Study: What do these verses teach us about the nature of this evil system?
Apply: How can we protect ourselves from the subtle influences of Babylon, such as the tendency, easy as it is, to depend upon ourselves and not wholly upon God?
Share: Your friend asks, If God is calling His people out of Babylon who do we warn them about the system of Babylon without condemning God’s people who are still in Babylon? What do you tell your friend?
Study: What does judgment imply about issues such as accountability and responsibility? How are the judgment, the commandments of God, and worship linked?
Apply: How does our understanding of Creation influence our behavior? What relationship does heredity and environment have to the choices we make daily? How can we, by God’s grace, overcome character defects that we didn’t choose to have in the first place?
Share: Your friend says that all religions are made up by man as a way to manipulate and control others. The Bible is not real. Religious leaders just made it all up as a way to use guilt and some make believe heaven as a way to manipulate and control people. What do you tell your friend?
Study: Why would you connect Sabbath worship with this call in Revelation 14:6,7 to worship Him who made the heavens, earth, and everything in them? Also how is the Sabbath linked to both creation and redemption? See Twice Mine.
Share: Your friend asks why Seventh-day Adventists make such a big deal about the Sabbath? And what’s the big deal if we keep Saturday or Sunday? What do you tell your friend? See Why Does it Matter Which Day we Keep.
Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies. Jonah 2:8 NLT
Over the last 30 years of studying the Bible with people I have had a few conversations that have have gone like this.
Friend: I am so bored right now I wish there was something to do, anything! I am just tired of being bored.
Me: Hey would this be a good time for a Bible study?
Friend: Maybe when things settle down a little bit. My life is a whirlwind right now.
Granted the last time this happened was during the COVID quarantine but it has happened other times also. It is sad people will do everything they can to avoid worshipping God, while He is the only One who can bring true purpose and satisfaction. In John 4:1-42, Jesus tells the woman at the well that He is the Living Water which will never make her thirsty again. After 5 failed relationships she needed to know that a relationship with Jesus is the only relationship that brings true satisfaction. So today, many worship immoral sex, and other addictive vices such as drugs that never quench their thirst and never satisfy. You have heard the definition for insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time. I believe the reason many of us have addictive vices is not because the addictions satisfy but rather because the addictive behavior does not satisfy, but we keep expectingit to satisfy each time we repeat the behavior even though it never does. So we keep repeating the addiction over and over expecting it to bring us satisfaction that we can only obtain by worshiping God. This is insanity. I had a pastor back home in Oklahoma who would often say, “sin is insanity.” I believe he is right. When I get thirsty my body needs water, but sometimes I may try to tell myself what I really need is a cold glass of iced sweet tea or a soda. Reality is those other drinks dehydrate me and leave me even more thirsty. Thinking that tea and colas will quench my thirst is insanity. Only water will quench my thirst. My taste and cravings may make me think I need a cola but my tastes and cravings are a lie. They are insanity. Logic tells me what my body needs is water.
Many worship immoral sex and drugs and such thinking that it will bring satisfaction but it never does, and thus the repeated addictive behavior, expecting drugs and sex to do for us what it has never done before. By the way, later in the story in John 4:1-42 Jesus tells His disciples that His food is to do the will of His Father. I think what Jesus meant was that His satisfaction does not come from food, or drugs or immoral sex for that matter. His satisfaction comes from worshiping the Father and doing His will. Sure Jesus repeats this behavior of worship, but not as an addiction but rather because it is truly satisfying and exactly what He needs. After all God always gives us free will and free choice when it comes to worship. Worshiping God is a choice we make every day, and not an addiction. This is why Jesus tells us in Luke 9:23 to take up the cross every day, because every day we have to make that choice. It will never become an addiction. Only Satan uses addictions. Jesus died to free us from all addictions and only accepts worship done every day by free choice, as we choose every day to take up our cross and follow and worship Him.
God knows worshiping Him really does bring true satisfaction and purpose so there is no reason for Him to make it addictive. God knows if we taste and see that the Lord is good we will freely choose to worship Him every day. He does not have to trick us by making it addictive. Satan on the other hand knows sin does not satisfy or give us purpose. Murder, lying, stealing, lust, coveting and so forth have never been a logical solution for any problem. Thus Satan has to make these behaviors addictive in order to make us repeat them, because the fact is they do not bring satisfaction or purpose. Sin and sinful addictions are insanity like my pastor said. If that sounds too harsh, then lets just say sinful addictions are not a logical solution for any craving. Only Jesus satisfies.
We worship because we are created to worship by nature. The only question is what or who do we worship? Like in my illustration at the beginning of this article, many people will do all they can to avoid worshiping God-even when they are bored and feel a void. I’ve had people tell me they don’t have time to study their Bible or worship God because they are too busy making money, or practicing other hobbies or just too busy watching sports and TV. Fact is they have plenty of time to worship. Its just that they are so busy worshiping everything else that they don’t have time to worship God. By the way do you know how I know that worshiping God truly satisfies? Sometimes I will plan on watching a ball game and will tell myself that I can do my Bible study before the game, but I often fall so in love with what and Who I am studying that by the time the game comes on I don’t desire to watch the game anymore. I want to keep studying, because I chooseto because worshiping God is truly quenching my thirst, and giving me satisfaction so that I feel no need to watch the ball game. I am not addicted to the Bible. I keep studying because I want to and not because I am addicted. Again God does not want us to worship Him because we are addicted. We can stop worshiping Him anytime we want. He is not an addiction. He only accepts worship that comes by choice and not by addiction. But when I find how satisfying God is and how unsatisfying my addictions are, I then choose to worship God instead of my addictions, and God gives me the freedom to choose Him instead of my addictions when it is my sincere choice.
In closing, I believe in my heart the reason many make themselves drunk with the cares of this life or with literal drugs and alcohol is so they can ignore the sobriety of life. They use drugs and alcohol which leads to death as a way to escape this world. Oh how I pray they find out soon there is a better way to escape the pains of this world and life. Jesus, offers us a way out of this world of misery, but His way out is not drinking yourself to death. His way out is the opposite of death, it is eternal life. A more fulfilling and satisfying life that will remove us from this world of misery and sin and give us eternal life in paradise with Him. Satan wants us to get so drunk with our addictions that we no longer think about life. He wants us to be numb to the realities of life and just drift away to a peaceful death. Let’s all wake up! instead of being drunk and numb to the realities of life and drifting off into a peaceful death, let’s be sober and worship God and accept the everlasting Gospel which will help us drift into a peaceful eternal life.
PS Earlier I mentioned that our sinful addictive cravings are a lie. I want to help make this idea practical. Many times I have walked into a convenience store thinking I needed a cola, but walked out with a bottled water instead, after praying and telling myself that my desire for soda was a lie. When I think I need a soda, I have found myself drinking water instead by praying and then telling myself I was lying to myself when I told myself I needed a cola. I tell myself the truth is I want water. It also helps to stop and ask myself, did drinking cola really satisfy anything last time I drank it? No. Did water satisfy my thirst last time I drank it? Yes! Now I am free to make a sane and logical choice.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
Study: What’s the message here for all who seek to follow Jesus in this world?
Apply: Have you ever been persecuted or inconvenienced because of your beliefs? If faithful servants of God, like John, face suffering and tribulation, what makes us think we, ourselves, won’t face trouble either? (See 1 Pet. 4:12-15).
Share: Your friend says, the reason the church does not see more persecution is because the church fits right in with the rest of the world. Is your friend right? Why, or why not?
Study: What do these verses teach us about the closeness of God?
Apply: How can we learn to draw hope and comfort from understanding the immanence of God? Or does it scare you, because God knows your darkest secrets? How should the gospel give you peace in that context?
Share: Your friend asks you how you know God is real? Have you seen Him actually work in your won life where you knew without a doubt it was God? What do you tell your friend?
Study: What does worship have to do with the everlasting Gospel? What reason does the angel give for worshipping God and what commandment do these words remind us of? How is that commandment linked with the everlasting Gospel?
Apply: Earlier we talked about being persecuted for our beliefs, but is it always just beliefs we are persecuted for? How do your actions and acts of worship set you apart from the rest of the world?
Share: How can you share the everlasting Gospel with your actions as well as words this week?
And 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 KJV
Years ago, I was having Bible studies with a Protestant family who believed the Ten Commandments were abolished in the New Testament. One evening, their Protestant pastor came to our Bible study. I showed them that God’s people will still be keeping the commandments in the last days. The pastor told me that the commandments in Revelation 12:17 are not the Ten Commandments. I asked him what commandments they were then. He told me, “I don’t know, but they are not the Ten Commandments. Those were done away with.” I believe the Bible will not leave us to guess what the law and commandments are in the New Testament. I believe the New Testament will tell us what commandments the New Testament is talking about. Let’s take a look at the New Testament and let the Bible explain itself.
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matthew 19:16-19 KJV
When asked point-blank which commandments He was talking about, Jesus referred to the Ten Commandments. Yes, Jesus says this before the cross, but does He give any indication they will be done away with? As a matter of fact, earlier Jesus said,
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Matthew 5:17-18 KJV
Of course I am sure that, like me, you have heard people try to say that once Jesus fulfilled the commandments, He then abolished them. But if that were the case, then it would make no sense to say “not to destroy, but to fulfill.” Does fulfill mean to eventually destroy or abolish? Let’s see how Jesus uses the world fulfill. When Jesus went to be baptized, John the Baptist was hesitant at first, until Jesus told him,
Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. Matthew 3:15 KJV
After Jesus fulfilled the rite of baptism, did He then abolish baptism? Of course not. He told the disciples right before his accension to go and baptize. Fulfill does not mean to abolish. Fulfill means to continue. Now, I have also heard people tell me that the law was only valid till everything was fulfilled. Again we just talked about the word “fulfill,” but let’s also see how the word “till” is used in the Bible. Paul tells Timothy,
Now Paul only said, “Till I come.” Does that mean that Paul wanted Timothy to stop attending to doctrine after he came? Of course not! When you tell some one, “I’m on my way to help! Hang on till I get there!” You don’t mean for them to give up when you arrive. In the same way, Paul did not mean for Timothy to stop attending to doctrine when he arrived. Likewise, Jesus did not mean for everyone to stop keeping the law of Ten Commandments once everything was fulfilled. Again, fulfill does not mean to abolish. It means to continue to carry out.
Let’s keep looking at the commandments in the New Testament.
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. Romans 7:7 KJV
Paul is speaking about his life after the cross when he says he knows sin by the law, and then quotes the tenth commandment. Did Paul ever say the law was was abolished or made void?
Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. Romans 3:31 KJV
Does Paul talk about the Ten Commandments elsewhere in the New Testament?
For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:9-10 KJV
Again, Paul is referring to the Ten Commandments in the New Testament. Some say that the commandment to love each other replaces the Ten Commandments, but Paul tells us that loving our neighbor fulfills, or continues to carry out, the Ten Commandments. This will also help us to understand in a moment what James means by saying that when we break one commandment we have broken them all. The principle of every commandment is consideration for others. Whenever we put self first, it does not matter which commandment we broke. If we break one commandment, we break the principle of the entire law. Before we go to James, let’s take a look at the how Paul refers to the Ten Commandments in Ephesians.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. Ephesians 6:1-3 KJV
Paul is telling us in the New Testament that there is a promise for us by keeping the 5th commandment. If the promise is still valid, the commandments must still be valid. Paul writes as though the Ten Commandments are very much still in effect. Sure, in Galatians 2:16 Paul tells us we can’t be justified by the law, but the same was true in the Old Testament. No one in the Old or New Testament was ever saved by the law. In both Old and New Testaments we are saved by grace, and in both Old and New Testaments we have the Ten Commandments. Now let’s go to James.
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. James 2:10-12 KJV
Here in the New Testament, James is clearly referring to the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20 as the commandments. He also refers to them in the present tense, meaning that, if we break one today, we are breaking all of them today. He also explains we will be judged by them! So we see when Jesus, Paul and James refer to the commandments in the New Testament, they are referring to the Ten Commandments. So we understand that the commandments God’s remnant people will be keeping, in the last days, are the Ten Commandments.
God’s remnant people will be keeping His Ten Commandments, not in order to be saved. In both Old and New Testaments we are saved by grace. God’s people will be keeping the Ten Commandments because they love Jesus. And they will not be keeping them in their own power. The Holy Spirit will be helping us keep the commandments out of love. We can’t keep the law to be saved, but we can keep the law with the Holy Spirit’s help because we love Jesus.
“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17 NKJV
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here,
Study: How could these things happen in heaven? What does this tell us about the reality of free will and free choice?
Apply: Think about how sacred free will and free choice must be to Jesus, who, though knowing that it would lead Him to the cross (see 2 Tim. 1:9), gave us free will anyway. What should this tell us about how carefully we should use this sacred, but costly, gift?
Share: Your friend asks you how this war was fought in heaven? Was it with machine guns and battle tanks or bows and arrows? What kind of weapons did Satan use? What weapons is Satan using in the war here on earth? What do you tell your friend?
Study: How do these passages help us define the dragon, the woman, the male child and the rod of iron?
Share: Why is the assurance of salvation, because of Christ’s victory over Satan, so crucial to us? How can what Paul wrote in Philippians 3:9 be our own experience?
Share: Your friend says that we never actually, literally overcome sin and temptation here on earth. It is just by faith. What do you tell your friend? See Justification: Just Declared Right or Made Right?
Study: Notice carefully the time period, Satan’s attack on the “woman” (God’s church), and God’s provision for His people. What are these verses talking about? What characteristics of God’s remnant, His last-day church, are found in this verse?
Apply: How do you see the reality of Revelation 12:17 played out in your own life, in your own Christian experience? That is, in what ways do you find the great controversy being played out in your own life?
Share: Your friend asks why Seventh-day Adventists believe they are the remnant church of Bible prophecy? What do you tell your friend?
Study: What did Jesus mean when He said to him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Matt. 19:21)?
Apply: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:35-37). What does it mean to lose your life for the sake of the gospel?
Share: Your friend asks, “Does Jesus expect everyone who follows Him to give up all they have?” How do you respond to your friend? What have you given up to follow Jesus? How can we surrender our goods and resources to Jesus even while they stay in our own possession?
Read in Class: Luke 19:1-10. Discuss the main idead of this passage.
Study: What were the differences between this rich man’s experience with Jesus and that of the rich young ruler?
Apply: Most adults don’t climb trees, but Zacchaeus was willing to sacrifice his pride in order to see Jesus. Zacchaeus also quickly sacrificed his pride by repenting so quickly and freely. What can we learn from his example? How does being humble like Zacchaeus help us become better stewards of God’s money and resources?
Share: Your friend asks, why Zacchaeus gave so much to the poor when he was converted? Isn’t salvation free? What did his paying back those he defrauded and giving to the poor have to do with his salvation?
Study: How was Job described by God Himself? What is depicted here that gives us even more insight into the secret of Job’s character?
Apply: Read Isaiah 58:6-8. How can we take these ancient words and apply them to ourselves today?
Share: We are all going through difficult times these days, but can you class think of someone who may be going through an extraordinarily difficult time financially? Can your class take up a collection and help this person or family out financially without ever mentioning it outside of class?
Main Theme: As final events unfold we must hold fast to the Truth we have in Jesus and the hope that He gives us.
Read in Class: Luke 2;52 and Matthew 4:23. What common thread do we find in these passages?
Study: What four dimensions of growth do we find in Luke 2:52. What three dimensions of Jesus’ ministry do we find in Matthew 4:23?
Apply: In contrasting ourselves to Jesus, we could easily be discouraged by the difference. How, then, does focusing on the Cross and what it means protect us from being disheartened by what we see in ourselves compared to what we see in Jesus?
Share: Your friend says our church needs to stop having seminars on money management and divorce recovery and just focus on the three angels message? In light of Luke 2:52 and Matthew 4:23, how would you respond to your friend?
Share: Your friend says there is no way we can have total victory over addictions in this life. How can you sue Hebrews 11:30 to show how faith makes victory a reality.
Read in Class: Acts 16:16-34. Define the main idea of this passage.
Study: Why did this event cause the jailer to focus on his own need of salvation? What role do you think Paul’s and Silas’ prayers and songs played in the prisoners’ not running away, and in the conversion of this man and his whole family?
Apply: Who do you think could be influenced for God by a song of praise that could come from your heart? Make a concerted effort to be more open and effusive in your praise to God around others. You don’t know the positive effect it could have.
Share: Your friend asks if Paul and Silas sing hymns of praise caused the earthquake? What do you tell your friend?
Study: How does the introduction to the promised destruction of Babylon in Habakkuk 2:2-3 give hope?
Apply: Read Habakkuk 3:16-19. What does Habakkuk identify as his reasons for hope? What is the hope of God’s people as we wait for the last prophetic scenes to unfold? How can you make this hope your own?
Share: Your friend tells you they feel just like Habakkuk, when he said there was no justice. The court system is a joke and the wicked get away with everything, and the righteous suffer. What do you answer your friend?
Study: What reasons for hope can you identify for people waiting eagerly for future deliverance? How does this promise help us as we wait for our exile on earth to end?
Apply: How does knowing that the God of this universe is close enough to hold your hand, change the way that you live? How does it change how you cope with your crucible?
Share: Your friend asks, “what if those who are against us claim the promise of Isaiah 41:8-14? What if our enemies believe we are the ones in verse 12 who will become nonexistent? How do we know if this is really talking about us? How do you answer your friend?
Study: What specific sources of hope are provided in verses, 4,7, and 10?
Apply: Read Jeremiah 29:11-14, saying your name after the word you, as if God is making these promises to you personally. Apply these promises for yourself in whatever your present struggles might be.
Share: Your friend points out that the promise in Jeremiah 29:11 was given to the Jews. Your friend asks why the same people who claim the promises in the Old Testament turn around and say the commandments in the Old Testament were only for the Jews? What do you tell your friend?