2SM - Chap.3 - Holy Flesh Doctrine

         "h O l y    f l e s h"    D o c t r i n e    -  Chapter   3                        

                                          Selected Messages,  Book 2   - -   page 31 to 39     

                                                                                                                       Related pages:   Fanaticism

[A fanatical teaching termed “The Doctrine of Holy Flesh” was started in 1900 in Indiana, leading the conference president and various workers into serious error. This theory alleged that those who follow the Saviour must have their fallen natures perfected by passing through a “Garden of Gethsemane” experience, thus acquiring a state of physical sinlessness as an essential preparation for translation. Eyewitness accounts report that in their services the fanatics worked up a high pitch of excitement by use of musical instruments such as organs, flutes, fiddles, tambourines, horns, and even a big bass drum. They sought a physical demonstration and shouted and prayed and sang until someone in the congregation would fall, prostrate and unconscious, from his seat. One or two men, walking up and down the aisle for the purpose, would drag the fallen person up on the rostrum. Then about a dozen individuals would gather around the prostrate body, some singing, some shouting, and some praying, all at the same time. When the subject revived, he was counted among those who had passed through the Gethsemane experience, had obtained holy flesh, and had translation faith. Thereafter, it was asserted, he could not sin and would never die. Elders S. N. Haskell and A. J. Breed, two of our leading denominational ministers, were sent to the camp meeting held at Muncie, Indiana, from September 13 to 23, 1900, to meet this fanaticism. These developments were revealed to Mrs. White while she was in Australia in January, 1900, and she bore testimony of warning and reproof against it, as seen in the two following messages.—Compilers.] { 2SM 31.1 } 

 

                                                            A  Repetition  of  Early  Fanaticism

[A statement read by Mrs. E. G. White before the ministers at the General Conference, April 17, 1901.] { 2SM 31.2} 
 Instruction has been given me in regard to the late experience of brethren in Indiana and the teaching they have given to the churches. Through this experience and teaching the enemy has been working to lead souls astray. { 2SM 31.3} 

 

The teaching given in regard to what is termed “holy flesh” is an error. All may now obtain holy hearts, but it is not correct to claim in this life to have holy flesh. The apostle Paul declares, “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” ( Romans 7:18). To those who have tried so hard to obtain by faith so-called holy flesh, I would say, You cannot obtain it. Not a soul of you has holy flesh now. No human being on the earth has holy flesh. It is an impossibility. { 2SM 32.1} 

 

If those who speak so freely of perfection in the flesh, could see things in the true light, they would recoil with horror from their presumptuous ideas. In showing the fallacy of their assumptions in regard to holy flesh, the Lord is seeking to prevent men and women from putting on His words a construction which leads to pollution of body, soul, and spirit. Let this phase of doctrine be carried a little further, and it will lead to the claim that its advocates cannot sin; that since they have holy flesh, their actions are all holy. What a door of temptation would thus be opened! { 2SM 32.2} 

 

The Scriptures teach us to seek for the sanctification to God of body, soul, and spirit. In this work we are to be laborers together with God. Much may be done to restore the moral image of God in man, to improve the physical, mental, and moral capabilities. Great changes can be made in the physical system by obeying the laws of God and bringing into the body nothing that defiles. And while we cannot claim perfection of the flesh, we may have Christian perfection of the soul. Through the sacrifice made in our behalf, sins may be perfectly forgiven. Our dependence is not in what man can do; it is in what God can do for man through Christ. When we surrender ourselves wholly to God, and fully believe, the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin. The conscience can be freed from condemnation. Through faith in His blood, all may be made perfect in Christ Jesus. Thank God that we are not dealing with impossibilities. We may claim sanctification. We may enjoy the favor of God. We are not to be anxious about what Christ and God think of us, but about what God thinks of Christ, our Substitute. Ye are accepted in the Beloved. The Lord shows, to the repenting, believing one, that Christ accepts the surrender of the soul, to be molded and fashioned after His own likeness. { 2SM 32.3} 

 

In His life on earth, Christ could have made disclosures which would have eclipsed and assigned to oblivion all human discoveries. He could have opened door after door to mysterious things, and many revelations of eternal realities would have been the sure result. He could have uttered words which would have been as a key to unlock mysteries that would have captivated the minds of generations to the close of time. But Christ does not open the numerous doors at which human curiosity has been striving to obtain entrance. He does not spread for men a feast that would prove deleterious to their highest interests. He came to plant for men, not the tree of knowledge, but the tree of life.... { 2SM 33.1} 

 

I have been instructed to say to those in Indiana who are advocating strange doctrines, You are giving a wrong mold to the precious and important work of God. Keep within the bounds of the Bible. Take Christ’s lessons, and repeat them over and over again. Remember that “the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” ( James 3:17, 18). { 2SM 33.2} 

 

When human beings receive holy flesh, they will not remain on the earth, but will be taken to heaven. While sin is forgiven in this life, its results are not now wholly removed. It is at His coming that Christ is to “change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” ( Philippians 3:21).... { 2SM 33.3} 

 

Again and again in the progress of our work, fanatical movements have arisen, and when the matter was presented before me, I have had to bear a message similar to the message I am bearing to my brethren from Indiana. I have been instructed by the Lord that this movement in Indiana is of the same character as have been the movements in years past. In your religious meetings there have been exercises similar to those I have witnessed in connection with those movements in the past. { 2SM 33.4} 

 

In the period of disappointment after the passing of the time in 1844, fanaticism in various forms arose. Some held that the resurrection of the righteous dead had already taken place. I was sent to bear a message to those believing this, as I am now bearing a message to you. They declared that they were perfected, that body, soul, and spirit were holy. They made demonstrations similar to those you have made, and confused their own minds and the minds of others by their wonderful suppositions. Yet these persons were our beloved brethren, and we were longing to help them. I went into their meetings. There was much excitement, with noise and confusion. One could not tell what was piped or what was harped. Some appeared to be in vision, and fell to the floor. Others were jumping, dancing, and shouting. They declared that as their flesh was purified, they were ready for translation. This they repeated again and again. I bore my testimony in the name of the Lord, placing His rebuke upon these manifestations. { 2SM 34.1} 

 

Some who had engaged in these movements were brought to their right mind, and saw their delusion. Some had been excellent, honest people, but they thought that sanctified flesh could not sin, and thus they had been taken in Satan’s trap. They had carried their strong ideas so far that they became a reproach to the precious cause of God. These sorely repented, and some were afterward among our most reliable men and women. But there were others who ever after walked in sadness. We could not at any time make them feel that they were worthy to work for the Master, whose precious cause they had so greatly dishonored. { 2SM 34.2} 

 

As the result of fanatical movements such as I have described, persons in no way responsible for them have in some cases lost their reason. They could not harmonize the scenes of excitement and tumult with their own past precious experience; they were pressed beyond measure to receive the message of error; it was represented to them that unless they did this they would be lost; and as the result their mind was unbalanced, and some became insane. These things bring a reproach upon the cause of truth, and hinder the proclamation of the last message of mercy to the world. { 2SM 34.3} 

                                          

                                                        Shouting  No  Evidence  of  Sanctification

The manner in which the meetings in Indiana have been carried on, with noise and confusion, does not commend them to thoughtful, intelligent minds. There is nothing in these demonstrations which will convince the world that we have the truth. Mere noise and shouting are no evidence of sanctification, or of the descent of the Holy Spirit. Your wild demonstrations create only disgust in the minds of unbelievers. The fewer of such demonstrations there are, the better it will be for the actors and for the people in general. { 2SM 35.1} 

 

Fanaticism, once started and left unchecked, is as hard to quench as a fire which has obtained hold of a building. Those who have entered into and sustained this fanaticism, might far better be engaged in secular labor; for by their inconsistent course of action they are dishonoring the Lord and imperiling His people. Many such movements will arise at this time, when the Lord’s work should stand elevated, pure, unadulterated with superstition and fables. We need to be on our guard, to maintain a close connection with Christ, that we be not deceived by Satan’s devices. { 2SM 35.2} 

 

The Lord desires to have in His service order and discipline, not excitement and confusion. We are not now able to describe with accuracy the scenes to be enacted in our world in the future; but this we do know, that this is a time when we must watch unto prayer; for the great day of the Lord is at hand. Satan is rallying his forces. We need to be thoughtful and still, and to contemplate the truths of revelation. Excitement is not favorable to growth in grace, to true purity and sanctification of the spirit. { 2SM 35.3}  also  { LDE 17.1 }

 

God wants us to deal with sacred truth. This alone will convince the gainsayer. Calm, sensible labor must be put forth, to convince souls of their condition, to show them the character building which must be carried on if a beautiful structure is raised for the Lord. Minds that are awakened must be patiently instructed if they rightly understand and duly appreciate the truths of the Word. { 2SM 35.4} 

 

God calls upon His people to walk with sobriety and holy consistency. They should be very careful not to misrepresent and dishonor the holy doctrines of truth by strange performances, by confusion and tumult. By this, unbelievers are led to think that Seventh-day Adventists are a set of fanatics. Thus prejudice is created that prevents souls from receiving the message for this time. When believers speak the truth as it is in Jesus, they reveal a holy, sensible calm, not a storm of confusion.—The General Conference Bulletin, April 23, 1901. { 2SM 36.1} 

 

                                                      Worship  With  A  Bedlam  of  Noise

It is impossible to estimate too largely the work that the Lord will accomplish through His proposed vessels in carrying out His mind and purpose. The things you have described as taking place in Indiana, the Lord has shown me would take place just before the close of probation. Every uncouth thing will be demonstrated. There will be shouting, with drums, music, and dancing. The senses of rational beings will become so confused that they cannot be trusted to make right decisions. And this is called the moving of the Holy Spirit. { 2SM 36.2} also { LDE 159.1 }

 

The Holy Spirit never reveals itself in such methods, in such a bedlam of noise. This is an invention of Satan to cover up his ingenious methods for making of none effect the pure, sincere, elevating, ennobling, sanctifying truth for this time. Better never have the worship of God blended with music than to use musical instruments to do the work which last January was represented to me would be brought into our camp meetings. The truth for this time needs nothing of this kind in its work of converting souls. A bedlam of noise shocks the senses and perverts that which if conducted aright might be a blessing. The powers of satanic agencies blend with the din and noise, to have a carnival, and this is termed the Holy Spirit’s working.

 

When the camp meeting is ended, the good which ought to have been done and which might have been done by the presentation of sacred truth is not accomplished. Those participating in the supposed revival receive impressions which lead them adrift. They cannot tell what they formerly knew regarding Bible principles. { 2SM 37.1} 

 

No encouragement should be given to this kind of worship. The same kind of influence came in after the passing of the time in 1844. The same kind of representations were made. Men became excited, and were worked by a power thought to be the power of God { 2SM 37.2} 

 

                                                        History  of  the  Past  to  Be  Repeated

  I will not go into all the painful history; it is too much. But last January the Lord showed me that erroneous theories and methods would be brought into our camp meetings, and that the history of the past would be repeated. I felt greatly distressed. I was instructed to say that at these demonstrations demons in the form of men are present, working with all the ingenuity that Satan can employ to make the truth disgusting to sensible people; that the enemy was trying to arrange matters so that the camp meetings, which have been the means of bringing the truth of the third angel’s message before multitudes, should lose their force and influence. { 2SM 37.3} 

 

The third angel’s message is to be given in straight lines. It is to be kept free from every thread of the cheap, miserable inventions of men’s theories, prepared by the father of lies, and disguised as was the brilliant serpent used by Satan as a medium of deceiving our first parents. Thus Satan tries to put his stamp upon the work God would have stand forth in purity. { 2SM 37.4} 

 

The Holy Spirit has nothing to do with such a confusion of noise and multitude of sounds as passed before me last January. Satan works amid the din and confusion of such music, which, properly conducted, would be a praise and glory to God. He makes its effect like the poison sting of the serpent. { 2SM 37.5} 

 

Those things which have been in the past will be in the future. Satan will make music a snare by the way in which it is conducted. God calls upon His people, who have the light before them in the Word and in the Testimonies, to read and consider, and to take heed. Clear and definite instruction has been given in order that all may understand. But the itching desire to originate something new results in strange doctrines, and largely destroys the influence of those who would be a power for good if they held firm the beginning of their confidence in the truth the Lord had given them. { 2SM 38.1}  also  { LDE 159.2 }

 

“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip [margin: “run out as leaking vessels”]. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him?” ( Hebrews 2:1-3). “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” ( Hebrews 3:12-14). { 2SM 38.2} 

 

Brother and Sister Haskell, we must put on every piece of the armor, and having done all, stand firm. We are set as a defense for the gospel, and we must compose a part of the Lord’s grand army for aggressive warfare. By the Lord’s faithful ambassadors the truth must be presented in clear-cut lines. Much of that which today is called testing truth is twaddle which leads to a resistance of the Holy Spirit { 2SM 38.3} 

 

                                                 Defective  Presentation  Regarding  the  Holy  Spirit

Much is being said regarding the impartation of the Holy Spirit, and by some this is being so interpreted that it is an injury to the churches. Eternal life is the receiving of the living elements in the Scriptures and doing the will of God. This is eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God. To those who do this, life and immortality are brought to light through the gospel, for God’s Word is verity and truth, spirit and life. It is the privilege of all who believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour to feed on the Word of God. The Holy Spirit’s influence renders that Word, the Bible, an immortal truth, which to the prayerful searcher gives spiritual sinew and muscle. { 2SM 38.4} 

 

“Search the scriptures,” Christ declared, “for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” ( John 5:39). Those who dig beneath the surface discover the hidden gems of truth. The Holy Spirit is present with the earnest searcher. Its illumination shines upon the Word, stamping the truth upon the mind with a new, fresh importance. The searcher is filled with a sense of peace and joy never before felt. The preciousness of truth is realized as never before. A new, heavenly light shines upon the Word, illuminating it as though every letter were tinged with gold. God Himself has spoken to the mind and heart, making the Word spirit and life. { 2SM 39.1} 

 

Every true searcher of the Word lifts his heart to God, imploring the aid of the Spirit. And he soon discovers that which carried him above all the fictitious statements of the would-be teacher, whose weak, tottering theories are not sustained by the Word of the living God. These theories were invented by men who had not learned the first great lesson, that God’s Spirit and life are in His Word. If they had received in the heart the eternal element contained in the Word of God, they would see how tame and expressionless are all efforts to get something new to create a sensation. They need to learn the very first principles of the Word of God; they would then have the word of life for the people, who will soon distinguish the chaff from the wheat, for Jesus left His promise with His disciples.—Letter 132, 1900. { 2SM 39.2} 

 

                            Continue to Chapter 4 — Warnings Against Deceptive Claims of the Spirit’s Guidance

                            Continue fo Chapter 5 --  Miracles

                                         Return  to  Spirit of Prophecy  section

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