Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

September 14, 1897

The Great Controversy

By Mrs. E. G. White

Through dissension and alienation, Satan reaps his harvest of souls. He leads those who are ambitious for money, ambitious to be first, too proud to be anything but the highest, to murmur and complain. These poor souls have not overcome their natural and cultivated tendencies, and they are deceived by Satan, and led into sin. Satan must deceive in order to lead away. “In vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.” Underhand work must be done; a deceptive influence must be exerted; pretenses must be set forth as truth; suspicion must be lulled to sleep. Satan clothes temptation and sin with the garments of righteousness, and by this deception he wins many to his side. Christ pronounced him a liar and a murderer. O that unwary souls would learn wisdom from Christ!

As the end draws near, Satan will stir up minds, in proportion to their capabilities and knowledge, to sow seeds which will produce a harvest that they will not care to garner. He works in so deceiving a way that he himself is not detected, and then he reaps the benefit of the disaffection shown by those whom he has tempted. He is all prepared to hurl charges through them against those whom God would have stand stiffly for the truth.

Through apostasy, fallen men and fallen angels are in the same confederacy, leagued to work against good. They are united in a desperate companionship. Through his evil angels, Satan contrives to form an alliance with professedly pious men, and thus he leavens the church of God. He knows that if he can induce men, as he induced the angels, to join in rebellion, under the guise of servants of God, he will have in them his most successful allies in his enterprise against heaven. Under the name of godliness, he can inspire them with his own accusing spirit, and lead them to charge God's servants with evil and guile. They are his trained detectives; their work is to create feuds, to make charges which create discord and bitterness among brethren, to set tongues in active service for Satan, to sow seeds of dissension by watching for evil, and by speaking of that which will create discord.

I beseech all who engage in the work of murmuring and complaining because something has been said or done that does not suit them, and that does not, as they think, give them due consideration, to remember that they are carrying on the very work begun in heaven by Satan. They are following in his track, sowing unbelief, discord, and disloyalty; for no one can entertain feelings of disaffection, and keep them to himself. He must tell others that he is not treated as he should be. Thus they are led to murmur and complain. This is the root of bitterness springing up, whereby many are defiled.

Thus Satan works today through his evil angels. He confederates with men who claim to be in the faith; and those who are trying to carry forward the work of God with fidelity, having no man's person in admiration, working without hypocrisy and partiality, will have just as severe trials brought against them as Satan can bring through those who claim to love God. Proportionate to the light and knowledge these opposers have is Satan's success. The root of bitterness strikes deep, and is communicated to others. Thus many are defiled. Their statements are confused and untruthful, their principles are unscrupulous, and Satan finds in them the very helpers he needs.

The only remedy for our churches, for our families, and for individuals, is entire conformity to the will and character of God. Unless God shall work through the two olive-trees, his witnesses, causing them to empty from themselves the golden oil through the golden tubes into the golden bowl, and hence to the burning lamps, representing the church, no one will be safe for a moment from the machinations of Satan. He will, if possible, deprave human nature, and assimilate it to his own corrupt principles. But this golden oil will revive the Spirit of God in the heart of man. A Christlike principle will be introduced which will be like leaven. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, satanic agencies will be overcome.

Envy and jealousy are diseases which disorder all the faculties of the being. They originated with Satan in paradise. He started on the track of apostasy, and his jealous spirit caused him to see many things that were objectionable, even in heaven. After he fell, he envied Adam and Eve their innocence. He tempted them to sin, and they yielded, and became like himself, disloyal to God. But they repented of their sin, received Christ, and returned to their loyalty. So the enemy tempts men and women today. Those who listen to his voice will demerit others, and will misrepresent and falsify in order to build up themselves. But nothing that defiles can enter heaven, and unless those who cherish this spirit are changed, they can never enter there for they would criticize the angels. They would envy another's crown. They would not know what to talk of unless they could bring up the imperfections and errors of others. O that such would become changed by beholding Christ! O that they would become meek and lowly by learning of him! Then they would go forth, not as missionaries for Satan, to cause disunion and alienation, to bruise and mangle character, but as missionaries for Christ, to be peacemakers and to restore. Let the Holy Spirit come in and expel this unholy passion, which cannot survive in heaven. Let it die; let it be crucified. Open the heart to the attributes of Christ, who was holy, harmless, undefiled.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” His voice comes sounding down the line to our time, “Beware of that misrepresenting tongue, which is not content unless leagued with the disaffected, those who are tempted to think they have been misused.” Self, self, self, is the theme of all such. They become envious and jealous, and Satan helps them, putting his magnifying-glass before their eyes until a mote looks to them like a mountain. With a beam in their own eye, they are very anxious to pull the mote out of their brother's eye. But the word of God exhorts, “Love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.” True moral worth does not seek to make a place for itself by thinking and speaking evil, by depreciating others. All envy, all jealousy, all evil-speaking, with all unbelief, must be put away from God's children.

Genuine conversion is needed, not once in years, but daily. This conversion brings man into a new relation with God. Old things, his natural passions and hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong, pass away, and he is renewed and sanctified. But this work must be continual; for as long as Satan exists, he will make an effort to carry on his work. He who strives to serve God will encounter a strong undercurrent of wrong. His heart needs to be barricaded by constant watchfulness and prayer, or else the embankment will give way; and like a mill-stream, the undercurrent of wrong will sweep away the safeguard. No renewed heart can be kept in a condition of sweetness without the daily application of the salt of the word. Divine grace must be received daily, or no man will stay converted.

The sufferings of the Redeemer, in his life and in his death, make it possible for man to return to his loyalty, and become refined and elevated. As his substitute and surety, Christ elevates man, and brings his mind into sympathy with the divine mind. Through faith, that faith that works by love and purifies the soul from all moral defilement, we may overcome every evil trait of character. By accepting the provision made for us, we may represent the character of Christ. Thus we are identified with the Son of God, being one with him as he is one with his Father. So we may overcome the enemy who would lead us away from our loyalty. We may become more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Cain and Abel are given us in Bible history to represent the two orders in humanity. Abel was faithful and loyal to God, and he was preferred by the Lord. Cain was disloyal; he wished his own ideas to prevail. Abel protested against these principles as disloyal. But as the eldest, Cain thought that his methods and plans should have the supremacy. It made him very angry that Abel would not concede to his views, and his anger burned so hotly that he killed his brother. Here the two principles of right and wrong are developed.

The firmness manifested by Daniel must be shown by all God's children. All temptations to depart from pure and holy principles must be unhesitatingly rejected. There must be a firm adherence to right principles. As a people we are to stand unmoved by all Satan's delusions, even though he come as an angel of light. Thus we may constantly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.

Test and trial will come to every soul that loves God. The Lord does not work a miracle to prevent this ordeal of trial, to shield his people from the temptations of the enemy. If they are tempted severely, it is because circumstances have been so shaped by the apostasy of Satan that temptations are permitted. Characters are to be developed that will decide the fitness of the human family for the heavenly home,—characters that will stand through the pressure of unfavorable circumstances in private and public life, and that will, under the severest temptations, through the grace of God grow brave and true, be firm as a rock to principle, and come forth from the fiery ordeal, of more value than the golden wedge of Ophir. God will endorse, with his own superscription, as his elect, those who possess such characters.

All who love God and are loyal to his government, will be tempted to change leaders. But God has said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” The Lord accepts no half-hearted service. He demands the whole man. Religion is to be brought into every phase of life, carried into labor of every kind. The whole being is to be under God's control. We must not think that we can take supervision of our own thoughts. They must be brought into captivity to Christ. Self cannot manage self; it is not sufficient for the work. Whoever tries to do this will be worsted. God alone can make and keep us loyal.

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