Mind, Character and Personality/Satan’s Science of Self-Exaltation
[See section VI, “Selfishness and Self-respect.”]
Peril of Theory of Man’s Inherent Power—If Satan can so befog and deceive the human mind as to lead mortals to think that there is an inherent power in themselves to accomplish great and good works, they cease to rely upon God to do for them that which they think there is power in themselves to do. They acknowledge not a superior power. They give not God the glory which He claims, and which is due to His great and excellent Majesty. Satan’s object is thus accomplished, and he exults that fallen men presumptuously exalt themselves.—Testimonies for the Church 1:294 (1862).
Man His Own Standard of Character—Satan beguiles men as now he beguiled Eve in Eden, by flattery, by kindling a desire to obtain forbidden knowledge, by exciting ambition for self-exaltation. It was cherishing these evils that caused his fall, and through them he aims to compass the ruin of men. “Ye shall be as gods,” he declares, “knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Spiritualism teaches “that man is the creature of progression; that it is his destiny from his birth to progress, even to (p.723) eternity, toward the Godhead,” And again: “Each mind will judge itself and not another.” “The judgment will be right, because it is the judgment of self The throne is within you.” Said a Spiritualistic teacher, as the “spiritual consciousness” awoke within him, “My fellowmen, all were unfallen demigods.” And another declares, “Any just and perfect being is Christ.”
Thus, in place of the righteousness and perfection of the infinite God, the true object of adoration; in place of the perfect righteousness of His law, the true standard of human attainment, Satan has substituted the sinful, erring nature of man himself as the only object of adoration, the only rule of judgment, or standard of character. This is progress, not upward but downward.—The Great Controversy, 554, 555 (1911).
Not Found in Christ’s Teachings—I was directed to this scripture as especially applying to modern spiritualism: Colossians 2:8: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”...
“Vain deceit” fills the minds of poor mortals. They think there is such power in themselves to accomplish great works that they realize no necessity of a higher power. Their principles and faith are “after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
Jesus has not taught them this philosophy. Nothing of the kind can be found in His teachings. He did not direct the minds of poor mortals to themselves, to a power which they possessed. He was ever directing their minds to God, the Creator of the universe, as the source of their strength and wisdom. Special warning is given in verse 18: “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.”—Testimonies for the Church 1:297 (1862). (p.724)
Theory of Accountability Only to Self—He [Satan] has destroyed and is destroying thousands through the indulgence of the passions, thus brutalizing the entire nature of man. And to complete his work, he declares through the spirits that “true knowledge places man above all law”; that “whatever is, is right”; that “God doth not condemn”; and that “all sins which are committed are innocent.”
When the people are thus led to believe that desire is the highest law, that liberty is license, and that man is accountable only to himself, who can wonder that corruption and depravity teem on every hand? Multitudes eagerly accept teachings that leave them at liberty to obey the promptings of the carnal heart. The reins of self-control are laid upon the neck of lust, the powers of mind and soul are made subject to the animal propensities, and Satan exultingly sweeps into his net thousands who profess to be followers of Christ.—The Great Controversy, 555, 556 (1911).
Lucifer Desired God’s Power, Not Character—Lucifer desired God’s power but not His character. He sought for himself the highest place, and every being who is actuated by his spirit will do the same. Thus alienation, discord, and strife will be inevitable. Dominion becomes the prize of the strongest. The kingdom of Satan is a kingdom of force; every individual regards every other as an obstacle in the way of his own advancement, or a stepping-stone on which he himself may climb to a higher place.—The Desire of Ages, 435, 436 (1898).
Stubbornness Severs Divine Help—When God sent Moses to Pharaoh, he had light, but Pharaoh resisted, and every resistance brought up a heavier stubbornness. Did God put a power upon him that he could not turn to the light? No, it was indifference to evidence. The stubbornness of Pharaoh was because light was shining that he would not receive.—MS 15, 1894. (p.725)
Stubbornness and Conscientiousness (reflections concerning a self-willed, self-deceived man)—As you read the letters I have sent to Oakland, you will have some idea of the stubbornness of the man and his determination to do as he pleases and to have his own way. He has not heeded the counsels of the Lord but has considered it safe to walk in the sparks of his own kindling. He will do anything and everything to be a servant of the cause, but he will not do the very thing that the Lord has signified is right to be done. If he will turn traitor as did _____, he will doubtless do it under a great plea of conscientiousness.
This pretense of conscientiousness has been pretty thoroughly tested and proved. I speak understandingly when I tell you that I have very little confidence in his conscientiousness. There is a good conscience and a bad conscience, and the man is most thoroughly deceived in himself. Under this deception he will do many things in his own spirit that are not in harmony with the Spirit of God. Yet he will be as immovable as a rock to counsel or to any way except his own way.—Lt 48, 1892.
Fearful Power of Self-deception—To be without the graces of the Spirit of God is sad indeed; but it is a more terrible condition to be thus destitute of spirituality and of Christ and yet try to justify ourselves by telling those who are alarmed for us that we need not their fears and pity. Fearful is the power of self-deception on the human mind! What blindness—setting light for darkness and darkness for light! The True Witness counsels us to buy of Him gold tried in the fire, white raiment, and eyesalve. The gold here recommended as having been tried in the fire is faith and love. It makes the heart rich, for it has been purged until it is pure, and the more it is tested the more brilliant is its luster.—Testimonies for the Church 4:88 (1876).
Satan’s Power Over the Self-exalted—How vain is the help of man when Satan’s power is exercised over a human being who has become self-exalted and who knows not (p.726) that he is partaking of the science of Satan. In his self-confidence he walks right into the enemy’s trap and is ensnared. He did not heed the warnings given and was taken as Satan’s prey. If he had walked humbly with God, he would have run into the trysting place God had provided for him. Thus in times of danger he would have been safe, for God would have lifted for him a standard against the enemy.—Lt 126, 1906.
Leading to Suicide—The world, who act as though there were no God, absorbed in selfish pursuits, will soon experience sudden destruction, and shall not escape. Many continue in the careless gratification of self until they become so disgusted with life that they kill themselves.
Dancing and carousing, drinking and smoking, indulging their animal passions, they go as an ox to the slaughter. Satan is working with all his art and enchantments to keep men marching blindly onward until the Lord arises out of His place to punish the inhabitants of earth for their iniquities, when the earth shall disclose her blood and no more cover her slain. The whole world appears to be in the march to death.—MS 139, 1903. (Evangelism, 26.)
Self Alive at Every Touch—What a victory you will gain when you learn to follow the opening providences of God with a grateful heart and a determination to live with an eye single to His glory, in sickness or health, in abundance or want. Self is alive and quivering at every touch. Self must be crucified before you can overcome in the name of Jesus and receive the reward of the faithful.—Testimonies for the Church 4:221 (1876).
The Most Incurable Sin—God cannot connect with those who live to please themselves, to make themselves first. Those who do this will in the end be last of all. The sin that is most nearly hopeless and incurable is pride of opinion, self-conceit. This stands in the way of all growth. When a man has defects of character, yet fails of realizing this; (p.727) when he is so imbued with self-sufficiency that he cannot see his fault, how can he be cleansed? “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” (Matthew 9:12). How can one improve when he thinks his ways perfect?—Testimonies for the Church 7:199, 200 (1902).
Humiliation of Self Important—Those who think that they can receive the blessing of God at this meeting [a council meeting in Michigan] without humiliation of self will go away just as they came. They will have as much perplexity as they had before. But, brethren and sisters, we cannot afford this. Let us humble our hearts before God. Let us allow Christ to anoint our eyes with the heavenly eyesalve that we may see. We do not want to be blind; we want to see everything distinctly. We do not want to be marching one day toward Canaan, and the next day back to Egypt, and the next day toward Canaan, and then back to Egypt again. Day by day we are to march steadily forward. It makes my heart ache, it fills me with the keenest sorrow, to think of the precious blessings we are losing because we are so far behind the light.—MS 56, 1904.
Self-understanding Leads to Humility—To know oneself is great knowledge. True self-knowledge leads to a humility that will open the way for the Lord to develop the mind and mold and discipline the character.—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 419 (1913).
Farthest Removed From Pride or Self-exaltation—“He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked” (1 John 2:6). “Now if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Romans 8:9). This conformity to Jesus will not be unobserved by the world. It is a subject of notice and comment. The Christian may not be conscious of the great change, for the more closely he resembles Christ in character, the more humble will be his opinion of himself; but it will be seen and felt by all around him. (p.728) Those who have had the deepest experience in the things of God are the farthest removed from pride or self-exaltation. They have the humblest thoughts of self and the most exalted conceptions of the glory and excellence of Christ. They feel that the lowest place in His service is too honorable for them.—Testimonies for the Church 5:223 (1882).
Safety in Remembering One’s Weakness—Men are tested and proved not only before human intelligences but before the heavenly universe. Unless they fear and tremble for themselves, unless they realize their own weakness and remember their past failures, striving to guard against repeating them, they will make the same mistakes, which were attended with results that they cannot afford the second time.—MS 43, 1898.
Conquering Self a Lifework—Wrongs cannot be righted, nor can reformations in conduct be made by a few feeble, intermittent efforts. Character building is the work, not of a day, nor of a year, but of a lifetime. The struggle for conquest over self, for holiness and heaven, is a lifelong struggle. Without continual effort and constant activity, there can be no advancement in the divine life, no attainment of the victor’s crown.—The Ministry of Healing, 452 (1905).
The Impress of the Divine—Let not self wax to great proportions lest the whole man be defiled. One leak will sink a ship, and one flaw break a chain; so there may be some hereditary or cultivated trait of character that will work in the heart and develop into words that will make an impression for evil which will never be effaced. We are all building for eternity. Let the character have the impress of the divine in pure, noble utterances, in upright deeds. Then the whole universe of heaven will behold and say, Well done, good and faithful servant.—Lt 91, 1899. (p.729)