06 The Silken Cords of Affections

By John Thiel, Godly Affections That Motivate Series, mp3

Scripture reading: John 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.

Jesus is a friend so special, so wonderful, that our affections are bound to Him. Our faint endeavour is nerved by this gleam of affection. He gave us not only life, but Himself. He offers us a deep relationship, an affectionate bond with Him. As we live in these days of earth’s history, our relationships are so bound up with the Lord in these last days, but there is a huge amount of defection around us – defection in terms of the infinite relationship with Jesus, where people have many other affectionate bindings. They are professed Christians, and yet they are not really, affectionately bound with the Lord in such a way that they would give up everything for Him. The description that is given us for these last days, in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, we are familiar as being the case in the world around us, but we often don’t apply this to those who are professed Christians. This is the peril of these last days:

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

What kind of peril is here suggested, especially in reference to our affections?

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

These are the perils of the last days – people having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. What is the power that causes us to be willing and obedient to all of God’s ways? It is when our hearts are so charmed and thrilled with the love of God manifested in the gospel of Jesus Christ, when our affections are so heavily in tune with God’s affections, that nothing is going to stop us from pursuing His will and way. But here are a people in these last days that cause a peril to us. They are parents, children; they are people who may have been members of the Adventist faith; they have a form of that, but deny the power thereof. Their affections are bound up in other directions as well. And here is the terrible thing that God’s people are called to do: From such turn away.

It is a very heart-wrenching thing to put into practice this call. They are people who have a profession, who have a form of godliness even. It’s not so hard to turn away from those who are devout enemies of God; but it is harder when it comes to those who are still giving some indication of godliness somewhere. But we know it is only a form, because when it comes to obeying, they don’t obey! They don’t obey because they are not affectionately and powerfully bound to God, and here it says, From such turn away. It is imperative and necessary in these times for us to understand our affections and how they are connected to the amazing love of God. What are we to do with our affections? Where must we engage them, and where not?

Affections Before the Fall

Let us look at Adam and Eve before they fell into sin. What was their affectionate engagement, and what happened after that?

Adam and Eve could trace the skill and glory of God in every spire of grass and in every shrub and flower. The natural loveliness which surrounded them, like a mirror reflected the wisdom, excellence, and love of their heavenly Father. And their songs of affection and praise rose sweetly and reverentially to heaven, harmonizing with the songs of the exalted angels, and with the happy birds who were caroling forth their music without a care. There was no disease, decay, nor death anywhere. Life, life was in everything the eye rested upon. The atmosphere was impregnated with life. {TMK 13.5}

Here were Adam and Eve, fresh from the hand of their Creator. Their affections were centred upon Him, they sang songs of affection and praise that rose sweetly and reverentially to heaven and harmonised with the affectionate songs of the angels. There are things that your affections are stirred by, and here you can see what it was before sin came in – God’s amazing love.

The holy pair looked upon nature as a picture of unsurpassed loveliness. The brown earth was clothed with a carpet of living green, diversified with an endless variety of self-propagating, self-perpetuating flowers. Shrubs, flowers, and trailing vines regaled the senses with their beauty and fragrance. The many varieties of lofty trees were laden with fruit of every kind and of delicious flavor. {TMK 13.4}

Adam and Eve could trace the skill and glory of God in everything that they were beholding. Their hearts were drawn out in affection to their God. This was the reality before they fell. But then something happened; we know the story well.

Losing Sight of the Supreme Object of Affection

While living in disobedience, man is the enemy of God, and cannot harmonize with those who keep the divine law, and make God the supreme object of affection. {RH, January 13, 1885 par. 5}

God was the supreme object of Adam and Eve’s affections. But sin came along and separated them from that. They could no longer harmonise with that supreme object of their affection. In fact, the affection of Adam went supremely for his wife, instead of for God. When sin arrives God is no longer the supreme object of our affections. So what does God do in restoring that supreme object of affection?

It is the glory of the gospel that it is founded upon the principle of restoring in the fallen race the divine image by a constant manifestation of benevolence. {AG 190.2}

It is our affections that restore the image of God in us. In the gospel are the principles of restoring the divine image; and what is it in the gospel that does that? A constant manifestation of benevolence. Jesus wanted the human beings to be affected by the glory of the benevolence of God.

John 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them;

This is benevolence. God has given Jesus Christ. “God so love the world the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” And what did the only begotten Son give to us? The glory which He had between the Father and himself.

John 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: … 26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare [it]: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

You can’t get away from the realisation that the benevolence of God has a charming and enthralling power upon us who have been sinning, have fallen away and have become enemies, and are running away from God, instead of running into His arms by affections. It is by this that God has done that there is a continual manifestation of benevolence. And it is this manifestation of benevolence that we must look at. God does not leave us to discover our own undone condition, only to then tell us, Now you get on with it. He knows our distractions; He knows the things that would cause our affections to be drawn away. So He keeps on pouring more and more benevolence upon us for us to behold this benevolent and loving God, so that our affections would be the power that will affect the restoration of the image of God in us.

Traps of Affections

Affections are very strong, and God knows it. It goes beyond the power of the intellect. Our feelings and affections are often more powerful than our intellect. Our intellect does not govern us as well as our affections do. Our affections have a stronger power over us than our intellect. You can see this in the world. Some of the most intellectual people can become the most belligerent and horrible people on earth. Satan knows all this, and it is his work to tear our affections away from God by using the God-given affections towards others around us as a tool to turn our affections from God. It is a very interesting thing.

Many are the ways by which Satan works through human influence to bind his captives. He secures multitudes to himself by attaching them by the silken cords of affection to those who are enemies of the cross of Christ. {GC 597.1}

As we saw in Paul’s words to Timothy, they have a profession of godliness, but deny its power, because sin has come in between; and they become the enemies of God. But they may be people with whom we are bound affectionately. How clear this is to us. Our unbelieving relatives are very bound to us by certain affectionate bonds. But they are not affectionately bound to the God who is to be the supreme object of our affections. So as we are bound to them by our affections but they are not bound affectionately to our God, there is this struggling of affections that Satan exercises, to try and bind us to him. How can he do this?

Whatever this attachment may be, parental, filial, conjugal, or social, the effect is the same; the opposers of truth exert their power to control the conscience, and the souls held under their sway have not sufficient courage or independence to obey their own convictions of duty. {GC 597.1}

Obeying your own convictions of duty – you see, if our hearts are bound to Jesus, we want to obey Him, we want to fulfill our duty toward Him. But then there are affections which make us duty-bound to our relatives. What are these affections? Parental and filial (which means family). How much in the world today are people’s minds scorched with the thought that “if you’re not loyal to your family, then you’ve got nothing.” And it is even taught in the churches. Family comes first, they say. Well, yes, above other people; but God comes first. So Satan works through the bindings of the silken cords of parental, filial and conjugal affections. The conjugal attachment is the deep intimacy that God had created for man and wife. And there is also the social attachment – but with all these “the effect is the same; the opposers of truth exert their power to control the conscience.”

How did this work when Satan managed to tempt Eve, before he managed to get Adam? He had gotten Eve to eat of the fruit, and she was now his agent. What happened then? We see here the bonding God had created between Adam and Eve. Adam was put to sleep.

Genesis 2:21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And Adam said, This [is] now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

God had created a bond of affection so intimate that Adam could say, She “is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” – affections bound by blood. Blood flows thicker than anything else when it comes to relationships. This is what God has done. He has installed into the human race affectionate bonds; and they are all connected with marriage – parental, filial, and conjugal. They were all there in that creation. And it is very, very thick. It holds together very strongly, affectionately speaking.

What happened when Eve, that part of the man which was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, was separated from the supreme object of her affections? The serpent was more subtle; he tempted Eve.

Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food, and that it [was] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make [one] wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

What was the phenomenon, according to Inspiration, that caused Adam to eat the fruit that Eve had eaten? This is important, because before Adam ate of it he was still affectionately bound to God; but he was also affectionately bound to his wife. And what was his peril by the fact that Satan had caught his wife out?

Without a fear she plucked and ate. And now, having herself transgressed, she became the agent of Satan in working the ruin of her husband. In a state of strange, unnatural excitement, with her hands filled with the forbidden fruit, she sought his presence, and related all that had occurred. {PP 55.3}

Here she was, this beautiful wife of Adam, coming to him with the fruit. What was Adam’s struggle?

An expression of sadness came over the face of Adam. He appeared astonished and alarmed. To the words of Eve he replied that this must be the foe against whom they had been warned; and by the divine sentence she must die. In answer she urged him to eat, repeating the words of the serpent, that they should not surely die. She reasoned that this must be true, for she felt no evidence of God’s displeasure, but on the contrary realised a delicious, exhilarating influence, thrilling every faculty with new life, such, she imagined, as inspired the heavenly messengers. {PP 56.1}

She had been deceived, and now she was using the powers of affection over him.

Adam understood that his companion had transgressed the command of God, disregarded the only prohibition laid upon them as a test of their fidelity and love. {PP 56.2}

It was a test of their affections. We who have been bound to God by the affections of His mercy and grace, are in peril in these last days because of the affectionate silken cords which tie us to those like Eve.

There was a terrible struggle in his mind. He mourned that he had permitted Eve to wander from his side. But now the deed was done; he must be separated from her whose society had been his joy. How could he have it thus? Adam had enjoyed the companionship of God and of holy angels. He had looked upon the glory of the Creator. He understood the high destiny opened to the human race should they remain faithful to God. Yet all these blessings were lost sight of in the fear of losing that one gift which in his eyes outvalued every other. {Ibid.}

Can you see what is going on inside? The affections are working. And there is a tug of war in Adam’s affections between God, the supreme object of his affections, and Eve.

Love, gratitude, loyalty to the Creator—all were overborne by love to Eve. She was a part of himself, and he could not endure the thought of separation. He did not realise that the same Infinite Power who had from the dust of the earth created him, a living, beautiful form, and had in love given him a companion, could supply her place. He resolved to share her fate; if she must die, he would die with her. After all, he reasoned, might not the words of the wise serpent be true? Eve was before him, as beautiful and apparently as innocent as before this act of disobedience. She expressed greater love for him than before. No sign of death appeared in her, and he decided to brave the consequences. He seized the fruit and quickly ate. {Ibid.}

This is so pregnant with the understanding of the way our affections to human beings can actually outweigh our affections to God. We live indeed in these perilous times, in which Satan is using these silken cords of affection to subtly break in between our affectionate submission to all that God expects of us.

What has God done in giving us His Son? All heaven was imperiled by Jesus coming to be among us. So we must understand very well these silken cords of affection, and learn how to save ourselves, and if possible our families. If Satan knows the power of the silken cords of affection to use to his ends, how about us during these perilous times? We are living in these perilous times in which we are to be released from this world, just like the Hebrews were in Egypt as slaves and were to be released from their slavery. We are also to be released from the captivity of Satan, but he is using these silken cords to prevent it.

The blood upon the lintel of the door symbolised the blood of Christ, who alone saved the first-born of the Hebrews from the curse. Any one of the children of the Hebrews who was found in an Egyptian habitation was destroyed. {6T 194.2}

This experience of the Israelites was written for the instruction of those who should live in the last days. Before the overflowing scourge shall come upon the dwellers of the earth, the Lord calls upon all who are Israelites indeed to prepare for that event. To parents He sends the warning cry: Gather your children into your own houses; gather them away from those who are disregarding the commandments of God, who are teaching and practicing evil. Get out of the large cities as fast as possible. Give your children the word of God as the foundation of all their education. The word of God comes to us at this time: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? {6T 195.1}

Here comes the call for us to separate, just like it came to the Hebrews in Egypt.

Gather your children into your own houses; gather them away from those who are disregarding the commandments of God, who are teaching and practicing evil. {Ibid.}

Does this not ring the bell, telling us clearly that we are living in perilous times? We are surrounded by a multitude of professed Christians who have a form of godliness but deny this power of affection. What are we called to do? From such turn away. Was this not what the Egyptians had to do? Is it not the same message that we are given today, Come out of her, My people? But Satan is making it difficult for us. How cruel is his activity – he uses God’s creation of affection and binds us to him by the silken cords of affection, in the same way he used Eve to bind Adam to him.

This is the material that we are to occupy our minds with to understand Satan’s power, and to understand God’s words. Because God has reached into our lives to draw our affections to Him. Now what was it that Adam expressed when Eve was created of his rib? What was the affectionate bond? “She is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh. So what has God done to actually help us to conquer the bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh if it is used of Satan?

Flesh of Our Flesh

Speaking of Jesus, the Scriptures tell us:

Ephesians 5:30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

This is what God has done. The bond that exists between us and those whom we are affectionately bound to is so strong that God said, I will bring Jesus into your life, and I will let you feel the affections that have to do with Him who is bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh. He did this to break the power of Satan.

Divine culture brings perfection. If in connection with God the work is carried forward, the human agent, through Christ, will day by day gain victory and honour in the battle. {7BC 926.5}

This is the battle. Remember, the gospel continually brings to us a manifestation of benevolence to recreate us.

Through the grace given he will overcome, and will be placed on vantage ground. {Ibid.}

What is the vantage ground?

In his relation to Christ he will be bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh, one with Christ in a peculiar relationship, because Christ took the humanity of man. {Ibid.}

This is the atonement again. How important is it that we get the atonement right, so that when we have to fight in the battle by affectionate power, we have a bond that is as strong, if not stronger, as the bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh in human binding.

Husband and wife, children, father and mother – this is all bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh – a very strong bond. But Jesus comes and says, If these people are going to be like Eve, if they are going to be an enemy to the cross, I have bound you close to Me in the atonement. That is the motivating force.

Christ took the humanity of man. He became subject to temptation, endangering as it were, His divine attributes. {Ibid.}

He became bone of our bone; He endangered His divine attributes. As you meditate on this, you ask yourself, What did He do for me? That is nowhere near what my blood relatives have done for me. Can they get into me?

Satan sought, by the constant and curious devices of his cunning, to make Christ yield to temptation. Man must pass over the ground over which Christ has passed. As Christ overcame every temptation which Satan brought against Him, so man is to overcome. And those who strive earnestly to overcome are brought into a oneness with Christ that the angels in heaven can never know. {Ibid.}

May the Holy Spirit apply these words to our hearts, so that we can have an affectionate bond to Someone, and have a relationship with Him, the Majesty of the universe, that even the angels do not know. And how did it happen? By Jesus becoming bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. So whatever Satan is doing to try and conquer us, we can see that Jesus went through that rigorous experience. It drew blood for His pores. As I meditate upon this my affections begin to be bound to Him over and above the affections of mere family. This is for us to really focus upon.

And those who loose flesh of their flesh and bone of their bone by faithfully obeying the beauty of Jesus have this beautiful intimacy. It is an intimacy that is beyond family. And this is where family takes second place to this kind of bonding. And if this heavenly bonding is made secondary to the bonding with the earthly family, we fall for Satan’s traps.

Heavenly Ties

What follows is the supreme bond that is to control when we are being affected by those silken cords of parental, filial, conjugal and social affections.

John 17:19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. 20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 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.

This is the affectionate bond. Jesus became bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, but He was bound in great love to the Father. And here He is praying for us to be joined in a binding power of affection that exists between Him and the Father, and which is then to exist between those who believe as did the disciples.

The most powerful feeling of unity that I know, is to be bound to those who have gone before us. I am very strongly bound to the early pioneers, because they went through an experience that you and I must go through; and we can unite with them. This is the unity – to be one as the Father and the Son are one.

John 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

This is the relationship we may have – an affectionate bond that is even closer than the one the angels have. The angels are not as close to the Godhead as Jesus is; and He became one with us so that we can be part of that.

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, … 24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am;

Can you see the strong affectionate bond He has with us? He wants us to be with Him,

John 17:24 …that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. 26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare [it]: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

This is the power. You see, the power of love is more powerful than even the intellect. This is a reality. Jesus has put something across our mind, our affections. If we look deeply enough at the benevolence that keeps on flowing, this will alter our whole being.

Christ has instructed us to call God our Father, to regard him as the fountain of affection, the source of the love that has been flowing from century to century through the channel of the human heart. All the pity, compassion, and love that have been manifested in the earth have had their source in God, and, compared to the love that dwells in his heart, are as a fountain to an ocean. His love is perpetually flowing forth to make the weak strong, and to give courage to the wavering. {RH January 19, 1911, par. 12}

The gospel provides a continuing flow of benevolence.

It is the glory of the gospel that it is founded upon the principle of restoring in the fallen race the divine image by a constant manifestation of benevolence. {AG 190.2}

What is this constant manifestation of benevolence? This flow of the love and benevolence which dwells in God’s own heart is perpetually flowing forth to make the weak strong, and to give courage to the wavering.

So if, like Adam, we waver between our affections to God and His people who are devoted entirely upon His business, and the people in the world around us, our own relatives who are bound by Satan, Satan will use these silken cords of affection to distract us and make us so occupied that when we want to do the things that God wants us to do, it makes it so hard. Examine it closely. This is the reality. It becomes a burden to do what God wants us to do while we are running after those affections; because the two just don’t harmonise.

In these last days Satan, now more intensely than ever, will cause those silken cords to be exercised, to cause our affections for God to snap. But let it rather be that we will permit the snapping of the silken cords that bind us to our earthly family, than of those that tie us to our Saviour. This is the mental exercise.

Satan has insinuated himself in the silken cords of affection that God had created for the delight of human relationships, and he has perverted them. So in the last days, families must understand their need of the counsel of God and exercise it against Satan. And where souls refuse, let the true believers choose Christ before their relatives.

Matthew 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes [shall be] they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Where are my affections? Are they with my earthly flesh and bone, or are they with the bone and the flesh of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and all connected with that? May God give us of His Holy Spirit to pour into our minds this benevolence that will govern all our responses.

Amen.

Posted on April 20, 2017, in Divine Service Sermons, Godly Affections That Motivate Series, Sermons by John Thiel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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