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30. How To Relate To Civil Authorities, Especially in Regard to the Sabbath

[Release requested by M. E. Loewen for use in the Review and Herald . These are counsels regarding reactions when Sunday laws threaten.]

How To Relate To Civil Authorities, Especially in Regard to the Sabbath

"Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well" [1 Pet. 2:13, 14]. This is to be looked upon as lawful and right for us to do. We should be careful to avoid leaving an impression on human minds that will cut off our influence with them, and hedge up our way. We may tie our hands and hinder our work because by some unadvised word or action of ours, we have awakened prejudice.

"For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God" [vss. 15, 16].

There must be no sharp retaliating between brother and brother, or against those who know not God, or Jesus Christ whom He has sent. These men are in darkness and error, and what we as a people restrain from doing, that we may leave a correct impression upon their minds, will do more to give a correct knowledge of the work in which we are engaged than all efforts to maintain the liberty given us by God. But when any requirement is made that shows disrespect to the seventh-day Sabbath, we are to refuse compliance. Here eternal interests are involved, and we are to know the ground we should occupy.

Those who compose our churches have traits of character that will lead them, if they are not very careful, to feel indignant because on account of misrepresentation, their liberty in regard to working on Sunday is taken away. Do not fly into a passion over this matter, but take everything in prayer to God. He

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alone can restrain the power of rulers. Walk not rashly. Let none boast unwisely of their liberty, using it for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. "Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king" [1 Pet. 2:17].

This advice is to be of real value to all who are to be brought into strait places. Nothing that shows defiance, or that could be interpreted as maliciousness, must be shown. "Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously: who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed" [1 Pet. 2:18-24].

This instruction is given to us all. Ministers are to take heed, and with pen and voice echo the words of God. When we are called upon to violate the law of God, we shall be given wisdom from above, to answer as did Christ, "It is written." Speak as few words of your own arrangement as possible, but have your heart supplied with the sharp arrows of God's furnishing. If God, the great Master Workman, is with us, we shall pass through the perplexing ordeals before us as firm as a rock to principle, obeying God rather than man. This attitude

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will bring victories which our lack of faith has led us to regard as hopeless and impossible. These definite instructions were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

Our greatest necessity is a pure, clean heart and an understanding mind. All kinds of malicious falsehoods were circulated against Christ, and they will be circulated against God's commandment-keeping people. How shall we prove these to be false? Shall it be by building up a wall between us and the world? Christ's prayer answers this point: "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil." While our work is aggressive, it must be conducted on Bible principles. All our enterprises are to be carried forward with Christlike simplicity, patience, forbearance, and love for God and for Christ. Our work is to convince, not to condemn. The human beings around us possess like infirmities with ourselves. They have been educated by the clergy that Sunday is the Sabbath, and so long has this error been cherished that it has become hoary with age. But this does not make it truth.

We must stand on the platform of eternal truth. As laborers together with God, we are not to hurl thunderbolts at those in error but uplift Christ before them, and bid them behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. We are not to storm their ears with prejudice, because this is not the way to break down prejudice. Paul, the faithful witness for Christ, gave this dying charge to Timothy: "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not

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endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing" [2 Tim. 4:1-8]. Read also 1 Tim. 3:10-17, and 2:1-12.

In dealing with unreasonable and wicked men, those who believe the truth are to be careful not to bring themselves down to the same level, where they will use the same Satanic weapons that their enemies use, by giving loose rein to strong personal feelings, and arousing against themselves and against the work the Lord has given them to do, passion and bitter enmity. Keep Jesus uplifted. We are laborers together with God. We are provided with spiritual weapons, mighty to the pulling down of the strongholds of the enemy. We must in no case misrepresent our faith by weaving unChristlike attributes into the work. We must exalt the law of God, as binding us up with Jesus Christ and all who love Him and keep His commandments. We are also to reveal a love for the souls for whom Christ has died. Our faith is to be demonstrated as a power of which Christ is the Author. And the Bible, His word, is to make us wise unto salvation.--Ms 46, 1898, pp. 7-11. ("The Word Before God's People," no date.)

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While we are to stand firm as a rock to principle, we should be courteous and Christlike in our dealings with all men. We should tell people plainly that we cannot accept the papal sabbath, because it is a mark of special dishonor to God, whom we love and worship. But while we sacredly observe the Sabbath of the Lord, it is not our work to compel others to observe it. God never forces the conscience; that is Satan's work. Since God is the author of the Sabbath, it must be presented to the minds of men in contrast to the false sabbath, that all may choose between them. It is Satan who tries to compel the conscience that error may be accepted and honored.

This time,[* REFERRING TO SUNDAY-LAW AGITATION IN 1890.] when there is such an effort made to enforce the observance of Sunday, is the very opportunity to present to the world the true Sabbath in contrast to the false. The Lord in His providence is far ahead of us. He has permitted this Sunday question to be pressed to the front, that the Sabbath of the fourth commandment may be presented before the legislative assemblies. Thus the leading men of the nation may have their attention called to the testimony of God's word in favor of the true Sabbath. If it does not convert them, it is a witness to condemn. The Sabbath question is the great testing question for this time.--Ms 16, 1890, p. 21.

"Whosoever heareth these saying of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock." The character of the Christian will be positive and stable; it will be monumental, commemorating the great truths of the Bible, that others may be benefited by the sign of obedience

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he carries. "If ye love Me, keep My commandments." The Sabbath of the fourth commandment "is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you."--Ms 24, 1891, p. 20. ("Our Constant Need of Divine Enlightenment.") Released March 30, 1962.