to expend for the gratification of pride or ambition. In the hands of God’s children it is food for the hungry, and clothing for the naked. {MH 287.3} 

In the professed Christian world enough is expended for jewels and needlessly expensive dress to feed all the hungry and to clothe the naked. Fashion and display absorb the means that might comfort the poor and the suffering. They rob the world of the gospel of the Saviour’s love. Missions languish. {MH 287.4}

Because money is spent on all this lavish activity of the customs that are customary for the rich, while those that are poorer have their customs as well; and everyone is spending money over things that are customary and not necessary.

But 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. {MH 288.1}

We are here looking at the customs in regard to the adornment that we see as customary today, and the money being spent in customary practices. The well-set hair – the money that is spent by many women in reference to their hair, and in making the hair such an important issue in their lives, is shocking today, especially when the custom has come in where women start cutting their hair into shapes. We see something very powerful on this subject in the Bible:

1 Corinthians 11:4 Every man praying or prophesying, having [his] head covered, dishonoureth his head. 5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with [her] head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

So now we have people who read this, and the women then go to church and start wearing head-covering that is adorning. I still remember when we first came from Germany to Australia – in Germany they didn’t wear the hats in church, whereas here they did – and the women would be sitting in front of you with these fantastically adorned hats, and they would be rather big too, so you would have to look past them to be able to see the preacher sitting up the front; because they read here that the woman’s head should be covered.

1 Corinthians 11:13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? 14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? 15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for [her] hair is given her for a covering.

The margin reads: “Her hair is given her for a veil.” Women’s hair are to be simply done, not tizzied up and well set, but a covering, a veil. They are not to be cut short, but to be as a long veil. This is the understanding when you read the Bible and differentiate the customs of the world from the customs of God’s people.

Among the other customs is the jewellery, and one aspect of jewellery is that, if you get married, you should wear a ring. Now if you examine where the wedding ring came from, it didn’t come from God’s people; it came from pagans. A pagan king wanted to demonstrate his attachment to his wife and his love to her, and he introduced a ring. He said, This is my love to you, it never stops, it goes round and round; and he gave her a ring. This is one of the historic arising of the wedding ring. It didn’t come from God. That is why the Spirit of Prophecy identifies for us in these last days the idolatry of wedding rings.

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. … 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; {TM 180.2}

And even in countries where it is imperative, when you read that, she doesn’t say, Well, then you wear it. She says, We won’t condemn you if you wear it. There was also an occasion when in Australia it was quite imperative. Sr. White was attending a wedding, and the wedding incorporated the ring, so she said, In Australia, this is imperative. At that time it was. But over the years it hasn’t become imperative. We are living today in a time when the customs of the world we do not participate in. In fact, with reference to the custom of wearing the wedding ring, we are told that not a penny should be spent on it.

The apostle has given most explicit directions on this point: “I will therefore . . . that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” Here 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 630.1}

That is a custom, and the Spirit of Prophecy tell us that is a custom we are to come out from.

The Festivities of the World

Then we touched on the festivities of the world – the holidays, picnics, Christmas, Easter, pagan festivals. Notice what the angel of Revelation 18 identified in reference to the merchants of the world making themselves wealthy:

Revelation 18:3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

Here you have just such a thing – the delicacies of the papal, babylonish influence have made merchants rich. What is that? Christmas, Easter, and all those kinds of festivities in the name of Christianity. You can probably think of others. That is identified as a custom of the world.

Never can the proper education be given to the youth in this country, or any other country, unless they are separated a wide distance from the cities. The customs and practices in the cities unfit the minds of the youth for the entrance of truth. {FE 312.1}

What a statement – The customs and practices in the cities unfit the minds of the youth for the entrance of truth.

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. If people conscientiously attend to their lawful business upon the holidays, they are regarded as mean-spirited and unpatriotic. The Lord cannot be served in this way. Those who multiply the days for pleasure and amusement are really giving patronage to liquor-sellers, and are taking from the poor the very means that should purchase food and clothing for their children, {Ibid.}

These holidays, with all their train of evil, result in twentyfold more misery than good. {FE 312.2}

Isn’t it interesting? Holidays can end up in misery, and this is why there are so many deaths on the road, because they are making all these holiday trips, and as a result there is carnage, and all the other consequences of that.

In a large degree the observance of these days is really compulsory. Even persons who have been truly converted find it difficult to break away from these customs and practices. {Ibid.}

To break away from these customs and practices, that is what God is calling us to do.

The freedom of individual action is not respected; a man’s time is not regarded as really his own; he is expected to do as others do. {Ibid.}

That is the peer pressure which is finally turned upon God’s people even in regards to Sunday-keeping.

The devotion to amusements and the observance of so many holidays, give a large business to the courts, to officers and judges, and increase the poverty and squalor that need no increasing. {Ibid.}

This is the detail under the Spirit of Prophecy that tells us that this is not for God’s people.

All true followers of Jesus will have sacrifices to make. God will prove them and test the genuineness of their faith. I have been shown that the true followers of Jesus will discard picnics, donations, shows, and other gatherings for pleasure. They can find no Jesus there, and no influence which will make them heavenly minded and increase their growth in grace. The word of God obeyed leads us to come out from all these things and be separate. The things of the world are sought for, and considered worthy to be admired and enjoyed, by all those who are not devoted lovers of the cross and spiritual worshipers of a crucified Jesus. {1T 288.1}

The followers of Jesus will make sacrifice, they will discard picnics, donations, shows, and other gatherings for pleasure. So we might now say, Is it wrong to have picnics then? God always imparts to us a balancing understanding, and we need to read everything that is given in regards to these things. We are to come out from picnics which are associated with the love of pleasure, and donations, and shows, and such like. You know how people have shows to display their products, or they have donation shows, where instead of giving the money without anything in return, they sell their products to raise funds for their churches and so on. This is all spoken against in the Spirit of Prophecy. However, there is something interesting, a balancing statement in reference to this:

I saw that our holidays should not be spent in patterning after the world, yet they should not be passed by unnoticed, for this will bring dissatisfaction to our children. On these days when there is danger that our children will be exposed to evil influences, and become corrupted by the pleasures and excitement of the world, let the parents study to get up something to take the place of more dangerous amusements. Give your children to understand that you have their good and happiness in view. {1T 514.2} 

Let several families living in a city or village unite and leave the occupations which have taxed them physically and mentally, and make an excursion into the country to the side of a fine lake or to a nice grove where the scenery of nature is beautiful. They should provide themselves with plain, hygienic food, the very best fruits and grains, and spread their table under the shade of some tree or under the canopy of heaven. The ride, the exercise, and the scenery will quicken the appetite, and they can enjoy a repast which kings might envy. {1T 514.3}

On such occasions parents and children should feel free from care, labor, and perplexity. Parents should become children with their children, making everything as pleasant for them as possible. {1T 515.1}

You know what it’s like, if you get these very strict Christians with their families, they say, No, we don’t do this; no, we don’t do that; no, we don’t do the other thing; and the children grow up thinking, Well, what can we do? And then, as they grow up with that, they look across the fence and say, Oh, this is a drab, unpleasant religion. I want to be able to enjoy. So Christianity is to provide enjoyment for children and also for ourselves. We are not to discard everything so much that we become austere. But we are to develop our own joy and pleasure. To have a picnic of this nature is simply to sit under some trees and have a meal, and then enjoy being children with the children. This is how the holidays of the world around us are to be replaced by God’s people.

When it comes to such things as parties for birthdays, etc, the custom of the world is to make such fuss of the children with their birthdays, and do all these picnics of racing and all these different games. These are the customs of the world, and God’s people are to do something simple and Christlike.

Sports and Competition

I like playing ball with children and youth, but not in a competitive manner; because competition is another word for emulation – one of the fruits of the flesh (Gal. 5:20). We are to withdraw from such fleshly ways. We now come to a summary of everything we have been reading.

Today, Satan has great power in the world. He has been permitted to have proprietorship of this earth for an appointed time. During this period, when iniquity prevails, men and women are given a chance to take sides. {UL 39.4}

Whose side are we on?

In every possible way, Satan tries to make the broad road attractive and the narrow road grievous, humiliating, and objectionable. {UL 39.4}

This extremism is imposed upon us by Satan to make it look austere, grievous, humiliating, objectionable.

He lays ingenious plans to allure men and women to indulge appetite. Cheap, unsatisfying pleasures are made all and in all in this degenerate age. {Ibid.}

You have something which in itself isn’t really attractive, but it’s made such a big thing out of. That is what sports do. It’s competition and it’s made so important. And today, for the children to go to school, it is part of their education to develop their skills in sports, so that as they grow older they can do things in sport for their country. It is surrounding us in heavy satanic influence.

Satan throws his glamour about these amusements, which eclipse eternal things. Many will sell their birthright, as did Esau, for trifling consideration by the indulgence of appetite. Worldly pleasure will appear more desirable to them than the heavenly birthright. {Ibid.}

What was Esau’s pleasure? He loved the rugged life of camping out there and hunting. That’s what he loved, that’s what he wanted; and he sold his birthright for it.

As we come to the conclusion of our meditation, we now go to the experience of the Israelites, as they were coming close to the Promised Land, like we are coming close to our Promised Land. As they were on the borders, waiting for the Lord and Moses to work things out to prepare their entrance into the Promised Land, you know the story of Balaam. The king Balaak was worried because they had heard that wherever Israel went, they conquered. He was afraid, and he said, We’ve got to do something to stop them here; and he went to Balaam to ask him to curse Israel. Of course, Balaam failed, instead he blessed them. Then, because he wanted the reward of the king, he thought, Seeing I can’t curse them, what do I do? And he got a bright idea. He told the king, Well, if you want them to be conquered, make a festival not far from them, and attract them to the festival. So what happened is that the Midianitish women started coming into the camp, they started to display their customs to the Israelites, and they started making friends with them. And very slowly and surely, when the festival came on, the Israelites decided to go into the festival. This is the lessons we are to draw from this, for us in these last days:

At first there was little intercourse between the Israelites and their heathen neighbors, but after a time Midianitish women began to steal into the camp. Their appearance excited no alarm, and so quietly were their plans conducted that the attention of Moses was not called to the matter. It was the object of these women, in their association with the Hebrews, to seduce them into transgression of the law of God, to draw their attention to heathen rites and customs, and lead them into idolatry. These motives were studiously concealed under the garb of friendship, so that they were not suspected, even by the guardians of the people. {PP 454.2}

O what a thought pattern is here developed before us. Satan works so insidiously. “It’s good to have social fellowship with the world. You can win them, you know.” So they have tea houses, tea parties, coffee shops, and those kinds of things that the world does. And it goes on from there in such a way that even the guardians feel they’re heels if they’re going to stop this, because it looks so good. But what’s happening? I watched it; I saw it happening in front of my eyes as a youth in the Seventh-day Adventist church. Those very things were beginning to eat away at the faithfulness and the strictness that I first met the Seventh-day Adventist church in Australia with.

At Balaam’s suggestion, a grand festival in honor of their gods was appointed by the king of Moab, and it was secretly arranged that Balaam should induce the Israelites to attend. He was regarded by them as a prophet of God, and hence had little difficulty in accomplishing his purpose. {PP 454.3}

Isn’t it interesting? Even those who are regarded as men of God, begin to be used of Satan like that. The terrible conclusion of this is recorded here:

It was by associating with idolaters and joining in their festivities that the Hebrews were led to transgress God’s law and bring His judgments upon the nation. So now 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. “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean.” 2 Corinthians 6:17. God requires of His people now as great a distinction from the world, in customs, habits, and principles, as He required of Israel anciently. … Christ speaks to us, “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.” 1 John 2:15. “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. {PP 458.2}

It was when the Israelites were in a condition of outward ease and security that they were led into sin. They failed to keep God ever before them, they neglected prayer and cherished a spirit of self-confidence. Ease and self-indulgence left the citadel of the soul unguarded, and debasing thoughts found entrance. It was the traitors within the walls that overthrew the strongholds of principle and betrayed Israel into the power of Satan. … A long preparatory process, unknown to the world, goes on in the heart before the Christian commits open sin. The mind does not come down at once from purity and holiness to depravity, corruption, and crime. It takes time to degrade those formed in the image of God to the brutal or the satanic. By beholding we become changed. {PP 459.1}

So it is Satan’s knowledge; and we are called upon here, in these messages that challenge us in the last generation, to pay heed to the counsels of God given to us in the Spirit of Prophecy. As I said, we want to read the Spirit of Prophecy to get the information abundantly clear, so that the protection of our spirituality will be secure.

Today Satan has the majority already on his side; the warnings were given way back to our great great grandparents, and we are today in a demoralised state of both the world and the church.

It is a solemn and terrible truth that many who have been zealous in proclaiming the third angel’s message are now becoming listless and indifferent! The line of demarcation between worldlings and many professed Christians is almost indistinguishable. Many who once were earnest Adventists are conforming to the world–to its practices, its customs, its selfishness. Instead of leading the world to render obedience to God’s law, the church is uniting more and more closely with the world in transgression. Daily the church is becoming converted to the world. How many professing Christians are slaves of mammon! Their indulgence of appetite, their extravagant expenditure of money for selfish gratification, greatly dishonors God. {8T 118.4}

And through lack of zeal for the promulgation of the third angel’s message, many others, while not apparently living in transgression, are nevertheless as verily lending their influence on the side of Satan as are those who openly sin against God. Multitudes are perishing; but how few are burdened for these souls! There is a stupor, a paralysis, upon many of the people of God, which prevents them from understanding the duty of the hour. {8T 119.1}

This is a summary of what has happened. It has happened in Sr. White’s time down through the generations to our generation; and where do we stand now? Brethren and sisters, it’s a horrible experience for me to go today and study with people who have been so captivated over the years that when I come to them with the old fashioned callings of God, they say, It’s been such a good time studying with you, but now I can’t anymore. Because it comes to a point where the conditioning that Satan has developed in the lives of people, has brought them to the situation that they cannot change. They are captivated internally with all the things of the ways of the world, and then when it is identified to them, Oh oh, this is too hard. The love for Jesus has become so eclipsed by the love for worldly things that they can’t even see the difference anymore. And my heart aches, because what Adventists used to get excited about, they don’t get excited about anymore. What I get excited about because I love these things that God is saying, I find few people excited with. “It’s boring, you’re an old-fashioned bore.” That’s the mentality that comes across to me.

Our call for this generation, our challenge, is concluded in Joel:

Joel 2:1 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for [it is] nigh at hand; … 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: 16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. 17 Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where [is] their God?

This is the call, and very few people respond to that. Will we? Will we follow the beautiful counsels, as given in the Spirit of Prophecy, for the last days? May God help us.

Amen.

Posted on January 12, 2017, in Divine Service Sermons, The Last Generation Challenge Series and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hi Brother
    I praise God for your work
    Unfortunately we don’t get a lot of these sermons today
    Are you from Australia? Would like to have you giving a sermon in our church in Pakenham in Victoria one day if possible
    God bless you and continue to give the trumpet a certain sound
    In Christ
    Nadine

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