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From Eternity Past

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    How One Sin Opened the Door to Satan's Control

    In the morning, Balaam dismissed the messengers but did not tell them what the Lord had said. Angry that his visions of gain had been dispelled, he exclaimed, “Get you into your land: for the Lord refuseth to give me leave to go with you.”EP 310.3

    Balaam “loved the wages of unrighteousness.” 2 Peter 2:15. The sin of covetousness had made him a timeserver; through this one fault Satan gained entire control of him. The tempter is ever presenting worldly gain and honor to entice men from the service of God. Thus many are induced to venture out of the path of strict integrity. One wrong step makes the next easier, and they become more and more presumptuous. They will do and dare most terrible things once they have given themselves to the control of avarice and desire for power. Many flatter themselves that they can depart from strict integrity for a time and change their course when they please. Such are entangling themselves in the snare of Satan, and it is seldom that they escape.EP 310.4

    When the messengers reported to Balak the prophet's refusal, they did not intimate that God had forbidden him. Supposing that Balaam's delay was to secure a richer reward, the king sent princes more in number and more honorable than the first with authority to concede to any terms Balaam might demand. Balak's urgent message was, “Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me: for I will promote thee unto very great honor, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come, ... curse me this people.”EP 311.1

    In response, Balaam professed great conscientiousness and integrity—no amount of gold and silver could induce him to go contrary to the will of God. But he longed to comply with the king's request. Although the will of God had already been made known to him, he urged the messengers to tarry that he might further inquire of God.EP 311.2

    In the night, the Lord appeared to Balaam and said, “If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.” Thus far the Lord would permit Balaam to follow his own will, because he was determined upon it. He chose his own course and then endeavored to secure the sanction of the Lord.EP 311.3

    Thousands at the present day are pursuing a similar course. Their duty is plainly set before them in the Bible or clearly indicated by circumstances and reason. But because these evidences are contrary to their inclinations, they set them aside and presume to go to God to learn their duty. They pray long and earnestly for light. But God will not be trifled with. He often permits such persons to follow their own desires and suffer the result. “My people would not hearken to My voice... . So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels.” Psalm 81:11, 12. When one clearly sees a duty, let him not go to God with the prayer that he may be excused from performing it.EP 311.4

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