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First Quarter 2017 (December 31–March 24)
COMMENTARY ON THE HOLY SPIRIT AND SPIRITUALITY
Week 11: March 11–17
COMMENTARY ON "GRIEVING AND RESISTING THE SPIRIT"
Following is a combined commentary on the material included in the Bible Study Guide with references as necessary to the supplemental passages included in the E. G. White Notes for the Sabbath School Lessons.
Note: Unless otherwise stated, all biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
Sabbath Afternoon, March 11: Introduction
The lesson says:
"The Holy Spirit possesses a matchless power to make us overcomers and to enable us to reflect the beautiful character of Jesus. At the same time, this powerful and mighty Holy Spirit can be resisted by feeble sinners. He does not force Himself upon us."
Scripture admonishes Christians to not grieve or resist the indwelling Holy Spirit which makes this week's theme an important topic. In Scripture this is normally related to the subject of our ongoing sanctification. The purpose of today's commentary is to restrict our understanding of sanctification to what Scripture actually teaches.
All sinners are born sinners. We sin because we are born into the kingdom of darkness. In-other-words it is in our nature to sin. If we could somehow stop sinning we would still be lost in the kingdom of darkness. Adventism simply ignores the existence of the human spirit and that this is what died when Adam (and Eve) sinned in the Garden of Eden. The existence of this dead human spirit found within sinners is what Jesus is talking about when he declared that a sinner must be "born again" before he/she can be transferred out of the kingdom of darkness and entered into the kingdom of God, John 3:1-10.
For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. (Rom. 5:19)
One of Adventism's greatest lies is that Christians (those who prefer to call themselves Adventist) can learn to perfectly "reflect the beautiful character of Jesus" and that this must happen before Jesus Christ can and will return to collect his saints.
Scripture does not describe Jesus Christ as having character traits. To apply this expression to someone includes the understanding that a person has both good and bad character traits.
Jesus declared "I and the Father are one" (see John 10:30-33) meaning he is and has alway been eternally wholly God with all of the same perfect holy attributes of God the Father. Therefore Jesus' birth and life among fallen mankind could not possibly include having a sin nature nor the possibility that he could sin.
The Apostle John says this of those who were born sinners but who now "walk in the light" through the power and shed blood of Jesus Christ:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:7-10)
Sunday, Month Day: March 12: Resisting the Holy Spirit
The lesson for today ends by asking these questions:
"What are ways we can help others toward “love and good works”? How are you responsible for fostering “love and good works” in others?"
Godly “love and good works” is the outworking of the fruit of the Holy Spirit as outlined in Galatians 5:22-23. In-other-words this is the result of God himself working in and through a redeemed sinner.
Unless you have personally responded in faith to the biblical gospel message you do not have agape (godly love) nor do you have godly good works because none of this will occur until your human spirit has been born again through Jesus gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Only then can you reach out to and share with lost sinners the Good News of what has eternally internally changed in your own life.
The "love and good works" that are counted towards a person, as outlined in 1 Cor. 3:12-15, are really the works of Jesus Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Therefore you must place your faith on the finished atonement of Jesus Christ as he is the one and only foundation for the 'works' of a saint of God.
The "responsibility for fostering" 'love and good works' in others is embodied in the well known command given by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to "go into all the world":
"....Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matt. 28:19-20)
To make disciples means to preach the biblical gospel message of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the completed atonement of the sins of the world instead of the failed man-centered teachings of Adventism.
In this passage Jesus is speaking directly, face-to-face, with his original followers who had heard and recorded for our benefit what his commands are. For this reason the words of Jesus are traditionally highlighted in red in the New Testament of the bible so we can know with certainty what he said and commanded during his ministry here on earth.
Furthermore Jesus will always be with his saints to the very end of this age. They are the ones who have the unbreakable Seal of God which is the Holy Spirit and know they will never be separated from the love of God. Ellen G. White had little or no insight into the truth of Scripture when she declared the lie that there would come a time when the people of God must somehow survive without a mediator.
The bottom line is that Jesus didn't command Christians to foster “love and good works” in others. This is the work of the Holy Spirit not ours. Instead, our mission and command given directly by Jesus is to make disciples of all nations which can only be done by delivering the gospel message of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus for the atonement of the sins of the world. Even that must be done in the power of God, not ours.
Monday, March 13: Grieving the Holy Spirit: Part 1
The lesson references Ephesians 4:30 and asks this question; "What does it mean to grieve the Holy Spirit?"
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Eph. 4:30)
The lesson does well to quote Ephesians 4:30 but ignores or simply fails to ask the obvious question; What does it mean to be sealed for the day of redemption? (See also Eph. 1:13-14)
The inescapable conclusion is that those being challenged to not grieve the Holy Spirit are they who have been eternally sealed by the Holy Spirit into the kingdom of God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. In-other-words the Apostle Paul is addressing the issue of practical daily sanctification.
Even the saints of God, those 'sealed for the day of redemption', still sin because we are 'still living in the flesh'. To think or say otherwise would be to make God a liar. There is no such thing as achieving a 'sin-free' life style until the return of our Savior Jesus Christ. While the book of Ephesians deals with a number of specific issues it is primarily about Christians growing in spiritual maturity and culminates with this instruction, (Eph. 6:10-20):
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Eph. 6:10-13)
The wonderful assurance for the saints of God is there is nothing that will ever separate them from the love of God:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:31-39)
Tuesday, March 14: Grieving the Holy Spirit: Part 2
The quarterly lesson introduce the phrase "Three Angels' Messages" which is one of the core Adventist doctrines.
Any doctrine that alters the gospel of Jesus Christ (See Gal. 1:6-9) is something that would without question grieve the Holy Spirit.
The purpose of this commentary is to show that the Adventist Three Angels' Messages is most certainly something that grieves the Holy Spirit.
A brief review of the Seventh-day Adventist 'Three Angel's Message':
Problems with the Adventist interpretation of the Three Angel's Messages:
And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (2 Cor. 1:21-22)
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Eph. 1:13-14)
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Eph. 4:30)
Wednesday, March 15: Quenching the Holy Spirit
The lesson begins by referencing 1 Thess. 5:19-21 and asks how the Holy Spirit can be quenched?
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. (1 Thess. 5:19-21)
While today's theme passage does express well one of the ways the Holy Spirit can be quenched, this is not the best way to approach the question of how to quench or not quench the Holy Spirit because any Adventist who whole-heartedly believes in the role of Ellen G. White is someone who has been inoculated against biblically and objectively testing her teachings. Specifically you, as an Adventist, have been inoculated with the tendency to pass over and ignore the later part of this passage where we are commanded to test everything. The accepted belief within Adventism is that she defines what Scripture means instead of letting Scripture be the rule of what is truth or fiction.
It is sadly ironic for Adventist to ignore the command given in 1Thess. 5:19-21 to 'test everything' in accordance with the instructions given in the Old Covenant on how to test the words of a prophet but not understand that this reluctance to do so constitutes the breaking of the 'eternal moral law' Adventist claim to be keeping.
In the lesson it is stated and claimed that; "the Holy Spirit does two significant things for us: He gives us knowledge of sin, and he gives us power to overcome sin". However this obscures at least two important truths:
The most significant thing above all other things that the Holy Spirit does in the life of a sinner who responds in faith to the gospel message of Jesus Christ happens when Jesus Christ instantly gives you the indwelling Holy Spirit who instantly brings to life your dead human spirit. If your own dead spirit is not born-again of the Holy Spirit you cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Even though there is much more that the Holy Spirit does in the life of a saint of God there simply is nothing more significant than having a spiritual birth and entry into the kingdom of God, John 3:1-21.
Christians certainly are to avoid what is sin. However Scripture does not teach that this happens because of our own potential "power to overcome sin". The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:14-25 makes it very clear that such power does not exist within self. Because of this and knowing that the enemy of all born-again Christians is Satan the devil we are admonished to have on the full armor of God which means knowing and responding in faith to the gospel message, Eph. 6:10-20. Without the gospel and the consequent indwelling of the Holy Spirit there can be no armor of God in your life. And without the armor, the full armor, there can be no victory over sin. In reality your victory can only be Jesus Christ's victory through his shed blood at Calvary.
Thursday, March 16: Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit
The lesson references Mark 3:28-29; Luke 12:10 & Matt. 12:31-32) and then asks; "If all sins and blasphemies can be forgiven, what is it that cannot be forgiven?"
These lesson references teach that God will not forgive blasphemy against the Holy Spirit....period. It is something God has said he will not do. However there is a big difference between saying "will not" from that of saying "cannot". "Will not" is God's sovereign choice in this matter. However God says something much different to those who come to him with 'the faith of Abraham'.
To summarize, each of these references declare that; 'all sins and blasphemy except for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be forgiven'. Notice carefully that God can and will forgive all sins of those who come to him in faith. So, who is it that utters unforgivable blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?
Turning to the first lesson reference we learn that Jesus is responding to the blasphemy that his power came from "the prince of demons" which you learn when you step back and include the context:
And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "by the prince of demons he casts out the demons." And he called them to him and said to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house. "Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"-- for they were saying, "He has an unclean spirit." (Mark 3:22-30)
This context of this encounter begins with 'And the scribes' then culminates with 'for they were saying'. In-other-words when the scribes said of Jesus; "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "by the prince of demons he casts out the demons" they had blasphemed against the Holy Spirit.
While this may not fully define what it means to 'blaspheme against the Holy Spirit' what Jesus is saying through a parable is that the scribes had just done such a thing. By their false accusation the scribes were really saying Jesus was demon possessed. Jesus responded by first pointing out that "a kingdom divided against itself cannot co-exist" with both good and evil in it.
In these troubled times of ours many are tormented, especially those who have no assurance of their salvation, by the thought that they may be guilty of blaspheme of the Holy Spirit. Be assured that Jesus' atoning death for the sins of the world was a one time event completed at Calvary. Just like the Philippian Jailer (Acts 16:25-34) or the thief on the cross when you a sinner dead in your trespasses and sin come to Jesus in believing faith you will be saved, eternally saved.
Those living who have responded in faith to the gospel message of Jesus Christ need not be tormented by nor fear anything:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:1-10)
Friday, March 17: Further Thought
In today's quarterly lesson we find this revealing statement of the Adventist non-biblical mindset:
"There is, really, only one person God cannot forgive, and that is the person who persistently refuses to come to Jesus for forgiveness. “The sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit does not lie in any sudden word or deed; it is the firm, determined resistance of truth and evidence.”—Ellen G. White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1093. “No one need look upon the sin against the Holy Ghost as something mysterious and indefinable. The sin against the Holy Ghost is the sin of persistent refusal to respond to the invitation to repent.” —Page 1093."
Of course when Ellen White said "determined resistance of truth and evidence" she was referring to her own writings instead of directing our attention to what Scripture actually teaches. The lesson is talking about those who are unwilling to follow the leading of the current official Adventist leadership. The message includes the thinly veiled threat that those who do drop out may be guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
As pointed out yesterday, God does not say he cannot forgive sin. With regards to the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit what Jesus did said is that this "will not be forgiven". However Scripture also clearly teaches that all who come to Jesus with the faith of Abraham will be forgiven and transferred out of the kingdom of darkness and eternally placed into the kingdom of God. When Jesus spoke of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit he was not speaking of those who come to him with the faith of Abraham.
Adventist members who study this quarterly lesson are being given the message of fear if they dare consider dropping out of the official Adventist organization with the unbiblical teaching that Adventism is the one and only true 'remnant church'. There can be nothing more frightening than to belive you have been damned to the Eternal Lake of Fire with no possibility of repentance. To add to this ingrained fear for those who do renounce their membership they are only officially removed by reason of apostasy. This false teaching is spiritual abuse of the greatest magnitude.
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (1 John 4:15-18)