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Guarding the Avenues to the Soul

November 2, 2019

LASTING PLEASURE

Researchers at a prestigious Eastern university researched motivation factors in monkeys. Choosing a male monkey for the experiment, they placed him in a cage and began a process of carefully recorded observations. They observed the monkey’s eating, sleeping, and mating patterns. They watched how this monkey cared for his young.

They then hooked an electrode to the monkey’s brain, which, when stimulated, would give the monkey a sensation of pleasure. The researcher taught the monkey how to push the pleasure button. The monkey now had the key to happiness—a pleasure button.

The monkey soon became obsessed with pleasure, ignoring his young, his food, and even his mate. The highest goal for the monkey was pleasure, stimulating the nerve endings, doing what made him feel good. Finally he knocked himself out having fun. The excessive stimulation killed the monkey.

Sin is an awful lot like the monkey’s pleasure button. It does produce an illusion of pleasure. If it didn’t, nobody would do it. The problem is that the pleasure is not only short-lived; it is destructive.

Moses chose rather “to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasure of sin” (Hebrews 11:25, NKJV). Sin’s pleasures pass quickly, leaving us empty. When the bubble bursts, discouragement floods the soul. Fortunately, Jesus’ joy is eternal. God’s deep, inner joy lasts. The psalmist called God his “exceeding joy” (Psalm 43:4, NKJV). Isaiah testifies that God will give us the “oil of joy for mourning” (Isaiah 61:3, NKJV). Jeremiah called God’s Word “the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16, NKJV). Jesus says that His joy remains in us (John 15:11). Paul prays that his readers will be filled with “all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13, NKJV). James says we can even “count it all joy” when we have trials (James 1:2, NKJV).

When our Lord returns, He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matthew 25:21, NKJV).

Our Lord offers much more than a temporary, short-lived, illusionary pleasure. He offers the deep, lasting joy of His presence now and through all eternity. One thing is certain—there is no joy like this joy anywhere. —Mark Finley, Solid Ground, pp. 249, 250.

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Sabbath

FOR STUDY

Memory Text: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11, 12, NASB).

Our Beliefs, no. 7, The Nature of Humanity: “Man and woman were made in the image of God. . . . When our first parents disobeyed God, . . . the image of God in them was marred. . . . Their descendants share this fallen nature and its consequences. They are born with weaknesses and tendencies to evil. But God in Christ reconciled the world to Himself and by His Spirit restores in penitent mortals the image of their Maker.”

Ellen G. White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 62

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Sunday

RESPONDING

Read 1 John 2:16, 17.

Here’s the situation: A friend brings a questionable magazine to school one day. It gets passed around to both girls and guys. Because everyone is a little curious and a little afraid, no one throws it away. Finally, it comes to you.

A similar situation, but this time you are on the internet while some friends are at your house. Your computer is somewhere where your parents aren’t necessarily going to come by, so the choice is up to you. What do you do?

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Monday

BIBLE ANSWERS ON THE NATURE OF HUMANITY

Read Psalm 51:5, 10; Ephesians 2:1-3; 2 Corinthians 5:19, 20.

Even though we are born with the propensity or tendency to sin, God sent His Son to save us from evil tendencies and from sin.

What tendency do you need to overcome by God’s power? Ask Him to help you overcome it.

Fill in the blanks.

Your face from, and. in a, O God, and a me. Do cast me, and do Your. to me the of Your, and me” (Psalm 51:9-12, NKJV).

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Tuesday

REFLECTING

Read 2 Timothy 2:22.

It’s important to deal with the issue of lust before we get into an overpowering situation. Jesus tells us in His sermon on the mount (Matthew 5) that we should stay as far away from sin as we can. How do we do this when what causes our sinful desires are things we see all around us? Do we have to walk around this world with blinders on? Guys are especially susceptible to this. For some reason, guys are wired so that what they see has a big effect on them. However, girls are not exempt from temptation from the eyes. It gives both guys and girls a great deal of responsibility when dealing with printed material, images, and each other.

Girls, watch what you wear! Guys, make sure to guard yourselves against images that tear down the value of women in your eyes. Remember, every image you see represents a person who somehow found themselves in a less-than-ideal situation. But also remember that each person is a child of God and needs to be respected as such.

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Wednesday

BIBLE INSIGHTS

Fill each blank with the word from the correct Bible text. If you don’t have some of these Bible versions at home, you can find them at BibleGateway.com.

1. Galatians 5:19-21 says: “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are:,,, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes,, factions,, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (NASB).

2. 1 John 2:16, 17 tells us: “For all that is in the world, the of the and the of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” (NASB).

3. In Romans 6:12-14 we find: “Therefore do not let reign in your mortal body, that you should it in its. And do not present your members as instruments of to sin, but present yourselves to as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under but under” (NKJV).

4. Titus 2:11, 12 says this: “For the grace of has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, us to ungodliness and worldly and to live, and in the present age” (NASB).

5. Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:22: “Now flee from youthful and pursue righteousness,, and, with those who call on the Lord from a heart” (NASB).

6. In Colossians 3:5: we find this advice: “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity,,, and greed, which amounts to idolatry” (NASB).

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Thursday

CONNECTING

Read Galatians 5:1.

Review the memory text.

Because Satan likes to tempt us with things that are attractive to us, we need to guard ourselves against things we are drawn to by nature, but that we know are not of God. Therefore, there are many safeguards we can place in our way so we don’t inadvertently come across those images. We can put guards on our computers (have friends or family do it so you can’t get by the password). Don’t go into situations in which you might be tempted; stay away from things that take our minds away from God and spiritual matters. While you may not think that this pertains to you, you will be surprised at how you become assaulted with unhealthy situations either from the media, the internet, or even with real live people.

What we look at and listen to affects us. The things we spend our time on is what becomes a part of us. If we spend our time and energy on things of this world, we will little by little become more like the world. And when we take that same time and energy and look at Jesus, we will become more like Him.

“It is a law both of the intellectual and the spiritual nature that by beholding we become changed. The mind gradually adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is allowed to dwell. It becomes assimilated to that which it is accustomed to love and reverence” (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 555).

The good news is that God can be with you in every situation and wants you to be victorious over sin. Remember, Galatians 5:1 says: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery“ (NIV). Just remember that what Satan makes seem like freedom to do what feels good actually becomes a yoke that can ruin our lives and that we can’t get out from under by ourselves.

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Friday

APPLYING

Read Romans 6:12-14.

Take time to log your activities for a day. Is there a time when you have nothing to do? Are you bored a great deal? Are you without enough to do so that you drift to things that are not of God? Take this sheet or make one of your own and log all the different things you do in a day and see where your time is spent.

ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS:

Was there time that I wasted? Was it planned, or did it just happen?

What could I have done in those times that would have been more productive?

Whom could I spend time with that would enhance my relationship with others and with God?

What books could I read that I thought I didn’t have the time to?

What volunteer organizations could use my help in my spare time?

What do I give back to God in my spare time?