1. SIGNS OF AN ARTIFICIAL RELIGION
a. How can we avoid false humility? Isaiah 58:5; Philippians 2:3, 14, 15.
“Let no one think that to bow the head as a bulrush will take the place of true humility. Such humility is a sham; for where meekness does not exist in the heart it will not be manifested in the life. Those who are merely professors of truth and not doers of the word, will break down the family altar and stir up strife and contention in the home, and there will be dearth of holy and beneficent actions that flow from faith in Christ. The most convincing evidence of the power of the gospel to the world is its effect on the lives of those who believe it. He who is a true Christian will represent Christ and will cease from all murmuring or complaining of God, or of his fellow men. . . .
“Those who are merely surface Christians are no blessing to themselves or others, although they fast and spread sackcloth and ashes under them. The old habits return; quick temper, suspicion, jealousy, judgment of others—all manifest that they are not controlled by the grace of Christ. . . . When they fail to manifest a Christlike action, they throw the blame and responsibility upon the circumstances which surround them or the people with whom they are brought in contact. Instead of examining themselves to see wherein their inconsistency lies, they bemoan their case, and think that their difficulties are the results of other’s misdeeds.”—The Review and Herald, June 5, 1894.
2. GOD’S CHOSEN FAST
a. What kind of fast reveals the highest level of Christian piety? Isaiah 58:6.
“The work of beneficence enjoined in this chapter [Isaiah 58] is the work that God requires His people to do at this time.”—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 265.
“When we present the perfection that there is in [God’s] requirements, in His commandments, in His law, we are presenting that which will loose the bands of wickedness, and in the place of making men fast, in the place of shackling them with sin, it will loose the bands of wickedness, and those that are oppressed by the enemy.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, p. 38.
“Find out what the poor and suffering are in need of, and then, in love and tenderness, help them to courage and hope and confidence by sharing with them the good things that God has given you. Thus you will be doing the very work that God means you to do. ‘Let the oppressed go free’ (Isaiah 58:6). Do not rest until you break every yoke. It is not possible for you to neglect this and yet obey God.”—Pacific Union Recorder, July 21, 1904.
b. What else does God’s true fast involve? Isaiah 58:7.
“[Isaiah 58:6, 7 quoted.] This is the recipe that Christ has prescribed for the fainthearted, doubting, trembling soul. Let the sorrowful ones, who walk mournfully before the Lord, arise and help someone who needs help. . . .
“The Lord calls upon the church to have a higher piety, a more just sense of duty, a clearer realization of their obligations to their Creator. He calls upon them to be a pure, sanctified, working people. And the Christian help work is one means of bringing this about, for the Holy Spirit communicates with all who are doing God’s service.”—Testimonies, vol. 6, pp. 266, 267.
“Remember that there is a world to save. We are to act our part, standing close by the side of Christ as His colaborers. He is the head; we are His helping hand. He designs that we, by doing medical missionary work, shall undo the heavy burdens and let the oppressed go free. Let us not close our eyes to the misery around us or our ears to the cries of distress which are continually ascending. Christ is the greatest missionary the world has ever known. He came to uplift and cheer the sorrowing and distressed, and in this work we are to cooperate with Him.”—Welfare Ministry, p. 118.
3. OVERHAULING OUR SPEECH HABITS
a. What abundant promise comes to all who, by faith, pursue the joy of practical service to others in need? Isaiah 58:8.
“[Isaiah 58:8 quoted.] As the members of our churches individually take up their appointed work, they will be surrounded with an entirely different atmosphere. A blessing and a power will attend their labors. They will experience a higher culture of mind and heart. The selfishness that has bound up their souls will be overcome. Their faith will be a living principle.”—Testimonies, vol. 6, pp. 267, 268.
b. Why must we completely overcome the unchristian habit of “the putting forth of the finger”? Isaiah 58:9, 10; Matthew 7:1–5.
“The very ones who are blind to their own faults are often quick to note the faults of others, quick to criticize their words, and condemn them for something they have or have not done. . . .
“Every unkind criticism of others, every word of self-esteem, is ‘the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity’ (Isaiah 58:9). The lifting up of self in pride, as if you were faultless, the magnifying of the faults of others, is an offense to God. . . .
“We have no right to withdraw our confidence from a brother because some evil report comes to our ears, some accusation is made or supposition is suggested that he has done wrong. Frequently the evil report that is brought to us is made by those who are at enmity with God, those who are joining the enemy in his work of accusing the brethren. Those who are unmindful of the Saviour’s words, ‘Take heed therefore how ye hear,’ (Luke 8:18) allow their unsanctified ears to hear wrong, their perverted senses to imagine wrong, and their evil tongues to report wrong.
“Many who are accusers of the brethren will not come out openly and talk with those who they think are in error, but will go to others, and, under the mask of friendship for the erring, will cast reflections upon them. Sometimes these accusers will openly agree with those whom they covertly seek to injure. They will state as facts, accusations which are only suppositions, and fail to give those whom they accuse a definite statement of what they suppose to be their errors, so that they give them no chance to answer the charges against them.”—The Review and Herald, May 7, 1895.
4. BUILDING INSTEAD OF DESTROYING
a. What change will come into our experience as we gain the victory over “the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity”? Isaiah 58:10, 11.
“Those who might do good service in advancing the cause of Christ, but who use their talents and influence to tear down instead of to build up, will feel the wrath of God. They will experience what Christ suffered in saving men from the penalty of the broken law. The value of man and the measure of his accountability can be known only by the cross of Calvary.”—The Southern Watchman, March 31, 1908.
“Doing good is an excellent remedy for disease. Those who engage in the work are invited to call upon God, and He has pledged Himself to answer them. Their soul shall be satisfied in drought, and they shall be like a watered garden, whose waters fail not.
“Wake up, brethren and sisters. Do not be afraid of good works. ‘Let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not’ (Galatians 6:9). Do not wait to be told your duty. Open your eyes and see who are around you; make yourselves acquainted with the helpless, afflicted, and needy. Hide not yourselves from them, and seek not to shut out their needs. Who gives the proofs mentioned in James, of possessing pure religion, untainted with selfishness or corruption? Who are anxious to do all in their power to aid in the great plan of salvation?”—Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 29.
b. Describe our assigned mission and the promise accompanying it. Isaiah 58:12, 13 (first part).
“God’s people have a special work to do in repairing the breach that has been made in His law; and the nearer we approach the end, the more urgent this work becomes. All who love God will show that they bear His sign by keeping His commandments. They are the restorers of paths to dwell in. . . . [Isaiah 58:13, 14 quoted.] Thus genuine medical missionary work is bound up inseparably with the keeping of God’s commandments, of which the Sabbath is especially mentioned, since it is the great memorial of God’s creative work. Its observance is bound up with the work of restoring the moral image of God in man. This is the ministry which God’s people are to carry forward at this time.”—Ibid., vol.6, pp. 265, 266.
5. PEACE THROUGH THE PRINCE OF PEACE
a. What should we understand about genuine Christian helpfulness as part of true Sabbathkeeping? Isaiah 58:13, 14.
“All heaven was represented to me as beholding and watching upon the Sabbath those who acknowledge the claims of the fourth commandment and are observing the Sabbath. Angels were marking their interest in, and high regard for, this divine institution. Those who sanctified the Lord God in their hearts by a strictly devotional frame of mind, and who sought to improve the sacred hours in keeping the Sabbath to the best of their ability, and to honor God by calling the Sabbath a delight—these the angels were specially blessing with light and health, and special strength was given them. But, on the other hand, the angels were turning from those who failed to appreciate the sacredness of God’s sanctified day, and were removing from them their light and their strength. I saw them overshadowed with a cloud, desponding, and frequently sad. They felt a lack of the Spirit of God.”—Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 704, 705.
“Those who have lived, not to please themselves, but to be a blessing to the unfortunate who have so few blessings—how their hearts will thrill with satisfaction! They will realize the promise: ‘Thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just’ (Luke 14:14).”—Ibid., vol.6, p. 312.
“To all who receive the Sabbath as a sign of Christ’s creative and redeeming power, it will be a delight. Seeing Christ in it, they delight themselves in Him. The Sabbath points them to the works of creation as an evidence of His mighty power in redemption. While it calls to mind the lost peace of Eden, it tells of peace restored through the Saviour.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 289.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Give some examples of false humility—and of true humility.
2. What hypocritical type of fast does God condemn?
3. How can I partake of the best type of fasting that God wants for me?
4. What human tendency of tearing down can be turned into building up?
5. Summarize God’s glorious plan for Sabbathkeepers today.