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The Test of Loyalty

by

Mrs. Ellen G. White

The Signs of the Times, February 13, 1896


"But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living. The depth saith, It is not in me; and the sea saith, It is not with me. It can not be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. It can not be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. The gold and the crystal can not equal it; and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral, or pearls; for the price of wisdom is above rubies. The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold. Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding?. . . Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding." [Job 28:12-28]

We shall learn how to depart from evil by studying the word of God, and by fulfilling the directions that are given us in the Scriptures. The psalmist says, "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." [Psalms 119:130] Those who ever bear in mind the fact that they are learners, those who are willing to be instructed, those who open their hearts to receive every ray of light that shines from the word of God, or that is presented to them by messengers whom God has commissioned to preach the Gospel, will learn the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom. We are to study both the Old and the New Testament, for it takes the complete Scriptures to unfold the Gospel. The Bible is the treasure-house of wisdom.

The character of sin, and God's treatment of sin, are first unfolded to us in the transgression of Adam. Sin is the transgression of the law, and when Adam and Eve sinned, they opened the floodgates of woe upon our world. The promise given to Adam that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, and that it should bruise his heel, was the first proclamation of the Gospel. But while a way was provided for the forgiveness of sin, yet in no way did this provision lessen its hateful character in the sight of God, or do away with the dire consequences that would fall upon impenitent transgressors. Christ was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, and men could always say, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." [John 1:29]

Christ became our substitute and surety. He took the case of fallen man upon himself. He became the Redeemer, the Intercessor. When death was proclaimed as the penalty of sin, he offered to give his life for the life of the world, in order that man might have a second probation, and that individually he might enjoy the privileges that would come to us through this divine provision, and receive power to form a character after the divine image. But God has a day in which he will judge the world by that Man whom he hath ordained. All judgment is given into the hands of the Son. Christ has engaged to become the sinner's surety, but he does not engage to lessen or detract from the obligation to the divine law. Should Christ change the law in any particular, the demands of Satan would be fulfilled, and God and Christ and the universe would be brought under bondage to his claims. Christ is the star of hope. He is the one to contest the claims of Satan; he is the seed of the woman that shall bruise the serpent's head. He overcame Satan in heaven, and cast him out because of his rebellion and apostasy.

It was when he was in conflict with man that Satan gained his first victory. Changing his appearance, assuming the disguise of a serpent, in the most subtle, artful-manner he assailed Eve, saying, "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die." [Genesis 3:1-3] The woman erred when she entered into controversy with the serpent. The Lord had not said, "Ye shall not touch it." [Genesis 3:3] He had said, "Of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." [Genesis 2:16-17]

"And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise," [Genesis 3:4-6] she began to be charmed with Satan's representations, and thought that God was unnecessarily restricting their liberty, and holding them back from that which would be for their advancement. "She took of the fruit thereof, and did eat." [Genesis 3:6] She told her husband what the serpent had said, "and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat." [Genesis 3:6] They forgot the great love that God had manifested toward them in giving them life, in providing them with a beautiful garden, in furnishing them with pleasant employment. They forgot his mercies, and thought him selfish and unkind. "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked." [Genesis 3:7] The garments of light which had enveloped them disappeared when they sinned against God.

There was nothing poisonous in the fruit of the tree of knowledge itself, nothing that would cause death in partaking of it. The tree had been placed in the garden to test their loyalty to God. The Lord designs that we shall contemplate the lesson that Adam failed to learn in his first experience, and would have us realize that the claims of God in this age are no less than they were in the Garden of Eden. The Gospel, first given to Adam in Eden, has lost none of its high claims since that time. We are required to obey all the commandments of God. The Sabbath commandment is placed in the midst of the Decalogue, and it was instituted in Eden at the same time that God instituted the marriage relation. God gave the Sabbath as a memorial of his creative power and works, "for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it." [Exodus 20:11] He made its observance obligatory upon man, in order that he might contemplate the works of God, dwell upon his goodness, his mercy, and love, and through nature look up to nature's God. If man had always observed the Sabbath, there would never have been an unbeliever, and infidel, or an atheist in the world. If Adam and Eve had contemplated the works of God in creating the world, if they had considered the reason that God had in giving them the Sabbath, if they had looked upon the beautiful tokens he had given them in withholding nothing that would add to their happiness, they would have been safe, they would have adored him for his goodness and love toward them, and in place of listening to the sophistries of Satan in casting blame upon God, in ascribing to him motives of selfishness, they would have considered the works of his hands, and songs of melody and thanksgiving and praise would have burst forth from their lips in adoration of him who had bountifully supplied them with every good thing. If they had considered how he had made them the object of his overflowing love, they would not have fallen; but they forgot the presence of God. They forgot that angels surrounded them to guard them from every danger, and they looked away from their great Benefactor.

The Sabbath is a test to this generation. In obeying the fourth commandment in spirit and truth, men will obey all the precepts of the Decalogue. To fulfill this commandment one must love God supremely, and exercise love toward all the creatures that he has made. The Lord exhorts us to "remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy;" [Exodus 20:8] and since this is his exhortation, will any one charge us with wearying them in bringing this commandment to their remembrance?


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