"LET THERE BE LIGHT" Ministries
WHY ARE WE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR
PERSONAL, SOCIAL, AND CORPORATE SIN?
First Printing, 1996
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WHY ARE WE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR
PERSONAL, SOCIAL, AND CORPORATE SIN?
There is a great lack of understanding regarding our accountability or responsibility in various areas--whether personal, social, or corporate.
We can be held accountable and responsible for our own actions or lack of actions, our consent or silence, our relationship to others or lack thereof, and our association and union with others.
In this booklet we are going to investigate, from a "Thus saith the Lord" and an "It is written," what God is trying to have His people realize about their accountability today.
Personal Accountability or Responsibility
This is an area where we, as individuals, are held responsible for our own sins and wrongs committed without the involvement of any other person.
This is clearly revealed throughout the Scriptures.
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." 2 Corinthians 5:10.
"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works....and they were judged every man according to their works." Revelation 20:12-13 (see also Daniel 7:10).
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (see also Revelation 22:11-12; Matthew 16:27, 22:11-17; Psalms 9:7-8, 50:4; Zephaniah 1:12; Romans 2:6 & 9 & 12-16; Acts 17:30-31; Mark 13:34; 2 Corinthians 11:15).
Yet, as plain as the above texts are, many want to escape from their personal accountability for the breaking of God's law and sins committed, through a variety of excuses.
Some excuse their sins by exclaiming, "That's just the way I am." Others proclaim, "This is the way I have been raised." Still others, "I am under so much stress, and trying circumstances caused me to yield!" And children use this excuse, "The devil made me do it." And the list could go on and on. But there is NO excuse for our sins because sin is made from choice!
"No man can plead his circumstances, his education, or his temperament, as an excuse for living in rebellion against God. The sinner is such by his own deliberate choice." Signs of the Times, March 9, 1882 (vol 1, p 290) (See also October 14, 1880, June 16, 1890).
"The strongest temptation is no excuse for sin. No matter how severe the pressure brought to bear upon you, sin is your own act. The seat of difficulty is the unrenewed heart." Adventist Home, p 331.
"It is not in the power of Satan to force anyone to sin. Sin is the sinner's individual act. Before sin exists in the heart, the consent of the will must be given, and as soon as it is given, sin is triumphant, and hell rejoices. But there is no excuse for sin, either great or little." Signs of the Times, December 18, 1893 (vol 3, p 85) (See also Maranatha, p 82 & 225; Testimonies, vol 4, p 623; This Day With God, p 318; Manuscript Releases, vol 20, p 385-86).
Others excuse themselves from personal accountability by claiming the biggest lie ever believed, that: "Christ has already kept God's law for me, so I do not have to worry about my continued sinning." Yet God clearly tells us:
"You will hear the cry 'Only believe.' Satan believed and trembled. We must have a faith that works by love and purifies the heart. The idea prevails that Christ has done all for us, and that we can go on transgressing the commandments and will not be held accountable for it. This is the greatest deception that the enemy ever devised." Selected Messages, book 3, p 153.
In fact, every minister, church leader, and individual who have led others to believe this great deception--that they can disregard any portion of God's law--are held responsible for all the sins committed by the individuals who believed them!
"Those who wrest the scriptures to sustain error, greatly dishonor God, and in the day of judgment, they will be held responsible for the disobedience of those who through their sophistries have been led to disregard the divine law." Review and Herald, August 13, 1959 (vol 6, p 526).
We choose to either follow the devil's pathway, or God's pathway. There is no other alternative, and neither power will force us to obey them. Thus we alone are held responsible for our choice to sin.
We are not born sinners, but are born with the tendency towards sin because of a fallen nature received from Adam. This is exactly the same nature that Jesus took upon Himself at birth.
"For verily He (Christ) took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren..." Hebrews 2:16-17.
"For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15.
"He was ever pure and undefiled; yet He took upon Him our sinful nature." Review and Herald, December 15, 1896 (vol 3, p 421).
"It was in the order of God that Christ should take upon Himself the form and nature of fallen man, that He might be made perfect through suffering, and Himself endure the strength of Satan's fierce temptations, that He might understand how to succor those who should be tempted." Spirit of Prophecy, vol 2, p 39 (see also SDA Bible Commentary, vol 4, p 1147, vol 6, p 1074; Review and Herald, February 24, 1874, November 24, 1904).
Sin is our choice. We cannot blame anyone else, nor can we excuse ourselves for our choice to sin, because there is no excuse for sin! Even Satan himself cannot find any excuse for originating sin!
"There is no excuse for sin. It will be the final condemnation of Lucifer and his angels that when God shall ask, 'Why have ye done this?' they will be able to assign no reason. And when at the last great day sinners are confronted with their sins, and are asked, 'Why did you transgress?' every mouth will be stopped. The sinful will stand speechless before God." Review and Herald, September 24, 1901 (vol 4, p 337).
We choose our own sinful habits--they are not given to us at birth. We develop them by the choices we make in various situations. And we can either accept Jesus and stop sinning through His grace and strength, or we can reject Jesus and cling to our sins. It is either one or the other, but never both.
"The Saviour prayed for His disciples, 'Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.' But if the receiver of Bible knowledge makes no change in his habits or practices to correspond to the light of truth, what then? The spirit is warring against the flesh, and the flesh against the spirit; and one of these must conquer. If the truth sanctifies the soul, sin is hated and shunned, because Christ is accepted as an honored guest. But Christ cannot share a divided heart; sin and Jesus are never in copartnership." Testimony to Ministers, p 160.
Thus sin is our own choice, and there is no excuse that we can offer for it. But through Jesus we can overcome all sin and thus escape personal accountability. (For further insight on how we can all overcome personal sin, please write for the booklet, The Will--Your Power of Choice at the address given in the front of this booklet).
What are some other areas in which we are held personally responsible?
We are not only held accountable for the knowledge of the truth we now possess, but for the knowledge we neglected, and also for that knowledge we could have possessed (see Review and Herald, July 10, 1879, May 27, 1890, February 28, 1899; Temperance p 114; Testimonies, vol 5, p 280; 1888 Materials, p 1348).
"Those who have an opportunity to hear the truth, and yet take no pains to hear or understand it, thinking that if they do not hear, they will not be accountable, will be judged guilty before God the same as if they had heard and rejected. There is no excuse for those who choose to go in error when they might understand what is truth....
"Those who deliberately place themselves where they will not have an opportunity of hearing the truth, will be reckoned among those who have heard the truth, and persistently resisted its evidences." Review and Herald, April 25, 1893 (vol 3, p 42) (SDA Bible Commentary, vol 5, p 1145).
We are held accountable for the way in which we hear or read God's word (see Peter's Counsel to Parents, p 23).
We are also held accountable for following the truth of God and "showing to the world what is the true idea of Christianity--what it is to have a Christlike life and character" Fundamentals of Christian Education, p 298-99.
If we do not keep God's holy law--especially the Sabbath--we are held responsible by God (see Review and Herald, May 6, 1875).
We--especially the ministers--will be held responsible for willing ignorance and disregard of the eight laws of health and nature (see Temperance, p 169; Counsels on Health, p 205-06), and also for the injury done to our body (see Youth's Instructor, August 24, 1893, September 14, 1893).
We are held accountable for doing our duty to God and to our fellow-men (see Youth's Instructor, June 21, 1894).
We are held accountable for the grace and trusts which God has placed upon us, and the talents and gifts which He has given us (see Matthew 25:14-30; Review and Herald, April 21, 1896, April 9, 1901; Youth's Instructor, June 8 & 15, 1893, August 5, 1897; Christ's Object Lessons, p 373; Publishing Ministry, p 233; SDA Bible Commentary, vol 5, p 1100; Signs of the Times, November 20, 1884).
"We shall individually be held responsible for doing an iota less than God has given us ability to do." Review and Herald, April 24, 1883 (vol 1, p 351) (Christ's Object Lessons, p 362-63).
If we place ourselves in the way of work being done for God, then we are held responsible for what might have been done, as well as "all the evil that has resulted therefrom" Manuscript Releases, vol 4, p 137 (see also General Conference Daily Bulletin, February 23, 1899).
We are held responsible for our misused time, strength, and neglected duties (see Review and Herald, April 21, 1896).
We are not only held accountable for the faculties of mind given us, but also for the improvement of these faculties!
"We should improve our faculties, and we shall be held accountable for their improvement. They are a sacred trust, and if we do not use them properly, if we do not educate ourselves to trust God, to believe and practice His word, we shall be held accountable." Review and Herald, March 16, 1911 (vol 6, p 112) (see also Youth's Instructor, January 11, 1894; Review and Herald, March 7, 1893, April 25, 1893; Testimonies, vol 4, p 468-69).
We are not only held accountable for what we have done, but also for what we have not done.
"Not only are we held accountable for what we have done, but for what we have left undone. We are held to account for our undeveloped characters, our unimproved opportunities." Review and Herald, September 22, 1891 (vol 2, p 519) (SDA Bible Commentary, vol 7, p 987; That I May Know Him, p 93).
We will be held accountable for the good which we might have done "but failed to perform" because we were "too careless and indolent to gain a knowledge of the will of God" Review and Herald, May 1, 1883 (see also May 1, 1888; Youth's Instructor, December 21, 1893, January 2, 1896).
We will be held responsible for using means--tithe included--in any other area than for what it was intended for (see Spalding and Magan Collection, p 178; Testimonies, vol 2, p 518, vol 9, p 246-50, vol 6, p 387). (For further study on the tithe subject, please write for the booklet, The Issue of Tithe, at the address given in the front of this booklet).
"The displeasure of God is kindled against those who claim to be His followers, yet allow consecrated workers to suffer for the necessities of life while engaged in active ministry. These selfish ones will be called to render an account, not only for the misuse of their Lord's money, but for the depression and heartache which their course has brought upon His faithful servants." Acts of the Apostles, p 340.
Those blessed with means and property "are held responsible to see and relieve the needs of God's cause" Review and Herald, December 10, 1901.
If we allow ourselves to be deceived by the enemy, God holds us accountable "for failing in a faithful discharge of duty" Gospel Herald, April 1, 1905.
If we preach falsehood and error regarding any of the three great Worthies of the Godhead, then we are held accountable for "greatly dishonoring God" Spalding and Magan Collection, p 332.
But personal accountability can reach beyond the limit of ourselves to involve others.
Social Accountability or Responsibility
Social responsibility is where we are held accountable for the wrongs we involved others in--whether directly or indirectly (see Signs of the Times, November 24, 1887).
The following are some examples of this social accountability.
If we do not share the truths we know with others, and they end up lost because of this, their blood is upon our shoulders (see Acts of the Apostles, p 393-94; Review and Herald, August 23, 1908; Christian Service, p 196; Testimonies, vol 6, p 331-32, vol 9, p 86-87; Signs of the Times, August 14, 1901).
We are held responsible for the medical missionary work we could have done for others (see Testimonies, vol 7, p 62-63).
We are held accountable for what effect our influence, words, actions, and impressions have upon others (see Patriarchs and Prophets, p 556; Medical Ministry, p 202-03; Signs of the Times, October 8, 1885).
"We are amid the perils of the last days, and in this evil time everyone is held responsible by the Holy Spirit for his personal position before the church and the world." 1888 Materials, p 453.
"We lead others either upward to happiness and immortal life, or downward to sorrow and eternal death. And if by our deeds we strengthen or force into activity the evil powers of those around us, we share their sin." Christ's Object Lessons, p 201.
We are held accountable for not being self-denying and self-sacrificing in "imparting to the most needy and suffering ones" blessings and encouragement--trying to relieve the needs of those who are worthy and do them good.
"The indiscriminate almsgiving is often more injurious than helpful. It often encourages idleness and destroys self-respect." Manuscript Releases, vol 4, p 9-10.
We are held responsible for our wrong example, whether in eating, drinking, or living (see Temperance, p 71-72).
Ministers are held accountable for the moral and religious standing of their flock (see Patriarchs and Prophets, p 190 & 578).
Ministers will be "brought under condemnation with the people" if they do not warn those who are misusing the tithe (see Counsels on Stewardship, p 86-87 & 106).
Any in positions of responsibility who choose to follow their own way, "are held responsible for the mistakes of those who are led astray by their example" Review and Herald, September 14, 1905.
Parents are held accountable for the salvation and physical health of, and for giving correct lessons to, their children (see Notebook Leaflets, p 78; Review and Herald, December 24, 1889, September 10, 1895, September 15, 1904; Signs of the Times, February 9, 1882, August 23, 1899; Testimonies, vol 4, p 138).
Teachers and principals are held responsible for the foolish talking, jesting, joking, the low cheap talk, and the unruly spirit allowed to exist and affect the youth (see E.G. White Biography, vol 4, p 310).
Teachers are held responsible for the children and youth under their guidance (see Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p 104).
If we agree to allow an unqualified teacher to guide our children and youth, then we are held responsible (see Manuscript Releases, vol 4, p 156-57).
If we see a brother sin, and we do not bring it to his attention, then we are a sharer in his sin (see Leviticus 5:1, 19:17; Ezekiel 33:8-9; Signs of the Times, November 24, 1881), and are also a sharer in any evil which might be caused because of this sin.
"Those who have too little courage to reprove wrong, or who through indolence or lack of interest make no earnest effort to purify the family or the church of God, are held accountable for the evil that may result from their neglect of duty. We are just as responsible for evils that we might have checked in others by exercise of parental or pastoral authority as if the acts had been our own." Patriarchs and Prophets, p 578 (see also Desire of Ages, p 441).
If we try to excuse sin we see in another, then we become a sharer in their guilt (see Signs of the Times, November 24, 1881).
If we ignore or become indifferent to sins we see in another, then we are held responsible for these sins!
"If wrongs are apparent among His people, and if the servants of God pass on indifferent to them, they virtually sustain and justify the sinner, and are alike guilty and will just as surely receive the displeasure of God; for they will be made responsible for the sins of the guilty." Testimonies, vol 3, p 265-66.
If we do not give the trumpet the correct and certain sound of warning--including giving the names of certain wicked men (see Manuscript Releases, vol 12, p 3-4; 2 Timothy 4:14-15; 1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Timothy 1:15, 2:17, 4:10)--then we will be held accountable for every soul that is lost because of our unfaithfulness (see Ezekiel 33:2-6; Youth's Instructor, December 21, 1893; Testimonies to Ministers, p 405).
If we allow any minister who is living in any known sin and refusing to repent, to stand in the sacred pulpit of our church and speak or minister to us, then we become a sharer in his sin (see Pamphlet #28, p 17; Series A#1b, p 23).
If we give our support, means, and blessings to any minister who is living in any known sin, or who is preaching any false doctrine, then we are guilty of supporting his sin and the spreading of his error, becoming a partaker of his evil deeds, and heaven's woe is upon us!
"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God....If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is a partaker of his evil deeds." 2 John 9-11.
"There are fearful woes for those who preach the truth, but are not sanctified by it, and also for those who consent to receive and maintain the unsanctified to minister to them in word and doctrine." Testimonies, vol 1, p 261-62 (see also Testimonies, vol 2, p 552).
If we choose to sympathize with those who are in the wrong, comforting them in their wrongs instead of trying to help them repent and forsake them, then we are a sharer in their wrongs.
"There will be men and women who despise reproof and whose feelings will ever rise up against it. It is not pleasant to be told of our wrongs. In almost every case where reproof is necessary, there will be some who entirely overlook the fact that the Spirit of the Lord has been grieved and His cause reproached. These will pity those who deserved reproof, because personal feelings have been hurt. All this unsanctified sympathy places the sympathizers where they are sharers in the guilt of the one reproved. In nine cases out of ten if the one reproved had been left under a sense of his wrongs, he might have been helped to see them and thereby have been reformed." Testimonies, vol 3, p 359 (see also Testimonies, vol 1, p 212-13).
If we shield any criminal from the just punishment of his crime--especially in the case of murder--when we know them to be guilty, then we are a partaker of their sin (see SDA Bible Commentary, vol 2, p 999).
Those who sow dissension, bickering, suspicion, dis-union and criticism among their brethren, will have the blood of every soul misled by these wrong impressions and unsanctified words--including even those souls that were misled after the death of those who misled them!
"The wrong impression made upon human minds may live long after those who made it are dead." Review and Herald, April 27, 1897 (vol 3, p 460) (see also Mind, Character, and Personality, vol 2, p 399).
If we sustain any one who is boastful, proud, or vain, then we are "held accountable by God for confirming him in a perilous delusion" Spalding and Magan Collection, p 333 (see also Testimonies, vol 2, p 181).
If we praise the unfaithful and flatter the unconsecrated, we are sharers in their sin (see Testimonies, vol 3, p 88).
We can be a sharer in the guilt of another if we take a hard, unadvised course against them (see Signs of the Times, March 21, 1892).
If we are involved in any way with the making, distributing, selling, or the leading of others to drink liquor, then we are held accountable for all the sins caused by them while drunk! (see Review and Herald, May 22, 1892; Temperance p 28-29, 40-41; Ministry of Healing, p 341).
If we choose to vote for individuals, regardless of party affiliations, then we are held responsible for their sins committed while in office (see Gospel Workers, p 391-96; Fundamentals of Christian Education, p 475-86).
If we choose to vote for any proposed legislation, which will lead others to break God's law, and it becomes law, then we are held responsible for these sins committed (see Temperance, p 255).
God very simply warns His people regarding social accountability, by stateing:
"Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure." 2 Timothy 5:22.
But the various ways in which we can be held accountable for sin is not limited solely to the areas of personal and social responsibility. We can also be held accountable for the sins of others just because we are associated or united with them!
Corporate Accountability or Responsibility
This is one of the areas of responsibility that many people seem to be ignorant of, and most are innocently unaware. Yet it is one of the most important areas which we must understand if we ever make it to heaven!
Corporate accountability centers around an individual being held responsible for the sins of others because of their union, membership, or association with groups of other individuals: such as churches, institutions, organizations, etc., or basically a corporate body. Thus any individual associated or connected in any way with a group, church, institution, or organization, are held corporately responsible for the sins committed within that body on a corporate level. Even if an individual did not personally participate in the sin committed, yet they are held responsible along with the rest of their group because of their association or union with this corporate body.
This principle of truth is clearly taught in the word of God, being seen in 2 main areas--the sins of the membership make the whole corporate body responsible; and the sins of the leadership make the whole corporate body responsible. We will examine each area.
The Sins of the Membership Make the Whole Corporate Body Responsible
Most of us are familiar with the case of Achan. God had told His people of Israel that they were not to take any of the spoils of victory over Jericho, because these were to be consecrated to the Lord.
But what did Achan do with God's command? He disobeyed God's commandment by taking some of the spoils for himself, and hiding it under his tent, thus committing sin. Was he alone held responsible for this sin? No, because the armies of Israel could not stand before her enemies, but turned their backs and fled from the men of Ai.
God tells us:
"But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan...took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel....
"Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed..." Joshua 7:1, 11-12.
Over 36 men died because of Achan's sin, even though these men did not disobey God themselves by taking of Jericho's spoils! Then why did they die? Because Achan, along with themselves, were part of the same group or corporate body. Even though Achan alone had committed the sin, because he was a member of Israel, God considered the whole corporate body of Israel responsible. So for the sin of one man, the whole church was held accountable and suffered.
"God's command had been disregarded by one of those appointed to execute His judgments. And the nation was held accountable for the guilt of the transgressor...
"Achan's sin brought disaster upon the whole nation. For one man's sin, the displeasure of God will rest upon the church till the transgression is sought out and put away." Patriarchs and Prophets, p 494 & 497 (see also Testimonies, vol 3, p 265, 269, 517, vol 4, p 491, vol 5, p 676; Manuscript Release #449, p 1-2).
But worse than this, God's presence was removed from the entire corporate body of Israel because there was sin in the camp.
"...neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you." Joshua 7:12.
So the first aspect of corporate responsibility is that the sins of the membership, even just one individual, make the entire membership responsible. But what about the sins of the leadership--those who run and control the group, church, institution, or organization. Can an entire corporate body be held responsible for the sinful actions of their church leadership?
The Sins of the Leadership Make the Whole Corporate Body Responsible
Most of us are familiar with the events surrounding Abraham and his wife Sarah--especially with Abraham telling Pharaoh and king Abimelech that Sarah was only his sister. But was it just Pharaoh and king Abimelech that God held responsible for taking Sarah as their wife? No.
"The Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues..." Genesis 12:17.
"Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin?" Genesis 20:9.
Hence, because of the wrongful actions of the highest leader--the king or president--the whole kingdom was held responsible. But it is not just the sins of the highest leader that makes the corporate body responsible, but also for the sins of other leaders as well.
God had commanded Jeremiah to go and speak strong, plain, and cutting words to His people of Israel. The church leadership did not like this message--especially the part about their church falling from God's grace and protection, becoming connected with Babylon, and under its complete control (see Jeremiah 21:4-6, 27:2-6 & 12, 28:14, 32:3 & 28, 29:5-6 & 28, 37:9, 25:9-11).
Needless to say, the church leadership apprehended Jeremiah and brought him in before their council, and this is what they said:
"Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city..." Jeremiah 26:11.
When Jeremiah heard their words, he said that they could do with him as they wished, but they must realize an important principle first. He then tells them all this principle:
"But know ye for certain, that if ye [the church leadership] put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof..." Jeremiah 26:15.
So it was not just the church leadership who would be held accountable for Jeremiah's death, but his blood would also be chargeable to the city or church, and upon all the inhabitants or members thereof! Thus for the sinful actions of the leadership, the whole corporate body--membership and all--would also be held responsible.
This forgotten principle is also brought out in the New Testament.
After Pentecost, Peter spoke to the house of Israel gathered together from all nations. And this is what he told them:
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." Acts 2:36.
But who were actually those who killed Jesus? The highest Jewish church leadership in union with the civil government of Rome. But Peter stated that all the membership of the Jewish church were guilty of crucifying the Lord--even those who did not know of Jesus! So it was not just the church leadership who were accountable for their sins committed in office, but the whole house of Israel were corporately responsible as well. Why? Because they were connected with, and members of, the Jewish church!
Thus, for the sins of the church leadership, the whole church body is held guilty as well! And this principle is plainly stated:
"A nation's sin and a nation's ruin were due to the religious leaders." Christ's Object Lessons, p 305 (see also Desire of Ages, p 738).
So the sin and ruin of a whole nation was because of the actions of their church leadership. But what consequences are there in being held corporately responsible for the sins of a wicked church leadership because you are members of, associated with, or connected to, that church?
"Hear ye this, O priests [or ministers]; and hearken, ye house of Israel [or church body]; and give ye ear, O house of the king [or the highest leadership]; for judgment is toward you...
"They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the Lord; but they shall not find Him; He hath withdrawn Himself from them. They have dealt treacherously against the Lord: for they have begotten strange children..." Hosea 5:1, 6-7.
What will God do in relationship to the sins of the church? He will withdraw Himself from the entire church body. Thus, even those few members who are overcoming all their sins, and who believe only the pure truth, are considered "strange children" to God because of their connection with their wicked church!
But this is not the extent of God's dealings with a wicked church:
"Plead with your mother [church], plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts..." Hosea 2:2.
What was the sin of God's chosen church in the above text? Whoredom or harlotry. How can a chosen church of God commit harlotry?
What is the church supposed to be in relationship to Christ? A faithful bride or wife. But if this wife chooses to no longer live for Christ and Him alone and departs from her husband, uniting herself with another lover or with many lovers, she commits adultery or harlotry. She is then no longer a faithful bride of Christ, but has become a harlot church. And please realize that the church herself literally does not commit harlotry, but it is the church leadership who chose to unite the whole church body in the adulterous love affair with other churches or religious nations.
What is God's response to a once faithful bride who has become a harlot church? He first called her to come away from her harlotry. But because she refused to repent, God set her aside; He put her away; or in other words He gave her "a bill of divorce" (see Jeremiah 3:6-8). No longer was He the husband of His once chosen church, and no longer was the church His bride! And all this was because of the sinful actions of the church leadership.
But what about the membership of this harlot church? Are they also set aside along with their mother church--no longer considered as children of God? God clearly tells us:
"And I will not have mercy upon her children [church members]; for they be the children of whoredoms. For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully..." Hosea 2:4-5.
Even though it was the leadership of the church which involved the church in the harlotrous love affair, all the membership--the children or offspring of this unfaithful mother--are considered guilty of harlotry as well. Thus all the church membership are no longer children of God, but are considered by God as "children of whoredoms" and "strange children" because of their connection to, and union with, their harlot mother church!
As these God-given principles of corporate responsibility are still in effect today, because God changes not (see James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8), has the church, which we are members in and association with, committed harlotry?
The Roman Catholic church has been a harlot church for many centuries (see Revelation 17:1-6, 13:1-8; Daniel 7:7-25; Spirit of Prophecy, vol 4, p 232-33). Rome's offspring or daughters--all the Protestant churches (Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, etc)--are harlots as well, having rejected the heaven-sent messages of the first and second angels (see Revelation 17:5, 13:14-17; Spirit of Prophecy, vol 4, p 231-32). But what about the sister to the Protestant churches--or the Seventh-day Adventist church? Has she also become a harlot?
"Who can truthfully say our gold is tried in the fire, our garments are unspotted by the world.
"I saw our Instructor pointing to the garments of so-called righteousness. Stripping them off He laid bare the defilement beneath, then He said to me, 'Can you not see how they have pretentiously covered up their defilement and rottenness of character? How is the faithful city become an harlot. My Father's house is made a house of merchandise, a place whence the divine presence and glory has departed.'" Testimonies, vol 8, p 250.
Christ Himself has denounced the Seventh-day Adventist church as being an harlot! Then what consequences does that have to each and every SDA church member? God has already clearly told us in Hosea 2:4:
"And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms."
Thus if we are members of any of the harlot churches--Roman Catholic, any of the Protestant churches, or even the SDA church--then we are corporately responsible for the terrible sins of our church. And as long as we remain connected with our harlot mother church, then God will not have mercy upon us!
God looks upon all members of all the harlot churches--without respect to those persons who put up a fuss about all the sins and abominations of the church, but still remain connected with her (see Acts 10:34)--as being one with, or in bed with, the harlot! Thus they are not children of God, but are children of whoredoms.
"Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? Know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? For two, saith He, shall be one flesh." 1 Corinthians 6:15-16.
The Greek word "joined" means to cleave to or keep company with (Strong's #2853). Paul is telling God's people that if they are united with or associated with a harlot, they are considered of one body and one flesh--no longer two entities, but one!
God also tells us:
"Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" Amos 3:3.
If we are members of an harlot church, then we are no longer two entities, but are of one flesh with the church in harlotry. And we cannot be joined in membership without our consent, or without our agreement to remain members. Thus by our choice and agreement to continue membership and union with a harlot church, we are held corporately responsible for the harlotry and are no longer a child of God.
Now some are ignorant that their church is a harlot, or even understand this principle of corporate responsibility. Many became members of their harlot church at birth, and thus did not choose to do so. But after they are made aware of the truth, and yet choose to continue remaining members, then they are no longer ignorant, and are held guilty of corporate sin.
What will be our punishment if we choose to remain connected with a harlot church? We will be destroyed right along with her!
It was not just Achan who was destroyed, but everything connected with him--including his whole family! Even though his family did not participate in stealing the goods, yet they perished right along with him because they were of one flesh.
"And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had...and all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones." Joshua 7:24-25.
God plainly tells us:
"He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools [those who depart from God and His wisdom] shall be destroyed." Proverbs 13:20.
Thus if we are found to be a companion of churches that have departed from God and His wisdom, then we will be destroyed right along with them.
God also clearly states what will happen to the wall, or structure that His people were building, whose foundation was not founded upon Christ:
"Therefore thus saith the Lord God; I will even rend it with a stormy wind in My fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in Mine anger, and great hailstones in My fury to consume it. So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof: and ye shall know that I am the Lord....
"To wit, the prophets [church leaders and ministers] of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem [the church], and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, saith the Lord God." Ezekiel 13:13-14 & 16.
Thus it was not just the structure which fell by the wrath of God, but it was also all those who remained within the structure. And what was this religious structure? Jerusalem--the harlot church!
Many people assume otherwise and doubt that the church of Jerusalem ever became a harlot, yet God clearly states:
"How is the faithful city [Jerusalem--see verse 1] become an harlot! It was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers." Isaiah 1:21.
"It was by departure from the Lord, and alliance with the heathen, that the Jewish church became a harlot; and Rome, corrupting herself in like manner by seeking the support of worldly powers, receives a like condemnation." Great Controversy, p 382.
"After speaking of the end of the world, Jesus come back to Jerusalem, the city then sitting in pride and arrogance, and saying, 'I sit a queen, and shall see no sorrow' (see Rev. 18:7)." Selected Messages, book 3, p 417.
So Jerusalem became a harlot of Babylon just like the Roman Catholic church! And who does Jerusalem spiritually represent today? Any church that was once chosen by God, but who departs from Him--becoming an harlot--including the SDA church (see Testimonies, vol 8, p 67-68).
What does God tell us will happen to Jerusalem--or all the harlot churches? Their structure is going to fall, and all who are found connected within her are going to fall along with her because they are held corporately responsible.
Then how do we save ourselves from being destroyed along with the wicked in the midst of the harlot church?
In Numbers chapter 19, God tells His people how they can escape destruction.
Anciently God's workers had to be purified before they could minister and work for God. But if they should come into connection with a dead body, they would become unclean by this touch and unfit to work for God. The worker did not have to embrace or grab this dead body before he became unclean; all that had to occur was the slightest touch--even just from the hem of his garment--and this was enough to make his whole person unclean. And there was only one way chosen by God in which this worker could become cleansed and able to work for God once again.
God declared that this unclean worker had to separate from the camp of Israel, and be cleansed twice. And any worker who refused to do so, was cut off from being part of God's people (see Numbers 19:12, 20).
This cleansing process involved pure running water being mixed with the ashes of a red heifer that had been sacrificed and burnt. Then a branch of hyssop was dipped into this mixture and sprinkled upon the unclean person on two different times. They were then clean and could work for God once again--being accepted of Him (see Numbers 19:11-19). But if after being cleansed, the worker for God would again come into connection with the dead body, then they were unclean and would have to go through the cleansing process once again.
What would spiritually represent the sacrificed red heifer? Jesus. What would represent the pure running water? The Holy Spirit. What represents the workers for God? Christ's professed followers. Then what represents the dead body? It would represent something that is spiritually dead (see SDA Bible Commentary, vol 4, p 1176), or a spiritually dead church--dead in sin, wickedness, corruption, and apostasy. And what would represent touching this dead body or harlot church? This would represent anything that would connect Christ's professed followers with the apostate church--including membership! Thus our names registered upon the books of an unclean harlot church makes us corporately unclean and unfit to work for God.
God tells us:
"If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these [touch anything], shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. Then said Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before Me, saith the Lord; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean." Haggai 2:13-14.
Thus anyone connected with a harlot church--even by the slightest touch or union--would become unclean by this touch and could not be used by God in this unclean condition. And these would-be workers for God would remain worthless to Him, no matter how much effort and time they spent in trying to serve Him, until they would follow the only pathway God set out for them to be cleansed.
What would this cleansing process involve? The same pathway God pointed out in Numbers 19. The unclean would-be worker for God of today must go outside the camp, separate completely from their unclean harlot church, breaking all connections--membership and all--with that dead body. And only after they separated completely from the camp, will they be spiritually cleansed by ashes in pure running water on hyssop--or would be completely purged [hyssop] from all their personal (including social) and corporate sins [cleansed twice] by the cleansing action of the Holy Spirit [pure running water] and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ [ashes of the red heifer].
After we become cleansed from corporate sin and responsibility, are we to go back and join the harlot church once again, or any other harlot group for that matter? No, not if we want to be a worker for God and be accepted of Him.
Many people understand that they must be cleansed from sins they personally commit, but they are unaware--as if they were blind--that they must also be cleansed from corporate sin. Yet Christ understood this issue very well, and He clearly reveals this vital truth to His people:
"And He cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto Him, and besought Him to touch him. And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when He had spit on his eyes, and put His hands upon him, He asked him if he saw aught. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.
"After that He put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. And He sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town..." Mark 8:22-26.
This blind man was not healed within the town, but had to be separated from that corporate body before he could be cleansed of his blindness. How many healings or cleansings did this blind man need before he was completely cleansed? Two! And before he was completely healed what did he have to do with his eyes? He had to look up. After he was completely cleansed, Christ commanded him not to go back in to the town which he was separated from. And this is exactly the same pathway which God has chosen for His people to follow today in regards to union, membership, or association with a harlot church of Babylon.
The same truth can be seen in the experience of Abraham and Sarah.
Abraham and Sarah lived in Ur of the Chaldees, or Babylon, and which was a corrupted, idolatrous, religious, established nation. And what did God command Abraham and Sarah to do?
"Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee." Genesis 12:1.
God had commanded Abraham to physically separate himself from his established, corrupted, religious nation, and from all those who refused to give up their sins and leave their corrupted nation--even if these were his immediate family.
What did Abraham do? Did he question God as to why he had to leave at that time? No. Did he follow his own fallible human reasoning and inclination to stay within that corrupted nation thinking that he could reform it? No. Did he follow his own fallible human reasoning thinking that by his righteous example and by reproving the sins and abominations of his nation's members? No. Did he delay to obey, waiting for the apostate people and nation which he belonged, to tell him to leave, or to kick him out and thus he would be obeying God? No. Abraham unquestionably obeyed God, and "went out, not knowing whither he went" (see Hebrews 11:8). And Abraham had to exert faith in God, and to trust Him to guide him after he took the first step in obedience.
"When God bade Abraham to leave his country and friends, he might have reasoned and questioned the purposes of God in this. But he showed that he had perfect confidence that God was leading him...He went at God's bidding. This is a lesson to everyone of us. When duty seems to lead us contrary to our inclinations, we are to have faith in God." Manuscript Releases, vol 10, p 118 (Manuscript #19, March 13, 1886).
Did Abraham receive the covenant blessing when he was a member of Ur of the Chaldees or Babylon? No. He had to first obey Jesus' command and separate--breaking all connection with Babylon--before he received the covenant blessing. All Abraham had was the promise of God's favor. But it was only upon condition of obedience that this promise was granted him.
"God selected Abraham as His messenger through whom to communicate light to the world. The word of God came to him, not with the presentation of flattering prospects in this life of large salary, of great appreciation and worldly honor. 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee,' was the divine message to Abraham. The patriarch obeyed, and 'went out, not knowing whither he went,' as God's light bearer, to keep His name alive in the earth. He forsook his country, his home, his relatives, and all pleasant associations connected with his early life, to become a pilgrim and a stranger....
"Before God can use him, Abraham must be separated from his former associations, that he may not be controlled by human influence or rely upon human aid. Now that he has become connected with God, this man must henceforth dwell among strangers. His character must be peculiar, differing form all the world. He could not even explain his course of action so as to be understood by his friends, for they were idolaters. Spiritual things must be spiritually discerned; therefore his motives and his actions were beyond the comprehension of his kindred and friends.
"Abrahams unquestioning obedience was one of the most striking instances of faith and reliance upon God to be found in the Sacred Record. With only the naked promise that his descendants should possess Canaan, without the least outward evidence, he followed on where God should lead, fully and sincerely complying with the conditions on his part, and confident that the Lord would faithfully perform His word. The patriarch went wherever God indicated his duty; he passed through wildernesses without terror; he went among idolatrous nations, with the one thought: 'God has spoken; I am obeying His voice; He will guide, He will protect me.'
"Just such faith and confidence as Abraham had the messengers of God need today. But many whom the Lord could use will not move onward, hearing and obeying the one Voice above all others. The connection with kindred and friends, the former habits and associations, too often have so great an influence upon God's servants that He can give them but little instruction, can communicate to them but little knowledge of His purposes; and often after a time He sets them aside and calls others in their place, whom he proves and tests in the same manner. The Lord would do much more for His servants if they were wholly consecrated to Him, esteeming His service above the ties of kindred and all others earthly associations." Testimonies, vol 4, p 523-24.
When did Abraham become God's lightbearer and able to be a worker for God? After he separated; meaning that he was not God's lightbearer and could not be a worker for God while still a part of, and connected with, Babylon. God wanted Abraham to be His lightbearer and worker; but Abraham had to be tested first to see if he would obey God and no one else--including his own feelings.
Could God use Abraham as His worker while he was a part of Babylon--that corrupted religious nation which he was a member of? No. "Before God can use him, Abraham must be separated" from all that corrupting influence. When he left, not knowing wither he went, could he depend on any man or human influence to lead him in the right path? No. He had to depend upon God alone. Abraham chose to willingly separate in obedience to God's will, and it was only after he separated from all that was connected with Satan's kingdom of Babylon, that he became connected with God!
Now did Abraham ever reconnect himself back to the corrupt religious nation that he had left? Did he ever return to Ur of the Chaldees? Not at all. There was to be a wall of separation between him and the rest of the Babylonians; he was to be a stranger, his character was to be peculiar--differing from all the rest.
In fact, Sarah could not become pregnant with seed--in order to produce a new child in the image of God--until she was also separated completely from Babylon and all its corrupting associations. And the same with God's professed people, and would-be workers, of today! Not one of God's professed people or would-be workers will ever be able to become connected with God; will ever be able to be used of God, while they remain connected in any way with Satan's harlot kingdom of Babylon.
There is no possible way that any person can be completely cleansed from all spots and stains of sin while they remain connected to, and in union with, a corrupt and apostate church living in harlotry! That is why God has revealed that His people are to find their freedom from both personal and corporate sins outside of the wicked church, and it will only be those who love God supremely that will choose to follow God's will and walk this straight and narrow pathway of separation.
Those who refuse to separate from any harlot church of Babylon, will remain blind, and end up suffering the wrath of God along with their church. But God does not want any to suffer His wrath, and so continues to bring the truth home more clearly.
But some may wonder; What about all the good and righteous people that are in the church? Surely God will not destroy the righteous just because their membership is found within a harlot church destined to destruction?
"Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem...and say to the land of Israel, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I am against thee, and will draw forth My sword out of his sheath, and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked." Ezekiel 21:1-3.
What is going to happen to the good or righteous people that remain within the company of the wicked in the harlot church? They are going to be cut off and destroyed right along with their wicked companions in the harlot church!
But why? Why are the righteous going to be destroyed along with the wicked in the church? Because the good and righteous people refused to separate themselves from the company of the wicked and disconnect their union from the doomed church! God reinforces this truth as well.
Most are very familiar with the incidents surrounding the Korah, Dathan, and Abiram rebellion. These three men, along with 250 other church leaders, decided to rebel against God and His chosen messenger, and were seeking to lead all of the church membership to follow them in rebellion.
God told Moses and Aaron to separate themselves from among the congregation so that He might destroy all the membership together with these rebellious church leaders. Moses and Aaron pleaded with God not to do so by saying:
"O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?" Numbers 16:22.
What is the answer to this question? YES! It is called "Corporate Responsibility." Yet our merciful and longsuffering God gave a way of escape for His people to avoid being destroyed along with their rebellious church leaders. He told Moses and Aaron in verse 24:
"Speak unto the congregation, saying Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram."
God was indeed angry with all the congregation--including the righteous. But in mercy He gave a way of escape--only one pathway for all His people to follow in order to escape destruction. And this God-given pathway was a pathway of separation. All God's followers were to break all connection with the wicked, and separate completely from them.
Moses declares in verse 26:
"And he spake unto the congregation, saying Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins."
So if any church member refused to separate themselves from the rebellious and remained touching or connected in any way with their tent-structure, they would be held corporately responsible for the sins of these wicked church leaders, and would be consumed right along with them.
"The entire congregation were sharers in their [Korah and company] guilt, for all had, to a greater or less degree, sympathized with them." Patriarchs and Prophets, p 401.
"They [the congregation] also were in alarming danger of being destroyed in their [Korah and company] sins by the wrath of God, for they were sharers in the crimes of the men to whom they had given their sympathy and with whom they had associated." Testimonies, vol 3, p 354.
Since they were indeed corporately responsible, and were in danger of being destroyed by the wrath of God along with the rebels, what then did many in the congregation do?
"So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children." Numbers 16:27.
What happened after every church member made their decision either separating completely from, or staying within and connected to, the rebellious and their tabernacle? Those who remained connected were destroyed--including those who never spoke a word either for or against the rebellion! The wives and children of Dathan and Abiram are mentioned as only standing within the tabernacle of the rebellious, yet they suffered the same destruction. Why? They were held corporately responsible for the sins of these wicked men because they did not separate from their tabernacle!
But what about the children of Korah? Were they also destroyed along with him and the families of Dathan and Abiram? No.
"Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not." Numbers 26:11.
Why didn't Korah's children die along with their rebellious father and the rest of the wicked group? Because these righteous people chose to follow God's will and separated themselves--refusing to touch or be connected with the rebellious. And even though it must have been hard for them to separate from those they loved, yet they loved God more than any earthly connections. Korah's family broke all union and connections with their rebellious brethren and separated completely from the wicked group. They refused to be corporately responsible and a partaker of their sins, and God spared only these righteous from being a sharer in the destruction!
God also clearly establishes this truth through the experience of Lot.
Lot, along with some of his immediate family, were the only righteous people left within the wicked corporate body of Sodom and Gomorrah. Yet God revealed to Lot and his family that they were to break all connection with their corrupt corporate body and separate completely from her. But why? Why couldn't they continue to live righteously and remain connected with their wicked corporate body of Sodom?
"...the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city....Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed." Genesis 19:15, 17.
Even though Lot and his family were righteous, God told them, through angels' messages, that they must separate completely from their wicked corporate body, or be corporately responsible for her sins and be consumed along with the wicked! All their righteousness could not save them from being destroyed along with the wicked if they refused to separate! Yet Lot chose to delay to obey, and refused to separate until the very last possible moment. And as a result of this, Lot's wife lost her life!
"If Lot himself had manifested no hesitancy to obey the angels' warning, but had earnestly fled toward the mountains, without one word of pleading or remonstrance, his wife also would have made her escape. The influence of his example would have saved her from the sins that sealed her doom. But his hesitancy and delay caused her to lightly regard the divine warning." Patriarchs and Prophets, p 161.
What did Lot plead for? He plead that God would not have him completely separate and break all connections with the wicked corporate body, but that he would be allowed, as it were, to transfer his membership from the big wicked city of Sodom to a much smaller city out in the country.
Lot believed this smaller city of Zoar could not possible be as corrupt as Sodom--even though it was connected along with Sodom and Gomorrah in the same plain (see Genesis 19:18-20). But what happened to Zoar? It was destroyed as well, because it was united with Sodom and Gomorrah. And because of its connection and union with corruption, it was not pure, but corrupt! (see Patriarchs and Prophets, p 167; Genesis 19:30).
Lot just could not accept the fact that the righteous would be destroyed along with the wicked. Instead of trusting God and believing that He knew what He was doing, and that God would not require His people to do anything that would keep them from salvation, Lot chose to delay obeying the Lord's command, and lost his wife because of it.
Now many today are becoming aware that their church headquarters--or the heart of their church system--is not following God's will and is becoming increasingly more corrupt. Yet they believe, like Lot, that God will not really destroy the righteous along with the wicked, and that they can find a small church within this corrupt system that will not be affected by the wickedness. And many even transfer their membership to another smaller church, believing that it is far enough away from the apostate church headquarters, and hence not affected by the corruption. But they are still ignorant of the fact that anything touching or in union with corruption--including individual churches, institutions, and membership--are also corrupt by their connection with the church headquarters! And God tells us this very fact:
"The great heart of the work is at____; and, as the human heart throws its living current of blood into all parts of the body, so does the management at this place, the headquarters of our church, affect the whole body of believers. If the physical heart is healthy, the blood that is sent from it through the system is also healthy; but if this fountain is impure, the whole organism becomes diseased by the poison of the vital fluid. So it is with us. If the heart of the work becomes corrupt, the whole church, in its various branches and interests, scattered abroad over the face of the earth, suffers in consequence." Testimonies, vol 4, p 210.
Thus, if the headquarters of our church has committed harlotry and is corrupt, then there is no church or institution connected with that system which is not also corrupt. And, as Lot found out, there is no smaller church or institution which we can flee to by transferring our membership and finding rest in that will not also be destroyed if in union with corruption.
So what does God want His people to do if they find themselves resting in or connected to any part of a church or corporate body that is polluted with sin and wickedness?
"Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord." Isaiah 52:11.
"Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction." Micah 2:10.
If we find ourselves resting or residing within a corporate body that is unclean and polluted with sin and wickedness, such as a harlot church, then God commands that His people must depart and separate from her. And this separation must break all connection in order to be clean: so that we are not even touching the unclean harlot church. To avoid touching the harlot church involves breaking all our connections with her, including our membership on the roll books, or we will remain unclean by this touch and will be destroyed along with her. We are not just to transfer our membership from one church to another church within a corporate body that is polluted. But we are to break all connection with everything in that corrupt corporate body!
Many people consider their membership in a harlot church--or any corrupt corporate body--to be a non-issue; that it really does not matter to God whether our names are on the roll books or not; that it only matters whether our personal lives are right with God. But God tells His people differently; that if they are connected in any way with any wicked corporate body--whether a church, institution, group, or organization--then they are contaminated with the corporate sins of that wicked body. As such, they cannot receive the seal of God, and they will be destroyed!
This principle of truth--that our names on the roll books of a corrupt and wicked corporate body keeps us from receiving the seal of God, and hence eternal life, is clearly brought out through inspiration.
If we are members of the corrupt and wicked corporate body of Free Masonry, or any Secret Society, then we will be held corporately responsible for her sins and not receive the seal of God!
"Christians must sever every tie that binds them to these secret orders that are not under the control of God. They cannot be loyal to these organizations and loyal to God. Either the connection with these bodies must be severed or you will assimilate more closely to them...
"Those who stand under the bloodstained banner of Prince Immanuel cannot be united with the Free Masons or with any secret organization. The seal of the living God will not be placed upon anyone who maintains such a connection after the light of truth has shone upon his pathway. Christ is not divided...The Lord says, 'Come out from among them, and be ye separate,...and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." Selected Messages, book 2, p 132, 140.
We are also clearly told that it is our duty to remove our names and membership from any church which has rejected God's truth, or we will not be able to rest assured of being in the first resurrection--thus we will not have the assurance of eternal life!
"My [Ellen White's] brother continued to fail rapidly. If he felt a cloud shutting Jesus from him, he would not rest until it was dispelled, and bright hope again cheered him. To all who visited him, he conversed upon the goodness of God, and would often lift his emaciated finger, pointing upwards, while a heavenly light rested upon his countenance, and say, 'My treasure is laid up on high.' It was a wonder to all that his life of suffering was thus protracted. He had a hemorrhage of the lungs, and was thought to be dying. Then an unfulfilled duty presented itself to him. He had again connected himself with the Methodist church. He was expelled in 1843 with the other members of the family, on account of his faith. He said he could not die in peace until his name was taken from the church-book, and requested father to go immediately and have it taken off.
"In the morning father visited the minister, stating my brother's request. He said that he would visit him, and then if it was still his wish to be considered no longer a member of their church, his request should be granted. Just before the minister arrived my brother had a second hemorrhage, and whispered his fears that he should not live to do this duty. The minister visited him, and he immediately expressed his desire, and told him that he could not die in peace until his name was taken from the church-book; that he should not have united with them again if he had been standing in the light.
"He then spoke of his faith, and hope, and the goodness of God to him. A heavenly smile was upon his countenance, and those lips, a few moments before stained with blood, were opened to praise God for His great salvation. As the minister left the room he said to my parents, 'That is a triumphant soul; I never saw so happy a soul before.' Soon after this my brother fell asleep in Jesus, in full hope of having a part in the first resurrection." Spiritual Gifts, vol 2, p 163-64.
Now there is nothing written through God's inspiration that is not for our learning. So if we allow our names to remain on the roll books of any wicked corporate body--especially a harlot church--then we have not done our duty, we are still touching the unclean thing, we will not receive the seal of God, and we will be destroyed!
This destruction is not just of the physical life, but also excludes us from eternal life! Thus this question of membership in a harlot church is indeed a very important--a life dependent--issue. Our eternal life is dependent upon whether or not we have completely severed every connection from every harlot church today!
God tells us:
"Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity..." Jeremiah 51:6.
If we do not flee out of Babylon the harlot church, then we will be cut off in her iniquity, and thus lose our soul and the chance for eternal life! Why? Because we would not be the children of God, but would be the children of whoredoms, and numbered with Babylon.
How can we escape being the children of whoredoms, and the loss of our soul? God tells us very plainly:
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.
When do we become the sons and daughters of God? Is it before we break all connection and agreement with Satan and his kingdom, or is it after? It is only AFTER!
While we are in any way connected with Satan's kingdom of Babylon, we are children of whoredoms--not children of God. But after we have separated and broken all connection, union, association, fellowship, and membership with any of the harlot churches we are touching, then, and only then, does God promise to receive us, and be a Father unto us, and we become His children!
Church membership is connecting you by touch with the harlot church. Thus you are not a child of God, He is not your Father, and heaven is not your home! Why? Because you are a partaker of the sins of the harlot church--you are numbered with Babylon--YOU ARE HELD CORPORATELY RESPONSIBLE!
The last message of mercy, or the loud cry of the third angel, is the very last message this world will ever hear. If any person hears this precious message, and persists in refusing to follow it, they will be lost for eternity!
"The message presented at this time is the last message of mercy for a fallen world. Those who have the privilege of hearing this message, and who persist in refusing to heed the warning, cast away their last hope of salvation. There will be no second probation." Testimonies, vol 6, p 19.
Since this message is vitally important for us to follow and not reject, then what is this message?
"And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power, and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great [representing every harlot church--Romanism, apostate Protestantism, and Adventism] is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations [all churches or denominations--see SDA Bible Commentary, vol 7, p 979] have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." Revelation 18:1-5.
The Father Himself tells all those who want to be His people to come completely out of the harlot church of Babylon, or they will be partakers of her sins--being held corporately responsible--and they will receive the plagues--being a sharer in the punishment of their harlot church.
This separation and corporate responsibility message joins the third angel's message of the righteousness of Christ, as the second angel's message joined the first angel's (see Early Writings, p 277). But many individuals and ministers focus their whole attention on the first half of this gospel message. They center on the overcoming of all personal sins through Christ and His righteousness, or the glory of the Lord, while they completely ignore the last half of the gospel. But both halves must go together in order to escape the contamination of sin--whether personal, social, or corporate!
The message of Christ's righteousness, or the first half of the gospel, points hungering and thirsting souls to Jesus. The message to completely separate yourself from every corrupt corporate body, especially harlot churches--being the second half of the gospel--frees people from man-controlled bondage to be completely free in Jesus! The message of Christ's righteousness separates the soul from the contamination of personal and social sins. The message of separation frees the person from the contamination of corporate sins. Both messages involve separation; one from personal and social sin, the other from corporate sin. And when both of these halves are combined into one whole gospel, you have the sounding of the loud cry of the third angel!
But refusing to obey either message means that you cannot be completely perfect and free from sin--whether personal, social, or corporate. Thus you will never be able to perfectly reflect God's righteous character in purity and spotlessness because of the stain of sin! Hence if you neglect to obey either half of the gospel--or the present truth message of the loud cry--you will still be contaminated with sin. You would then be guilty of the rejection of Jesus by not bearing your cross in separating from all personal and social sin, and from all corporate sin. Thus you will not be able to receive the seal of God. Reject either message--either the righteousness of Christ, or separation from all harlot groups of sinners--from all churches and corrupt corporate bodies--and you will not receive the seal of God!
"The angel [of Ezekiel 9] is to place a mark upon the forehead of all who are separated from sin and sinners, and the destroying angel will follow, to slay utterly both old and young." Testimonies, vol 5, p 505.
Even if you obeyed the message of Christ's righteousness, and overcame all your personal sins, but refused to separate from your harlot church, you would still fail of perfecting righteousness completely and being without spot and stain of sin. And the seal of God will never be placed upon anyone who is contaminated with the spot of sin (see Testimonies, vol 5, p 212-16). Thus you would be accounted corrupt by your continued union or membership in the harlot church!
God clearly states that if we are united with the corrupt, then we are corrupt and no longer pure or clean.
"It is impossible for you to unite with those who are corrupt, and still remain pure. 'What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial?' God and Christ and the heavenly host would have man know that if he unites with the corrupt, he will become corrupt." Review and Herald, January 2, 1900 (vol 4, p 137).
So following or preaching only the message of Christ's righteousness of the third angel, and not following the message of separation of the third angel, will leave people contaminated with corporate sin. Thus they will lose eternal life. Following or preaching only the message of separation, and not pointing the people to Christ and His righteousness, will leave the people contaminated with personal and social sin. Thus they will lose eternal life. Both messages of the third angel must be obeyed to fulfill all righteousness and be completely free from the spot and stain of sin in Jesus!
It is a WHOLE GOSPEL message which the people desperately need today--not half a gospel. It is not just preaching and believing the message of Christ's righteousness, nor is it just preaching and believing the message of complete separation. But it is a WHOLE MESSAGE--the message of the loud cry--which is the present truth for today.
"The truth for this time embraces the whole gospel." Testimonies, vol 6, p 291.
So the truth for this time--present truth--embraces "the whole gospel," not just half. To preach "present truth" is to preach a complete gospel message of the third angel--to preach the message of Christ's righteousness and separation. We are not just to preach the righteousness of Christ and overcoming of all sin, but the message of separation and escaping from corporate sin as well. We are to embrace the complete message of the third angel--the righteousness of Christ and separation to Christ! And if we preach only half a message, then we are not preaching present truth. (For further study on this subject, please write for the booklet, The Last Message of Mercy, at the address given in the front of this booklet).
In fact, this message of present truth is what God's people desperately need now!
"There are many precious truths contained in the Word of God, but it is 'present truth' that the flock needs now." Early Writings, p 63.
Multitudes are starving and even dying because of the lack of this present truth--loud cry--message being preached to them in its entirety!
"The Lord has shown me that precious souls are starving, and dying for want of the present, sealing truth, the meat in due season; and that the swift messengers should speed on their way, and feed the flock with the present truth. I heard an Angel say, 'Speed the swift messengers, speed the swift messengers; for the case of every soul will soon be decided, either for life, or for death.'" Review and Herald, September 1, 1849 (vol 1, p 11).
If we choose to remain connected with personal or social sin, or we choose to remain connected and members of any corrupt corporate body--including any harlot church, whether Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal, or Adventist--then we will not be sealed with the seal of the living God and will lose everlasting life! (for further study on this subject, please write for the booklet, The Controversy Over Revelation 18, at the address given in the front of this booklet).
Our merciful and loving heavenly Father does not want to see any one destroyed because they refused to separate from personal, social, or corporate sin. Yet, He will not force any to follow His will and leave a harlot church. He mercifully gives each one the distinct privilege and honor of hearing His last message of mercy, and then leaves us to choose--either remaining personally, socially, and corporately responsible with Babylon's sins, or walking the straight and narrow path of separation and denial and righteousness.
God has given His true people only one pathway that leads to heaven, and this pathway involves separation from all harlot churches--membership and all. Any one, whether minister or layperson, who preaches otherwise is a false watchman voicing the words of a stranger, and they are not working for God! Why? Because they are trying to lead people to follow a different pathway than what God has marked out. And their false road does not lead to heaven, but leads to destruction.
Christ clearly states which pathway He leads His people to follow, and the conditions necessary to fulfill in order to walk it:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the Shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear His voice: and He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers." John 10:1-5.
"Satan and his angels were busily engaged in seeking to attract the minds of as many as possible from the light [of the angel which "was to lighten the earth with his glory"]. The company who rejected it were left in darkness. I saw the angel of God watching with the deepest interest His professed people, to record the character which they developed as the message of heavenly origin was presented to them. And as very many who professed love for Jesus turned from the heavenly message with scorn, derision, and hatred, an angel with a parchment in his hand made the shameful record. All heaven was filled with indignation that Jesus should be thus slighted by His professed people....
"Satan exulted at the state of the professed followers of Jesus. He had them in his snare. He had led the majority to leave the straight path, and they were attempting to climb up to heaven some other way. Angels saw the pure and holy mixed up with sinners in Zion and with world-loving hypocrites. They had watched over the true disciples of Jesus; but the corrupt were affecting the holy...
"I saw Jesus...bade angels lead His people out from among the unclean, lest they should be defiled. Those who were obedient to the message stood out free and united." Early Writings, p 245-50.
The conditions of eternal life are not hard to understand--separation from all personal, social, and corporate sin in order to be completely free and hid in Jesus. Yet many choose to rebel against God's will, especially in regards to complete separation from their harlot church--membership and all--and they walk another pathway. But how foolish to believe that we can walk a different pathway than God's specified will, and still be on our way to heaven! Yet unfaithful ministers are leading multitudes of trusting souls down this broad road to destruction.
"The conditions upon which salvation is assured are plain and simple, so that the wayfaring man need not err therein. To neglect or reject these conditions is to lose all hope of salvation. God alone is able to say on what terms fallen, rebellious man may be saved. How foolish it is for men to spend their energies in seeking to climb up some other way than that way which is so simple and so easy to be understood that the most illiterate may take advantage of its provisions. Professed theologians seem to take pleasure in making that which is plain, mysterious. They clothe the simple teachings of God's word with their own dark reasonings, and thus confuse the minds of those who listen to their doctrines. Let the Lord explain what He would have the sinner do to inherit eternal life." Signs of the Times, July 2, 1896 (vol 3, p 304) (See also April 1, 1880, July 31, 1884, May 12, 1890; This Day With God, p 155 & 266; Testimonies, vol 1, p 131).
But there is a beautiful reverse side to corporate responsibility.
If after we completely separate from all personal, social, and corporate sin and responsibility, dropping all union and membership with harlot churches, and are received of God as His children--joining Christ and becoming one with, and united with, Him--then what? We become sharers and partakers in Christ and:
His righteousness (Review and Herald, March 21, 1893, June 23, 1896; Desire of Ages, p 25).
His grace (Youth's Instructor, September 28, 1899; Steps to Christ, p 78).
His life (Testimonies, vol 4, p 354; Signs of the Times, March 10, 1887).
His great ministry and work of redemption and uplifting (Messages to Young People, p 47; Upward Look, p 305).
His toiling and self-consuming zeal to relieve the wants and woes of humanity (Mount of Blessings, p 12).
His joy (Mount of Blessings, p 12; Christ's Object Lessons, p 210).
His humiliation (Review and Herald, March 5, 1889; Signs of the Times, September 27, 1883).
His poverty (Review and Herald, July 4, 1912).
His self-denial (Review and Herald, December 23, 1884).
His cross (Gospel Herald, May 1, 1898).
His sufferings (Mount of Blessings, p 12; Review and Herald, September 16, 1890; Selected Messages, book 2, p 248).
His eternal glory (Mount of Blessings, p 12; Upward Look, p 305; Review and Herald, March 6, 1888).
His glorious power (Manuscript Releases, vol 7, p 130).
His riches (Review and Herald, December 26, 1882).
And His throne (Review and Herald, December 26, 1882, December 15, 1896).
But not only the above; united with Christ we also become partakers and sharers of:
The Divine nature (Review and Herald, January 12, 1886, July 1, 1890; Signs of the Times, January 16, 1896).
The glorious liberty of being the sons of God (Reflecting Christ, p 377; Amazing Grace, p 313; Education, p 151).
The mercy of God (Review and Herald, September 22, 1896).
The love of God (Review and Herald, September 22, 1896).
The favor of God (Selected Messages, book 1, p 326).
The dignity of His suffering (Manuscript Releases, vol 18, p 80).
The joy of holiness (Steps to Christ, p 14; Lift Him Up, p 243).
The purity and influences of heaven (Southern Watchman, July 9, 1903).
Heavenly peace (Amazing Grace, p 320; In Heavenly Places, p 35).
The power of His resurrection (Desire of Ages, p 209).
The habitations of the blessed (Review and Herald, August 22, 1912).
And eternal life (Desire of Ages, p 25; Counsels on Stewardship, p 25; Review and Herald, March 9, 1905).
All this is freely granted those who fulfill the conditions by separating and disconnecting themselves entirely from all personal, social, and corporate sin, and who connect themselves instead with Christ! And all this is possible only because of Christ!
"The sins of the world were laid upon Christ, and for this reason He was numbered with transgressors. He bore the curse and was treated as a transgressor, in order that the repentant sinner might be clothed with His righteousness. He was condemned for sin in which He had no share, in order that we might be justified by righteousness in which we had no part. Christ has manifested His love for us, and has become our representative, in order that our sin need not drown us in perdition." Review and Herald, June 23, 1896 (vol 3, p 369).
"Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as he deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. 'With His stripes we are healed.'" Desire of Ages, p 25 (see also Testimonies, vol 8, p 208-09).
Thus in separating from all sin and wicked corporate bodies, including the dropping of our membership from all harlot churches, leaving all connection with Satan's kingdom of Babylon, we flee into the waiting and lovingly outstretched arms of Jesus--becoming a partaker of His life and members of His kingdom of righteousness.
So in reviewing all that we have learned from a thus saith the Lord, God tells us that if we do not separate completely from all personal and social sin, and from every corrupt, apostate, harlot church and corporate body, then we are touching the unclean thing and are a partaker of her sins; God will forget us; God will not have mercy upon us; we will receive the 7 last plagues; we will be cut off in the harlot church's iniquity; and will be everlastingly destroyed in the lake of fire.
But if we obey the Lord's will, and separate completely from all personal, social, and corporate sins--including the dropping of our membership from the roll books no matter how long we have been members--and be faithful to God until the end, then we will not be a partaker of her sins, but will be found hid in Jesus; God will not forget us, but will write our names in His book of remembrance; God will have mercy upon us; we will be protected from the 7 last plagues; we will not be cut off, but have eternal life--escaping the lake of fire! We are sharers in, partakers of, and in full union with Christ and all that is His!
What is your choice going to be? Are you only going to listen to and follow only half a gospel--the message of Christ's righteousness--and remain a partaker with Satan and everlasting destruction along with his kingdom of harlot churches of Babylon? Or will you follow and obey the whole gospel--separating from all personal, social, and corporate sins, becoming a partaker of Christ and everlasting life along with His kingdom of righteousness?
May we do our duty before God in studying for ourselves, not allowing any one--whether minister, elder, teacher, or spouse--to study for us. May we test, by Isaiah 8:20, every doctrine we hear or read, so that we can state for ourselves, "I know what I believe and can prove it from God's inspired word." If we do not study for ourselves and know what we believe, and end up losing eternal life, who can we blame but ourselves?
"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of God." 2 Timothy 2:15.
"God has given us the precious endowment of reason and intellect, and we shall be held accountable for our mistakes if we do not use the mind in earnest study of the word of God. God has endowed us with capabilities whereby we may understand what is acceptable unto Him. Our human ideas, our human wills, are not to take the throne, but the will of God is to be supreme." Signs of the Times, February 26, 1894 (vol 3, p 101).
May God help all of us to fully realize our accountability and responsibility, and then to choose to follow only His will and the only pathway set out for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in--the same pathway that Christ Himself chose to walk.
"Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach." Hebrews 13:12-13.