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Sabbath: The Central Issue: Love or Selfishness? — 15 Comments

  1. If Jesus stood on the Mount of Olives and saw the gleaming temple of the Seventh-day Adventist Church with its highly structured doctrines and beliefs like the ramparts of a walled city, would he prophecy "Not one stone shall be left on another"?

    The notion of being right brings with it its own selfishness that can be a stumbling block to our understanding of the true meaning of the Gospel.

    I was once a teacher and one of the things that comes with the job is that you think that you have all the knowledge and you are passing that on to the students who know so much less than you do. I was proud of my knowledge and skills. So much so that it took me a long time to realise that I was protecting my status - selfishness! It took me longer than it should to realise that showing off my superiority was not good teaching practice.

    Part of the war between love and selfishness is our self-perception. When Jesus told the parable about the farmer who knocked down his barns to build bigger barns, he was not talking about getting rich with goods and profits. He was speaking to conservative religious leaders about their spiritual selfishness.

    • Christ Object Lessons in the chapter entitled, "Gain That is Loss", disagrees with your above statement, Maurice. This parable, the foolish rich man, was about both rich in worldly goods and living for self. The next to last paragraph of the chapter states:"To live for self is to perish. Covetousness, the desire of benefit for self's sake, cuts the soul off from life. It is the spirit of Satan to get, to draw to self. It is the spirit of Christ to give, to sacrifice self for the good of others". In numerous ways, throughout the last two pages of this chapter, the idea that this man was rich so that he might help the needy is repeated. Yes, just like the religious leaders, this man rejected God's love, so he showed no mercy.

      • I think we can allow a double application. I don’t have a problem with grain crops and storehouses, but sometimes I am tempted to think I am spiritually rich and better than others. That application fits me.

        • Absolutely true, Maurice …. Just as today’s lesson refers to the masterly blend of meaning in Jesus’ words about the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of time, the lesson in the story of the foolish rich man, and the temptation for spiritually rich believers should not be missed by us as a church and individually.
          In business, a product may well be lifted high, but in a church setting, the brand is never bigger than its Creator.
          It’s always a good thing to re-centre and re-focus our hearts, and I know as a long time believer, I need it. As the song says, “Search me O God, and know my heart today….”

  2. Luke 19:41-44 - these are solemn words to the people of God – spoken by their Messiah because they did not ‘know the time of their visitation’. I consider these words to be also applicable to us today.

    How sad to find that so many of His people did not recognize their Lord and Savior when He finally walked among them to bring them the rest from their enemies they so longed for.

    “Be faithful unto death” is our Lord’s admonishment to all who struggle with overcoming evil with doing that which is called 'good' by the Word of God. By doing so, they demonstrate their faith in Him.

    We cannot stake our security on anything the world offers; not even the organized religious institutions. The destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem - the former 'home' of their God having chosen them to be His people - as well as the end to the ruling priestly class who selfishly applied the Word of God to gain from it instead of truly caring for His flock - their destruction shows their place to be temporary in time.

    What will stand forever is that – “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” - John 13:35.

  3. "What the evil one fails to accomplish through persecution, he hopes to achieve through compromise." We,as followers of Jesus, are we compromising in our dress,in the music that we listen to,in our work places,in our secular activities? Do we let God's love shine out in our lives? Something to think about.

  4. This section of the lesson states that in the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), "we discover a foreshadowing of Satan’s strategy both to deceive and destroy God’s people at the end time".

    And Scripture says: "Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come". (1 Corinthians 10:11). Therefore, in this spiritual warfare between God and Satan, and in which the whole human race is engaged, unless we become sensitized to the nature of the battlefield and the tactics of Satan as portrayed in the Bible to defeat humanity, it won't have much meaning, and we will run the risk of being deceived just as the majority of the children of ancient Israel were deceived and lost their lives.

    The Bible makes it clear that there are spiritual forces which are hell-bent on keeping the world, as well as God's end-time people, plunged into darkness (Ephesians 6:12). It is clear that we’re involved in an all-out battle with these forces whether we believe it or not. So we can’t afford to be naive about their diabolical intent. Therefore, it would be useful for us to refresh our minds of Satan's assault tactics. What follows is a summary of those tactics:

    He is a liar and the father of lies - he deceives people. The mind of the individual is a battlefield between Satan, who blinds and befuddles the mind (John 8:44; 1 Timothy 4:1-2; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 Corinthians 2:14); and Christ who is the Light (John 14:6).
    He calls God's word into question (Genesis 3:1-4). He is devious, deceitful and destructive (Genesis 2:17).
    He is the author of stubborn unbelief in God's truth and spiritual blindness (Matthew 13:19; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 11:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 3:5).
    He disguises himself as an agent of righteousness or light, and promotes false Biblical teachings, and hollow deceptive philosophies (1 Timothy 4:1-2; Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:30; Luke 10:18; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Colossians 2:8).
    He tempts people to sin against God by disobeying His commands, and then he uses them to lead others to sin (Genesis 4:7; Genesis 3:4-6, 12-14; Luke 22:3-6; Matthew 4:1-10; Acts 5:1-10; Ephesians 4:26-27; 1 Kings 22:20-22; Joshua 7:1; Leviticus 10:1-2; 1 Corinthians 7:2; 2 Samuel 11:2-15).
    He manipulates fire, the wind, and people to inflict suffering and privation on human beings with the intent that they will accuse God of the evil and stop believing in Him (Job 1:13-19; Ephesians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 4:4).
    He plants seeds of doubt and carnal desires in the mind to undermine faith in God's word (Genesis 3:1; Galatians 5:7; 1 Timothy 4:1-2; Matthew 4:3, 6, 8-9; Matthew 13:24-26; Acts 13:8-10).
    He works signs, miracles, and seemingly spectacular wonders that are based on falsehood intertwined with some element of truth (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).
    He causes some sicknesses and diseases and oppresses people with illness - he delights in seeing people suffer (Job 2:7-8; Matthew 17:14-18; Luke 13:10-16, Acts 10:38).
    He loves to destroy human life - he is a blood-thirsty murderer (John 8:44; Revelation 2:10; 1 Kings 18:4; 1 Kings 19:2; Nehemiah 9:26; Jeremiah 38:4; Matthew 23:37; Mark 12:6-8).
    He works to obstruct and suppress the church's efforts to advance the spread of the true Gospel of Christ throughout the world. He is a master at using people and circumstances to thwart God’s will and keep God's servants away from reaching God-appointed communities/countries (Acts 4:1-21; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; Acts 17:5, 13-14).
    He works to entrap church leaders in various ungodly ways, even causing some to become deceitful pastors/leaders, and who masquerade as servants of Christ (1 Timothy 3:7-8; 1 Timothy 6:20-21 first part; Titus 1:9; 2 Peter 2:1-3).
    He ensnares God's followers into compromising Biblical standards, in order to copy the practices of the world and apostate Christian churches, and to make business, political or social relationships with those who are not serving God (2 Chronicles 18:3; 19:2; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Revelation 2:20; 1 Corinthians 15:33). He makes compromise look good - he never reveals the disastrous consequences that will result from the compromise.
    He incites divisions among people, and churches, and causes people to harbour an unforgiving spirit (Romans 16:17-19; 2 Corinthians 2:7; Acts 6:1).
    He uses families, friends, and political opposition to persecute believers, in order to destroy the church's mission, and cause believers to renounce their belief in God (Acts, 16:23; Hebrews 11:36-38; Luke 11:47-48; Acts 7:52; John 15:20; John 16:1-2).
    He leads believers to develop an appearance of godliness and alignment to Christ that is false (John 13:2; Luke 22:48; 2 Timothy 3:1-7).
    He causes believers to be fearful and doubt their salvation. He attempts to slander and discredit them by reminding God of their sins and their unworthiness to be a member of God’s family (Revelation 12:10; Zechariah 3:1-3; Job 1:9-11; 2:4-5).
    He is "the evil one" or "wicked one" (Matthew 13:19, ESV and KJV respectively). In Christ's day, the Pharisees called him “Beelzebul, the prince of demons” (Matthew 12:24, ESV).
    He has his own church - the synagogue of Satan (Revelation 2:9). The apostle Paul calls him "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4).
    He has his own ministers - ministers of darkness that preach sermons based on false Biblical theology (Revelation 2:2, 9, 20; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4).
    He has formulated his own system of theology called “doctrines of devils” developed by seducing spirits (1 Timothy 4:1; Revelation 2:14, 24).
    He has his own throne (Revelation 13:2) and his own worshipers (Revelation 13:4).
    He inspires false Christs and self-constituted messiahs (Matthew 24:4-5).
    He employs false teachers who bring in “destructive heresies” into God's church to deceive church members (2 Peter 2:1).
    He sends out false prophets into the world (Matthew 24:11).
    He sponsors false apostles who deny God, and who pretend to be the true servants of God (2 Corinthians 11:13-14).
    He deceives the entire world (Revelation 12:9; 20:3; 2 Corinthians 4:4).
    He has power in the governmental realm (Matthew 2:16), the physical realm (Luke 13:11-16; Acts 10:38 last part), the angelic realm (Jude 9; Ephesians 6:12), and the ecclesiastical (church) realm (Revelation 2:9; 3:9).

    Despite Satan's strategies noted in the foregoing list, God's true followers should not despair - we have nothing to fear with God as our Commander-in-Chief as we already know what the outcome is in this spiritual warfare - we know how the war is going to end. God has told us in Scripture that He has already disarmed and defeated Satan (Romans 6:20; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8; John 12:31; Matthew 25:41; Colossians 1:13; John 16:11 last part; Colossians 2:15; Revelation 17:14; Romans 16:20; Revelation 20:1-3, 7-12).

    It behooves us, therefore, to entrust ourselves to God and His unfailing love for us. We must believe that He is indeed the "faithful and true witness" (Revelation 1:5), and believe and and trust in His word and promises - we must live by them. We must let Him truly dwell IN us. If we do these things, we will not lose God's divine protection as the unbelieving ancient Israelites did. But if due to God's foreknowledge, He chooses not to protect or deliver us from the "burning fiery furnace" (whatever the trial or difficulty or sickness might be), we will remain faithful to Him as did Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Daniel 3:14-18), because we are rooted and built up in Him (Colossians 2:7). MARANATHA!

    • Sometimes we spend all our time concentrating on the devil, when we should spend more time thinking of the hero in the book of Revelation and having a walk with him.

      • Yes, Alfred, that is so true!

        Rather than focusing on Satan, let us focus on Christ and His example. I think we may also need to ask Him to reveal to us where, in our lives, we are still focusing on self, rather than on Him and His mission to the people around us.

  5. I get the entire lesson (about the end time trials) and the memory text (encouragement from God) but may someone help me understand how the lesson theme fits into the title, "The Central Issue: Love or Selfishness?:

    • Hello Gus, I don't quite understand your question.

      I see the lesson theme as "The Great Controversy" (which is also the title of this quarter's lesson studies) - the ideological battle between God and His government of self-renouncing love and Satan and His government of self-focus and self-promotion. This lesson is a perfect encapsulation of the central issue in the conflict.

      Viewing the lesson as being focused on end time trials runs dangerously close to being focused on ourselves and the trials we may have to face. That will not help us to be good combatants on God's side. We need to focus on the "Captain of the Lord's Hosts" and the Author and Finisher of our salvation. That will help our faith to grow so we can trust Him implicitly.

  6. Response to Ouvril Gill:

    I do not consider your submission as 'too much focus', for the myriad Scripture references you used reminds me that God does not want us to be 'ignorant of his devices.' He has given us plenty warning of Satan's tactics.

    God wants us to know for ourselves, to be forewarned is to be forearmed.

    One comment does not say "too much focus!"
    Thanks for your diligent research!

  7. All we have to do is to meditate on and accept, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."(Rom 8:28)

  8. Human development teaches us that the move from self-love to other-love is gradual in children, and not an absolute opposite. We learn to love others by the way we are loved by significant parent-figures.


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