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Choosing Sides

It is not popular in today’s society to chose sides. Imagine being a writer that has worked on getting a book published. You have submitted your manuscript to a publisher. After a couple of weeks, the publisher responds that you left out one important element in your manuscript. There is no conflict in your story so the book is rejected.

Conflict is non-negotiable, it is an essential and fundamental reality of life on this planet today. Here are just a few examples of conflict:

Husband and wife arguing
Political parties bashing each other
A fight right inside of you – your good side versus your bad side.

God is a good God – a God of Peace. Time is coming soon when the world will be a place of peace. There will be no more conflict. Conflict is the fruit of sin. Our culture today does not want to accept and believe that. Sin’s lowest common denominator is selfishness. Lucifer started selfishness.

Isaiah 14:12-15
The Fall of Lucifer
12 How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
13 For you have said in your heart:
‘ I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.

Lucifer’s selfishness is that he was the greatest creation of God and he said he will take the place of God. Lucifer developed ‘I’ trouble – it’s all about me. Whenever self gets in the way, conflict is the result. People get self absorbed. This is where the Great Controversy began – the great war that lead to all future wars in this world.

Imagine going into an art gallery and you are blind folded. You are placed right up against a wall and the blind fold is removed. You are asked what you see. You notice some yellow and grey because you are just one inch from the wall. You are told to move a couple of inches away from the wall and then you are asked to share what you now see. You can see some parts of the body and a few more colors. Then you are asked to move a few feet away from the wall and you then realize you are looking at the Mona Lisa that was painted by Leonardo da Vinci.

This story is showing us that we may not see the big picture until we can look from a different perspective. Before sin came into the world there were no sides. After the Great Controversy happened in heaven, we had to chose sides. The choices have been:

Good versus evil
Positive versus negative
Light versus dark
Christ versus satan

Some people chose neither side. When you are traveling on an airplane and a conversation begins with those sitting around you, sooner or later you ask each other what your occupation is. When Pastor Korter was flying home from his recent trip to Venezuela, he had a conversation with a woman sitting close by. When Pastor Korter disclosed that he was a Pastor, the woman became defensive and looked at him differently. She would not keep eye contact and stated that she felt there was more than 2 sides to the Great Controversy. This woman says she is independent.

The root of wanting to be independent is sin. If we are going to be a real Christian, we need to be rooted in God and be a part of His Church. To not chose is to chose the other side away from God. When we feel that it is all about I and me, we are on a slippery slope and have landed on Satan’s side.

We must chose where we will stand. People who admire their own intellectual power may protest. Post modernism says there is not one truth – what is true for you may not be true for me. Many people are comfortable with many shades of grey even though it is a black and white topic.

Joshua 24:15
15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

There is such a thing with pure truth – love – being totally loyal – God’s truth has no error in it. Compromise may seem possible but it is not if we are going to make it into heaven. Choosing God’s side is being in the minority.

Matthew 7:13-14
13 Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Many people will walk through the narrow gate but just a few are trying to apply the truth in their life. Many are not looking. It seemed Adam and Eve were doomed. God could have said: “You sinned – that’s it, you had your chance – you’re gone. But God chose to give them a choice to be saved. You and I have been given the same choice.

Abel brought a lamb to sacrifice on the altar to God. Abel’s lamb represented Jesus. Cain brought the fruit of his labor to the altar. Cain trusted more in his own human effort. God accepted Abel’s sacrifice – Cain got jealous and killed his brother Abel. This very same principle applies to us today.

Patriarchs and Prophets written by Ellen White page 72
[This chapter is based on Genesis 4:1-15.]

Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam, differed widely in character. Abel had a spirit of loyalty to God; he saw justice and mercy in the Creator’s dealings with the fallen race, and gratefully accepted the hope of redemption. But Cain cherished feelings of rebellion, and murmured against God because of the curse pronounced upon the earth and upon the human race for Adam’s sin. He permitted his mind to run in the same channel that led to Satan’s fall–indulging the desire for self-exaltation and questioning the divine justice and authority.

These brothers were tested, as Adam had been tested before them, to prove whether they would believe and obey the word of God. They were acquainted with the provision made for the salvation of man, and understood the system of offerings which God had ordained. They knew that in these offerings they were to express faith in the Savior whom the offerings typified, and at the same time to acknowledge their total dependence on Him for pardon; and they knew that by thus conforming to the divine plan for their redemption, they were giving proof of their obedience to the will of God. Without the shedding of blood there could be no remission of sin; and they were to show their faith in the blood of Christ as the promised atonement by offering the firstlings of the flock in sacrifice. Besides this, the first fruits of the earth were to be presented before the Lord as a thank offering.

The two brothers erected their altars alike, and each brought an offering. Abel presented a sacrifice from the flock, in accordance with the Lord’s directions. “And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering.” Fire flashed from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. But Cain, disregarding the Lord’s direct and explicit command, presented only an offering of fruit. There was no token from heaven to show that it was accepted. Abel pleaded with his brother to approach God in the divinely prescribed way, but his entreaties only made Cain the more determined to follow his own will. As the eldest, he felt above being admonished by his brother, and despised his counsel.

Cain came before God with murmuring and infidelity in his heart in regard to the promised sacrifice and the necessity of the sacrificial offerings. His gift expressed no penitence for sin. He felt, as many now feel, that it would be an acknowledgment of weakness to follow the exact plan marked out by God, of trusting his salvation wholly to the atonement of the promised Savior. He chose the course of self-dependence. He would come in his own merits. He would not bring the lamb, and mingle its blood with his offering, but would present his fruits, the products of his labor. He presented his offering as a favor done to God, through which he expected to secure the divine approval. Cain obeyed in building an altar, obeyed in bringing a sacrifice; but he rendered only a partial obedience. The essential part, the recognition of the need of a Redeemer, was left out.

So far as birth and religious instruction were concerned, these brothers were equal. Both were sinners, and both acknowledged the claims of God to reverence and worship. To outward appearance their religion was the same up to a certain point, but beyond this the difference between the two was great.

“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” Hebrews 11:4. Abel grasped the great principles of redemption. He saw himself a sinner, and he saw sin and its penalty, death, standing between his soul and communion with God. He brought the slain victim, the sacrificed life, thus acknowledging the claims of the law that had been transgressed. Through the shed blood he looked to the future sacrifice, Christ dying on the cross of Calvary; and trusting in the atonement that was there to be made, he had the witness that he was righteous, and his offering accepted.

Cain had the same opportunity of learning and accepting these truths as had Abel. He was not the victim of an arbitrary purpose. One brother was not elected to be accepted of God, and the other to be rejected. Abel chose faith and obedience; Cain, unbelief and rebellion. Here the whole matter rested.

Cain and Abel represent two classes that will exist in the world till the close of time. One class avail themselves of the appointed sacrifice for sin; the other venture to depend upon their own merits; theirs is a sacrifice without the virtue of divine mediation, and thus it is not able to bring man into favor with God. It is only through the merits of Jesus that our transgressions can be pardoned. Those who feel no need of the blood of Christ, who feel that without divine grace they can by their own works secure the approval of God, are making the same mistake as did Cain. If they do not accept the cleansing blood, they are under condemnation. There is no other provision made whereby they can be released from the thralldom of sin.

Cain and Abel represent the two classes or choices. One chose following God, the other chose to rebel. Jesus is asking us today – What will your choice be? If you were only person on this planet, Jesus would have come to die for you! Jesus is coming soon – will you chose obedience to God? Choosing obedience is not popular. People say it is legalism – this statement is straight from the devil. Jesus wants us to be free. The Devil wants you to think you will be in bondage.

Reality is that a person that accepts Jesus in their heart is the happiest person in the world. Choose our works or choose Jesus. Say this prayer today:

Jesus, I love you with all my heart, I know you are coming soon, I want you to come into my heart. Ask for Christ and make the choice for following Jesus. Is there a habit that you need to let go of? Choose to believe in the truth not the lies of Satan. God has always had a people. He still has a people today. There are only 2 sides. God, give me the power to make the right choice I pray, Amen.

This is the sermon preached by Pastor Brandon Korter on Sabbath, 5. March 2011 at Bellingham Seventh-day Adventist Christian Church.

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