Chapter 11

"And anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." Revelation 3:18.

Cure for Laodicean Blindness

"We need spiritual eyesight, that we may see the designs of the enemy, and as faithful watchmen proclaim the danger. We need power from above, that we may understand, as far as the human mind can, the great themes of Christianity and their far-reaching principles. … Amid the confusion of delusive doctrines, the Spirit of God will be a guide and a shield to those who have not resisted the evidences of truth, silencing every other voice but that which comes from Him who is the truth."—Gospel Workers, page 289.

The spiritual lethargy which now enervates the church and limits her impact on minds and hearts, despite her promotional activity, is described in terms no one need fail to understand. Christ’s message to the Laodicean church, sent through His servant John, makes plain the strange paradox of a church heralding her Lord’s imminent return and seeking to prepare others for that glorious event, while she herself still falls far short of His standards.

"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of My mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Revelation 3:15-17.

Very human is the church’s reaction to her present state of prosperity and popular acclaim. Mission stations in most of the countries and island groups of the world, bolstered by hospitals, schools, and publishing houses in these entered fields; radio, television, Bible correspondence schools, and colporteur ministry already breaching the walls of heathen strongholds not yet opened to Christian missions-all these are surely reason for pride of achievement, from the human point of view. Rarely are mission reports about our church made by other denominations without an admiring glance at the financial results accruing from our application of the tithing principle. Frankly favorable articles lauding our achievements have appeared recently in some of the best publications.

The results of such a reaction on the spiritual condition of the church present crying evidence of the perils of remaining "human." This absorption with the "I" has cost the church incalculable spiritual gains. God has not been able to pour out His Spirit on an institution still leaning so obviously on the arm of the flesh. As long as the church depends on human devising to formulate her plans before calling upon God to bless those plans, just so long will the church present the miserable condition of Laodicea to the critical eye of the world. Man cannot help being enamored of the fruitage of his own mind and the works of his own hands. This has been the human heritage ever since Lucifer turned man’s eyes away from God to man himself—his appetites, his vanities, and his ambitions. Man’s only hope for salvation is in death to self, so forcibly depicted in the following poem:

The last inward enemy of the believer
to be destroyed is self.
It dies hard;
it will make any concession, if only allowed to live.

Self will permit the believer to do anything,
bear any crosses,
afflict soul or body to any degree-anything,
if only it can live.

It will allow victory over pride, poverty, and passion,
if only it is not destroyed.
It will permit any number of rivals,
so long as it has first place.

It will consent to live in a hovel, in a garret,
in the slums, in far-away heathendom—if
only it can be spared.

It will endure any garb, any fare, any menial service
rather than die.
Dying to self is a poetic expression—it
sounds romantic, chivalrous, supernatural, saintlike.

It is beautiful to read about, easy to talk about,
entertaining to theorize about.
Yet it is hard to do.
But it must be done.

There is no abiding peace,
spiritual power,
or prosperity without it.

We must die to good deeds and to bad deeds,
to successes and to failures, to superiority
and to inferiority,
to exaltation and to humiliation—to
every manifestation of self, and to self itself.

The Saviour said, "I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
will draw all men unto Me."

Self lifted up repels. Self crucified with Christ draws;
for only then is Christ lifted up in the yielded life.

Happy those who can say with Paul,
"I am crucified with Christ …
the life which I now live
I live by the faith of the Son of God."

-Selected.

This is the first work of the Holy Spirit—to lift man’s thoughts heavenward and to break that fatal absorption with self. Not until the apostle Paul could truthfully say, "I am crucified with Christ," could he go on to exclaim, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Galatians 2:20; Philippians 4:13. Heretofore his experience had been expressed in that passage which so graphically presents all the frustration and despair of a soul who knows God’s high standard and longs to attain to it, yet who has met only defeat in his efforts to reach it. "I cannot understand my own actions; I do not act as I desire to act; on the contrary, I do what I detest. Now, when I act against my wishes, this means I agree that the law is right. That being so, it is not I who do the deed but sin that dwells within me. For in me (that is, in my flesh) no good dwells, I know; the wish is there, but not the power of doing what is right. I cannot be good as I desire to be, and I do wrong against my wishes. … Miserable wretch that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" Romans 7:15-24, Moffatt.

To the apostle and to all struggling souls who have followed along the straight and narrow pathway to triumph in Christ, the True Witness bears His testimony in faithful diagnosis of spiritual danger. Yet while He first wounds, He also binds up and heals those who will heed His counsel: "I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." Revelation 3:18.

It was this divine eyesalve which enabled the apostle to evaluate his condition and turn to the only source of wisdom and power through which a man may be rescued from the thralldom of heredity and environment.

"What greater deception can come upon human minds than a confidence that they are right, when they are all wrong! The message of the True Witness finds the people of God in a sad deception, yet honest in that deception. They know not that their condition is deplorable in the sight of God. While those addressed are flattering themselves that they are in an exalted spiritual condition, the message of the True Witness breaks their security by the startling denunciation of their true condition of spiritual blindness, poverty, and wretchedness. The testimony, so cutting and severe, cannot be a mistake, for it is the True Witness who speaks, and His testimony must be correct. …

"As a people, we are triumphing in the clearness and strength of the truth. We are fully sustained in our positions by an overwhelming amount of plain Scriptural testimony. But we are very much wanting in Bible humility, patience, faith, love, self-denial, watchfulness, and the spirit of sacrifice."—Testimonies, vol. 3, pp. 252, 253.

This points out the preparation needful for receiving the latter rain. Until the church has made herself ready, in that she surrenders fully to the cleansing, healing influences of the early rain, she can never obtain the blessings for which she prays. In neglecting the preparation, she stands squarely in the way of God’s being able to answer her prayers. Thus unready, she holds back from the waiting world the powerful display of God’s grace which He designs to demonstrate through her. The world has every right to expect such a demonstration from the church, and God is dishonored that it is long in coming. No amount of scholastic prowess or human eloquence can deliver the testimony which the world awaits. Only a sanctified people can speak for Him.."Without the cooperation of the Spirit of God, no amount of education, no advantages, however great, can make one a channel of light. … We cannot use the Holy Spirit; the Spirit is to use us. …

"The impartation of the Spirit is the impartation of the life of Christ. Those only who are thus taught of God, those only who possess the inward working of the Spirit, and in whose life the Christ-life is manifested, can stand as true representatives of the Saviour."—Gospel Workers, pages 284, 285.

This unction, or anointing, is recommended to the church as a rightful inheritance from God by the apostle John: "But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. " "But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him." 1 John 2:20, 27.

Of this same anointing the messenger of the Lord speaks: "The eyesalve is that wisdom and grace which enables us to discern between the evil and the good, and to detect sin under any guise. God has given His church eyes which He requires them to anoint with wisdom, that they may see clearly; but many would put out the eyes of the church if they could; for they would not have their deeds come to the light, lest they should be reproved. The divine eyesalve will impart clearness to the understanding. Christ is the depositary of all graces. He says: ‘Buy of Me.’ "—Testimonies, vol. 4, pp. 88, 89.

"Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the mind that is devoted unreservedly to God, develops harmoniously, and is strengthened to comprehend and fulfill the requirements of God. … The Christian becomes like his Master in character. … His discernment is more penetrative, his judgment better balanced."

"When one is fully emptied of self, when every false god is cast out of the soul, the vacuum is filled by the inflowing of the Spirit of Christ. Such a one has the faith that purifies the soul from defilement. He is conformed to the Spirit, and he minds the things of the Spirit. He has no confidence in self. Christ is all and in all."—Gospel Workers, pages 285-287.

"Those who would be benefited by the tilling of the soil must go forth with the word of God in their hearts. They will then find the fallow ground of the heart broken by the softening, subduing influence of the Holy Spirit. Unless hard work is bestowed on the soil, it will not yield a harvest. So with the soil of the heart: the Spirit of God must work upon it to refine and discipline it before it can bring forth fruit to the glory of God."—Christ’s Object Lessons, page 88.

"It is not always the most learned presentation of Gods truth that convicts and converts the soul. Not by eloquence or logic are men’s hearts reached, but by the sweet influences of the Holy Spirit, which operate quietly yet surely in transforming and developing character. It is the still, small voice of the Spirit of God that has power to change the heart."—Prophets and Kings, page 169.

"Those who drink deeply of His Spirit will not be ambitious for themselves. They will realize that they cannot go beyond the domain of God, for God reigns everywhere."—Testimonies, vol. 8, pp. 140, 141.

The testimony of the True Witness has its first effect on the individual heart, and this work must be accomplished before the Spirit can use one’s life. The church already has too many members still bearing the impress of the faulty Christian experience of the ones who led them into her ranks. Such individuals have been cheated out of a good start in the Christian faith; they are like prematurely born infants, who must fight to stay alive in a world where they are ill-prepared to survive. Unfortunately, the church is not as well equipped to aid them in that struggle as the modem hospital is to help premature babies. There are few spiritual incubators to provide the gently sustaining atmosphere needed until these new citizens of the kingdom gain their balance and learn to cope with the unfriendly influences surrounding them.

And so the situation remains a sort of vicious circle which perpetuates itself on a low level of Christian experience and militates against elevation to the high level where the church might hold communion with God, growing strong to go forth and do exploits to prove her right to speak for God.

"Those who yield to the influence of the Holy Spirit begin war with themselves, those who cling to sin war against the truth and its representatives."—The Desire of Ages, page 306.

"Having brought conviction of sin, and presented before the mind the standard of righteousness, the Holy Spirit withdraws the affections from the things of this earth and fills the soul with a desire for holiness. … If men are willing to be molded, there will be brought about a sanctification of the whole being. The Spirit will take the things of God and stamp them on the soul. By His power the way of life will be made so plain that none need err therein."—The Acts of the Apostles, pages 52, 53.

The heavenly eyesalve held out as the only cure for Laodicean blindness must needs reveal the true condition of God’s church; but the Comforter does not leave God’s awakened people to despair as they view their wretched, miserable state. All the graces of God’s love and wisdom and power are made available under the symbolism of the "gold tried in the fire" and the "white raiment" proffered along with the eyesalve. Seventh-day Adventists have long recognized that these represent the "faith which worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6), that righteousness which is of faith and not of works, Christ’s righteousness. So by the utter surrender of the emptied heart to the infilling of God’s Holy Spirit, man’s imperfections are exchanged for the perfection of Christ. Then, and then only, can man enjoy the close communion held out to him by the One who represents Himself as standing outside, knocking.

"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me." Revelation 3:20.

No more pathetic scene is pictured throughout Scripture-the world’s Creator and Redeemer, who brought life into being by His own word at the beginning, who gave up the glory that was His to become one with the human race that He might buy back what should have been loyally, gratefully, eternally His, still standing outside, pleading with us to accept the benefits of His pardoning love. What has captivated us that we so carelessly turn down His offer? Are we so contented with the mediocre remuneration with which the world pays off its hacks?

Such communion as heaven offers must ever unfit the heart for communion with this world. The pure, lofty, wholly satisfying relationship with the One in whose image we were brought into being must forever ruin the taste for anything impure, ignoble, or tawdry. Man, who was created to commune with his God, can never be wholly satisfied apart from the spiritual heights which he was intended to reach. Adam and Eve were not blank pages when they came from the hands of God at creation. On the healthy, impressionable tissues of the brain must have been traced a pattern of intelligent obedience to the noble plans God had for His creatures. Such a pattern made co-operation with God a natural process, one that did not require the anxious heart searching and the grim resolution such a course often requires today. This did not make of our first parents mere puppets who had no choice but to obey. Their response to stimuli simply followed a natural pattern, just as we perform acts almost automatically once we have established a habit. Their performance of good deeds did not require a struggle of the will power.

When Eve took her first step away from God, along the pathway that Satan suggested, a subtly different pattern began to oppose itself to the life course which had seemed so simple and so satisfying. Issues became confused. The presence of right and wrong presented the necessity of choosing between them. The longer man lives in this world, the less sure he is of what is right and what is wrong. But there still are, in the depths of his heart, occasional stirrings of the desire to know the communion which it was once possible to have with God. The Spirit of God, given the freedom He seeks, will erase the paths which rebellion has traced in the brain, restoring that ancient pattern in the mind.

"The true Christian’s joys and consolation must and will be in heaven. The longing souls of those who have tasted of the powers of the world to come and have feasted on heavenly joys, will not be satisfied with things of earth. Such will find enough to do in their leisure moments. Their souls will be drawn out after God. Where the treasure is, there will the heart be, holding sweet communion with the God they love and worship. … And while they dwell upon those things which are lofty, pure, and holy, heaven will be brought near, and they will feel the power of the Holy Spirit, and this will tend to wean them more and more from the world. … The power of attraction to God and heaven will then be so great that nothing can draw their minds from the great object of securing the soul’s salvation and honoring and glorifying God."—Early Writings, pages 112, 113.

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