Friday, July 15, 2005

Nothing's Original

In the 1980’s an extremely popular singer was invited to dinner at the home of a truly prominent record producer. The producer owned a beautiful mansion located on a beach in Southern California. Although impressed by the producer, as well as his home, the singer spoke mostly of himself. On and on he bragged about how original, unique and great he was. Familiar with young singers who have large egos, the producer did not address the singer's comments, but remained patient and composed. At the close of the evening's festivities, the singer spotted a photograph of a man in repose, in the hallway by the door, and stopped to have a good look. As he gazed upon the photo, he commented, "hey, who’s the dude who stole my hair style?” Amused, the producer smiled, took a deep breath, and responded, “the dude you are
referring to is my father, and this picture was taken 50 years ago. So if the hair style was stolen, then my friend, it was stolen by you.” Needless to say, the young singer left the producer's home humbly and quietly.

This story merely serves as a reminder that "there is nothing is new under the sun." The things we think are new and all the rage, are things that have been around before. Maybe not in the same way, perhaps something cosmetic has changed, but for the most part, whatever it is, has been conceived of, said or done before. Pretty much all things are recycled -- for nothing is really original. Indeed, King Solomon said it best in Ecclesiastes:

Ecclesiastes 1:9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.

This truth also applies to our thoughts, for not one of our thoughts is ours, at least originally. This is especially true of our so called "good thoughts." Sister White says, “Right thoughts, pure and holy purposes, do not come to us naturally (Counsels on Healing, 291). She says elsewhere, “Christ alone can direct the thoughts aright. He alone can give noble aspirations and fashion the character after the divine similitude” (Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 324). In summary, we do not think one noble thought that does not come from Him (E. G. White Notes, 23).

The same, however, does not hold true concerning evil thoughts, because of our nature which is bent to sin. Evil thoughts and imaginings spring from within, and are also prompted from without. While the Holy Spirit and heavenly angels suggest noble thoughts, Satan and his demons suggest the opposite to spread woe upon their bearer and as many others as possible for a lifetime. To choose heavenly thoughts, we must choose to be receptive to the Holy Spirit; for not to choose Him, is to choose evil.

Christ's life illustrates the mode of thought He wishes us to have. And just in case we're not sure what the current of our thoughts should be, He has provided us an example in the scripture. Philippians chapter 4 states:

Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Unfortunately, if we were to ask many Christians the question, "how do we make Philippians 4:8 a reality in our lives," their response would be, "Guard your thoughts, watch what you say, and if you find yourself thinking something that's not nice, focus on something nice instead." I say to those of you would answer this way, if we are bent to sin, and the tenor of our thoughts and imaginings is only evil, and we are susceptible to evil thoughts and ways as presented by the evil one, how can we of ourselves think right thoughts? We cannot. Remember, sin is the principle of self. So in other words, we are bent to self. Therefore, if we are not born again of the Spirit, and find that we are thinking thoughts such as those exemplified by Philippians chapter 4 verse 8, it is only because someone is praying for us, and the Lord is intervening. He has said, "... the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much" (James 5:16), and He is faithful in keeping His Word.

Concerning the role that we play in thinking right thoughts, Sister White says,

It is for you to yield up your will to the will of Jesus Christ; and as you do this, God will immediately take possession and work in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. Your whole nature will then be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ, and even your thoughts will be subject to Him. You cannot control your impulses, your emotions, as you may desire; but you can control the will, and you can make an entire change in your life. By yielding up your will to Christ, your life will be hid with Christ in God and allied to the power which is above all principalities and powers. You will have strength from God that will hold you fast to His strength; and a new life, even the life of living faith, will be possible to you. But your will must co-operate with God's will, not with the will of associates through whom Satan is constantly working to ensnare and destroy you (Testimonies, Volume 5, 513).

Brothers and sisters, I often wondered what Sister White meant by controlling the will. It was much later that I understood this, to control the will, is to choose. It is really all we that we have command of. So, to control the will, is to choose Christ, for not to choose Him, is to choose Satan. Outside of Christ, we are all slaves to sin and bent to do the bidding of evil. Without a Saviour (and Lord), there is nothing any human being will not do. Through His agonizing death on the cross, Christ has bought us back (redeemed us) that He may spend time with us for eternity. What an awesome demonstration of self-denying unconditional love His cross has provided us. How much better a place this world would be if each one of us would choose to give our will to Him. All of heaven would rejoice in happiness, and we would too.

"Christ is waiting with longing desire for the complete reproduction of His character (mind, purposes, aspirations and motives) in the people who love Him, and then will the end come." Let's not frustrate His purposes by resisting His wooing. He deserves better.

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