Liberties Threatened

Chapter 41

From the very beginning, it has been Satan's studied purpose to deceive men and thus lead them to transgress God's Law. Whether this is accomplished by putting aside the Law altogether, or by rejecting one of its precepts, he knows that the result will be ultimately the same. (See James 2:10.)

By distorting the doctrines of the Bible, he has succeeded in introducing errors that have become a part of the faith of thousands who profess to believe the Bible. The last great battle between truth and error will be but the final struggle in the longstanding controversy concerning the Law of God. Upon this battle we are now entering-a battle between the laws of men and Bible principle.

The Bible is available to all, but there are few who really accept it as their guide of life. Unfaithfulness is found everywhere, not only in the world, but in the church. God's holy Word, which has been handed down to us at such a cost of suffering and blood, holds but little value in the minds of many. Thousands who pride themselves on being original thinkers regard it as an evidence of weak­ness to place complete confidence in the Bible. Many ministers teach that the Law of God has been changed or done away with and that those who regard its requirements as still to be literally obeyed are deserving of only ridicule or contempt. No error accepted by the Christian world strikes more boldly against the authority of Heaven.

It would be far more consistent for nations to abolish their laws and permit the people to do as they please, than for the Ruler of the universe to set aside His Law and leave the world without a standard to condemn the guilty or justify the obedient. When the standard of righteousness is set aside, the way is open for the prince of evil to establish his power in the earth.

Already the doctrine that men are released from obedience to God's requirements has weakened the force of moral obligation and opened the floodgates of iniquity upon the world. Like an overwhelming tide, lawlessness is sweeping away the very fabric of society. The whole system of religious principles and doctrines, which should form the foundation and framework of social life, seems to be ready to fall to ruin. The legalization of vice, the reckless taking of life, the terrible increase in every type of evil practice should arouse all who fear God to ask what can be done to stay the tide of evil.

Courts of justice are corrupt. Those in responsible positions are motivated by no higher purpose than the desire for gain. Envy and dishonesty of every sort are found among those who enforce the laws. "Justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter." Isaiah 59:14

The gross injustice and spiritual darkness that prevailed under the supremacy of Rome were the inevitable result of her suppression of the Scriptures. Now that Satan can no longer keep the world under his control by withholding the Scriptures, he has successfully worked to destroy faith in the Bible itself. As in former ages, he has worked through the church to accomplish his purpose. The religious organizations of today have refused to listen to unpopular truths plainly taught in the Scriptures; and in fighting against them, they have adopted interpretations and taken positions which have led to skepticism and disbelief of God's Word.

As people are made aware of the fourth commandment, they learn that the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath is commanded. As this is a duty they desire to avoid, many popular church leaders declare that the Law of God is no longer binding. In doing so, they cast away the Law and the Sabbath together. As the work of bringing the truth of the Sabbath reform extends, this rejection of the divine Law to avoid the claims of the fourth commandment will become well-nigh universal. The teachings of religious leaders have opened the door to infidelity, spiritualism, and contempt for God's holy Law. A fearful responsibility rests upon these leaders for the wide-spread corruption and evil that exists in the Christian world.

Yet this very class are the first to claim that the fast-spreading corruption is largely the result of desecrating the so-called "Christian sabbath," and that the enforcement of Sunday observance would greatly improve the morals of society. The leaders of the Sunday movement may advocate reforms which the people need, principles which are in harmony with the Bible; yet there is with these a requirement which is contrary to God's Law. Nothing can justify them in setting aside the commandments of God for the precepts of men.

Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions. While the former lays the foundation of spiritualism, the latter creates a bond with Rome. As spiritualism more closely imitates the nominal Christianity of the day, its workings will be accepted as a manifestation of divine power by the Protestants of the United States. In the Roman power they will find a common interest in enforcing Sunday legislation; and under the influence of this threefold union, this country will follow in the steps of Rome in trampling on the rights of conscience.

The line of distinction between professed Christians and the ungodly is now scarcely distinguishable. Church members love what the world loves and are ready to join with them. In order to strengthen his cause, Satan will seek to bring all into the ranks of spiritualism. Papists, who boast of miracles as a certain sign of the true church, will be readily deceived by this wonder-working power; and Protestants, having cast away the shield of truth, will also be deceived. Papists, Protestants, and worldlings will alike accept the form of godliness without the power; and they will see in this union a grand movement for the conversion of the world and the ushering in of the long-expected millennium.

Through spiritualism, Satan appears as a helper, healing the diseases of the people and professing to present a new and more exalted system of religious faith; but at the same time, he works as a destroyer. By inciting civil unrest and war, he will work to divert the minds of the people from the work of preparation to stand in the day of God.

Satan works through the elements also to garner his harvest of unprepared souls. When he was allowed to afflict Job, how quickly flocks and herds, servants, houses, and children w.ere swept away, one trouble following another in rapid succession. It is God who protects His creatures from Satan's destroying power, but the Christian world has shown contempt for God's Law. As a result, the Lord will do just what He has declared that He would—He will withdraw His blessings from the earth and remove His protecting care from those who are rebelling against His authority and are teaching and forcing others to do the same. Satan has control of all whom God does not especially guard. He will favor and prosper some in order to further his own designs, and he will bring trouble upon others and lead men to believe that it is God who is afflicting them.

While appearing to men as an angel of light who can heal all their sickness, he will bring disease and disaster and, through war and natural calamities, reduce cities to ruin and desolation. Even now, in accidents, in fierce outbreaks in nature, in earthquakes, and in many other ways, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. These disasters will become more frequent and more deadly as the wickedness in the earth becomes more widespread. (See Isaiah 24:4–5.)

At the same time, the great deceiver will lead the very ones who have aroused the displeasure of Heaven into believing that those who are obedient to God's commandments are the cause of the wide-spread disasters. It will be declared that men are offending God by the violation of the Sunday sabbath, that this sin has brought judgments which will not stop until Sunday observance is strictly enforced. Those who present the claims of the fourth commandment, thus destroying reverence for Sunday, will be viewed as preventing the restoration to divine favor and temporal prosperity. As people's anger is excited by false charges, they will be readily moved to take action against those who appear to be the cause of their problems.

The miracle-working power manifested through spiritualism will exert its influence against those who choose to obey God rather than men. Communications from the spirits will declare that the laws of the land should be obeyed as the Law of God. They will grieve for the great wickedness in the world and second the testimony of religious teachers that the degraded state of morals is caused by the desecration of Sunday. Great will be the indignation excited against all who refuse to accept their testimony.

Satan's policy in this final conflict with God's people is the same that he used in the opening of the great controversy in heaven. While professing to promote the stability of the divine government, he was secretly exerting every effort to bring about its overthrow. The very work which he was thus seeking to accomplish he blamed upon the loyal angels. The same policy of deception has marked the history of the Roman Church. It has professed to act as the representative of Heaven, while actually seeking to exalt itself above God and to change His Law. Under the rule of Rome, those who suffered death for their faithfulness to the gospel were condemned as evildoers; they were declared to be the tools of Satan; and every possible means was employed to cover them with disgrace and to make them appear to be the worst of criminals. So it will be again. While Satan seeks to destroy those who honor God's Law, he will cause them to be charged as lawbreakers, as men who are dishonoring God and bringing His judgments upon the world.

God never forces the will or the conscience; but Satan's constant resort—to gain control of those whom he cannot otherwise seduce—is compulsion by cruelty. Through fear or force he strives to rule the conscience and to secure worship to himself. To accomplish this, he works through both religious and civil authorities, moving them to enforce human laws that are contrary to, and in defiance of, the Law of God.

The conscientious refusal of those who keep the Sabbath to go along with the majority will be called obstinacy, stubbornness, and contempt of authority. They will be accused of working to overthrow the government. Ministers will present from the pulpit the duty of yielding obedience to the civil authorities as ordained of God. In legislative halls and courts of justice, commandment keep­ers will be misrepresented and condemned. A false coloring will be given to their words; the worst motives will be attributed to them.

Church and state officials will unite to bribe, persuade, or force all classes to honor Sunday. (See Revelation 13:16–17.) The lack of divine authority will be supplied by oppressive laws. Even in free America, rulers and legislators, in order to secure public favor, will yield to the popular demand for a law enforcing Sunday observance. Liberty of conscience, which has cost so great a sacrifice, will no longer be respected. In the soon-coming conflict, we shall see exemplified the prophet's words: “The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." Revelation 12:17