Ellen G. White Writings

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The Youth’s Instructor

February 8, 1894

Words to the Young

In Three Parts—Part 3.

The power of the Lord had been manifested, in no common manner, in the taking of Jericho, and this made the sin of Achan of greater moment than ever. The management of the attack had not been left to man as the human agent. Let us read the record: “And it came to pass when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant? And the captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot, for the place whereon thou standest is holy: and Joshua did so.” Then the Lord revealed to him the plan of the battle, and how the city was to be taken by supernatural forces.

The mighty power of God was displayed in the overthrow of Jericho; yet notwithstanding this, notwithstanding the fact that God had given an express command not to take any of the spoil for themselves, Achan disregarded the commandment of the Lord, and showed with how little abhorrence he regarded sin, by taking of the accursed thing. Then the Lord revealed what was his estimation of the act that Achan regarded as trifling. He withdrew his presence from the camp, for all Israel were involved in the transgression, and all Israel must have an opportunity to clear themselves before the Lord for making void his law. In Achan's case we have an example of a man sinning in the very presence of God, in the congregation where the mighty power of God was manifested. How terrible were the consequences of this man's sin. How fearful the work wrought upon his family through his example and influence. He had developed a character that was entirely unsound, and had manifested his rebellion in the very presence of God when he was working mightily for his people. It was in a time of this kind that Achan exhibited his weakness of character, which had been developed by taking steps in what he thought minor matters of transgression, by repetition of what he regarded as little sins.

But the admonition to the Israel of today is, “The end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” “Young men likewise exhort to be sober-minded. In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity. Sound speech that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.” Resist the enemy; do not be seduced by his flattering inducements and presentations. It is the work of the human agent to be strong, not in his own finite strength, but in the strength of the Lord, in the power of his might. “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” This is the work that man is called upon to do,—to be continually on guard as a faithful sentinel, strong in God, and in the power of his might.

Christ has said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” The resolutions you may make in your own finite strength, will be only as ropes of sand; but if you pray in sincerity, surrendering yourself, soul, body, and spirit, unto God, you put on the whole armor of God, and open the soul to the righteousness of Christ; and this alone,—Christ's imputed righteousness,—makes you able to stand against the wiles of the devil. The work of every soul is to resist the enemy in the power and might of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the promise is that the devil shall flee from us. But let all realize that they are in peril, and there is no assurance of safety except as they comply with the conditions of the text. The Lord says, “Draw nigh to God.” How?—By secret, earnest examination of your own heart; by childlike, heart-felt, humble dependence upon God, making known your weakness to Jesus; and by confessing your sins. Thus you may draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.

But let us read the remainder of the lesson given for our instruction, that we may more fully comprehend what it means to draw nigh to God. “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.” The work that is essential to be done by the sinner is here clearly defined. It is a work not agreeable to the human heart; but unless it is done, the soul is not in a condition to appreciate the purity and perfection of the character of Christ, and in no condition, either, to understand the offensiveness of sin. The exhortation is given, “Purify your hearts, ye double-minded.” While professing to be Christians, many have the mold of the world upon them, and their affections are not set upon God. They are double-minded, making an attempt to serve God and mammon at the same time; but the world's Redeemer has declared, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” By trying to serve two masters, they are unstable in all their ways, and cannot be depended upon. To all appearances they are serving God, while at the same time, in heart, they are yielding to the temptations of Satan, and cherishing sin. They may speak words that are smoother than oil, yet their hearts are full of deception, and deceit is in all their practices. Professing to be righteous, they yet have hearts that are desperately wicked.

Mrs. E. G. White

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