Guarding the Senses 

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. The mind must not be left to dwell at random upon every subject that the enemy of souls may suggest. The heart must be faithfully sentineled, or evils without will awaken evils within, and the soul will wander in darkness. Acts of the Apostles pg 518

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 Many of you will have visited our sanctuary page and become familiar with the concept that the choice stationed between the world and heaven is the five senses.  Are we listening to and looking daily to the words of God or do we look and listen to the world.  This is a message that involves a cross to bear and thus many would rather ignore it, but one way or another every day in our associations we are deciding for or against the light of the truth.

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”     Matthew 16:24-26

In Mark  10:21,22 and the story of the rich young ruler we see sometimes this cross requires going totally contrary to the wisdom of the world.  “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.  And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.”  Also we note that if we love the world and its riches we may gain the whole world and yet loose our soul.

“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”  I Corinthians 3:19

  We have numerous Biblical examples of men who stood or fell based on especially the senses of seeing and hearing. 

Those who fell include- Samson-saw a woman, then listened to her and lost his strenghth,  Eve- saw a snake and stayed around to listen and fell,  even touching and tasting, the Isrealites at Baal-Peor-saw, listened and touched.  David saw and touched and became a murderer.  Herod whose senses where compromised at a drunken feast killed John the Baptist.

She[Herodious] knew that under ordinary circumstances, while his intelligence controlled him, she could not compass the death of John.. When the great day arrived, and the king with his lords was feasting and drinking in the banqueting hall, Herodias sent her daughter, dressed in a most enchanting manner, into the royal presence. Salome was decorated with costly garlands and flowers, sparkling jewels and flashing bracelets. With little covering, and less modesty, she danced for the amusement of the royal guests. To their perverted senses, she seemed a vision of beauty and loveliness, and charmed away the last remnants of self-respect and propriety. Instead of being governed by enlightened reason, refined taste, and sensitive conscience, the baser qualities of the mind held the guiding reins. Virtue and principle had no controlling power.  {2SP 76,77} 

     The mind of Herod was in a whirl. His faculties were confused, judgment and reverence were dethroned. He saw only the hall of pleasure, with his reveling guests, the banquet table, sparkling wine and flashing lights, and the young girl in her voluptuous beauty dancing before him. In the recklessness of the moment he was desirous to make some display which would exalt him still higher before the great men of his kingdom; and he rashly promised, and confirmed his promise with an oath, to give the daughter of Herodias whatever she might ask.  {2SP 78} 

Notice how Herodias tricks Herod into following her wicked plans by purposefully perverting his senses. Might the harlot prophesied of in Revelation do the same?

Those who stood for truth include- Joseph who saw, heard and fled; Jesus who was tempted upon appetite-taste, love of the world and display-sights of surpassing beauty; John the Baptist and Enoch-who lived in the wilderness limiting their exposure to evil.

Guarding oneself from sin and evil is not a new concept.

John the Baptist was a man filled with the Holy Ghost from his birth, and if there was anyone who could remain unaffected by the corrupting influences of the age in which he lived, it was surely he. Yet he did not venture to trust his strength; he separated himself from his friends and relatives, that his natural affections might not prove a snare to him. He would not place himself unnecessarily in the way of temptation nor where the luxuries or even the conveniences of life would lead him to indulge in ease or to gratify his appetite, and thus lessen his physical and mental strength. By such a course the important mission upon which he came would have failed of its accomplishment.

     He subjected himself to privation and solitude in the wilderness, where he could preserve the sacred sense of the majesty of God by studying His great book of nature and there becoming acquainted with His character as revealed in His wonderful works. It was an atmosphere calculated to perfect moral culture and to keep the fear of the Lord continually before him. John, the forerunner of Christ, did not expose himself to evil conversation and the corrupting influences of the world. He feared the effect upon his conscience, that sin might not appear to him so exceedingly sinful. He chose rather to have his home in the wilderness, where his senses would not be perverted by his surroundings. Should we not learn something from this example of one whom Christ honored and of whom He said: "Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist"? 

     The first thirty years of Christ's life were passed in retirement. Ministering angels waited upon the Lord of life as He walked side by side with the peasants and laborers among the hills of Nazareth, unrecognized and unhonored. These noble examples should teach us to avoid evil influences and to shun the society of those who do not live aright. We should not flatter ourselves that we are too strong for any such influences to affect us, but we should in humility guard ourselves from danger.  {4T 108,109} 

Ancient Israel were especially directed by God to be and remain a people separate from all nations. They were not to be subjected to witnessing the idolatry of those about them, lest their own hearts should be corrupted, lest familiarity with ungodly practices should make them appear less wicked in their eyes. Few realize their own weakness and that the natural sinfulness of the human heart too often paralyzes their noblest endeavors.   The baleful influence of sin poisons the life of the soul. Our only safety is in separation from those who live in its darkness. The Lord has enjoined upon us to come out from among them and be separate, and to touch not the unclean thing, and He will receive us and will be a Father unto us, and we shall be His sons and daughters. If we wish to be adopted into the family of God, to become children of the heavenly King, we must comply with His conditions; we must come out from the world and stand as a peculiar people before the Lord, obeying His precepts and serving Him.  {4T 109,110} 

When iniquity abounds in a nation, there is always to be heard some voice giving warning and instruction, as the voice of Lot was heard in Sodom. Yet Lot could have preserved his family from many evils had he not made his home in this wicked, polluted city. All that Lot and his family did in Sodom could have been done by them, even if they had lived in a place some distance away from the city. Enoch walked with God, and yet he did not live in the midst of any city polluted with every kind of violence and wickedness, as did Lot in Sodom.  {Mar 184.6}

     He [Enoch] did not make his abode with the wicked. . . . He placed himself and his family where the atmosphere would be as pure as possible. Then at times he went forth to the inhabitants of the world with his God-given message. . . . After proclaiming his message, he always took back with him to his place of retirement some who had received the warning.  {Mar 184.7} 

Over and over again the Bible puts a distinct line between good and evil.  They are not to be mixed on a daily basis.  Our “reasonable service” is to present our whole body to God.  This includes our senses which can make or break the “renewing of our minds.”

 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:1,2

Eph 5:11  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

Eph 5:15,16  See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Obviously, it is very hard to reprove someone else for the things we are doing also. But not only are we supposed to reprove the unfruitful works of darkness we are called to redeem the time, to use our senses for something positive that will help us on our way to heaven. We are not only to cease to do evil, but learn to do well. Sometimes we make excuses for not guarding our senses.  Where would I find a job? I wouldn’t have any friends, I might starve to death if I don’t…..

“Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.”  Jeremiah 17:15

In the wilderness, when all means of sustenance failed, God sent His people manna from heaven; and a sufficient and constant supply was given. This provision was to teach them that while they trusted in God and walked in His ways He would not forsake them. The Saviour now practiced the lesson He had taught to Israel. By the word of God succor had been given to the Hebrew host, and by the same word it would be given to Jesus. He awaited God's time to bring relief. He was in the wilderness in obedience to God, and He would not obtain food by following the suggestions of Satan. In the presence of the witnessing universe, He testified that it is a less calamity to suffer whatever may befall than to depart in any manner from the will of God. 

     "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." Often the follower of Christ is brought where he cannot serve God and carry forward his worldly enterprises. Perhaps it appears that obedience to some plain requirement of God will cut off his means of support. Satan would make him believe that he must sacrifice his conscientious convictions. But the only thing in our world upon which we can rely is the word of God. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33. Even in this life it is not for our good to depart from the will of our Father in heaven. When we learn the power of His word, we shall not follow the suggestions of Satan in order to obtain food or to save our lives. Our only questions will be, What is God's command? and what His promise? Knowing these, we shall obey the one, and trust the other.  {Desire of Ages pg 121}

Jesus himself told us not to worry about our physical provisions as long as we are following God’s will.

“ And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.  The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.  Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?  

And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?  If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?  And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye [Matthew adds the word first here] the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;”  Luke 12:22-33

Let your loins be girded about connects to Peter’s statement about girding up the loins of your mind.

1Pe 1:13  “ Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”

 You will have to become a faithful sentinel over your eyes, ears, and all your senses if you would control your mind and prevent vain and corrupt thoughts from staining your soul. 2T pg 561

The way to protect our minds is to shut our eyes to evil, and stop our ears, and close our mouth to evil, etc.  This God will bless.

COMMAND: He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;

PROMISE: He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.  Isaiah 33:15,16

If we expect the promise, we’d better be following the command.  We cannot serve God and mammon. (Matt. 6:24) We cannot eat of the table of the Lord and of devils. (1 Corinthians 10:21)

   A union with Christ by living faith is enduring; every other union must perish. Christ first chose us, paying an infinite price for our redemption; and the true believer chooses Christ as first and last, and best in everything. But this union costs us something. It is a relation of utter dependence, to be entered into by a proud being. All who form this union must feel their need of the atoning blood of Christ. They must have a change of heart. They must submit their own will to the will of God. There will be a struggle with outward and internal obstacles. There must be a painful work of detachment, as well as a work of attachment. Pride, selfishness, vanity, worldliness--sin in all its forms--must be overcome, if we would enter into a union with Christ. The reason why many find the Christian life so deplorably hard, why they are so fickle, so variable, is, they try to attach themselves to Christ without first detaching themselves from these cherished idols.   
     After the union with Christ has been formed, it can be preserved only by earnest prayer and untiring effort. We must resist, we must deny, we must conquer self. Through the grace of Christ, by courage, by faith, by watchfulness, we may gain the victory.  {RH, December 13, 1887 par.11, 12} 

A mere assent to this union, while the affections are not detached from the world, its pleasures and its dissipations, only emboldens the heart in disobedience (ST Nov. 29, 1910).  {5BC 1144.1} 

Choose you this day whom ye will serve…as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15