Greetings MOL Family!
In this closing class of our series on preparing for marriage, we will be studying the safeguards that God has established to keep men and women sufficiently apart, so that the close expressions of affection and passion are reserved for the privacy of the marriage state. Before I love someone, I am to find out whether that is somebody who God has asked me to love. Will God be willing to guide me in that?
All should guard the senses, lest Satan gain victory over them; for these are the avenues of the soul. You will have to become a faithful sentinel over your eyes, ears, and all your senses if you would control your mind. – Adventist Home, pg. 401
These senses, the hearing, the sight, the other senses, these are called what? The avenues to the soul. Bunyan, who wrote that wonderful allegory Pilgrim’s Progress, wrote another one not so familiar to most readers called Holy War. And in this the great effort of the enemy was to get in a citadel called Man’s Soul, in other words, the human heart, human soul. And this citadel had various gates, “Eyegate,” “Eargate,” and so with the other senses. And thus, Bunyan illustrated just what we are reading here:
All should guard the senses, lest Satan gain victory over them; for these are the avenues of the soul. You will have to become a faithful sentinel over your eyes, ears, and all your senses. – Adventist Home, pg. 401
You know, in the old fortresses and castles they had guards stationed at the various entrances. And so we are to set a watch before our eyes, our ears, and every avenue to the soul. All our senses – watch, lest Satan gain advantage. Notice what David made up his mind to do. What does he say?
I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes. – Psalm 101:3
I wonder what David would do today with the TV. I wonder if he would have one. At least this verse is a good guide for those who have one, as to what to avoid:
I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes. – Psalm 101:3
Well, why not? Because, friends, what goes into the eyes enters what? The mind. What goes into the ears, enters what? The mind. And listen, down at the hospital they have a stomach pump that can get rid of something you swallowed down here, if you can get to it soon enough. But tell me, friends, where will you go to find a pump to clean out of the mind what went in through the eyes and ears? Do you know of any pump like that? Ah, friends, there is many a man who would give a great deal to forget something that he saw ten, twenty, thirty, forty years ago. That is right.
Prevention is so important in these matters. Guard what? The avenues to the soul.
Those who would not fall a prey to Satan’s devices must guard well the avenues of the soul; they must avoid reading, seeing, or hearing that which will suggest impure thoughts. – Adventist Home, pg. 403
Is there much to avoid today? Just about everything in the world around us, like Sodom and Gomorrah. Is this one reason that God has called us out of these cities? Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city. Come out of her, my people! The cities are filled with all sorts of things that divert the mind from God.
But now, dear friends, we not only need to get away from the cities, we need to be sure that we don’t carry with us the influences of the cities. Notice at the bottom of page 403:
Everything that can be done should be done to place ourselves and our children where we shall not see the iniquity that is practiced in the world. – Adventist Home, pg. 403
I think this one sentence would do more to solve the TV problem than most anything I have read. But today a person can live ten, twenty, thirty miles from a city and yet they can have right in their living room the filth and the crime and the folly of all the cities of the world brought right in there to the parlor, can’t they? Is this what is happening? Yes. And do you know what that creates in the minds of the susceptible youth? A desire to go and get into that world.
Everything that can be done should be done to place ourselves and our children where we shall not see the iniquity that is practiced in the world. We should carefully guard the sight of our eyes and the hearing of our ears so that these awful things shall not enter our minds. When the daily newspaper comes into the house, I feel as if I want to hide it, that the ridiculous, sensational things in it may not be seen. – Adventist Home, pgs. 403, 404
Those who would have that wisdom which is from God must become fools in the sinful knowledge of this age, in order to be wise. They should shut their eyes, that they may see and learn no evil. They should close their ears, lest they hear that which is evil and obtain that knowledge which would stain their purity of thoughts and acts. – Adventist Home, pg. 404
You know, this age, this generation prides itself on being very wise, but most of it is the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If we are going to have purity, the purity that we are studying from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, there is much that is going on in the world, there is much that is taught in the world, the less we know about, the better.
The more we learn about the proper relations between men and women from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, the less we observe how these things are being broken down in the world today, the better.
–A Wall of Reserve–
Let’s notice that what is going on in the world today is not to affect us:
The liberties taken in this age of corruption should be no criterion for Christ’s followers. These fashionable exhibitions of familiarity should not exist among Christians fitting for immortality. – Adventist Home, pg. 329
What makes the dance so popular? Familiarity between men and women. What makes the nightclubs popular? The breaking down of the barriers between men and women. What makes these worldly parties popular? Same thing. The Christian is not interested in that. He is interested in preserving that sacred circle. Page 335. Here we have a specific example of what familiarity is, and how we are to avoid it.
Men who are doing God’s work, and who have Christ abiding in their hearts, will not lower the standard of morality, but will ever seek to elevate it. They will not find pleasure in the flattery of women or in being petted by them. Let men, both single and married, say: ‘Hands off! I will never give the least occasion that my good should be evil spoken of’.’ – Adventist Home, pg. 335
So, not only our hearts should be guarded, our hands should be guarded, our eyes, our ears, our tongues – what we say. In all these things we are to show that while we may be kind and sociable to a point, there is a certain barrier of reserve that conduct is to manifest. On page 334 we have a beautiful statement:
I appeal to you, as followers of Christ making an exalted profession, to cherish the precious, priceless gem of modesty. This will guard virtue. – Adventist Home, pg. 334
What is modesty? Well, modesty is an attitude of reserve manifest in conduct and in dress, in word, and action. Virtue, that means being pure, being chaste, not doing anything wicked, immoral. And the way to guard purity and virtue is to cherish what? Modesty. That is right.
Take Messages to Young People, please, and notice this statement on page 344. Here we have two great factors in this wall of reserve:
“A person’s character is judged by his style of dress. A refined taste, a cultivated mind, will be revealed in the choice of simple and appropriate attire.” – Messages to Young People, pg. 344
Notice this next sentence. I hope our girls, especially, will memorize this:
“Chaste simplicity in dress, when united with modesty of demeanor, will go far toward surrounding a young woman with that atmosphere of sacred reserve which will be to her a shield from a thousand perils.” – Messages to Young People, pg. 344
This is this wall, this barrier of reserve. You know, a Christian woman in her attitude and her dress doesn’t say to men, “Come hither.” Her dress and attitude say, “No trespassing.” “No trespassing.” The fashions of the world today are deliberately designed to do just the opposite. That is what they are for. They are designed to break down these barriers of reserve.
Turn in your Messages to Young People to page 350. I want to give you one of the most important statements in our study.
Christians should not take pains to make themselves gazing-stocks by dressing differently from the world. – Messages to Young People, pg. 350
Oh,” somebody says, “That is what I believe. I don’t want to be a gazing stock. If the paragraph ended there, we might conclude that anything that makes people a gazing stock, [Christians shouldn’t wear]. Then Christians shouldn’t dress different from the world, should they? Well, wait a minute, what is the next word?
But if, in accordance with their faith and duty in respect to their dressing modestly and healthfully, they find themselves out of fashion, they should not change their dress in order to be like the world. But they should manifest a noble independence and moral courage to be right, if all the world differs from them. – Messages to Young People, pg. 350
You mean if there was only one modest woman left in this world, she ought to dress modestly, even if all the other women in the world were dressing immodestly? Is that what this says? What does that take? Well, it takes courage. But I will tell you another thing it takes, friends, it takes information. There are a lot of dear Christian women, young and old, who somehow have gotten the idea that they must not be gazing-stocks. And one reason they get it is because so many people quote the first part of this paragraph and stop. They stop right there.
They stop with this warning about being gazing-stocks, and they say, “Why, my, if I were to wear a dress of modest length, why, I would just be a gazing-stock.”
Christians should not take pains to make themselves gazing-stocks by dressing differently from the world. But if, in accordance with their faith and duty in respect to their dressing modestly and healthfully, they find themselves out of fashion, they should not change their dress in order to be like the world. But they should manifest a noble independence and moral courage to be right, if all the world differs from them. – Messages to Young People, pg. 350
You see, dear friends, it just comes down to this simple thing: Does dress have anything to do with morality? Does dress have anything to do with maintaining the barriers of reserve?
If it doesn’t, well, then, let’s just dress the way everybody does and not worry one way or the other. But if it does, then, there is a moral principle involved. Is that right? Oh, how good God has been to give us this instruction. What do you say? Read that whole section in this wonderful little book, Messages to Young People.
–First Things First–
Now, let’s see if we can sum this up. God has planned in His mysterious wisdom for one man and one woman to be united in the sacred circle of marriage. He has never intended that outside of that sacred circle there should be those close, familiar experiences that belong inside the sacred circle, therefore, He has established barriers of reserve. A Christian society recognizes those barriers in dress, in association, in recreation and amusement, in reading and music, in conduct, in every relation of life. A pagan society breaks down those barriers and brings into human experience those excesses and iniquities that marked Sodom and Gomorrah and the world before the flood.
There is just one thing, dear friends, that encourages me about the present time: vice is so bold, immodesty so brazen, there is nothing very subtle about it. It ought to be, of all times, a time for those who want to be Christians to sense the essential point of being different from the world about us – not for the sake of being different, but for the sake of being right. That is the thing!
All right. Now let’s go to Matthew 22 and we will see what underlies all of this.
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. – Matthew 22:37-38
The first commandment is to love who? To love God. This is the first thing that must be settled. And my dear friends, when we, whether we are children, teenagers, adults, or old people, when we get this thing settled, that all our love is to be given to God, then all the rest that we have studied follows as a natural result. We understand, then, that no affection of the mind, no passion of the body, is to be allowed to rule us. Our love must be given, first of all, most of all, entirely, to whom? To Jesus.
You, dear young people that are not married, learn the joy of taking the love of your soul and instead of throwing it around in winks and writing little notes, in little flirtations, learn the joy of taking those loves, those affections, and centering them upon Jesus. Tell Jesus you love Him, and then take that love that He has put in your heart, and manifest it toward those that God has given you to love – your father, your mother, your brothers and sisters, and others that He arranges for you to love.
Thus your love will become pure and strong, and instead of being dissipated, diluted, taken away by being just thrown around here and there, I repeat, it can be kept strong, it can grow stronger as it is used in God’s way. And when you come to the time of marriage, you will have a reservoir of pure love. Not only that, you will have already learned how to maintain those barriers of reserve which will make your home a holy place, a sanctuary where the devil cannot find any place to enter.
Our Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for these beautiful principles flowing like the river of life, fresh from the throne of God, issuing out of the sanctuary. We thank Thee for this river of delight, of pure love. Grant that everyone, those who have taken this class from the beginning, grant that each one of us shall be thankful to God for the light of heaven, and shall show our appreciation by walking in the light.
Where we are weak, strengthen us. Where we have been impure, cleanse us. Where we have been dissipating our vital powers, we pray Thou wilt help us to gather up the powers of mind and body, and use them in the way of God. And thus may we soon stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion, with the pure throng that follow Him forever. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.
Food For Thought
In an open and honest conversation, we encourage you to commune with God (and your heart) about the following:
- Am I actively seeking to find Jesus, the Pearl of great price; or, is my Christian experience one that will lead me to settle for goodly pearls?
- Is there someone (or something) in my life that stands in the way of God receiving the whole heart, the supreme affections? If so, am I willing (with the help of God) to forsake all others to secure a close, intimate, and personal relationship with Him?
Some Suggested Readings: “The Pearl” (chapter 9, Christ’s Object Lessons) and “True Conversion a Requisite” (chapter 14, The Adventist Home)
All that can satisfy the needs and longings of the human soul, for this world and for the world to come, is found in Christ. Our Redeemer is the pearl so precious that in comparison all things else may be accounted loss. – Christ’s Object Lessons, pg. 115
Did you know that we have more online classes available (and posted daily)?
- Country Living
- Courtship & Marriage
- The Christian Home
- Child Guidance
- Army of Youth
- The School of Health
- Other Present Truth Studies
* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.