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Photo Credit by Flickr/loni gonzalez

More and more conscientious people everywhere are alarmed at the moral decadence and self-indulgence threatening the very of core of human society of this generation of boasted advancement in education, technology, and enlightenment. How soon we forget the revolting results of the French Revolution where Reason was worshipped over Deity, Jesus was called a “wretch,” and the Bible burned publicly.

Both human history and Bible prophecy testify how earth’s greatest kingdoms and empires crumbled away—when, at the height of earthly power and prosperity of their time, they succumbed to gross idolatry, unbridled self-indulgence, and apostasy. Thus they fell, starting with the first atheistic empire, Egypt, Neo-Babylonia, Medo-Persia, Greece (Macedonian), and the Roman pagan empire. Revelation 13’s predictive prophecy of divine foreknowledge clearly reveals that America, “the greatest and most favored nation upon the earth,” will not return to its original nature as refuge for the persecuted and oppressed that it once was. However, the coming final war “will not be between rival churches contending for the supremacy,” “but between the religion of the Bible and the religion of fable and tradition.” It will be “the last great conflict of the controversy between truth and error.” We are now entering into it.

However, until national apostasy results in national ruin, and rapidly becomes global for “the the final events will be rapid ones,” for now, just as it was in the time of Israel’s national apostasy: “Elijah had thought that he alone in Israel was a worshipper of the true God. But He who reads the hearts of all, revealed to the prophet that there were many others who, through the long years of apostasy had remained true to Him. ‘I have left Me,’ God said, ‘seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed to Baal [the sun god from which Easter Sunday worship originated], and every mouth which hath not kissed him.’ 1 Kings 18: 41-46; 19:1-8.

“From Elijah’s experience during those days of discouragement and apparent defeat, there are many lessons to be drawn,—lessons invaluable to the servants of God in this age, marked as it by general departure from right. The apostasy prevailing today is similar to that which in the prophet’s day overspread Israel. In the exaltation of the human above the divine, in the praise of popular leaders, in the worship of mammon, and in the placing of the teachings of science above the truths of revelation, multitudes today are following after Baal. Doubt and unbelief are exercising their baleful influence over mind and heart, and many are substituting for the oracles of God the theories of men.

“It is publicly taught that we have reached a time when human reason should be exalted above the teachings of the Word. The law of God, the divine standard of righteousness, is declared to be of no effect. The enemy of all truth is working with deceptive power to cause men and women to place human institutions where God should be, and to forget that which was ordained for the happiness and salvation of mankind.

“Yet this apostasy, widespread as it has come to be, is not [yet] universal. Not all in the world are lawless and sinful; not all have taken sides with the enemy. God has many thousands who have not bowed the knee to Baal, many who long to understand more fully in regard to Christ and the law, many who are hoping against hope that Jesus will come soon to end the reign of sin and death. And there are many who have been worshipping Baal ignorantly, but with whom the Spirit of God is still striving.

“These need the personal help of those who have learned to know God and the power of His word. In such a time as this, every child of God should be actively engaged in helping others. As those who have an understanding of Bible truth try to seek out the men and women who are longing for light, angels of God will attend them. And where angels go, none need fear to move forward. As the result of the faithful efforts of consecrated workers, many will be turned from idolatry to the worship of the living God. Many will cease to pay homage to man-made institutions, and will take their stand fearlessly on the side of God and His law.”- E.G. White, Patriarchs & Prophets, pp. 170, 171. This is one of the most important ways of personally overcoming Satan “by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony!” See Revelation 12: 11.

The First Test of Probation. Soon after their creation, the Creator placed our first parents upon the first probation that they might form a character of integrity, loyalty, faith, trust, and obedience—all based on love–for their own everlasting happiness and for the glory of their Creator. They were endowed with powers of the mind superior to any other creature. Adam and Eve’s mental powers were but “a little lower” than that of the angels.” The fall resulted in man using his yet-untested will to disobey God.

Thus, the underlying cause for the world’s suffering is covetousness—selfishness: self-serving, self promotion, self aggrandizement, self-justification, self-indulgence. The list is long on what selfishness comprehends. In His love and wisdom, God who sees the end from the beginning, immediately dealt with the faculties of the will and self, starting with man’s prelapsarian state.

The very first moral lesson God wanted Adam and Eve to learn was self-denial. “The reins of self-government were placed in his hands. Judgment, reason, and conscience were to bear sway. This first test came by way of a very simple test. They were permitted to eat of every fruit of the trees in the Garden of Eden—the home God prepared for them—except for only one. There was a single prohibition. The forbidden tree was as attractive and lovely as any of the trees in the Garden. It was called the tree of knowledge of good and evil because in partaking of that tree of which God had said, ‘Thou shalt not eat of it,’ they would have a knowledge of sin, an experience in disobedience.” E. G. White, Confrontation, pp. 36, 37.

The First Temptation of Christ, the Second Adam. – After His baptism by immersion by John the Baptist in the Jordan, anointing by the Holy Spirit, and vocal affirmation of the Father as the Messiah, Christ, led by the Holy Spirit, entered the Wilderness of temptation. “There, for and in our behalf, He realized during His 40-day-and night fast “the strength of indulged appetite and unholy passion which controlled the world and had brought upon man inexpressible suffering.

The indulgence of appetite had been increasing and strengthening with every succeeding generation since Adam’s transgression, until the human race was so feeble in moral power that they could not overcome in their own strength. Christ, in behalf of the race, was to overcome appetite by standing the most powerful test upon this point. He was to tread the path of temptation alone, and there must be none to help Him, none to comfort and uphold Him. Alone He was to wrestle with the powers of darkness.” – Ibid.

See 1 Cor. 10: 13; Matt. 4: 1-11; James 4: 6-10. Replacing “you” with “we” “our” and “us” in the original quotes from Testimonies, vol. 4, pp 32, 33 by E. G. White, we read:

“Will we take hold of divine power, and with determination and perseverance resist Satan, as Christ has given us example in His conflict with the foe in the wilderness of temptation? God cannot save us against our will from the power of Satan’s artifices. We must work with our human power, aided by the divine power of Christ, to resist and to conquer at any cost to ourselves. In short, we must overcome as Christ overcame [Rev. 3: 20]. And then, through the victory that it is our privilege to gain by the all-powerful name of Jesus, we may become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ [Rom. 8:17]. This could not be the case if Christ alone did all the overcoming. We must do our part; we must be victor on our account, through the strength and grace that Christ gives us. We must be a co-worker with Christ in the labor of overcoming.”

“As victims of evil habits, we must be aroused to the necessity of making an effort for ourselves. Others may put forth the most earnest endeavor to uplift us, the grace of God may be freely offered, Christ may entreat, His angels may minister; but all will be in vain unless we ourselves are roused to fight the battle in our own behalf. . . . Those who put their trust in Christ are not to be enslaved by any hereditary or cultivated habit or tendency. Instead of being held in bondage to the lower nature, they are to rule every appetite and passion. God has not left us to battle with evil in our own finite strength. Whatever may be our inherited or cultivated tendencies to wrong, we can overcome through the power that He is ready to impart.”- Ministry of Healing, pp. 174-6.

“The strongest temptation cannot excuse sin. However great the pressure brought to bear upon the soul, transgression is our own act. It is not in the power of earth or hell to compel anyone to do evil. Satan attacks us at our weak point, but we need not to be overcome. However severe or unexpected the assault, God has provided help for us, and in His strength we may conquer.”- Patriarchs & Prophets, p. 421.

Here’s an encouraging exhortation to all who are earnestly striving by God’s grace to resist temptation and overcome: “The life of Christ’s disciples is to like His, a series of uninterrupted victories, not seen to be such here, but recognized as such in the great hereafter.”- Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 307. (To be continued next week.)