hrist prayed for his disciples, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world.”
While Christians are to be in the world, they are not to be of the world. In order to be a saving power, they must separate from all worldliness. As oil does not mix with water, so they are not to mix with that which God condemns. They must keep themselves “unspotted from the world”; for they can not touch that which is unclean, and remain unpolluted. The truth as it is in Jesus must sanctify their souls. Its deep, living principles must preside over thought and word and action. . . .
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Every moment of our time belongs to God, and we have no right so to burden ourselves with cares that there is no room in our hearts for his love. At the same time, we are to obey the injunction, “Not slothful in business.” We are to labor, that we may have to give to him that needs. God does not desire us to allow our powers to rust through inaction. Christians must work; they must engage in business; and they can go a certain length in this line, and commit no sin against God.
But too often Christians allow the cares of life to take the time that belongs to God. They devote their precious moments to business or to amusement. Their whole energies are employed in acquiring earthly treasure. In so doing they place themselves on forbidden ground. Many professing Christians are very careful that all their business transactions shall bear the stamp of strict honesty, but dishonesty marks their relations with God. Absorbed in worldly business, they fail to perform the duties they owe to those around them. Their children are not brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The family altar is neglected; private devotion is forgotten.
Eternal interests, instead of being put first, are given only the second place. God is robbed because their best thoughts are given to the world, because their time is spent on things of minor importance. Thus they are ruined, not because of their dishonesty in dealing with their fellow men, but because they have defrauded God of what is rightfully his own.
The maxim, “Religion must give way to business,” is Satan’s device to lead men [and women] astray. He who follows this rule may think that he is the soul of honor, but his life is one long act of complicated robbery against God. And when this life closes, of what use to him will be the treasure he has lost so much to gain?
The folly of giving all to the world is illustrated in the parable of the foolish rich man. He had been greatly prospered by the Lord, but instead of giving God what was his due, “he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” Is it any wonder that the Lord said to him: “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided”?
Like the rich man, many to-day are living wholly for the world. The deception of the enemy is upon them, and their senses are perverted. Under this spell they sacrifice eternal riches for worldly treasures, which will be theirs no longer when their life history closes; and in God’s eyes they are fools.
Through the love of the world Satan deadens the senses of men. Are you going to allow him to lead you astray? It is infinitely better for you to struggle with poverty now, to endure privation and neglect, to see your cherished hopes shattered, and to know that you have a title to the heavenly mansions, than to possess much worldly treasure, and in the last great day hear the irrevocable sentence: “I know you not.” “Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.”
Not Monastery Style
But while Christians are to be distinct from the world, they are not to seclude themselves, raising a wall between themselves and their fellows, because of the temptations that they fear will assail them. They have a work to do for those around them. Great sacrifices have been made for their redemption, and Christ says to them, “Freely ye have received, freely give.” Temptations will assail them, their work will be made hard; for their foes will be tireless in their efforts to dishearten them. But Christ is their Leader, the Captain of their salvation. If they are clothed with the whole armor of God, if they fight as in view of the heavenly universe, they will conquer in his name. . . .
We are living in the great day of intercession, the day of atonement, and to each one comes the word of warning, “Keep thyself unspotted from the world.” You can not with safety join hands with the world. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” Better than all the friendship of the world is the friendship of Jesus Christ. Better than a title to the noblest palace on the earth is a title to the mansions which Christ has gone to prepare. And better than all the words of earthly praise, will be the words of Jesus to his faithful servants, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
This article is excerpted from one that appeared in The SIGNS OF THE TIMES, December 17, 1896. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry.