The Irresistible Sin of Babylon
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[Editor's Note: When we think of prophecy, our minds often turn to the message of Rev 14:6-10 and Rev 18:4, and we are reminded that it is our responsibility to call God's people out of Babylon. But do we understand the sin of Babylon so we can be sure that we do not participate in the same sin? Stan Hudson explores this topic.]

Some time ago I visited a dear, little old lady who had a great spiritual concern: “Pastor, do you think I’ve committed the unpardonable sin?” Her wide eyes displayed understandable emotion. I spent the next hour studying with her, reassuring her that her interest in God proved that she hadn’t strayed from her Lord.1

Unpardonable sin is a scary concept. But so is Irresistible Sin. Is there such a thing as a sin that is so attractive, so appealing to mankind as to be virtually irresistible?

I personally believe there is. And it is contained in the familiar Biblical symbol of Babylon, found as the arch nemesis of Israel from Genesis to Revelation. I further believe that our own church is confronted right now with the predicted threat of Babylonian thinking.

Let’s start in Genesis 11 with the birth of Babylon at the Tower of Babel story; we can see some early characteristics immediately. After the Flood, people traveled to the plain of Shinar in Mesopotamia and began building the tower because:

  1. They were getting tired of religious people (Noah and Shem talking of the Flood)
  2. They wanted to see if there was a naturalistic explanation of the Flood (a tower to the heavens from whence destruction came might give scientific answers)
  3. They were fearful of God, distrusting His promise to not send another Flood and
  4. They wished to formulate a new cosmic paradigm.

Ellen White agrees:

“The dwellers on the plain of Shinar disbelieved God’s covenant that He would not again bring a flood upon the earth. Many of them denied the existence of god and attributed the Flood to the operation of natural causes. Others believed in a Supreme Being, and that it was He who had destroyed the antediluvian world; and their hearts, like that of Cain, rose up in rebellion against Him. One object before them in the erection of the tower was to secure their own safety in case of another deluge. By carrying the structure to a much great height than was reached by the waters of the Flood, they thought to place themselves beyond all possibility of danger. And as they would be able to ascend to the region of the clouds, they hoped to ascertain the cause of the Flood. The whole undertaking was designed to exalt still further the pride of its projectors and to turn the minds of future generations away from god and lead them into idolatry.” [Emphasis mine] Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 119.

This would be a combining of science and religion. And it started with man’s first attempt to find an alternative explanation to God’s appointed witnesses regarding the cosmos. Instead of clarity, they got confusion.

In the next chapter of Genesis 12 God calls Abraham out of Babylon (“Ur of the Chaldees”), to begin the nation that would become Israel and thus preserve the correct understanding of the cosmos that was being threatened by false cosmologies (read “idolatry”).

Many have long felt that the First Commandment is an anachronism. Idolatry has been mostly dead since the fourth century (well, except when people buy SUVs!). Archaeologists have tended to identify every curious object or structure as religious in purpose. After all, before enlightenment came, ancient man was mired in such silliness.

This was illustrated to me at a Griffith Park Planetarium program I attended in Los Angeles some years ago on how Stonehenge was constructed. Stonehenge, that great “worship center” in central England, was built with truck-sized stones, perfectly aligned with the study of the heavens in mind. The artist’s rendering depicted these early Brits as hunchbacked and loin-clothed! I rather think the ancient people were more like us, with similar issues and similar spiritual challenges, including operating in false cosmic paradigms.

If there was a single issue that Israel would struggle with over the next millennium most, it had to be idolatry. From the Exodus to the Exile, this problem was virtually irresistible. Many stories illustrate this. But it was Babylon itself that would present the greatest danger. 2

When Hezekiah wanted to impress Babylonian ambassadors sent to wish him a swift recovery from illness, he was rebuked by Isaiah: “Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the LORD. And some of your sons, who are born to you, shall be taken away….” II Kings 20:17,18. It was this desire to be like Babylon that led to God’s judgment that His people dwell there, causing a number of Israel’s precious youth to be lost.

But for God the final painful development was when Babylonian idolatry had entered His education and worship center, the Sanctuary: “Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, look toward the north.’ So I looked, and in the entrance north of the gate of the altar I saw this idol of jealousy. And He said to me, ‘Son of man, do you see what they are doing—the utterly detestable things the house of Israel is doing here, things that will drive me far from my sanctuary?’” Ezekiel 8:5,6. To Babylon Israel would go for 70 years.

But it is so hard to come out of Babylon! At the end of the 70 years exile Daniel poured his heart out to God in prayerful lament, “We have been wicked and rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and your laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name….” Daniel 9:5,6. But the 70 years came and went, and God’s people were still in Babylon! Chapter 10 records Daniel’s 21-day fast over this; a mighty angel reveals that he was unable to persuade the Persian king to issue the decree to end the exile. It was only when Michael (the pre-incarnate Christ) intervened that God’s people could leave Babylon.

This is the only place I know of where an angel failed in his God-appointed mission! It is not easy to pry God’s people out of Babylon.

Daniel’s stories about Babylon reveal her two great inadequacies: #1 Babylon has difficulty in recognizing God’s hand. The physical hand of Daniel 5 is symbolic of this. Nebuchadnezzar struggled with the understanding that God was completely in control of planet earth’s history, actively causing events to shape the future, raising up and deposing kings and kingdoms. #2 Babylon has difficulty in interpreting God’s Word. Again, the intellectual brain trust of the entire kingdom could make no sense of God’s simple written word, as His hand wrote four words on the wall of the banquet hall. Babylon thus has trouble both in interpreting nature and revelation. Daniel’s harsh rebuke of Belshazzar shows that human pride was the root cause.

The effects of the Babylonian captivity on God’s people were significant. Perhaps the most obvious one is the losing of the Hebrew spoken language. In just two generations (70 years), Israel ceased speaking Hebrew and adopted Aramaic, the language of Babylon. It was still so in Jesus’ day. It would be good to remember that Jesus said “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” in Babylonian! God’s people have not fully come out; we still speak, eat and breathe Babylonian.

Which brings us to the other end of Scripture, the book of Revelation. In earth’s last days, Babylon is still Israel’s archenemy. The Three Angels’ Messages begins with a judgment hour call to worship God as creator and as judge (the “fountains of waters” is almost certainly a reference to the Flood). The next angel announces the fall of Babylon (finally!). Babylonian thinking is presented therefore as in direct opposition to accepting God as the Creator and Judge as revealed in Genesis.

What is “Babylon,” then? Some of my church members think it’s Christian rock! Traditionally, we’ve understood it to represent those Christian denominations that have compromised Scripture with the “traditions of men.” We have sometimes lumped all systems of false worship together in this basket.

I’d like to suggest this as a new definition of Babylon: “Any cosmic paradigm where the Creator God Who speaks is lowered to a place below human intellect.” Alternately, Any paradigm where man is supreme.” And that is simply a sin that is irresistible. One need not have even a fallen nature to succumb (1/3 of the angels, as well as Adam and Eve come to mind). The broad way is full of Babylonians.

The Church today is deeply affected by such paradigms. Culture has power. It displays itself in theologies and scientific thought where human intellect always trumps the Word of God. Revelation becomes secondary to reason. It is irresistible idolatry.

How shall Israel leave Babylon? As it was in Daniels’ day, so it will be today. Only by the power of Michael (Jesus), will Israel be pried loose. Only by dropping human pride into the dust in the presence of the Word made Flesh will confusion break forth into the clarity of truth. And perhaps not until the church enters into a time of fasting and prayer.

_________________

By Stan Hudson, D. Min., Pastor of Moscow, ID and Pullman, WA

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The Irresistible Sin of Babylon — 40 Comments

  1. This presentation has given me a clearer vision and perception. Thanks for the simplicity of this message, I clearly understood it and prayerfully ask that God helps us to see beyond and the big picture.

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  2. After reading this, I am now urged to read more about Israel's history of idolatry; especially the books of Isaiah and Ezekiel.

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  3. This was an extremely insightful presentation but isn't it true that all sin is irrestible without the power of the Spirit of God? And isn't it true that all sin is related to one source as all righteousness is from one source?

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    • Yes, but I wanted to especially draw attention to how poorly we (God's people) have fared in the face of Babylon. Our record isn't very heartening....

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  4. "The Church today is deeply affected by such paradigms. Culture has power. It displays itself in theologies and scientific thought where human intellect always trumps the Word of God. Revelation becomes secondary to reason. It is irresistible idolatry.". What you mentioned here is absolutely true. We are really living in the end of times. I am reminded what was mentioned in Vol. 5, Testimonies, page 711 "In this dark hour of earth's history we certainly need every ray of light shining from the throne of God. As emphasized by our GC President, Ted Wilson, we need REVIVAL and REFORMATION today.

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  5. Thank you! I wholeheartedly agree - problem is calling people to fasting and praying (at least at my church) is like asking them to hold their breath under water for an hour. Israel today is as comfortable in Babylon as was ancient Israel.

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  6. Jesus Christ mentioned that the greatest sign of His second coming will be deception . The tower of Babel was built on rebellion, fear and confusion; then Babylon came and was built on the ruins of Babel. Sad to say this Babylonian system is that very diabolical religious and political system of deception that is running the World in High places. The end is nearer than we think saints of God.

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  7. I fully agree that the "sin of Babylon" is that the created being tries to place himself, or thinks of himself as above the Creator.
    That was Lucifer's great sin (See Isa. 14) and has been the root and foundation of sin ever since. Mankind wants to be his own god.

    There is only one question I have with the article.
    Did the article mean to make the sin of Babylon synonymous with the definition of Babylon?

    The writer stated: "I’d like to suggest this as a new definition of Babylon: “Any cosmic paradigm where the Creator God Who speaks is lowered to a place below human intellect.”

    That's an excellent definition of the motivating "SIN OF Babylon", but it's not the definition of Babylon itself.

    Babylon is represented in Rev. 17 as a woman. A woman in scripture is symbolic of "church". This woman then, portrays herself as the "Bride of Christ" but she is a harlot -- unfaithful, and is using the power of "kings" and kingdoms to further her agenda. She is definitely practicing "the sin of Babylon" that of self exaltation.

    Babylon herself, is more than just an all pervasive sin problem, even though that "sin problem" is the motivating and "almost" irresistible drive behind the system. I'm uncomfortable if this spiritualizes away Babylon herself by just looking at her irresistible sin by which she wins the allegiance of the masses.

    Rev. 18 says of Babylon
    18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

    So the call is
    1. To come out of Babylon (an identity)
    2. Not to partake of her sin (this is the part the writer did an excellent job in defining).
    3. Babylon, that great city, will receive the plagues which destroy her.

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    • To simply identify Babylon as a church can lead us to looking at denominations and the like for culprits. I think Babylon is larger than merely organizations. I believe it is entrenched in our spirits, our hearts. It is rebellion, wanting to dethrone God. Yes, that reveals itself in churches that teach doctrines of men. But I don't like the tendency to avoid looking in the mirror.

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  8. Wow, I know that I could be part of Babylon but I didn't realize that I could be.. it!
    Pride is such a strong and irresistible thing that even angels have problem fighting and resisting it
    thank you Pastor!

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  9. This article is really true. We humans are always putting self first...fulton college, fiji, theme song, (others Lord, yes others, let this my motto be, help me to live for others, that i may live like Thee.)

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  10. The solution to our Babylonian,sinful,me first nature is found at the cross where self must be crucified. "I am crucified with Christ therefore I no longer live Jesus Christ now lives in me" (Gal 2:20). It was Jesus who said "If anyone would come after me he must take up his cross daily and follow me" (Lk 9:23).
    Follow me where? To calvary. Where Paul says the "I" dies daily. Only Jesus can kill our sIn problem. As we focus our lives around our Saviour and Redeemer a transformation takes place. Jesus Christ now lives in us.

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    • You can't crucify yourself. Only as we die to self do we truly live. And Christ along can help that come true.

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      • Amen, wholeheartedly agree, it's at the cross that we can see how bad we truly are,"the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it..." He had to die for our sins...and as I accept His sacrifice and repent he cleans me of my Babylonian ways....

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  11. I am glad I read this article all this information is so helpful. I plan to study further and dig deeper in the scripture to allow the spirit to lead me to all truth. We are definitely close to the end of this earth's time and the closer we get the more I see the church relenting to babylon. As darkness falls across the earth it seems so dismal but when I look up I can't help but to feel exictment in the air because Jesus is soon to return to collect his people.

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    • I gave this talk some years ago to the a gathering of scientists and church leaders at Glacier View, CO...where leaders gathered over creation/evolution struggles in our church. Babylon's influence in our church (and others) is very tangible on origins issues. To give any credence whatsoever to the thoughts of men that contradict the sure Word of God shows you that we haven't packed our bags yet....

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      • I very much liked this article, but disagree with its (assumed) target.
        Religion's greatest foe has never been science.
        Religion's greatest foe has been religion itself.

        Fewer people care about the "origins debate" than we are often led to believe by its coverage. Religion's credibility gap, rather, comes from its long record of bad behaviour across the world.

        Our own (beloved) church does not escape this.
        Despite EGW's warnings and advice in the Southern Work, for example, we still ended up on the wrong side of Jim Crow during those terrible years; which by the way does not reflect well on this talk of being a "remnant" (which we are) with "special truths" (which we have).
        What good did that do us at that time?
        Did it make us different to others?

        It's seductive to blame non-religion/secularism for our challenges. It's also misleading in my humble opinion.

        Lastly, although I firmly believe in the Genesis creation account (six days; "day" meaning day), I also think there is a reflexive and unfortunate suspicion of all science in our church today because of this unneeded war.
        Sometimes our biblical interpretation can be wrong (in many spheres), and we need to be humble about that.

        I hope this is not too controversial.

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  12. There is a clearer picture on this study. The attitude of most people even an Adventist christian were often mislead of how idolatry works as disobedience to God's 1st commandment. Others think that they do not commit idolatry because they do not worship statues, yet they are more particular of themselves, exalting it to others instead of glorifying the Lord. Proud of having intelligence, possessions, status that others do not have without even thinking that all that we have is a gift from God; that we need to humble.... because in the totality of mankind, we're nothing but dust.

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  13. To all the writers, I'm glad the spirit led me stumble on this article after reading my quarterly lesson for the first time since the year begun - this rightfully sound babylonian unlike the theological sound mind you've all portrayed in the article and responses to the core article.

    Certainly it's a wake up call for me to get back on the truck with Lord and rediscover Him through studying His word. From London, I will keep tuned in with you everyday.

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  14. When the Lord said "no other gods before Me," He wasn't saying "but gods can come after me (in second place)!" He was literally saying "no other gods IN MY PRESENCE." We have one God, and that separates us from Babylon right there....

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  15. First I must say that if it was not for the True Living God I would have no part in religion at all, but he melted my heart. He transformed me and now I am enlisted into his army. As a young Christian, though, confused in the world, trying to find the truth, I found no rest in any church because the people preached a doctrine contrary to that found in God's word. I was especially interested in Revelation but could not find anyone who could help me truly understand what God is saying. Although it sounded good it was not the full truth, I was not satisfied. The Holy Spirit then lead me to a group of Sabbath keepers and the doctrine they had was even greater than they even knew. I say this because the Adventist it seemed to me did not follow the counsels given to them by Jesus. Even though I have been recently baptized, 2007, into the Adventist Church my hunger for the truth, prompted by the Holy Spirit has lead me to a deep understanding of His word as I prayed, “Lord let me see things as you see them.” Although unsearchable and infinite as it is (The Mind of God) it is He who reveals himself to us. As I read this article I think of the apostasy of ancient Israel and then the few who amidst adversity stood up for Jesus. The true remnant will soon be noticed as the time presses forward, The Holy Spirit is being poured out onto all flesh. It is among hard times that the church of God shines the brightest. The church will be without spot, as the Lord has said, therefore we must give ourselves to the study of his word otherwise we will perish for lack of knowledge. If you stand for God you will bring opposition, but do not dismay we must be courageous. Not by might nor by strength but by my Spirit, says the Lord (Zech 4:6). Let us not be slack but let us build the arks for our families, come out of the cities into the country where we can develop a Christ-like character and like Enoch telling others of the dangers that await those who do not place Jesus as Lord of their lives, for he will not let iniquity rise again.

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    • Dear Oliver, That must not feel good to believe you have committed the unpardonable sin. But I believe the unpardonable sin is the one you consciously do against God that pushes you over the edge to where you will no longer care about having a relationship with Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit. Reading your comment above, I do not get that sense about you. It appears you still care, but are struggling over something in your life. Pause for a moment and speak to God about exactly what you think the issue is/are and ask Him to heal and change you. He is that Big, and He desires to have you in His camp. I'm pausing to pray for your peace of heart, too.

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  16. Thank you Pastor Hudson.
    Indeed I can number myself with the citizens of Babylon; self focused, prideful, and remiss at crediting Christ for anything I can do or have.
    It is so easy to let the world sweep in like water into a hole dug on the beach. Jesus said "If I be lifted up I draw all men to Me..." and yet even in our lifting Him up, do we not lift self as well?
    We need Jesus to come soon. This battle is gathering speed and I fear I will weary before I hear Him say "well done..."

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  17. Dear Pastor Hudson

    I agree with you in that Babylon represents all of that which seeks to place itself above God. That I think, was the sin of Lucifer. He is behind Babylon. I think that the spirit of Lucifer (self-exaltation) is in every impenitent human being that does not have a saving relationship with Jesus. Having a saving relationship with Jesus through daily surrendering, bible study, prayer and meditation on his word will shield his people from participating in the sins of Babylon. I too have become impressed that there is pride and self-exaltation in my life and pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to work to create in me the likeness of Christ.

    On the other hand, I would be concerned that by disassociating Babylon from a religious system we will loose our Identity as a peculiar people with a peculiar message. I agree with Ulrike in that Babylon has been clearly identified in the bible as being a church related belief system and that we must be careful in guarding the beliefs that have set us apart, because these beliefs are precisely the reason we exist. God has graciously given them to us so that we may be his instruments in warning the world about the things to come. The beliefs I am referring to are the ones included in the Three angels message (the present truth), the investigative judgement (God our judge, being washed by the blood of the lamb), the existence of a heavenly sanctuary (Jesus our mediator, being covered by his righteousness and having his character), the immutability of God's law (God as sovereign and ruler), the sanctity of the seventh-day sabbath(which establishes the literal 7 day creation and God as our creator), the state of the dead, and the health message. These truths were embraced by our church after 1844 and those who have accepted them have followed Jesus, our High Priest into the Most Holy place, where they are washing their clothes (character) with the blood of the Lamb. I am saddened that as a result of human pride these truths are being neglected by some in our church and are therefore choosing to be part of Babylon. Living our lives in the light of these beliefs (the present truth) as well as the other fundamental beliefs will protect us from part-taking in the sins of Babylon. "Thy word have I hid in my heart that i may not sin against thee" Psalm 119;11

    The Bible tells us that in the future (the near future I believe) the people of God (the ones who have accepted the precious peculiar truths) will receive the Holy Spirit in a special way, (the latter rain) in order to call the people of God in other churches that have not yet accepted those truths to come out of Babylon "come out of her my people". I believe that the Bible clearly teaches the aforementioned truths and these are covered in more detail in the inspired writings of EGW.

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    • My problem is that being "peculiar" is not a virtue in itself. In my experience, many of our brethren are lost in this pursuit and have lost sight of the fact that it is all about God (and not about ourselves).

      Furthermore, with "truth" being equated with "facts"; another set of problems creeps in. Our "facts" haven't wrought much change in our character and behaviour it seems.

      The last message of mercy (as has been stated by the spirit of prophecy) is a revelation of God's character of love (COL 415.5)--since that is what the Great Controversy is all about. You've spoken about "sovereignty" and "lordship" etc.' but not so much about God's character. It is my understanding that the enemy didn't dispute that Jesus was Lord but rather he argued that Jesus didn't deserve to be so--because of some made-up character flaws.

      The Sabbath is a testament to the KIND of person God is--not a boastful stamp of authority (in an earthly way), but a revelation of the truth of God's character.

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      • Quote from Andrew Legall,
        "Furthermore, with “truth” being equated with “facts”; another set of problems creeps in. Our “facts” haven’t wrought much change in our character and behaviour it seems."

        The problem is not with the facts, the problem is when we present an "either" "or" situation.
        Truth is NOT either "facts" or "relationship".
        Truth is facts AND relationship. The two need to be combined. Relationship without facts can easily lead one into fantasy and following wrong spirits. While facts without relationship are cold and destitute of power to change or save.

        In the same way we can still clearly identify Babylon both as a church system, as well as identifying the sin of Babylon as being self exaltation and setting oneself above God. It doesn't have to be an "either" "or" situation. There is no need to down play the one in order to share the other.

        "Our “peculiar truths” are supposed to serve to amplify the truth about God’s beautiful character–"

        True, they do that! But there is another purpose for those truths -- and that is for the restoration of mankind back into the image of God in which he/she was created.

        "The central theme of the Bible, the theme about which every other in the whole book clusters, is the redemption plan, the restoration in the human soul of the image of God. From the first intimation of hope in the sentence pronounced in Eden to that last glorious promise of the Revelation, "They shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads" (Revelation 22:4), the burden of every book and every passage of the Bible is the unfolding of this wondrous theme,--man's uplifting,--the power of
        God, "which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:57.

        Of course -- it is only by beholding that we become changed -- so yes, God's character and love should be our study and focus.

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  18. Thank you for taking the time to share this great insight. May our Lord continue to bless with wisdom you are willing to share for encouragement in these last days.
    Terry Moreland

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  19. Andrew,

    I completely agree with you in that one of the issues in the great controversy is the character of God and that it is his will that the redeemed reflect his character. It is also true that many times in our church we focus on the truths as an end in themselves and forget that they are the means through which God works to lead us to have a transforming relationship with him. As I once heard someone say, we forget that to be godly is to be nice.

    I think however, that the fact that the enemy has managed to lead people to focus on the truths themselves distracting them from God does not mean that the truths are not relevant, timely and crucial for these last days. The virtue of being peculiar is not that we are superior, but that these truths are ignored by the rest of sincere God's children and we are called to share them as Jesus would (using his method).

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    • Ok, we agree; although I would say that God's character is the only issue (as opposed to one of the issues) in the Great Controversy--since it is the basis of His government.

      Our "peculiar truths" are supposed to serve to amplify the truth about God's beautiful character--and not our "specialness".
      I think that without this focus, these truths will be obscured; and can get in the way of themselves. Sadly, then, God's character is either obscured or misrepresented all the while we are proclaiming these things loudly.

      I like your emphasis on "His method" as well.

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  20. "Keep your eyes upon Jesus...and the things of this earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace." Ultimately, as the battle comes to an end the enemy of souls will do all he can to bring our focus anywhere else. Let us vindicate His character by the power of his holy spirit; we can do all things in Christ as he transforms and restores our imgage to His own. As we do reflect His image others will be drawn to Him. Thank you brethren for all of your post it is encouraging to see the careful analysis of this matter.

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    • This is the first time that I have participated in this forum and I've been blessed and encouraged by all the comments posted. We have just finished a prophecy seminar at our church that is unlike any other by pastor Tim Roosenburg on "Islam vs Christianity in Bible Prophecy" and it was an eye opener. Its based on Daniel chapter 11 and I encourage everyone to check out his website at www.IslamandChristianity.org to get a refreshing view of how close we are to our Lords return. God bless...

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