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"Make straight paths for your feet, lest that
which is lame be turned out of the way; but let
it rather be healed."—Hebrews 12:13 .
OH, FOR a trumpet voice with which to call upon the Lord's people everywhere to be on the alert to resist our great foe—Satan! And in the word "Satan," we include all the arts of our great Adversary, whereby he lies in wait to deceive and to entrap the Soldiers of the Cross. He is indeed the Adversary of the whole world, in that he is the Adversary of God and of all the wise and gracious provisions and laws which God has made for human protection against the downward and destructive tendencies of sin.
From information reaching us in various ways, we incline to the belief that a great wave of immorality and sensuality is passing over the civilized world. No doubt the War and the various new conditions which it has opened up have much to do with this evil condition. It could hardly be otherwise. But additionally, it would appear that our great Adversary has for thousands of years found sensuality, immorality, to be one of his best avenues through which to attack mankind, and especially those of humanity who have acknowledged the Lord and the righteous regulations which He establishes for all those who will be His people.
Bible students familiar with the history of typical Israel will recall that it is along this line that Balaam and Balak plotted against Israel with so great success, bringing upon the Israelites Divine judgments. St. Paul tells us that it was in this manner that our race, originally created in the image of God, fell so far into degradation. "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. * * * God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their bodies between themselves. * * * As they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which were not proper; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things," etc.—Romans 1:21-32.
If any one wonders how our race came into its present depraved condition, he has in the above words of the Apostle a full explanation. And now, after the propagation of the Gospel for more than eighteen centuries—after the Bible has been printed in every language, and when education is so general that practically everybody can read the Bible, and when knowledge on every subject is so greatly increased, is it not astounding to see that our Adversary's early tactics are again prevailing? Again the learned are professing to be wise, and are foolishly rejecting the wisdom from above; and again immorality is rampant: anger, malice, hatred, strife, backbiting, whispering, wars, and murders are prevailing. The Lord seems to be letting mankind learn the lesson that Civilization does not spell Salvation, as some had expected.
The Bible represents mankind as birds, and the great Adversary as the hunter seeking to entrap and to kill them; but the saints are pictured as speckled birds, especially attractive to the hunter. Against these he uses his arts and snares with keen interest in their downfall.
Some years ago, in the Lord's providence, we were guided to a presentation of A VOW UNTO THE LORD which we earnestly recommended to His people and which we believe has done them great good. Not that this Vow, or any other vow, could be greater or wider in its scope than the vow of self-sacrifice which each of the Lord's people took upon himself before he was acceptable to the Lord and begotten of the Holy Spirit; but this Vow has proven helpful to His saints in that it has drawn to their particular attention certain dangers of the way, counseling as respects their abiding in the Lord's favor.
About 20,000 of the Lord's consecrated people have written us, desiring to be enrolled as amongst those who have taken this Vow. From very many of these we have heard what great blessings have come to them through their endeavors to observe faithfully the various items of that Vow—how their feet have been kept from stumbling; how they have been helped in respect to their fellowship with the Lord; how they have been refreshed in spirit as they remembered daily at the Throne of Grace all others who have taken the Vow; how they have been blessed also in their daily remembrance of the Harvest Work and their own privileges therein; and how they have been made the more cautious by the resolutions respecting Spiritism and Occultism, and respecting their fellowship with persons of the opposite sex.
1. Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. May Thy rule come into my heart more and more, and Thy will be done in my mortal body. Relying on the assistance of Thy promised grace to help in every time of need, through Jesus Christ our Lord, I register this Vow.
2. Daily will I remember at the Throne of Heavenly Grace the general interests of the Harvest work, and particularly the share which I myself am privileged to enjoy in that work, and the dear colaborers at the Brooklyn Tabernacle and Bethel, and everywhere.
4. I Vow to Thee that I will be on the alert to resist everything akin to Spiritism and Occultism, and that remembering that there are but the two masters, I shall resist these snares in all reasonable ways as being of the Adversary.
5. I further Vow that with the exceptions below, I will at all times, and in all places, conduct myself toward those of the opposite sex in private exactly as I would do with them in public—in the presence of a congregation of the Lord's people.
We have heard from some that, while they had great blessings when they carefully observed the Vow, they gradually grew careless of it and began to lose their blessings, and stumbled into sin. We shall never be beyond danger, dear Brethren, so long as we are in the flesh. Hence everything that we can do on the side of the Lord, on the side of righteousness, as New Creatures enlisted under the banner of our Redeemer, we should do—for the maintenance of our own standards and for the assistance of others in the fight against the world, the flesh, and the Adversary, in which we have enlisted.
The text at the head of this article should never be forgotten by any of the Soldiers of the Cross. The strongest need to remember it, and surely the weaker ones need to obey it. We are all lame. None is able to walk uprightly, perfectly, in the footprints of our Lord. At very best, we limp. How necessary, then, that we do our best to avoid trials and temptations which would be a special strain upon us because of our weaknesses of the flesh! How we should seek to walk close to the Lord and to hold firmly to His hand while passing through the trials and the difficulties of the present time!
Does some one suggest that such a course represents weakness and dependence? Surely, it does; and surely the one who does not know of his weakness and dependence upon the Lord has not learned his primary lesson! Let us not be ashamed of regulating our lives so as to avoid temptations as far as possible; for this is the wise course admonished by the Lord's Word. To be proud, self-confident, and willing to trust in ourselves anywhere bespeaks the spirit which is not in close fellowship with the Lord, who shows His face to the humble and the meek.
If there are special trials upon the world and upon the Lord's followers now, we may expect that these will be increasingly severe in coming days and years. How necessary it is that the Lord's followers shall be courageous, strong, determined for the right—especially in all matters of self-control! "He that ruleth his own spirit [his own mind] is greater than the warrior who captures a city," is the inspired announcement. Let us seek to be great from the Divine viewpoint—pleasing to the Lord; guarding well our words and thoughts and doings, not merely on our own account, but additionally in the interest of all with whom we have to do. Thus we shall more and more be bright and shining lights, showing forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light."—1 Peter 2:9.