We are pilgrims and strangers in this world, traveling a path beset with dangers from those who have rejected the only One who could save them. Ingenious subterfuges and scientific problems will be held out before us, to tempt us to swerve from our allegiance; but we are not to heed them.
Let every soul be on the alert. The adversary is on your track. Be vigilant, watching carefully lest some masterly snare shall take you unaware. Let the careless and the indifferent beware lest the day of the Lord come upon them as a thief in the night. Many will wander from the path of humility, and, casting aside the yoke of Christ, will walk in strange paths. Blinded and bewildered, they will leave the narrow path that leads to the city of God.
A man can not be a happy Christian unless he is a watchful Christian. He who overcomes must watch; for with worldly entanglements, error, and superstition, Satan strives to win Christ’s followers from him, and to keep their minds employed with his devices. It is not enough that we avoid glaring dangers and perilous, inconsistent moves. We are to keep close by the side of Christ, walking in the path of self-denial and self-sacrifice. We are not to allow our spiritual perceptions to be blinded, as they often are, by a strong, determined will. And in order to detect the artifices of Satan and to withstand his unexpected attacks, we must have the grace of Christ and the impartation of his Spirit. We are in an enemy’s country. He who was cast out of heaven has come down with great power. With every conceivable artifice and device he is seeking to take souls captive. Unless we are constantly on guard, we shall fall an easy prey to his unnumbered deceptions. . . .
God’s Word warns us that we have manifold enemies, not open and avowed, but enemies who come with smooth words and fair speeches, and who would deceive if possible the very elect. Thus Satan comes. And again, when it suits his purpose, he goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Man’s will, unless kept in subjection to the will of God, is as often on the enemy’s side as on the Lord’s side. Therefore watch unto prayer; watch and pray always.
Lessons From Gethsemane
The experience of the disciples in the garden of Gethsemane contains a lesson for the Lord’s people today. Taking with him Peter, James, and John, Christ went to Gethsemane to pray. . . . He went a little distance from them,—not so far but that they could both see and hear him,—and fell prostrate upon the ground. He felt that by sin he was being separated from his Father. The gulf was so broad, so black, so deep, that his ?spirit shuddered before it. This agony he must not exert his divine power to escape. As One who had taken upon himself the nature of man, he must suffer the consequences of man’s sin; he must endure the wrath of God against transgression.
The human heart longs for sympathy in suffering. This longing Christ felt to the very depths of his being. In the supreme agony of his soul, he came to his disciples with a yearning desire to hear some words of comfort from those whom he had so often blessed and comforted, and shielded in sorrow and distress. The One who had always had words of comfort for them was now suffering superhuman agony, and he longed to know that they were praying for him and for themselves. How dark seemed the malignity of sin! Terrible was the temptation to let the human race bear the consequences of its own guilt, while he stood innocent before God. If he could only know that his disciples understood and appreciated the intensity of his agony, he would be strengthened.
Rising with painful effort, he staggered to the place where he had left his disciples; but he “findeth them sleeping.” Had he found them praying, he would have been comforted. Had they been seeking refuge in God, in order that satanic agencies might not prevail over them, he would have been strengthened by their steadfast faith. But they had not heeded the repeated warning, “Watch and pray.” At first they had been much troubled to see their Master, usually so calm and dignified, wrestling with a sorrow that was beyond comprehension. They had prayed as they heard the strong cries of the divine-human Sufferer. They did not intend to forsake their Lord, but they seemed paralyzed by a stupor which they might have shaken off if they had continued pleading with God. They did not realize the necessity of watchfulness and earnest prayer in order to withstand temptation.
Many today are fast asleep, as were the disciples. They are not watching and praying lest they enter into temptation. Let us often read and give careful study to those portions of God’s Word that have special reference to these last days, pointing out the dangers that will threaten God’s people. We need keen, sanctified perception. This perception is not to be used in criticizing and condemning one another, but in discerning the signs of the times. We are to keep our hearts with all diligence, that we may not make shipwreck of faith. Those who neglect to watch and pray, in these days of peril; those who neglect to unite with their brethren in seeking the Lord, but who stand aloof from God’s appointed agencies in the church, are in grave danger of strengthening themselves in their own way, following the impulses of their own minds, and refusing to heed the admonitions of the Lord. There are those who once were firm believers in the truth, but who have become careless in regard to their spiritual welfare, and are yielding, without the slightest opposition, to Satan’s well-laid plots.
Let every believer closely examine himself, to ascertain what are his weak points. Let him cherish a spirit of humility, and plead with the Lord for grace and wisdom, and for the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. Let him cast away all self-confidence. God has no place for it in his work. Many have so high an opinion of their own abilities and attainments, and so firm a reliance on their own judgment, that they believe themselves capable of bearing responsibilities in any emergency. But too often they leave their appointed work, forget the precautions that God has enjoined upon them, and entangle themselves in difficulty. They turn aside from wise counselors, and incur the displeasure of God. . . .
The dangers thickening around us demand from those who have had an experience in the things of God, a watchful supervision. Those who walk humbly before God, distrustful of their own wisdom, will realize their danger, and will know the power of God’s keeping care. Those who do not realize their danger because they do not watch, will pay, with the loss of their souls, the penalty of their presumption and their wilful ignorance of Satan’s devices.
Let us trust in God. We are his little children, and thus he deals with us. When we draw near to him, he mercifully preserves us from the assaults of the enemy. Never will he betray one who trusts in him as a child trusts in its parents. He sees the humble, trusting souls drawing near to him, and in pity and love he draws near to them, and lifts up for them a standard against the enemy. Touch them not, he says, for they are mine. I have graven them upon the palms of my hands. He teaches them to exercise unquestioning faith in his power to work in their behalf. With assurance they say, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”
This article was first published in The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, July 7, 1910. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years in public ministry. This article was published October 28, 2010.