The Test of Christian Living

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The Test of Christian Living

How are You Building?

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell; and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7:24-27.

In this text there is presented something for us individually to do in order to build securely, where the fierce tempest will not sweep away our foundation. The earnest, anxious inquiry of every soul should be, How am I building? Is my foundation sliding sand, or solid rock?

Let us consider more fully the lesson that Jesus gave in his sermon on the mount, as with great distinctness and power his words fell on the ears of the listening multitude. “Enter ye in at the strait gate,” he says; “for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

The Way Too Narrow?

Many tell us,

You are too particular. God does not expect us to be constantly on guard lest we make mistakes. He is too good to hold us accountable for our course of action day by day.

But we are to remember that the way to destruction is broad, while the way to eternal life is strait and narrow. Listen again to the words of the great Teacher: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” This shows us that we are to be guarded on every side, lest we mistake the way. We must be careful not to listen to agents of the great adversary, who would guide our feet into forbidden paths, as our first parents were led into transgression.

Our Lord does not leave us in darkness as to whom to trust. Here is the rule by which to decide;

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit (Matthew 7:16-17).

Here is the test by which to judge every man who claims to be a teacher and a guide to the people. And now listen to his startling denunciation of those teachers who make high pretensions to godliness, while their works do not correspond with their profession: “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Do their high claims prove them to be genuine Christians and reliable guides? No, indeed! We must look carefully at the life and character, the words and deeds.

Jesus is guarding his hearers from deceptions that would endanger their souls; and he warns them to beware of false teachers, who are wolves in sheep’s clothing. He would have every one for whom his precious blood is a ransom, constantly on his guard, comparing every man’s pretentious claims with the great standard of righteousness. The question is, “What saith the Scriptures?” Human lips may utter perverse things, lying doctrines that have no foundation in God’s word, and souls may be sincere in accepting these erroneous doctrines; but will their sincerity save them from the sure and disastrous result? The Bible is the standard of truth and holiness. If they were carefully and prayerfully living by this word, they would not be deceived.

The words of Jesus are full of awful significance:

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven (Matthew 7:21).

That will is made known in his law, which is the foundation of his government in Heaven and upon earth. Those who cheerfully obey that law are doing the will of God.

The lesson continues:

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:22-23).

Here attention is called to a class who are actively engaged in religious work, making high claims to the favor of God, while they are all the time serving the great adversary of souls. They are transgressing the law of God, and are teaching others to transgress it also. Thus they are zealous workers of iniquity, while claiming Christ as their Lord, and professedly doing great works in his name.

Two Houses: We are One of Two Builders

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock (Matthew 7:24).

 

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand (Matthew 7:26).

Here are two houses. One is built on a rock, and is almost inaccessible; the other is on the level ground, in a much pleasanter location. To the thoughtless observer it seems that the man who built his house on the steep rock was odd and foolish, while the one who built on the low, level plain is considered wise and prudent. But by and by the storm comes. The winds blow and the tempests beat upon these houses. And what is the result? The beautiful home upon the plain is overthrown, and lies upon the beach, a useless ruin, while the other, perched on the high rock, stands firm, unmoved by storm and flood.

Jesus compared the man who hears and obeys his words to the one who built his house upon a rock. The floods of temptation may come and the tempests of trial beat; but he remains unmoved, for his foundation is sure. But the man who built his house on the sand, where it had no firm foundation, but was quickly undermined and overthrown, fitly represents the one who hears the words of Christ and disregards them. Will we let this lesson impress our hearts, and have an influence on our character building? Will we plant our feet upon the truth of God—the sure foundation, or will we trust in erroneous doctrines, which are but sliding sand? Holiness and sin are opposed to each other. “Sin is the transgression of the law;” therefore the “doers of the word” are not those who are making void the law of God. “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” The blessing is pronounced on those that obey, not on those that transgress, the holy law of God.

Everywhere error will be presented for truth; and unless we have a living connection with God, and are diligent in searching the Scriptures, there is danger of being misled. Voices will be heard on every side, saying, “Come with us; we have the truth.” Jesus is the true Shepherd. His sheep hear his voice, and follow him; but a “stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.” But unless we are ever on our guard, there is constant danger of listening to strange voices.

The Lord commanded Adam in Eden, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat;” “for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” But another voice was heard saying, “Ye shall not surely die.” This strange voice tested Adam and Eve, and proved their loyalty. They had an opportunity to show whether they would be obedient to God, or would disregard his word, and accept that of the deceiver who came to destroy them.

The Lord did not prove Adam and Eve in a large matter. The test given them was the smallest that could have been devised. Had it been a large test, then men and women whose hearts incline to evil would excuse themselves by saying, “This is a trivial matter, and God is not so particular about little things,” and there would be constant transgression in things looked upon as small, and which pass unrebuked among men. But the Lord has made it very evident that sin, in any degree, is offensive to him.

To Eve it seemed a small thing to disobey God by tasting the fruit of the forbidden tree, and to tempt her husband to transgress also; but their sin opened the floodgate of woe upon the world. And their posterity would have remained in hopeless bondage to sin, had not Christ had pity on them. He left his throne in the courts of Heaven; he laid aside his royal robe, clothed his divinity with humanity, and came to our world all seared and marred by the curse, to reach men where they were. He descended step by step in humiliation, that he might reach to the very depths of human woe, where man had been plunged by his transgression of the law, while with his divine arm he grasped the Infinite One, thus connecting man with God, and earth with Heaven. This great sacrifice was not made to verify the words of Satan by saving man in his transgressions. The design was not to do away and make of none effect the law of God, but to give man another trial, another opportunity to prove his loyalty to the God of Heaven.

“By the law is the knowledge of sin.” The law is the great mirror, into which man must look to discern the defects in his character. If he refuses to consult this divinely appointed detector, and thus learn his true state, can we be surprised that he proudly boasts of perfection? He must see his character in the light of God’s law. He must have a new heart, one that is pure, loving, and obedient. The old life of sin and alienation from God must be given up, and a new life of loving, trusting obedience begin. Then the peace of Christ will rule in the heart and sanctify the life; and the path in which he treads will be the highway cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in, where light from Heaven is ever shining.

Editorial Note: This article was adapted from The Signs of the Times, October 29, 1885.

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About the author

Ellen G. White

Ellen G. White (1827-1915), a cofounder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books during her lifetime. She was more than a gifted writer; she was appointed by God as a special messenger to draw the world's attention to the Scriptures and help prepare people for Christ's second advent. Read her writings at ellenwhite.org.