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The Greatest Battle

Posted Aug 20, 2012 by Adrian Ebens in Adrian Ebens
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In the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to attend the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It has been just over two months since my disfellowship from the church and I have felt a strong desire to simply sit in the church and be with my brethren. The church near me is not the one that disfellowshipped me, so the issues surrounding my removal were thankfully not front and centre of discussion.

As I ponder the joy of my beloved Saviour and the deep sense of love in my heart that comes from knowing the begotten Son of God, I feel a deep sense of sorrow that my brethren do not know Him. Most do not even know that they are missing Him. I feel such a strong desire to be able to tell my brethren about the joy I have found in the Begotten Son and yet my ability to speak is seen through the lens of one who against the church and a danger to the membership. As I pour out my heart to our Father I pray for a way to connect with my brethren.

Soon after through a sequence of events, I received an invitation to come to church which I gratefully accepted. Just to be near my brethren, just to sit with them, just to sit quietly and pray in the house of God. This was enough to cause me joy.

As I entered the church grounds, I felt my flesh prepare for rejection and yet in my spirit I felt a greater yearning for a connection with my brethren. Would love or fear be written on my face? Would my desire to protect myself outweigh my desire to radiate the love and acceptance I had found in Christ? I consciously focused my thoughts on the joy I had found and my need to reflect love rather than fear or disappointment.

I was warmly welcomed and a few people spoke to me and expressed their happiness at seeing me there. As I started to move into the Sanctuary, I wondered if I might be checked and questioned. Once again the flesh was seeking to protect me and cause me to dwell on myself. Self, self, self! Always self, seeking the mastery and to bring the soul into sorrow. Ellen White wrote strikingly:

     The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought. The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God, requires a struggle; but the soul must submit to God before it can be renewed in holiness.  {SC 43.3}   

The attendance of church under these circumstances is proving a great blessing to me as I discover layer after layer of self, waiting, drawing, seeking to be a benefactor to my soul while at the same time seeking to disconnect me from my Beloved and enslave me in self-pity. No! I shall not be ruled by such evil desires. Christ is victor, Christ is King, Christ is not ashamed to call these His brethren, so what prompts me to withdraw myself?

As I sit in the sanctuary, I join the singing of a familiar hymn. I look around and observe the listless congregation. A spirit of dullness seemed to pervade the sanctuary and I just yearned to be able to share with them the living water that I had found. Then I witnessed something at the front that literally took my breath away. In that split second the war erupted in my soul. I felt a deep sense of pain at what I had witnessed and immediately I felt my flesh begin to clamour for the throne of my heart. I felt my soul begin to withdraw in horror, yet I was able to watch it all as if it were in slow motion. A perception was given me to see straight through this pretense, this desire to tear the robes and display ones indignation at such an insult to our majestic Father.

In that split second, I was enabled to make a choice. I am glad that the choice was granted me. It was the central question and theme of my morning. Are you ashamed to call them your brethren? “Lord Jesus help me to reveal your love and grant me strength to overcome this wickedness within me.” I prayed within my heart. Father, please forgive us, for these things that must cause you so much pain. As I yielded to the Spirit, I felt warmth flood my heart. Yes! These are my people and I am a part of these things. I felt the scrutiny of judgment in my soul. Did I truly love my brethren? Was I not ashamed of them? Did I not want to pull away in affected horror? Yet, our Father witnesses these things every week, in every church all around the world, yet He still gives them breath and food and happiness all the while drawing and pleading with them to accept His Son.

Dear Father, I thank you for the refining tests that come close to the soul and discover to us the deeper struggle of self, this greatest of all battles. I thank you Lord Jesus that you have won for us the Spirit of one who is not ashamed to call us brethren. I have dishonoured you and lived foolishly in my past and yet you were not ashamed to call me your brother. How thankful I am for this wonderful truth. Please let your Spirit live in me that I may reveal the character of Jesus as one who triumphs over the flesh through love and clinging to His brethren even while in the darkness of error. This prayer I submit to you Father in the name of your wonderful Son.