The Devil’s Strongest Hold on Man

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1.

In the ancient Jewish service, it was required that every sacrifice should be without blemish. We are God’s workmanship; and we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14. There are many who are educated in the sciences, and are familiar with the theory of the truth, who do not understand the laws that govern their own being. God has given us facilities and talents; and it is our duty, as His sons and daughters, to make the best use of them. If we weaken these powers of mind or body by wrong habits, or indulgence of perverted appetite, it will be impossible for us to honor God as we should.

Satan’s Strongest Hold

We meet intemperance everywhere. We see it on the cars, the steamboats, and wherever we go; and we should ask ourselves what we are doing to rescue souls from the tempter’s grasp. Satan is constantly on the alert to bring the race fully under his control. His strongest hold on man is through the appetite, and this he seeks to stimulate in every way possible. All unnatural excitants are harmful, and they cultivate the desire for liquor.

I appeal to parents to begin with their children, and give them a right education. Seek to bring them up so that they shall have moral stamina to resist the evil that surrounds them. The lesson of self-control must begin with the child in its mother’s arms. It must learn to restrain passionate temper, to bring its will into subjection, and to deny unhealthful cravings.

Teach your children to abhor stimulants. Do not place luxurious dishes before the children,—spiced foods, rich gravies, cakes, and pastries. This highly seasoned food irritates the stomach, and causes a craving for still stronger stimulants. Furthermore, children are allowed to eat between meals; and by the time they are twelve or fourteen years of age, they are often confirmed dyspeptics.

Under the irritating influence of fiery spices, as well as under that of strong drinks, the stomach becomes of a fiery red color. With the stomach in such a state, there is a craving for something more to meet the demands of the appetite, something stronger, and still stronger. Next you find your sons out on the street learning to smoke. It is a grievous lesson; it makes them deathly sick. Yet they press the matter through with a perseverance that would be praiseworthy in a better cause.

Tobacco weakens the brain, and paralyzes its fine sensibilities. Its use excites a thirst for drink, and in very many cases, lays the foundation for the liquor habit. Its use is an inconvenient, expensive, unclean habit. The teachings of Christ, pointing to purity, self-denial, and temperance, all rebuke this defiling practice. When we think of the long fast that Jesus endured in the wilderness of temptation in order to break the power of appetite over man, we marvel that those who profess to be His followers can indulge in this habit. Is it for the glory of God for men to enfeeble the physical powers, confuse the brain, and yield the will to this narcotic poison? What right have they to mar the image of God?

A great responsibility rests upon us. We cannot render to God true service unless we present our bodies a living sacrifice. No one can be justified in marring this wonderfully intricate human organism. If we do this, not only do we suffer ourselves, but the evil is transmitted to our children. Can we wonder that the children who have such a legacy do not fear God?

Wrong Example of Some Ministers

How often do we see boys not more than eight years old, or younger, using tobacco! If you speak to them about it, they say, “My father uses it; and if it does him good, it will me.” They point to the minister or the Sunday school superintendent, and say, “If such good men as these use it, surely I can.” How can we expect anything else of the children with their inherited tendencies, while the older ones set them such an example? God pity the poor slave to these indulgences!

Some urge that a man is not responsible for what he does under strong drink. When he places the cup to his lips, he makes himself responsible for all the deeds he commits while under its influence.

It is important that those who make and execute the laws of our great nation should have their faculties unclouded. What about the judges and jurors, in whose hands rests the disposing of human life, and whose decisions may condemn the innocent, or turn the criminal loose upon society? Do they not need to have full control of their mental powers? Are they temperate in their habits? If not, they are not fit for such responsible positions. When the appetites are perverted, the mental powers are weakened, and there is danger that men will not rule justly.

We can understand the value of the human soul only as we realize the greatness of the sacrifice made for its redemption. The word of God declares that we are not our own, that we are bought with a price. It is at an immense cost that we have been placed upon vantage ground, where we can find liberty from the bondage of sin wrought by the fall in Eden. Adam’s sin plunged the race into hopeless misery; but by the sacrifice of the Son of God, a second probation was granted to man.

A Way of Escape Provided

In the plan of redemption, a way of escape is provided for all who will avail themselves of it. God knew that it was impossible for man to overcome in his own strength, and He has provided help for him. How thankful we should be that a way is open for us, by which we can have access to the Father; that the gates are left ajar, so that beams of light from the glory within may shine upon those who will receive them!

Christ began the work of redemption just where the ruin began. His first test was on the same point where Adam failed. It was through temptations addressed to the appetite that Satan had overcome a large proportion of the human race, and his success had made him feel that the control of this fallen planet was in his hands. But in Christ he found one who was able to resist him, and he left the field of battle a conquered foe.

Jesus says, He “hath nothing in Me.” John 14:30. His victory is an assurance that we too may come off victors in our conflicts with the enemy. But it is not our heavenly Father’s purpose to save us without an effort on our part to cooperate with Christ. We must act our part; and divine power, uniting with our effort, will bring victory.

Who will enter in through the gates into the city?—Not those who declare that they cannot break the force of appetite. Christ has resisted the power of him who would hold us in bondage; though weakened by His long fast of forty days, He withstood temptation, and proved, by this act, that our cases are not hopeless. I know that we cannot obtain the victory alone; and how thankful we should be that we have a living Saviour, who is ready and willing to aid us!

Reclaimed From His Hopeless Condition

I recall the case of a man in a congregation that I was once addressing. He was almost wrecked in body and mind by the use of liquor and tobacco. He was bowed down from the effects of dissipation, and his dress was in keeping with his shattered condition. To all appearance, he had gone too far to be reclaimed. But as I appealed to him to resist temptation in the strength of a risen Saviour, he rose tremblingly, and said, “You have an interest for me, and I will have an interest for myself.”

Six months afterward, he came to my house. I did not recognize him. With a countenance beaming with joy, and eyes overflowing with tears, he grasped my hand, and said, “You do not know my name, but you remember the man in an old blue coat, who rose in your congregation, and said that he would try to reform.” I was astonished. He stood erect, and looked ten years younger. He had gone home from the meeting, and passed the long hours in prayer till the sun arose. It was a night of conflict; but, thank God, he came off the victor. This man could tell, by sad experience, of the bondage of those evil habits. He knew how to warn the youth of the dangers of contamination; and those who, like himself, had been overcome, he could point to Christ as the only source of help.

The Mighty, Unfailing Helper

Intemperance is on the increase, in spite of the efforts to control it. We cannot be too earnest in seeking to hinder its progress, to raise the fallen, and shield the weak from temptation. With our feeble hands, we can do but little; but we have an unfailing Helper. We must not forget that the arm of Christ can reach to the depths of human woe and degradation. He can give us help to conquer even this terrible demon of intemperance.

But it is in the home that the real work must begin. The greatest burden rests upon those who have the responsibility of educating the youth, of forming their character. Here is a work for mothers, in helping their children to form correct habits and pure tastes, to develop moral stamina, true moral worth. Teach them that they are not to be swayed by others, that they are not to yield to wrong influences, but to influence others for good, to ennoble and elevate those with whom they associate. Teach them that if they connect themselves with God, they will have strength from Him to resist the fiercest temptations.

Not Registered as a Man

With every facility which has been placed within reach, he who does not resist temptation, is not registered in the books of heaven as a man. The Lord never places men in positions so trying that it is beyond their power to withstand evil. Divine power is ever ready to protect and strengthen him who has been made a partaker of the divine nature.

Temptations to the indulgence of appetite possess a power which can be overcome only by the help that God can impart. But with every temptation, we have the promise of God that there shall be a way of escape. Why, then, are so many overcome?—It is because they do not put their trust in God. They do not avail themselves of the means provided for their safety. The excuses offered for the gratification of perverted appetite are therefore of no weight with God.

All Heaven is Watching

We want a share in the eternal inheritance. We want a place in the city of God, free from every impurity. All heaven is watching to see how we are fighting the battle against temptation. Let all who profess the name of Christ so walk before the world that they may teach, by example as well as by precept, the principle of true living.1White, Ellen Gould. “The Devil’s Strongest Hold on Man—Irritating the Stomach and Weakening the Brain—A Way of Escape Provided—All Heaven Looking On.” Signs of the Times 10 Aug. 1915: n. pag. Web.

References   [ + ]

The Watchman

The Watchman

In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light - bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the Word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import, - the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention. Evangelism, p. 119

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Words of Life

And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

— Ecclesiastes 4:12