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Humble Hero

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    John’s Sharp Rebuke to Hypocrites

    John met them with the scathing question, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance.” Because the Jews had separated themselves from God, they were suffering under His judgments. This was the cause of their bondage to a heathen nation. Because in times past the Lord had shown them great favor, they excused their sins. They deceived themselves into thinking that they were better than others and entitled to His blessings.HH 41.1

    John declared to the teachers of Israel that their pride, selfishness, and cruelty showed them to be a deadly curse to the people. In view of the light they had received from God, they were even worse than the heathen. God was not dependent on them to fulfill His plans. He could call others to His service.HH 41.2

    “Even now,” said the prophet, “the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” If the fruit is worthless, the name cannot save the tree from destruction. John told the Jews plainly that if their life and character were not in harmony with God’s law, they were not His people.HH 41.3

    All who became citizens of Christ’s kingdom, he said, would give evidence of faith and repentance. Their lives would exhibit kindness and devotion. They would minister to the needy, shield the defenseless, and be examples of virtue and compassion.HH 41.4

    “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Isaiah had declared that the Lord would cleanse His people “by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning.” Isaiah 4:4.HH 41.5

    The Spirit of God will consume sin in all who submit to His power. See Hebrews 12:29. But if any cling to sin, then the glory of God, which destroys sin, must destroy them. At the second advent of Christ, the wicked will be consumed “with the breath of His mouth” and destroyed “with the brightness of His coming.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8. The glory of God that gives life to the righteous will destroy the wicked.HH 41.6

    In the time of John the Baptist, Christ was about to appear as the Revealer of God’s character. His very presence would make people aware of their sin. Only as they were willing to be cleansed from sin could they enter into fellowship with Him.HH 41.7

    In this way, John the Baptist declared God’s message to Israel. Many accepted it and sacrificed everything in order to obey. More than a few cherished the hope that he might be the Messiah. But as John saw the people turning to him, he took every opportunity to direct their faith to the One who was to come.HH 41.8

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