Mind, Character and Personality/Love and Sexuality in the Human Experience
- Note: Ellen White lived and worked in a day when great restraint was exercised in speaking publicly or writing about sex and the sexual relationship between husbands and wives.
- She was married to James White on August 30, 1846, after assuring herself through prayer that this was a proper step. It should be noted that she was well into her ministry, for she had for twenty months been the recipient of visions from the Lord. As a result of this union with James White she gave birth to four sons, born in 1847, 1849, 1854, and 1860.
- It was in the 1860’s—the decade of two basic health-reform visions (June 6, 1863, and December 25, 1865)—that Ellen G. White began to discuss matters relating to sex. Statements in later years provided some elaboration. In referring to sexual intercourse in marriage she employed such terms as “privilege of the marriage relation,” “privilege of the family relation,” “sexual privileges.”
- To gain an accurate and balanced concept of Ellen White’s teaching in this delicate field, statement should be placed with statement. The balance revealed in many of the statements should be observed. Careful note should be taken of the meaning of the words employed.
- Terms such as “passion” and “propensities” are at times used. These are often qualified by such words as baser, animal, lustful, depraved, corrupt. This strong language could lead some readers to assume that all passion is condemned and all sexual activity is evil. The following quotations would hardly sustain this:
- Not only does God require you to control your thoughts, but also your passions and affections.... Passion and affection are powerful agents....Positively guard your thoughts, your passions, and your affections. Do not degrade these to minister to lust. (p.219) Elevate them [passions and affections] to purity, devote them to God.—Testimonies for the Church 2:561, 564 (1870).
- All animal propensities are to be subjected to the higher powers of the soul.— Manuscript 1, 1888. (The Adventist Home, 127.)
- In the same context in which some of the strong terms referred to above are used, she urges that the passions are to be controlled by what she called “higher, nobler powers,” “reason,” “moral restraint,” and “moral faculties.” She writes of temperance and moderation and avoiding excess. In marriage those passions common to all human beings are to be subject to control, they are to be governed. Note again:
- Those who regard the marriage relation as one of God’s sacred ordinances, guarded by His holy precept, will be controlled by the dictates of reason.—Healthful Living, 48.
- Very few feel it to be a religious duty to govern their passions.... The marriage covenant covers sin of the darkest hue.... Health and life are sacrificed upon the altar of base passion. The higher, nobler powers are brought into subjection to the animal propensities.... Love is a pure and holy principle; but lustful passion will not admit of restraint and will not be dictated to or controlled by reason.—Testimonies for the Church 2:472, 473 (1870).
- She writes of the marriage relation as a “sacred institution” which may be “perverted.” She speaks of “sexual privileges” which “are abused.” Again, it is not passion that is condemned, but “base” and “lustful” passion. And it is worth observing that Ellen White pictures the intimacy of marriage as a “privilege.” Though she warned against gross sexual behavior in marriage, she wrote of a time when affections held in proper restraint can be “unfettered.” Another enlightening statement is worthy of close examination:
- In regard to marriage, I would say, read the word of God. Even in this time, the last days of this world’s history, marriages take place among Seventh-day Adventists....We have, as a people, never forbidden marriage, except in cases where there were obvious reasons that marriage would be misery to both parties. And even then, we have only advised and counseled.— Letter 60, 1900.
- At one time when because of the demands of the work in which she and her husband were engaged a half a continent separated them, she confided in a letter to James:
- We feel every day a most earnest desire for a more sacred nearness to God. This is my prayer when I lie down, when I awake in the night, and when I arise in the morning, Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee.... (p.220) I sleep alone. This seems to be Mary’s preference as well as mine. I can have a better opportunity for reflection and prayer. I prize my [being] all to myself unless graced with your presence. I want to share my bed only with you.— Letter 6, 1876.
- At no time did she participate in or condone teachings which called for a sort of platonic brother and sister relationship in marriage. When dealing with some who pressed teachings of this nature, Ellen White counseled against urging such views. To dwell on them, she wrote, opened the way for Satan to work “upon the imagination so that impurity” instead of purity would result.— Letter 103, 1894.
- For every lawful, God-given privilege, Satan has a counterfeit to suggest. The holy, pure thought he seeks to replace with the impure. For the sanctity of married love he would substitute permissiveness, unfaithfulness, excess, and perversion; premarital sex, adultery, animalism in and outside of marriage, and homosexuality. All are referred to in this chapter.—Compilers.
(A) The Positive
(Words of Privilege and Counsel)
Jesus and the Family Relationship—Jesus did not enforce celibacy upon any class of men. He came not to destroy the sacred relationship of marriage but to exalt it and restore it to its original sanctity. He looks with pleasure upon the family relationship where sacred and unselfish love bears sway.— Manuscript 126, 1899. (The Adventist Home, 121.)
He [Christ] ordained that men and women should be united in holy wedlock, to rear families whose members, crowned with honor, should be recognized as members of the family above.—The Ministry of Healing, 356 (1905).
God’s Purpose Fulfilled in Marriage—All who enter into matrimonial relations with a holy purpose—the husband to obtain the pure affections of a woman’s heart, the wife to soften and improve her husband’s character and give it completeness—fulfill God’s purpose for them.— Manuscript 16, 1899. (The Adventist Home, 99.) (p.221)
The Privilege of the Marriage Relation—They [Christians who have married] should duly consider the result of every privilege of the marriage relation, and sanctified principle should be the basis of every action.—Testimonies for the Church 2:380 (1870). [She wrote of] “the fortifications preserving sacred the privacy and privileges of the family relation.”—Testimonies for the Church 2:90 (1868).
A Time When Affections May Be Unfettered—The young affections should be restrained until the period arrives when sufficient age and experience will make it honorable and safe to unfetter them.—AM 8, 1864. (Messages to Young People, 452.) The Danger of Carrying the Lawful to Excess—There is in itself no sin in eating and drinking or in marrying and giving in marriage. It was lawful to marry in the time of Noah, and it is lawful to marry now, if that which is lawful is properly treated and not carried to sinful excess....
In Noah’s day it was the inordinate, excessive love of that which in itself was lawful, when properly used, that made marriage sinful before God. There are many who are losing their souls in this age of the world by becoming absorbed in the thoughts of marriage and in the marriage relation itself....
God has placed men in the world, and it is their privilege to eat, to drink, to trade, to marry, and to be given in marriage; but it is safe to do these things only in the fear of God. We should live in this world with reference to the eternal world.—The Review and Herald, September 25, 1888.
Marriage No License for Giving Loose Rein to Lustful Passions—Very few feel it to be a religious duty to govern their passions. They have united themselves in marriage to the object of their choice and therefore reason that marriage sanctifies the indulgence of the baser passions. Even (p.222) men and women professing godliness give loose rein to their lustful passions and have no thought that God holds them accountable for the expenditure of vital energy, which weakens their hold on life and enervates the entire system.
The marriage covenant covers sins of the darkest hue. Men and women professing godliness debase their own bodies through the indulgence of the corrupt passions and thus lower themselves beneath the brute creation. They abuse the powers which God has given them to be preserved in sanctification and honor. Health and life are sacrificed upon the altar of base passion. The higher, nobler powers are brought into subjection to the animal propensities. Those who thus sin are not acquainted with the result of their course.—Testimonies for the Church 2:472 (1870).
The Delicate Balance Between Love and Lustful Passion—It is not pure love which actuates a man to make his wife an instrument to minister to his lust. It is the animal passions which clamor for indulgence.
How few men show their love in the manner specified by the apostle: “Even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might [not pollute it but] sanctify and cleanse it;... that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27). This is the quality of love in the marriage relation which God recognizes as holy.
Love is a pure and holy principle, but lustful passion will not admit of restraint and will not be dictated to or controlled by reason. It is blind to consequences; it will not reason from cause to effect.
Many women are suffering from great debility and settled disease because the laws of their being have been disregarded; nature’s laws have been trampled upon. The brain nerve power is squandered by men and women, being called into unnatural action to gratify base passions; and this hideous monster—base, low passion—assumes the delicate name of love.—Testimonies for the Church 2:473, 474 (1870). (p.223)
Love Versus the Passion of the Natural Human Heart—Love ... is not unreasonable; it is not blind. It is pure and holy. But the passion of the natural heart is another thing altogether. While pure love will take God into all its plans and will be in perfect harmony with the Spirit of God, passion will be headstrong, rash, unreasonable, defiant of all restraint, and will make the object of its choice an idol. In all the deportment of one who possesses true love, the grace of God will be shown.—The Review and Herald, September 25, 1888. (The Adventist Home, 50.)
Dictates of Reason to Control—Those who regard the marriage relation as one of God’s sacred ordinances, guarded by His holy precept, will be controlled by the dictates of reason.—Healthful Living, No 2, 48, 1865. (Selected Messages 2:440.)
Keep Confidences Within the Sacred Family Circle—Around every family there is a sacred circle that should be kept unbroken. Within this circle no other person has a right to come. Let not the husband or the wife permit another to share the confidences that belong solely to themselves.—The Ministry of Healing, 361 (1905).
(B) The Negative
(Words of Restraint and Caution)
Marriage Not Designed to Cover Sensuality and Base Practices—God never designed that marriage should cover the multitude of sins that are practiced. Sensuality and base practices in a marriage relation are educating the mind and moral taste for demoralizing practices outside the marriage relation.—The Review and Herald, May 24, 1887.
Sexual Excesses Endangering Health and Life—It is not pure, holy love which leads the wife to gratify the animal propensities of her husband at the expense of health and life.... (p.224)
It may be necessary to humbly and affectionately urge, even at the risk of his displeasure, that she cannot debase her body by yielding to sexual excess. She should, in a tender, kind manner, remind him that God has the first and highest claim upon her entire being and that she cannot disregard this claim, for she will be held accountable in the great day of God.—Testimonies for the Church 2:475 (1870). Sexual excess will effectually destroy a love for devotional exercises, will take from the brain the substance needed to nourish the system, and will most effectively exhaust the vitality.—Testimonies for the Church 2:477 (1870).
Perversion of a Sacred Institution—Because they have entered into the marriage relation, many think that they may permit themselves to be controlled by animal passions. They are led on by Satan, who deceives them and leads them to pervert this sacred institution. He is well pleased with the low level which their minds take; for he has much to gain in this direction.
He knows that if he can excite the baser passions and keep them in the ascendancy, he has nothing to be troubled about in their Christian experience; for the moral and intellectual faculties will be subordinate, while the animal propensities will predominate and keep in the ascendancy; and these baser passions will be strengthened by exercise, while the nobler qualities will become weaker and weaker.—Testimonies for the Church 2:480 (1870).
The Abuse in Marriage of Sexual Privileges—The animal passions, cherished and indulged, become very strong in this age, and untold evils in the marriage life are the sure results. In the place of the mind being developed and having the controlling power, the animal propensities rule over the higher and nobler powers until they are brought into subjection to the animal propensities. What is the result? Women’s delicate organs are worn out and become diseased; childbearing is no more safe; sexual privileges are abused. (p.225)
Men are corrupting their own bodies, and the wife has become a bed servant to their inordinate, base lusts until there is no fear of God before their eyes. To indulge impulse that degrades both body and soul is the order of the marriage life.— Manuscript 14, 1888. Prenatal Influences—Satan seeks to debase the minds of those who unite in marriage that he may stamp his own hateful image upon their children....
He can mold their posterity much more readily than he could the parents, for he can so control the minds of the parents that through them he may give his own stamp of character to their children. Thus many children are born with the animal passions largely in the ascendancy, while the moral faculties are but feebly developed. These children need the most careful culture to bring out, strengthen, and develop the moral and intellectual powers, that these may take the lead.—Testimonies for the Church 2:480 (1870).
The Degrading Process—The mind of a man or woman does not come down in a moment from purity and holiness to depravity, corruption, and crime. It takes time to transform the human to the divine or to degrade those formed in the image of God to the brutal or the satanic. By beholding we become changed. Though formed in the image of his Maker, man can so educate his mind that sin which he once loathed will become pleasant to him. As he ceases to watch and pray, he ceases to guard the citadel, the heart, and engages in sin and crime. The mind is debased, and it is impossible to elevate it from corruption while it is being educated to enslave the moral and intellectual powers and bring them in subjection to grosser passions.
Constant war against the carnal mind must be maintained; and we must be aided by the refining influence of the grace of God, which will attract the mind upward and habituate it to meditate upon pure and holy things.—Testimonies for the Church 2:478, 479 (1870). (p.226)
Counsel to Women—I write with a distressed heart that the women in this age, both married and unmarried, too frequently do not maintain the reserve that is necessary. They act like coquettes. They encourage the attentions of single and married men, and those who are weak in moral power will be ensnared.
These things, if allowed, deaden the moral senses and blind the mind so that crime does not appear sinful. Thoughts are awakened that would not have been if woman had kept her place in all modesty and sobriety. She may have had no unlawful purpose or motive herself, but she has given encouragement to men who are tempted and who need all the help they can get from those associated with them.
By being circumspect, reserved, taking no liberties, receiving no unwarrantable attentions, but preserving a high moral tone and a becoming dignity, much evil might be avoided.— Manuscript 4a, 1885. (The Adventist Home, 331, 332.)
Women as Tempters—Shall not the women professing the truth keep strict guard over themselves lest the least encouragement be given to unwarrantable familiarity? They may close many a door of temptation if they will observe at all time strict reserve and propriety of deportment.—Testimonies for the Church 5:602 (1889).
Women are too often tempters. On one pretense or another they engage the attention of men, married or unmarried, and lead them on till they transgress the law of God, till their usefulness is ruined, and their souls are in jeopardy.—Testimonies for the Church 5:596 (1889). Sympathetic Pastor—Be men of God, on the gaining side. Knowledge is within the reach of all who desire it. God designs the mind shall become strong, thinking deeper, fuller, clearer. Walk with God as did Enoch; make God your counselor and you cannot but make improvement.... (p.227)
There are men who claim to keep God’s commandments, who will visit the flock of God under their charge and lead unwary souls into a train of thought that results in shameless liberties and familiarities....
He [a minister] will, as he visits families, begin to inquire the secrets of their married life. Do they live happily with their husbands? Do they feel that they are appreciated? Is there harmony in their married life? And thus the unsuspecting woman is led on by these ensnaring questions to open her secret life, her disappointments, her little trials and grievances, to a stranger as the Catholics do to their priests.
Then this sympathizing pastor puts in a chapter of his own experience; that his wife was not the woman of his choice; that there is no real affinity between them. He does not love his wife. She does not meet his expectations. The barrier is thus broken down, and women are seduced. They believe their life is one great disappointment, and this shepherd has great sympathy for his flock. Lovesick sentimentalism is encouraged, and the mind and soul is spoiled of its purity, if this kind of work does not result in the breaking of the seventh commandment.
Polluted thoughts harbored become habit, and the soul is scarred and defiled. Once do a wrong action and a blot is made which nothing can heal but the blood of Christ; and if the habit is not turned from with firm determination, the soul is corrupted and the streams flowing from this defiling fountain corrupt others. His influence is a curse. God will certainly destroy all those who continue this work....
We must be elevated, ennobled, sanctified. We may have strength in Jesus to overcome; but when the character is lacking in purity, when sin has become a part of the character, it has a bewitching power that is equal to the intoxicating glass of liquor. The power of self-control and reason is overborne by practices that defile the whole being; and if these sinful practices are continued, the brain is enfeebled, diseased, and loses its balance.— Letter 26d, 1887. (p.228)
Men, Women, and Youth Involved in Moral Depravity—The moral dangers to which all, both old and young, are exposed are daily increasing. Moral derangement, which we call depravity, finds ample room to work, and an influence is exerted by men, women, and youth professing to be Christians that is low, sensual, devilish.— Letter 26d, 1887.
Satan is making masterly efforts to involve married men and women and children and youth in impure practices. His temptations find acceptance in many hearts, because they have not been elevated, purified, refined, and ennobled by the sacred truth which they claim to believe. Not a few have been low and vile in thought and common in talk and deportment so that when Satan’s temptations come, they have no moral power to resist them and fall an easy prey.— Letter 26d, 1887. (In Heavenly Places, 199.)
The Downward Steps—Satan’s constant temptations are designed to weaken man’s government over his own heart, to undermine his power of self-control. He leads man to break the bands which connect him in holy, happy union with his Maker.
Then, when he is disconnected from God, passion obtains control over reason, and impulse over principle, and he becomes sinful in thought and action, his judgment is perverted, his reason seems to be enfeebled, and he needs to be restored to himself by being restored to God by a correct view of himself in the light of God’s word.— Letter 24, 1890.
Avoid Reading, Seeing, and Hearing Impurity—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 (p.229) will awaken evils within, and the soul will wander in darkness.—The Acts of the Apostles, 518 (1911).
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. The power of grace alone can accomplish this most desirable work.—Testimonies for the Church 2:561 (1870).
Salacious Novels and Pornography—Impure pictures have a corrupting influence. Novels are eagerly perused by many, and as the result, their imagination becomes defiled.
In the cars, photographs of females in a state of nudity are frequently circulated for sale. These disgusting pictures are also found in daguerrean saloons [photographic studios], and are hung upon the walls of those who deal in engravings. This is an age when corruption is teeming everywhere.
The lust of the eye and corrupt passions are aroused by beholding and by reading.... The mind takes pleasure in contemplating scenes which awaken the lower and baser passions. These vile images, seen through defiled imagination, corrupt the morals and prepare the deluded, infatuated beings to give loose rein to lustful passions. Then follow sins and crimes which drag beings formed in the image of God down to a level with the beasts, sinking them at last in perdition. Avoid reading and seeing things which will suggest impure thoughts. Cultivate the moral and intellectual powers.—Testimonies for the Church 2:410 (1870).
The Mind the Determining Factor—Said Paul, “With my mind serve I the law of God.” Becloud this mind through indulgence of animal appetite and passions, and the moral powers are weakened so that the sacred and common are placed upon a level.— Letter 2, 1873. (p.230) Masturbation[Note: The author treats this subject at length in Testimonies for the Church 2:346-353, 480-482, and the out-of-print pamphlet an Appeal to Mothers (1864). See Child Guidance, Section XVII, “Preserving Moral Integrity,” Patriarchs and Prophets, 439-468, for a comprehensive coverage of the subject drawn from all published and unpublished sources.—Compilers.]—Youth and children of both sexes engage in moral pollution [masturbation] and practice this disgusting, soul-and-body-destroying vice.
Many professed Christians are so benumbed by the same practice that their moral sensibilities cannot be aroused to understand that it is sin, and that if continued its sure results will be utter shipwreck of body and mind. Man, the noblest being upon the earth, formed in the image of God, transforms himself into a beast! He makes himself gross and corrupt.
Every Christian will have to learn to restrain his passions and be controlled by principle. Unless he does this, he is unworthy of the Christian name.
Some who make high profession do not understand the sin of self-abuse and its sure results. Long-established habit has blinded their understanding. They do not realize the exceeding sinfulness of this degrading sin, which is enervating the system and destroying their brain nerve power.
Moral principle is exceedingly weak when it conflicts with established habit. Solemn messages from heaven cannot forcibly impress the heart that is not fortified against the indulgence of this degrading vice. The sensitive nerves of the brain have lost their healthy tone by morbid excitation to gratify an unnatural desire for sensual indulgence. The brain nerves which communicate with the entire system are the only medium through which Heaven can communicate to man and affect his inmost life.
Whatever disturbs the circulation of the electric currents in the nervous system lessens the strength of the vital powers, and the result is a deadening of the sensibilities of the mind.—Testimonies for the Church 2:347 (1870). (p.231) Some children begin to practice self-pollution in their infancy; and as they increase in years the lustful passions grow with their growth and strengthen with their strength. Their minds are not at rest. Girls desire the society of boys, and boys that of the girls. Their deportment is not reserved and modest. They are bold and forward and take indecent liberties. The habit of self-abuse has debased their minds and tainted their souls.—Testimonies for the Church 2:481 (1870).
Sexual Activity Before Marriage (counsel to a Seventh-day Adventist youth)—Few temptations are more dangerous or more fatal to young men than the temptation to sensuality, and none if yielded to will prove so decidedly ruinous to soul and body for time and eternity.... You were shown me in her [N’s] society hours of the night; you know best in what manner these hours were spent. You called on me to speak whether you had broken God’s commandments. I ask you, Have you not broken them?
How was your time employed hours together night after night? Were your position, your attitude, your affections such that you would want them all registered in the ledger of heaven? I saw, I heard things that would make angels blush.... No young man should do as you have done to N, unless married to her; and I was much surprised to see that you did not sense this matter more keenly.
Why I write now is to implore you for your soul’s sake to dally with temptation no longer. Make short work in breaking this spell that like a fearful nightmare has brooded over you. Cut yourself loose now and forever, if you have any desire for the favor of God.... You have spent hours of the night in her company because you were both infatuated.... In the name of the Lord, cease your attention to N or marry her.... You might as well marry her as to be in her society and conduct yourselves as only man and wife should conduct themselves toward each other....
If through the period of your life you wish to enjoy the (p.232) society of N as you now appear to enjoy it and be fascinated with it, why not go a step farther than you already have and make yourself her lawful protector and have an undisputed right to devote the hours you choose in her company? ... Your acts and conversation are offensive to God.— Letter 3, 1879.
Sodom’s Dissolute Morals—We are not ignorant of the fall of Sodom because of the corruption of its inhabitants. The prophet has here [Ezekiel 16:49] specified the particular evils which led to dissolute morals. We see the very sins now existing in the world which were in Sodom and which brought upon her the wrath of God, even to her utter destruction.—The Review and Herald, July, 1873. (The S.D.A. Bible Commentary 4:1161.)
Sins of the Antediluvians and of Sodom on the Increase—Everywhere are seen wrecks of humanity, neglected family altars, broken-up families. There is a strange abandonment of principle, a lowering of the standard of morality; the sins are fast increasing which caused the judgments of God to be poured upon the earth in the Flood and in the destruction of Sodom by fire.—Testimonies for the Church 5:601 (1889).
Invading the Church Today—Impurity is today widespread, even among the professed followers of Christ. Passion is unrestrained; the animal propensities are gaining strength by indulgence, while the moral powers are constantly becoming weaker....
The sins that destroyed the antediluvians and the cities of the plain exist today—not merely in heathen lands, not only among popular professors of Christianity, but with some who profess to be looking for the coming of the Son of man. If God should present these sins before you as they appear in His sight, you would be filled with shame and terror.—Testimonies for the Church 5:218 (1882).
Shutting the Eyes to Light—Indulgence of the baser passions will lead very many to shut their eyes to the light, (p.233) for they fear that they will see sins which they are unwilling to forsake. All may see if they will. If they choose darkness rather than light, their criminality will be none the less.
Why do not men and women read and become intelligent upon these things which so decidedly affect their physical, intellectual, and moral strength? God has given you a habitation to care for and preserve in the best condition for His service and glory. Your bodies are not your own.—Testimonies for the Church 2:352 (1885).
(C) Balance and Victory
(Words of Promise and Hope)
Sincere Repentance and Determined Effort Necessary—Those who corrupt their own bodies cannot enjoy the favor of God until they sincerely repent, make an entire reform, and perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord.—An Appeal to Mothers, 29 (1864).
The only hope for those who practice vile habits is to forever leave them if they place any value upon health here and salvation hereafter. When these habits have been indulged in for quite a length of time, it requires a determined effort to resist temptation and refuse the corrupt indulgence.—An Appeal to Mothers, 27 (1864).
Control the Imagination—The imagination must be positively and persistently controlled if the passions and affections are made subject to reason, conscience, and character.—Testimonies for the Church 2:562 (1870).
Subordinated to God’s Will—All who have any true sense of what is embraced in being a Christian know that the followers of Christ are under obligation as His disciples to bring all their passions, their physical powers and mental faculties into perfect subordination to His (p.234) will. Those who are controlled by their passions cannot be followers of Christ. They are too much devoted to the service of their master, the originator of every evil, to leave their corrupt habits and choose the service of Christ.—An Appeal to Mothers, 9, 10 (1864). (Child Guidance, 445, 446.)
Thoughts a Crucial Factor—Impure thoughts lead to impure actions. If Christ be the theme of contemplation, the thoughts will be widely separated from every subject which will lead to impure acts. The mind will strengthen by dwelling upon elevating subjects. If trained to run in the channel of purity and holiness, it will become healthy and vigorous. If trained to dwell upon spiritual themes, it will naturally take that turn. But this attraction of the thoughts to heavenly things cannot be gained without the exercise of faith in God and an earnest, humble reliance upon Him for that strength and grace which will be sufficient for every emergency.—Testimonies for the Church 2:408 (1870).
The Sin of Fantasying—You are responsible to God for your thoughts. If you indulge in vain imaginations, permitting your mind to dwell upon impure subjects, you are, in a degree, as guilty before God as if your thoughts were carried into action. All that prevents the action is the lack of opportunity.—Testimonies for the Church 2:561 (1870). Bring the Thoughts Under Control—You should control your thoughts. This will not be an easy task; you cannot accomplish it without close and even severe effort....
Not only does God require you to control your thoughts, but also your passions and affections. Your salvation depends upon your governing yourself in these things. Passion and affection are powerful agents. If misapplied, if set in operation through wrong motives, if misplaced, they are powerful to accomplish your ruin and leave you a miserable wreck, without God and without hope.—Testimonies for the Church 2:561 (1870). (p.235)
Harbored Thoughts Become Habit—Polluted thoughts harbored become habit, and the soul is scarred and defiled. Once do a wrong action and a blot is made which nothing can heal but the blood of Christ; and if the habit is not turned from with firm determination, the soul is corrupted, and the streams flowing from this defiling fountain corrupt others.— Letter 26d, 1887. (In Heavenly Places, 197.) Thoughts Rightly Controlled—We need to place a high value upon the right control of our thoughts, for such control prepares the mind and soul to labor harmoniously for the Master. It is necessary for our peace and happiness in this life that our thoughts center in Christ. As a man thinketh, so is he. Our improvement in moral purity depends on right thinking and right acting....
Evil thoughts destroy the soul. The converting power of God changes the heart, refining and purifying the thoughts. Unless a determined effort is made to keep the thoughts centered on Christ, grace cannot reveal itself in the life. The mind must engage in the spiritual warfare. Every thought must be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. All the habits must be brought under God’s control.
We need a constant sense of the ennobling power of pure thoughts and the damaging influence of evil thoughts. Let us place our thoughts upon holy things. Let them be pure and true, for the only security for any soul is right thinking. We are to use every means that God has placed within our reach for the government and cultivation of our thoughts. We are to bring our minds into harmony with His mind. His truth will sanctify us, body and soul and spirit, and we shall be enabled to rise above temptations.— Letter 123, 1904 (In Heavenly Places, 164.)
Diet an Important Factor—It cannot be too often repeated that whatever is taken into the stomach affects not only the body but ultimately the mind as well. Gross (p.236) and stimulating food fevers the blood, excites the nervous system, and too often dulls the moral perceptions so that reason and conscience are overborne by the sensual impulses. It is difficult, and often well-nigh impossible, for one who is intemperate in diet to exercise patience and self-control.—Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 134, 1890. (Child Guidance, 461.)
Meat Excites and Strengthens Lower Passions—Meat should not be placed before our children. Its influence is to excite and strengthen the lower passions, and has a tendency to deaden the moral powers. Grains and fruits prepared free from grease and in as natural a condition as possible should be the food for the tables of all who claim to be preparing for translation to heaven. The less feverish the diet, the more easily can the passions be controlled. Gratification of taste should not be consulted irrespective of physical, intellectual, or moral health.—Testimonies for the Church 2:352 (1869).
Put Temptation to Death—The lower passions have their seat in the body and work through it. The words flesh or fleshly or carnal lusts embrace the lower, corrupt nature; the flesh of itself cannot act contrary to the will of God. We are commanded to crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts. How shall we do it? Shall we inflict pain on the body? No; but put to death the temptation to sin.
The corrupt thought is to be expelled. Every thought is to be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. All animal propensities are to be subjected to the higher powers of the soul. The love of God must reign supreme; Christ must occupy an undivided throne. Our bodies are to be regarded as His purchased possession. The members of the body are to become the instruments of righteousness.— Manuscript 1, 1888. (The Adventist Home, 127, 128.)
Exchange Impure Suggestions for Pure, Elevating Thoughts—The mind must be kept meditating upon (p.237) pure and holy subjects. An impure suggestion must be dismissed at once, and pure, elevating thoughts, holy contemplation, be entertained, thus obtaining more and more knowledge of God by training the mind in the contemplation of heavenly things. God has simple means open to every individual case, sufficient to secure the great end, the salvation of the soul.
Resolve to reach a high and holy standard; make your mark high; act with earnest purpose, as did Daniel, steadily, perseveringly, and nothing that the enemy can do will hinder your improvement. Notwithstanding inconveniences, changes, perplexities, you may constantly advance in mental vigor and moral power.— Letter 26d, 1887. (In Heavenly Places, 197.)
Don’t Create an Emergency—Every unholy passion must be kept under the control of sanctified reason through the grace abundantly bestowed of God in every emergency. But let no arrangement be made to create an emergency, let there be no voluntary act to place one where he will be assailed with temptation or give the least occasion for others to think him guilty of indiscretion.— Letter 18, 1891.
Keep Away From the Brink—Do not see how close you can walk upon the brink of a precipice and be safe. Avoid the first approach to danger. The soul’s interests cannot be trifled with. Your capital is your character. Cherish it as you would a golden treasure. Moral purity, self-respect, a strong power of resistance, must be firmly and constantly cherished....
Let no one think he can overcome without the help of God. You must have the energy, the strength, the power, of an inner life developed within you. You will then bear fruit unto godliness and will have an intense loathing of vice. You need to constantly strive to work away from earthliness, from cheap conversation, from everything sensual, and aim for nobility of soul and a pure and (p.238) unspotted character. Your name may be kept so pure that it cannot justly be connected with anything dishonest or unrighteous but will be respected by all the good and pure, and it may be written in the Lamb’s book of life.— Manuscript 4a, 1885.(.)
Satan or Christ in Control—When the mind is not under the direct influence of the Spirit of God, Satan can mold it as he chooses. All the rational powers which he controls he will carnalize. He is directly opposed to God in his tastes, views, preferences, likes and dislikes, choice of things and pursuits; there is no relish for what God loves or approves but a delight in those things which He despises....
If Christ is abiding in the heart, He will be in all our thoughts. Our deepest thoughts will be of Him, His love, His purity. He will fill all the chambers of the mind. Our affections will center about Jesus. All our hopes and expectations will be associated with Him. To live the life we now live by faith in the Son of God, looking forward to and loving His appearing, will be the soul’s highest joy. He will be the crown of our rejoicing.— Letter 8, 1891 (In Heavenly Places, 163.)
A Lifelong Vigilance—As long as life shall last there is need of guarding the affections and the passions with a firm purpose. There is inward corruption, there are outward temptations, and wherever the work of God shall be advanced, Satan plans so to arrange circumstances that temptation shall come with overpowering force upon the soul. Not one moment can we be secure only as we are relying upon God, the life hid with Christ in God.— Letter 8b, 1891 (The S.D.A. Bible Commentary 2:1032.)
God is Preparing a People—God’s people must not only know His will, but they must practice it. Many will be purged out from the numbers of those who know the truth because they are not sanctified by it. The truth (p.239) must be brought into their hearts, sanctifying and cleansing them from all earthliness and sensuality in the most private life. The soul temple must be cleansed. Every secret act is as if we were in the presence of God and holy angels, as all things are open before God, and from Him nothing can be hid....
God is purifying a people to have clean hands and pure hearts to stand before Him in the judgment. The standard must be elevated, the imagination purified; the infatuation clustering around debasing practices must be given up, and the soul uplifted to pure thoughts, holy practices. All who will stand the test and trial just before us will be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped, not participated in, the corruptions that are in the world through lust.—The Review and Herald, May 24, 1887.