Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

August 13, 1894

A Solemn Lesson

By Mrs. E. G. White ST August 13, 1894

The solemn fate of the five foolish virgins, presented in the parable of the ten virgins, is recorded to warn those who, while professing the faith of Christ, have become cold and backslidden. ST August 13, 1894, par. 1

The five foolish virgins represent the careless, indolent, self-satisfied professor of religion. They have a calm expectation of entering heaven sometime, yet they have not purified their souls by obeying the truth. They understand the theory of truth, but have no vital connection with God. They trust to feeling, and neglect to search the Scriptures. They are satisfied to walk in the sparks of their own kindling. We are all exhorted to be diligent, that we may make our calling and election sure. But I am greatly troubled, fearing, yes, knowing, that there are many who profess the truth who are not testing their lives and characters by God's great moral standard of righteousness. They are careless; they have not the oil of grace in their vessels with their lamps. They are cherishing hidden sins, which no human eye can see. They know that they are not pure, and without spot, and should diligently seek God, that they may cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the sight of God. ST August 13, 1894, par. 2

There are many ideas in the world as to what is sin. The deist says that sin is dishonesty, a lack of patriotism, honor, and manliness. Those who have little idea as to what constitutes religion will tell you that sin is murder, adultery, robbery, and crime. But what does the word of God define it to be? John writes, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law.” Without the law we have no knowledge of what sin is. Those who have no respect for the law will be deceived by entertaining hopes of entering heaven. ST August 13, 1894, par. 3

But a knowledge of the law is not enough. He who accepts the law, who acknowledges the claims of the law, who yet feels satisfied with himself, and has no experience in being born again, will fail of keeping the law, and will come under its condemnation. God's law not only covers every deed of outward life, but also penetrates to the intents and purposes of the heart. The man who will meet Christ in peace will be the man who follows in his footsteps, who takes him for his example and righteousness. Jesus said, “I have kept my Father's commandments.” He was perfect, pure, spotless. His life was the embodiment of all that was noble and holy, and whoever obeys Christ, fulfills the law of God, meets every claim upon him, treats every being as the purchase of the blood of Christ. ST August 13, 1894, par. 4

He who does not yield to the claims of the law of God, sets himself above God, breaks away from God's rule of right, and becomes disloyal, as did the great deceiver in the beginning. Would that some who claim to be commandment keepers could see how their cases stand in the register above. Oh, that all who are falling short of the principles of righteousness might realize that they do not meet the broad, far-reaching claims of the law of God upon them! Repentance for sin is the first step in conversion. Repentance is an intense hatred of sin in all its forms. Phariseeism permits of self-complacency, and those who are self-righteous, appear to have a form of piety, but at heart they are corrupt. They may talk of their hope of heaven, when, in fact, they have not taken the first step toward heaven. ST August 13, 1894, par. 5

We are not under a system of mere requirements, mere justice, and unsympathizing rigor. The penalty of transgressing the law has fallen upon our Substitute and Surety, and for a time has been suspended, so that the guilty do not feel its weight; but the object of this suspension is not to teach us that its claims are over, its exactions set aside, but to attract us to holiness, to obedience. Nothing is changed except the manner of bringing men to obey the law. Obey its claims we must. The first step toward obedience is repentance. We are to see the excellence of its requirements by beholding the wrong of disobedience. ST August 13, 1894, par. 6

He who is truly repentant, he who is regenerated, hates sin. All manner of selfishness is distressing to him. Indifference to God on the part of those around him grieves him. He is not led to exalt self in the performance of his duty, but abhors self. “I abhor myself” is the language of the godly of all ages, who have had a clear view of the purity and holiness of Christ. But those who are but superficial Christians seek to exalt self by depreciating others. The clearer the views of the character of Christ the more humble will be our views of self. Like Job, Isaiah, Daniel, David, and Paul, we shall feel that our comeliness is turned in us into corruption. ST August 13, 1894, par. 7

Those who are represented by the foolish virgins have not this sense of their own unworthiness. They have no oil in their vessels with their lamps. The same principles of truth are presented in the parable of the two builders,—one built upon the rock, and the other upon the sand. Jesus says: “Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell; and great was the fall of it.” ST August 13, 1894, par. 8

It is not a matter of little consequence to us as to how we hear and how we treat the truth of God. To misunderstand the truth, to fail to appreciate it, because we do not cherish light that comes to us, will tend to make us careless in our character building, and we shall have our foundation laid upon the sand. The wise builder builds upon the Rock Christ Jesus, no matter what may be the inconvenience. He builds not upon human but upon divine merit, accepting the righteousness of Christ as his own, and as his only hope of salvation. The foolish builder built upon the sand, and through his carelessness, or prejudice, or through the deceptions of the natural heart, he cherishes a self-righteous spirit, and places human wisdom in the place where God's wisdom should have the supremacy; and how terrible are the consequences! ST August 13, 1894, par. 9

There are many unwise builders, and when the storm of temptation comes and beats upon them, it is made evident that their foundation is only sliding sand. They are left in gross darkness, without faith, without principles, and without foundation. The five foolish virgins had a real interest in the gospel. They knew what was the perfect standard of righteousness; but their energies were paralyzed with self-love; for they lived to please and glorify themselves, and had not the oil of grace in their vessels with which to replenish their lamps. They were often distressed by the enemy, who knew their weakness, and placed darkness before them in the semblance of light. Truth, precious, life-giving truth, represented as oil, appeared to them as unessential, and Satan took advantage of their blindness, ignorance, and weakness of faith, and they had a fluctuating experience, based on uncertain principles. ST August 13, 1894, par. 10

All who wait for the heavenly Bridegroom are represented in the parable as slumbering because their Lord delayed his coming; but the wise roused themselves at the message of his approach, and responded to the message, and their spiritual life was replenished. Their spiritual discernment was not all gone, and they sprang into line. As they took hold of the grace of Christ, their religious experience became vigorous and abundant, and their affections were set upon things above. They discerned where was the source of their supply, and appreciated the love that God had for them. They opened their hearts to receive the Holy Spirit, by which the love of God was shed abroad in their hearts. Their lights were trimmed and burning, and sent forth steady rays in to the moral darkness of the world. They glorified God, because they had the oil of grace in their hearts, and did the very work that their Master did before them,—went forth to seek and to save those who were lost. ST August 13, 1894, par. 11

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