by A.T. Jones
I understand there are some that think I did not say enough about dress last night. I think perhaps that is so, because it is altogether likely that those who think I did not say enough about dress would be glad if I had talked about those who dress neatly and even nicely, while they themselves think they are all right.
There are people who, when they see a person dressed neatly and well take it at once as an evidence of pride. But it is just as much an evidence of pride for a person to be proud of his slovenliness, as it is for another person to be proud of his flashiness. I have seen people who were proud of their slovenliness. I have seen people who were proud of their lack of pride. They were thanking God they were not proud. But they were.
Perhaps for that reason I did not say enough about dress before, and therefore I would add this, that those who are proud of their lack of pride and in this pride think they are all right, when they might and ought to dress better or more neatly than they do, would do well to correct themselves and come up to a better standard.
However, I was not talking about dress. That was not the subject. I was talking about coming out of Babylon. I am talking against idolatry, what sacrilege is, and what the abhorring of idols is.
We had reached in the third chapter of second Timothy the word "blasphemers." We cannot take up each one of these words singly, but there are words along throughout the catalogue that are worthy to be noticed by us. One here a step or two along is unthankful. In these last days people, having a form of godliness without the power, will be unthankful. Unthankful is not thankful. Thankful is full of thanks. How is it with you? Where do you belong? You are a professor of religion; you profess godliness. Are you full of thanks? or are you thankful when everything goes right and to suit you? But when things go so as not to suit you, then you are doubtful, fretful, impatient, and wonder what is to become of you? Are you discontented and unthankful when such and such things happen? Are you thankful sometimes and unthankful sometimes? If I am thankful sometimes and not thankful at other times, then am I thankful? No. "From such turn away."
Those that have a form of godliness without the power and go according to feeling have their ups and downs. But God does not wish any Christian to have any ups and downs at all, only ups. He quickens us; that is, gives us life and raises us from the dead to start with, and he intends that we shall keep on going up until we land at the right hand of God.
Take the other figure: We are planted. We are called trees--trees of righteousness--rooted and grounded in the love of God, and that tree is expected to grow and only to grow. Not to grow and then go back. As they told me down in Florida when I was there last fall, some of their orange trees get what they call "die-back." They shoot up, outgrowing all the other trees and then die back, almost if not entirely to the ground. The next year they again shoot up that way, again outgrowing all the trees and again die back. But that is not the kind of trees God has in his orchard. He plants trees of righteousness and expects that they shall not be up and down, growing up swiftly and dying back, but that they shall grow, and only grow.
Unholy: We all know what it is alone which makes holy--the presence of Jesus Christ. The abiding presence of God alone can make any place or anything holy. But those who have the form of godliness without the presence of God are necessarily unholy. And this scripture says, "From such turn away." If I am unholy, from such I am to turn away; that is, turn away from myself. The only place we can turn from ourselves is unto God. And that brings the abiding presence of God, which makes holy and which sanctifies.
Without natural affection: How do you treat the children? Of course our children are not all perfect; they are not all born saints, because they are our children. We find many things that are awry about them in their conduct, that is true. And yet how do we treat them? How did they come by these crooked ways? How did that meanness that is there get into them? You hear many people say of certain actions or traits in a child, "Well, that child came honestly by that." Yes, that is true. In fact is there anything that the child manifests that he did not come honestly by? Surely not, for the child did not bring himself into the world. I am not in any sense saying that these traits shall be allowed to run on unchecked. But in checking or correcting them shall we treat them as though they were altogether responsible for it? or shall we consider that we ourselves are responsible in some measure for it? Which shall it be, "Without natural affection"? or shall we allow that we have something to do with it? Shall we allow that the thing is there by nature and work accordingly, not only with natural affection but with the affection of grace divine?
Truce breakers: Now a truce is made when two armies are at war. A flag is sent out by one or the other--a flag of truce it is called. A truce is a lull in warfare, a stopping of hostilities. It may be for the burial of the dead. It may be for a parley as to peace. It may be for one reason or another, but a truce is a stopping of all warfare and all contention by those who had formerly been at war. If it is for the burial of the dead, they can mix right in one with the other, sit down and talk together, everything perfect peace. But when the truce is over, the war begins again. The Scripture says (Titus 3:2, 3), "Speak evil of no man, be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto men." There is a truce now. But what before? "For we ourselves also were sometime foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another." That is how it used to be; and he that hates has broken the commandment which says, "Thou shalt not kill." Formerly there were contentions, strife, envy, jealousy, emulation, wrath, seditions, heresies, murders, and all these things. That is the way it was before. Now we have found Christ--professed to--and that calls for peace, and that is the truce. That is accepted among Christians, among those who have named the name of Christ.
Therefore, after naming the name of Christ and professing to be his, the man who indulges any envy, any malice, any hatred, any backbiting, any evilspeaking, any division--what is he? He is a trucebreaker. He has broken the truce that he has professed in the very name and the profession of godliness. Have you ever found in your experience among the churches in our own denomination any envy, jealousy, talking one against another, backbiting, variance, emulation, wrath, strife, divisions, or any such thing? That is truce breaking. Are you one of these? "From such turn away."
False accusers: The next expression comes inevitably, "truce breakers, false accusers." And the Greek for that word "false accusers" is diaboloi, devils, because the Greek for the devil is diabolos--the accuser, the chiefest of all accusers among those who do accuse. You remember in the 12th of Revelation it says of him: "The accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." That is the devil himself--the chief accuser. And here in the word which we are studying, it is expressed in the plural--diaboloi--devils. That is, they follow the ways of the devil, the chief accuser, and thus are called devils, also false accusers. Now I am not calling them devils. I am calling your attention to the fact that the Lord calls them devils. False accusers. Are you one?
Now we are studying Babylon and what it is to come out of Babylon. I have a little extract here that gives some idea of how it is really in Babylon, where the mother of harlots is, where Babylon, the mother, sits--in Rome itself. And that will be an illustration of what this signifies here and what is pointed out in the words "truce breakers" and "false accusers."
Cardinal Gibbons last year shortly after his return from Rome gave an interview to the correspondent of the New York World, and the interview was reprinted in the Catholic Standard in the month of October, 1894, and here is a statement from the interview:
In talking, his eminence weighs his words nicely. Although he has no shadow of reserve when he is dealing with people in whom he has confidence, he is nice in the expression of his views. He once assured me that the pleasure he derived from seeing Rome was greatly lessened by the necessity of keeping guard upon his tongue. "In the strange air of Rome," as he explained, "your lightest words are caught up, commented, and misinterpreted." "I am accustomed to say what I think, plainly and directly, in our American way," he added.
But in Rome he could not do that. How is it in Battle Creek? How is it in Oakland? How is it in College View? How is it in any church? How is it in the church where you belong? Is there such perfect confidence in you as a brother with all the others to whom you speak that no word is caught up, commented, and misinterpreted? Or is there such a thing as catching up words, making a man an offender for a word? Not taking time to understand what he said, not knowing whether you heard the thing distinctly or not, you caught some kind of indistinct sound and it did not strike you exactly right. Then you must hurry to the President of the Conference or some other brother in important position and tell him, "Oh, such and such a brother said so and so. How can you have him in the ministry? How can you support a man that holds such doctrines as that?" Have you ever seen any such thing as that? I am simply asking these questions; You can decide. You can tell whether it is so or not, and if that is the way it is in Battle Creek or any other place among Seventh-day Adventists, then where is the difference on this point between this and the very seat of Babylon itself--Rome, where your words "are caught up, commented, and misinterpreted!" If this is so, is it not time to come out of Babylon? Is it not time "from such to turn away?" and find such a connection with Jesus Christ, such an abiding confidence and faith in him that there shall be perfect Christian confidence among all who profess the name of Christ, that your words shall not be caught up, commented, and misinterpreted?
Now it is true that the Christian is to be so absolutely truthful, frank, and open hearted that he need not care, and is not to care, what people make out of his words. But what of those who profess to be Christians, that are ready to make such things out of his words? That is the question. And if that is so in the churches where you belong, then "from such turn away." I mean if you are one of these, from yourself turn away.
False accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady.
Heady: There is an expression that is common among people today that expresses the same thing. It is the phrase, "big head." Heady--the information all lies in the head. All they know is in their head, and they think there is so much of it that they wonder that even their head can hold it. But that is one of the characteristics of the last days. People will be heady. That is, they have their knowledge in their heads.
But God wants hearty people in these days. Instead of people having the big head, he wants them to have a big heart. God gave Solomon largeness of heart like the sands of the seashore, and the exhortation is to us all, in Corinthians, "Be ye also enlarged." God wants large hearted people--hearty people, not heady people. And there are no two ways about it; the Testimonies have told us often enough and plainly enough, that there is entirely too much theory among Seventh-day Adventists and not enough experience of the love of Christ in the heart. Too much dogma and not enough of the Spirit of God. Too much form and too little real practical experience of the power of God and of the truth working in the heart and shining abroad in the life. From such turn away. Let God have all the heart that he may enlarge it to the filling of it with all his fullness.
High-minded: The next word comes logically from this. It is the consequence of this, just as false accusers comes from truce breakers. These are "heady, high-minded." There is a word upon this in the 12th chapter of Romans, 16th verse: "Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate." How is it in our work in Bible readings, tent meetings, and so on? Are we glad when some of the rich folks come out, some of "the best society," and seem to be favourable to the truth and we do think, Now we are doing some great thing? And another man, as James described him, "a poor man, in vile raiment," comes into the tent and his appearance is not altogether in his favour. And we say to the man of the gay clothing, "O, come here. Here is a seat for you." The other man--O, we don't know him at all. How is it? James says that is respect of persons. Have you respect of persons? "If ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors." You cannot do it. "Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate." I am not saying that we shall slight the rich or those of the best society; not that at all. They are to be called to Christ and be converted just as much as anybody else. What I am asking is, Are we courting these and thinking some great thing is done when one of these shows some interest or favour toward us or the truth, while disregarding or slighting the poor and the outcast? There is no respect of persons with God. "If ye have respect of persons, ye commit sin." "Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits."
There is another verse in Philippians that touches the same thing, with an exhortation to us all. Phil. 2:3-6:
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which also was in Christ Jesus; who, though he was high, became low that he might lift up the lowest.
And that was the complaint against him in his day. Oh, this man, why, he goes in with publicans and sinners and eats with them. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."
Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God: I need not call any further attention to that. Brother Prescott's lesson last night is full enough on that particular point. "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."
Now there is another text upon this particular phase of the study, as to what it is to come out of the world and wherein the world lies and wherein we are connected with the world.
Turn to James 4:4:
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
Does not that call upon everyone to ask himself, Have I friendship for the world? Not, Have I more friendship for the world than I have for the Lord? Have I any of it at all? For whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. That is written and that is so. See how he starts out with it too. "Ye adulterers and adulteresses." Let us look at that expression and see what that means in connection with Babylon. Right in that expression we can find how Babylon originated and was built up. Turn to Romans 7:1-4:
Know ye not, brethren (for I speak to them that know the law), how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath a husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then, if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from the law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye shall be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead.
The one who professes the name of Christ stands in the place where his very profession declares that he is married to Jesus Christ, as the wife is married to the husband. Now the wife who has a husband and sets her mind upon another man and puts her dependence upon another man, what is she? You know.
Her husband is there all the time, the husband is living and living with her. Our husband is alive, and he says, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." He is not like a human husband, that is sometimes called away for a long time, but even though the human husband be called away for a long time, that does not justify the wife in putting her dependence upon another man.
But there is this heavenly husband to whom we are united, as a wife in the marriage relation. He has come from heaven to draw us away from this world, away from the god of this world and all connection with the world, unto God. Christ says, "I am not of this world." He is the second Adam. The first man--the first Adam--is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are of the earth. And as is the heavenly, such are they also that are of the heavenly. Our husband is of heaven and is only heavenly. When he was in the world, he was not of the world. He put no dependence upon the world. He had no connection whatever with it. As is the heavenly, such are they also that are of the heavenly.
Here are we then, joined to that heavenly husband in that heavenly relation. And the one who professes this and then has his mind, his affections, his friendship, toward the world and upon the world--what is that? That is violative of that marriage relation. That is what is meant when the word says, "Ye adulterers and adulteresses." That is so with the individual. What then of a combination of individuals composing a church? An individual connected with Christ has an individual Christian experience and holds an individual Christian connection. A whole combination of these connected with Christ form the church of Christ and should have a church experience and a church connection.
Take then one of these individuals who has turned away from Christ, the true husband and rightful Lord, has friendship for the world, puts his dependence upon the kings of this world. He is an adulterer, as in the text. Put with him a whole combination of persons who are doing like that, making a church also of that kind, that is what made Babylon the mother--committing fornication with the kingdoms of this world, the ways of this world--putting her dependence upon the governments and combinations of this world. Therefore the next expression we see in the Scriptures describing her is where she has committed fornication with the kings of the earth and sits upon a scarlet coloured beast, having on her forehead a name written, 'MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." She sets the wicked example, and other churches--professedly Protestant--have followed the evil example and so have become daughters of that base lineage.
So you see that that very thing that James refers to, which causes him to use the terms "adulterers and adulteresses"--this friendship with the world by those professing the name of Christ--that is what made Babylon at the beginning and it is what makes Babylon the mother and the daughters and the whole combination of Babylon. It is the professed church of Jesus Christ, having the form of godliness without having the power. But having friendship for the world. Having connection with the world, leaning upon the kingdoms and the ways of the kingdoms of this world and not upon the strong, loving arm of her rightful husband. Friendship with the world contains in itself all that Babylon is. It is enmity with God.
Therefore, you can see that every consideration, every principle upon which a scripture touches, demands, merely in the named principle, utter separation from the world and all there is of it. But when the world is in this condition and all going away from God and being gathered together to be pitted against the Lord, against his Christ, in the persons of those whose names are written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world--of all times that ever were on the earth, now is the time when these scriptures are to have living force and living power with those who name the name of Christ and especially with those whose names are written in the book of life.
Now note: We have studied so far what Babylon is and what it comprehends. And we find that it comprehends the whole world. Therefore what it is to come out of her is nothing less than to come out of the world. We have lately what it is to come out of the world, and it is certain that it is to be utterly separate from the world and all that is in it, having no connection with it whatever. The next inquiry is to be, How is this to be accomplished? God has made complete provision for this. That provisions is all ready for our acceptance. And now as we enter upon the study of this part of the subject, we are to know that every heart that will receive the word of God in the Spirit of Christ with the submission that is called for--the Lord himself will cause that truth to do the very thing that is needed for every such one who will so receive it. That truth will separate us indeed; it will do this work for us. We cannot do it ourselves. We cannot separate ourselves from ourselves. But God has a truth that will do that thing, and it will separate us from ourselves, deliver us from this present evil world, deliver us from sin in the abstract--not simply from individual sins but from sin--so that sin shall not have power over us, but that the power of God will work in its place.
God has a truth in his word that will do just that thing and will lift us so above the world that we shall dwell in the light of the glory of God and of the kingdom of God. That power will be upon us and in us and about us so that we shall go forth to the work to which we are called, to do the work that God has to do and to sound loudly the message of warning and the call that is now to be given to all, "Come out of her, my people."
We cannot give that call unless we are completely out ourselves. I cannot call a man out from the world when I am not out from it myself. I cannot bring a man to see what separation from the world is. I cannot do it with the truth of God, even, unless I see and know by my own experience what separation from the world is. I cannot call people to be utterly separated from the world or anything in it and have them put their dependence absolutely upon God and nothing else, when I am connected with the world myself. It cannot be done. We can say the words which say to them "Come out," but there will be no power in the words which reach them to bring them out, as only the power of God can, and they cannot come out themselves.
As we read in a previous lesson, it is the "voice from heaven" that calls the people out of Babylon. Then it is certainly true that from this time forward we are to be so connected with heaven in our work, that when we speak the word of God the people shall hear the voice from heaven, which will fulfil the design of the solemn call. And in the line of truth that is to come in the next division of the subject, God will so connect with heaven everyone who will receive it that he shall find heaven upon the earth. God wants our days, especially from this time forward, to be as the days of heaven upon the earth, according to the Scripture. And he will cause this to be so with everyone who will yield fully to God and to his truth and hear the voice from heaven.
Therefore I would ask that between this and the next lesson all will set their minds and hearts solemnly and sacredly to preparation for what the Lord has to say, for all that he will give us and for all that he will do for us.
God has important truth for us which will do the great work that must be done for us, and we need to have everything surrendered to him, saying, "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth." And when he speaks, drop everything, accept the word, because it is the word of God, and that word will raise us above the world. Then when God has raised us, we can shine.