The experience of the Israelites is that of many at the present day. Warnings and reproofs from God are continually given to his people. Godly sorrow, which produces repentance unto salvation, would lead them to make an immediate and decided change. But here many fail. Confessions are made, sorrow is expressed, tears are shed; but there is no permanent change of life. Unless the heart is renewed by divine grace, and earnest effort is made to resist temptation, we shall be overcome again and again.
Among God’s preferred people, there are men in responsible positions who are content to remain in a state of coldness and backsliding. Their piety vanishes at the approach of temptation. To gain the friendship of worldlings, they will risk the consequences of losing the favor of God. The Lord is trying his people as silver is tried. Closer and still closer will come the searching test, until the heart is wholly submitted to God, or hardened in disobedience and rebellion. God distinguishes between those who walk in the path of self-denial and obedience, which he has marked out, and that class who choose to follow their own ways. Too late we may see, as did the children of Israel, the folly of neglecting and disregarding God’s commands.
As the Hebrews were warned not to assimilate to the heathen around them, so are we warned against conforming to the spirit and customs of the ungodly. Christ speaks to us in language that need not be misinterpreted: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Christ himself is the true pattern. His life of self-denial we are to imitate. His earnest labor for the salvation of souls we must copy. His purity and holiness must be reflected in us, or we shall never be permitted to sit with him in his throne.
– The Signs of the Times, June 2, 1881