“For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:20
“Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb; and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.” The course pursued by the Pharisees called forth the denunciation of Christ. He said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand; and if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you…. Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”
By rejecting the light that was shining upon them, by refusing to examine the evidence to see whether the messages were from heaven, the Pharisees sinned against the Holy Ghost. Christ, the world’s Redeemer, was in the world. “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not…. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” The voice of his Spirit came to them, saying, “This is the Son of God; believe on him.” But turning their faces from the light, they refused to listen, choosing, instead, to cultivate their unbelief. Thus the light which, if received, would have been to them a savor of life unto life, rejected, became a savor of death unto death,—death to spirituality.
The Pharisees were self-deceived. They rejected the teaching of Christ because he exposed the evil of their hearts and reproved their sins. They would not come to the light, fearing that their deeds would be reproved. They chose darkness rather than light. “This is the condemnation,” said Christ, “that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.” And at the destruction of Jerusalem the Pharisees reaped their harvest.
The Jews pursued their course of rejecting Christ until, in their self-deceived, deluded state, they thought that in crucifying him they were doing God a service. Thus it will be with all who resist the entreaties of the Spirit of God, and persist in doing what they know to be wrong. The Spirit once resisted, there will be less difficulty in resisting it a second time. If we maintain the independence of the natural heart, and refuse the correction of God, we shall, as did the Jews, stubbornly carry out our own purposes and ideas in the face of the plainest evidence, and shall be in danger of as great deception as came on them. In our blind infatuation we may go to as great lengths as they did, and yet flatter ourselves that we are doing work for God. Those who continue in this course will reap what they have sown. They were afforded a shelter, but they refused it. The plagues of God will fall, and he will prevent them not.
God never compels a man to offend and be lost. We read that he hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that Pharaoh refused to let Israel go. Did God strengthen and confirm the king in his obstinacy?—No, he simply allowed the seeds of unbelief to produce their fruit; and the seed sown when the first miracle was rejected, produced a harvest of infidelity. God left the king to the inclinations of his own heart.
The great I AM acquainted Pharaoh with his mighty works, showing him that he was the ruler of heaven and earth. But the king chose to defy the God of heaven. He would not consent to break his proud heart even before the King of kings, that he might receive the light; for he was determined to have his own way, and work out his own rebellion. His proud disregard of God’s command, “Let my people go,” confirmed him in his determination not to yield, though evidence was piled upon evidence; and every additional evidence of the power of God that the Egyptian monarch resisted, carried him on to a stronger and more persistent defiance of God. Thus the work went on, finite man warring against the expressed will of an infinite God. This case is a clear illustration of the sin against the Holy Ghost. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Gradually the Lord withdrew his Spirit. Removing his restraining power, he gave the king into the hands of the worst of all tyrants,—self.
In this our day the sin of the Pharisees is being repeated. Many are turning from light, refusing to listen to the warning of God’s Spirit. But by closing the heart to divine impressions, we put away the forgiveness which our Redeemer is so graciously offering to us. By rejecting mercy and truth, we prepare for a course of resistance which, if followed, will continue till we have no power to do otherwise. A point is reached where the most pointed appeals were without effect. The desire to submit to God and to do his will is no longer felt. The spiritual senses become dulled. Darkness is the result, and how great is that darkness!
The Holy Spirit strives with every man. It is the voice of God speaking to the soul. But let that voice be resisted, and we, like the Pharisees, shall stifle conviction and resist evidence, however plain. God will give us up, and we shall be left to our own inclinations.
Jesus declares to us that there is a greater sin than that which caused the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is the sin of those who have had the light of truth, and are not moved to repentance. It is the sin of rejecting the light of the most solemn message of mercy to the world. It is the sin of those who see Jesus in the wilderness of temptation, bowed down as with mortal agony because the sins of the world, and yet are not moved to thorough repentance. Christ fasted nearly six weeks to overcome, in behalf of man, the indulgence of appetite, and vanity, and the desire for display and worldly honor. He has shown us how we may overcome as he overcame; but it is not pleasant to human nature to endure conflict and reproach, derision and shame, for his sake. It is not agreeable to deny self, and to be ever seeking to do good to others. It is not pleasant to overcome as Christ overcame; and many turn away from the Pattern which is plainly given them to copy, and refuse to imitate the example that the Saviour came from the heavenly courts to set for them.
It will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for those who have had our privileges, and the great light which shines in our day, but who have neglected to follow the light and to give their hearts fully to God.
“I am come a light into the world,” said Christ, “that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” “Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you; for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.” The light will indeed become darkness to those who do not walk in it; but it will shine with increasing brightness on the path of those who do walk in it. “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”1The Review and Herald July 27, 1897
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|1.||↑||The Review and Herald July 27, 1897|