Living in the Secret Place
By Pastor Hal Mayer
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Welcome to Keep the Faith Ministry. Thank you for joining me today as we study to learn God’s will for us in these last days. Your prayers and support for Keep the Faith mean so much to me personally. Also, thanks to all of you for your gifts to help us with our work at Keep the Faith and especially to help start a brand new health retreat at Amaroo Water Gardens near Adelaide. We will keep you informed about its progress.
I hope you find the message the Lord has given me today to be a great blessing. I am praying that it will help you see how you can be an overcomer in the battle for your eternal salvation. I am praying that you will gain a walk with Christ so full that He will take you from where you are right into eternity.
Today, we are going to study a very important topic as we begin this new year. I have often spoken quite a number of times in the past about how important it is to get into the secret place of the Most High mentioned in Psalm 91. Today, I want to share with you some of the secrets of getting into the secret place and staying there.
As we begin, let us pray. Our Father in heaven, thank You for Your word, which teaches us all truth. It shows us Your will. We pray that You will send Your Holy Spirit today as we study to know how to live in these last days. We are living in the most important time in history. All through the ages, Godly men and women have longed for this time. They have all had their place, but we are now down to the last few moments of earth’s history. And what a time to live! Please father let us not miss out on eternity by falling into the devices of Satan. Help us to understand the secret place of the Most High, so that we may abide there and be under the shadow of His protection. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Let us read Psalm 91:1. You probably know it well. But it is such a wonderful verse that it is worth reading every day. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” The Almighty is God Himself. To dwell means to live or stay in this secret place. And the shadow is God’s protection.
Living in the secret place of the heavenly sanctuary is a spiritual concept that has many practical and personal implications. It has great meaning actually. You cannot go there in person, at least not now. Therefore, to dwell in the secret place means that you live in a certain way by faith. It is an experience. The Bible interprets itself. And Psalm 27:5 tells us where the secret place is.
Let’s read it. “For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.”
Friends, this should be clear to us. The secret place is in the tabernacle. The tabernacle of God is in heaven. So the secret place, where we have to go for protection from Satan in the last days, especially during the time of trouble, is actually in heaven. Since we cannot get there physically, we have to go there by faith. In the sanctuary on earth, there was a rock in the tabernacle. That was the Ten Commandments and it was in what part of the sanctuary? That’s right, it was in the Most Holy Place. When Christ sets your feet upon a rock He causes you to live by the Ten Commandments. That’s what it means to be in the “secret place.” It is the experience of the Most Holy Place and Christ will put you under the shadow of His protection. When you live by those Ten Commandments, you are living by faith in Christ who is ministering in the inner sanctum of the heavenly sanctuary.
There is no better place to be my friends! Why is it secret? That’s because many people do not believe that it exists. It is secret because they do not want to find it. They do not want the experience of living a very different life. Only those who understand the experience of the most holy place can “dwell” in the secret place. And what an experience it is! Can you imagine living in such a way that you hate sin so much that you stop doing it and live totally in harmony with the Ten Commandments? We’ll come back to that thought.
Most people cannot even begin to comprehend what it means to live in the Most Holy place experience. They are still living in the holy place experience. Do you know what that is? The holy place was the place where sins were atoned for every day throughout the whole year. The sins were symbolically taken away from the repentant sinner and placed on the sanctuary itself. The sinner would go home forgiven. And when he sinned again, he would bring another lamb and the sacrifice would be made and the sinner would go home free again. This cycle was repeated as often as was necessary. Sin, bring a lamb, receive forgiveness, go home. Sin again, bring another lamb, receive forgiveness and go home again. And so forth. The sins would symbolically accumulate in the sanctuary.
But once a year, the high priest, representing Christ, would symbolically remove the sins from the sanctuary and place them on the scapegoat, which represent Satan. The Day of Atonement had very important meaning. It represents the period of time down at the end of earth’s history just before the close of probation in which Jesus would prepare a people to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Listen to this from the book Great Controversy, page 425.
“Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator.”
So, when Christ leaves the Most Holy Place, there is no more mediator. While in the Most Holy Place Christ continues His ministry of forgiveness and intercession for repentant sinners. But the special work of Christ in the Most Holy Place is not just to intercede for sin, but to also prepare a people to live in the sight of a holy God. That means that He is purifying their characters and helping them learn to hate sin so much that they would rather die than commit one wrong act.
Here it is from Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, and page 53. “Those who would rather die than perform a wrong act are the only ones who will be found faithful.”
Those who love Christ supremely will automatically have this attitude. They will esteem the approval of God of far more value than anything this earth has to offer. This Christ proposes to accomplish in the hearts of His true followers in the last days. That is why He has given them more light than any previous generation. He wants them to have a fully mature spiritual experience with Him. This is a unique position.
It is very important my friends, because when Jesus leaves His atoning work in the Most Holy Place in order to come back to earth and collect his faithful people, then probation is over. There is no more mediation for sin and no mediator in the Most Holy Place any longer. There is no more forgiveness for sins. Everyone will have made a final decision for Christ or against Him. No one is willing to change their minds on either side of the controversy. Either they love God with all their hearts or they hate him with all their hearts.
The issues in the world will bring about the maturing of the final test, including the last movements spelled out to us in the prophecies of scripture, including the globalized worship of the beast, or the papacy, Sunday laws, anti-Sabbath laws, and all that goes with it. The final movements on earth will bring the issue that has been so long anticipated to the forefront.
But God’s people will live in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. How do they do that? Do you know that that means? That’s an incredible thought. And it has to do with our subject today. The reason we need a mediator is because we sin. The mediator is the one who applies the atonement on the cross to our sins. The only way we do not need a mediator for sin is when we do not sin. That is not saying we don’t need a savior. It is only saying that we don’t need a mediator, because you only need a mediator when you sin. All have sinned so we all need a savior. But we also need a mediator only so long as we continue to sin. Those who are living in the experience of the holy place will never find the secret place because they are unwilling to put sin away by the power of Christ. In other words, Jesus’ work in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary is to prepare a people to live without sin. Oh, my friends, I need this badly. I need to have the purification of my heart, my thoughts, my motives, even my innermost feelings, my priorities, my aims. Don’t you want it too? I’m sure you do.
And this will prepare them for the time of trouble. This will draw them into the vortex of Satan’s assaults. Satan wants to torment them and persecute them. And to answer the issues in the great conflict between himself and Christ, he must be permitted to provoke them if he can, like he was given permission to provoke Job. But the last generation will be so close to Christ, that like Job, they will resist the temptation to give up their faith and turn their backs on God. Their minds are made up. They have yielded everything to Christ. There is nothing left to give Him. Now they are His and He can let Satan turn up the heat. He will throw Satan’s argument that God’s law cannot be kept, back in his face. He will prove that He has the power to give complete victory over sin. This is going to frustrate Satan immeasurably. And he will be very angry. But God is more powerful and He will sustain His faithful children who are determined to do nothing that will not please God.
Listen to this interesting statement found in the book Great Controversy, pages 605 and 606. “Heretofore those who presented the truths of the third angel’s message have often been regarded as mere alarmists. Their predictions that religious intolerance would gain control in the United States, that church and state would unite to persecute those who keep the commandments of God, have been pronounced groundless and absurd. It has been confidently declared that this land could never become other than what it has been–the defender of religious freedom. But as the question of enforcing Sunday observance is widely agitated, the event so long doubted and disbelieved is seen to be approaching, and the third message will produce an effect which it could not have had before.”
The third angel’s message of Revelation 14: 9 and 10 gives us the true understanding of the times that are before us. “And the third angel followed them saying with a loud voice, if anyone worships the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb:”
This is a terrible warning to all who would spurn the loving call of Christ to leave all false worship and join with His people in the secret place of the Most High, living by the Ten Commandments. If they don’t, they will harden their hearts against Christ and yield to the pressure to join the ranks of Satan and worship the only religion that has the global power and influence to compel all nations to worship in her way. That’s the Papacy, my friends.
When Revelation 13:8 tells us that “all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, or the beast,” that is referring to global worship of Rome or the Papacy. The fact that Rome is the great promoter of Sunday rest and Sunday worship should make all of us sit up and carefully examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith, or if we are compromising with Rome. You may think that just because you worship on the seventh day of the week, God’s holy Sabbath, and that you are returning a faithful tithe and offering, that you are ok. But friends, if you are not living by the faith of Jesus and resting your life on the principles of the Ten Commandments, you will not ultimately resist the temptations of Satan or the pressure to join the global religion. Your life will be more important to you than the reputation of God and His law.
Where are you going to dwell? Revelation 13:8 says, “all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him.” So, if you dwell upon the earth, you will worship the beast. If you dwell in the secret place, you will not worship the beast, but you will worship Christ, and the Most High. You see, this verse in Revelation is certainly talking about the physical earth and those who live on it. But it is much more than that. This compelling verse is referring to a spiritual concept. If your mind dwells on things of earth, and you commune with earthly and sensual things, you are dwelling upon the earth, and you will worship the beast. But if your mind dwells on Christ and His character, you dwell in the secret place. This is impossible for anyone to do unless they have surrendered their whole self to Christ.
Philippians 3:18-20 “(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ…”
So, you see, there is a huge difference between those who dwell upon the earth and the ones who dwell in the secret place. And now we have a clue as to what it means to dwell in the secret place. It has to do with how your mind thinks and how you act on those thoughts. To keep your mind off earthly things, you cannot just empty it. But instead you have to fill it. If you want to live in the secret place of the Most High, you will have to discipline your mind to think on heavenly things and avoid anything that is earthly sensual or low quality.
Let’s get practical. James 3:14–16 says, “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”
That passage is clear, isn’t it? If you want to live in the secret place of the most high you have to lose any earthly ambition. Do you know how you tell if you have earthly ambition? You can tell, for instance, if you have envy against someone else. You can tell if there is anger or strife in your heart against someone else. This is not the wisdom of the secret place. It is the wisdom of the earth. Envy and strife are only two ways in which we can dwell upon the earth. And it is sensual and devilish and causes confusion and every evil work. That’s serious stuff, my friends. If I am going to live in the secret place of the Most High, I have to learn how to let go of every ambition to have supremacy over anyone else. I have to learn to have a heart that is passive to earthly aspirations and objectives. My goals have to be entirely disconnected from the aim of getting money, or possessions. I must put away all jealousy and pride; otherwise, every evil work will be the record of my life.
Instead of dwelling upon the earth, I must follow the principles of the wisdom from above. Here it is in James 3:17, 18. “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, 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.”
I must be a peacemaker if I am to live in the secret place of the Most High and be under the shadow of the Almighty. I have to be gentle and kind. Is that natural? No. I have to be easy to be entreated, right?
In my work, sometimes I have people who confront me with what they think is wrong in what I say or what I do. Sometimes, they are very abrasive, and even can be borderline abusive. When that happens, I have to be very nice and sweet to them in return. I cannot respond with angry words or treat them as they treat me. Oh no. I have to be easy to be entreated. And I have to be kind and gentle.
I also must be full of mercy the Bible says. “He hath shown thee O man what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” Micah 6:8.
If I am going to dwell in the secret place of the Most High, my life must be a witness by the good fruits that I have in my character. And if my character is full of good fruits and no bad fruits, I’m in harmony with the Ten Commandments, aren’t I?
Love has to be my ruling passion. Joy must be my underlying attitude. And peace must be in my heart at all times, no matter how provoked.
Oh friends, I need this! Don’t you?
How much freedom do you really want from Satan’s controlling power in your life? If you want freedom, my friends, you can have it. All you need to do is turn yourself over to Jesus, not only in the morning when you wake up, but with every thought during the day. Dwelling in the secret place means that you have the consciousness of the approval of God in your life, just as Jesus did when he was here on earth. And when God withdrew Himself from Christ in Gethsemane, Jesus felt alone. He felt that the approval of God had been withdrawn. This is what gave Him the greatest anguish and made him sweat great drops of blood. But, when all was dark and foreboding, when He could not feel or see evidence of God’s presence and approval, Christ relied on His previous assurances, His previous experience with God and by faith fixed His mind on God’s promises.
You see, my friends, this is the way we must also live today. If you cannot see and feel God’s presence, go back to His promises. Reaffirm your faith in Him though them and trust God for the outcome.
I went through a very dark time in my life. The only way I could have courage and hope was the assurance that God had been with me in the past, that God had blessed my efforts in the past. And sure enough, He opened up the future. Now as I look back on it, I can see His hand every step of the way. I could not see it when in the midst of the trouble. I struggled. I prayed. I pled with God to provide answers. But that dark struggle was ordained of God for my benefit. I learned to trust Him more fully. We need such experiences, my friends. They are for our own good.
If you are in the secret place of the Most High, you will have the same experience. It will grow and deepen. Eventually, you will be cut off from all human support and will have to rely totally on the promises of God. That’s where God actually wants to take you.
Here’s another one. This is from the Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4 page 529. “The hour of man’s necessity is the hour of God’s opportunity. When all human support fails, then Jesus comes to our aid, and his presence scatters the darkness and lifts the cloud of gloom.”
Isn’t that wonderful?! Your confidence in God’s power to sustain you is what will carry you through when you cannot see Him. When He is shrouded in darkness and silence, even though you are going through pain, you must claim the promises of God’s love and power.
Most people think this is too nebulous and don’t want to do that. We often want to take the reigns in our own hands. They want to solve the problem themselves. But this only leads to making wrong moves. This only separates us from God. We have to learn to see that trusting in God’s love for us personally and in His power to overcome the enemy is the only thing that is real and solid when all human support is cut off.
Here is another fantastic statement from the Review and Herald, August 14, 1894. “Whatever may be the position of trust that a man occupies, he is not raised above the frailties of humanity. His position does not make him sinless or divine. He must receive wisdom and goodness and power from the same sources as others; and this source of supply is open to the lowliest and the least.”
So, one aspect of this support is wisdom. That has to do with the mind. First and foremost is the wisdom that God gives you to navigate your daily life. Perhaps there is nothing more important than that! Wisdom keeps you from making mistakes. And that is very practical and concrete. It is not nebulous. When your mind is under the control of God, you rise above the low selfish wisdom of the world.
The Bible says, “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21. That still small voice behind you is the Holy Spirit. And He is promised to all those who are in the secret place. It may not be an audible voice, but if you are tuned in to it, you will sense the impressions of the Holy Spirit leading you and guiding you. It will point out to you when you are faced with a temptation to do wrong. It will prompt you to turn from it and reject it. Friends, that’s how you have victory over sin.
And that brings us to another concrete aspect of this so-called “nebulous” support. When you are in the secret place and you rely solely on God, He imparts goodness to your character, the fruits of the spirit. That goodness comes through in your actions and words and gives you discretion and kindness. It gives you sympathy for others and a great desire to help lost souls. That goodness even shines through in your countenance. And people see it and they are drawn to you, and you can witness to them. Oh friends, this is something we need if we want to be like Christ and dwell in the secret place. We need the goodness of God in our hearts. Christ will make you like Him. Your character will be just like His. Christ was all goodness and the fullness of God was in Him. Friends, Christ promises that to you and me in these last days too.
The third concrete and practical aspect of this so-called “nebulous” support is power. God’s power is imparted to the one who wholly trusts in Him. Whenever you have a temptation, whenever you have a problem, whenever you have a practical crisis, God will impart His power into your life and give you the power to resist temptation, overcome sin and the power to lead other hearts to Christ.
Now especially listen to the next part of that statement I was reading you. “Jesus has invited you to come unto him; and you are not obeying Christ when you go to human sources for support and consolation.” Think about that, my friends. That’s powerful! To obey Christ means that you must NOT rely on human beings for support, emotional or otherwise. Rely only on Christ!
All three of these things that come from Christ into your soul, wisdom, goodness and power, are very practical and intimately connect to every minute of your daily life. You need to be in Christ. You need to be in the secret place if you want to navigate the time ahead when all human support is cut off.
I’ll continue reading from the article in the Review and Herald, “Is this not the reason why the people of God are destitute of the fruits of the Holy Spirit? Is this not one reason why their religious experience is of so dwarfed a character? Satan exalts as he sees men looking to men, and trusting in men to be wisdom for them. The soul that looks to men as to God, is left exposed to the temptations and assaults of the enemy, and the evil one sees to it that human defects shall mar the work of God…”
Wow! Do you want to be left to the temptations and the assaults of the enemy of your soul? I don’t. Again, that is very practical, very concrete. It is the inner soul that needs to come under control, not the elements of my circumstances or the daily problems. If my inner soul is under the control of heaven, then whatever problems, whatever chaos, whatever difficulty or pain, Christ infuses the wisdom, goodness and power to joyfully steer through it with grace. O, my friends, let us learn to depend on God. Let us learn to live in full confidence of God’s power and love for us.
Now, let us apply this principle to the time just before the close of probation. Here is a statement from Desire of Ages, pages 122 and 123. “In the last great conflict in the controversy with Satan, those who are loyal to God will see every earthly support cut off. Because they refuse to break his law in obedience to earthly powers, they will be forbidden to buy or sell. It will finally be decreed that they shall be put to death.”
Ok, so this is telling us that in the last moments of earth’s history, God’s people will be faced with a choice. They will have to obey the global worship laws or be cut off from all earthly support. What is earthly support? That is talking about money. Most people view money as their support. If they don’t have any money they get government welfare or some other form of financial support so that they can buy food, clothing and pay for shelter. Just about everything in this world costs money. If you don’t have any source of money you must get a job so that you can live, right? Yes. We all must have money to live. Or at least that is how we are taught. And some people go after money with all their passion.
Most people panic when they run out of money. It is very stressful for them. If they are threatened with the loss of a job or if they are threatened with the loss of government benefits, they freak out. “How am I going to live?” they ask. “How am I going to survive without money?” Yet, they forget that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He can provide support for them. It doesn’t have to be in the usual way. Many times God has provided in unusual ways. For instance, think about the manna that the people of Israel were given every single day of their wanderings in the wilderness. The whole nation had to depend on God for their physical food. Was God up to it? Of course He was. His hand is not short. You can trust Him.
The principle of dependence is gradually developed in your life. You have to develop this over time, not all at once. God is working in your life through various ways and means, through dilemma, perplexity, crisis, to alienate your affections and loyalty from human systems and structures so that your life becomes fully dependent on Him. That is really what He is doing.
You still can use earthly systems while you can, but when they are cut off you adjust so that you can continue your life and ministry without them, if necessary. One day you will no longer have access to the Internet. You’ll have to go without. Can you survive without the Internet? Probably. Would you have to adjust your life without the Internet? Certainly. After all, it is very pervasive. But if you suddenly could not buy or sell, your bank accounts are frozen, your credit cards are blocked, what would you do then? That would require a much greater adjustment, wouldn’t it? That is something that would scare most people to death and they would be anxious to comply with any requirement to get their money and their ability to buy and sell back again.
What would you do? How would you survive if your boss came to you one day and told you that he was no longer permitted to employ you because you were listed on a government black list? What would you do, if you got a notice in the mail from the social security administration that you would not receive any further social security checks because your name has been blacklisted because of your faith?
I think this would be devastating to some people who cannot conceive of depending on God fully. They haven’t practiced it. They haven’t gotten used to it. They haven’t even thought about it. Getting cut off would create panic. It would also create the temptation to compromise their faith in order to continue to receive the benefits, or their job, or the money in their banks. Most people will collapse in one big heap and follow the dictates of man concerning their worship. They will not be willing to make the substantial adjustments that will need to be made if they were to be cut off. The reason they fear, my friends, is because they are not in the secret place of the Most High. Oh, friends, we must learn how to depend on God. He knows how to sustain you in the midst of trial. And as we near the intense time of trouble just before Jesus comes again, God plans to give us the opportunity to show His power in our lives. He wants to get us to the place where we will be willing to go all the way, and be fully dependent on His power, not our own. He will pour his power into His people that dwell in the secret place of the Most High, and the latter rain will do a wonderful work. These people will demonstrate their loyalty. And like the children in the wilderness, their bread and water shall be sure. Isaiah 33:16. And just so you can tie all this together, listen to this verse from Isaiah 30:20. What is the bread and water, spiritually?
“And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers…”
You see, bread can represent adversity, and water can represent affliction. These are your teachers. They help you learn to trust God. He will sustain you, even when you have no other means of support. This is an experience that most of us have never had. We always have food in our bellies. We always have water to drink. But there is coming a time when even that will seem to be cut off. Yet Christ will sustain His faithful ones.
There will be a maximum crisis for God’s people, but He will give them maximum power and will sustain them through it. You are building up to that now if you are allowing God to work in your life. If you are going through a crisis, this is the time to think of it as God’s way of getting you ready for what is coming upon the earth as an overwhelming surprise.
We are not to depend on money. We are not to depend on the government. We are not to depend on our family. We are not to depend on our own bank accounts. We are not to depend on any human system or structure. We are not to depend on our friends for emotional sympathy either. God has many practical and even miraculous ways to provide. I’m not saying that we should all give up our jobs and go into seclusion and see how God provides. We are to live in the world, though we are not to be of it. That means our loyalty to God is not going to be shaken when we are cut off from all earthly support.
Now, I want to talk to you about another angle on the matter of living in the secret place of the Most High. Not only do you have to get there by surrendering your life completely, unreservedly, in every area, but you also have to stay in there. It is possible to leave the secret place of the Most High at any time. You are not forced to stay there. You are free to choose where you want to dwell.
What kind of person dwells in the secret place? The Bible gives us a very good answer. If you are living in the secret place of the Most High, you will have the fruits of the spirit. Here they are.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23.
Did you hear that word temperance? What does that word mean? It means self-control. It is not just about abstaining from alcohol. It is not just about abstaining from any damaging substance like tea or coffee, or caffeine drinks, smoking or whatever you think temperance includes. Temperance has to do with your whole life, your whole existence. Everything is in balance in heaven’s way. There is a certain worldly balance that many people advocate. For example, they might say you should be in balance by watching a movie once in a while. But can a Christian behold wickedness and evil and be unstained by it? Of course not! If you dwell in the secret place, you are wholly consecrated to God, and like Daniel, you will do nothing that will defile you.
Temperance also involves your spirit and how you react to situations. If you get angry, and have to have your own way, you are not practicing temperance.
Temperance involves what you eat and how much you eat. It involves your exercise and other aspects of body health. Let’s talk about health for a moment. All lifestyle disease is a result of a lack of self-control. Did you know that? That’s right, all lifestyle diseases are a result of a problem with self-control, or an imbalance. Take heart disease, for instance. If you eat flesh food, and lots of dairy products and eggs, and you don’t exercise and get fresh air, etc. You will have heart disease. You’ll have occluded arteries, and you’ll need open heart surgery to replace those vessels and prevent death by heart attack.
What about diabetes? Diabetes is about intemperance too. It is about eating in between meals and carrying too much weight, eating too many sweets, like sodas and other sugary things, and a bunch of other lifestyle issues. So, fundamentally, Diabetes is a problem of temperance or self-control too.
What about obesity? That’s rather obvious isn’t it? Obesity is a problem of eating too much and of eating things that are full of fat. That’s a matter of self-control.
All lifestyle disease is a result of a lack of temperance, or self-control. And there are also other diseases that come upon us because of a lack of self-control. For instance, some viral infections can attack you when your immune system is low. Cancers can get traction in your system if you have a compromised immune system too. Keeping your immune system strong is vital to preventing these diseases so far as possible. That includes getting lots of exercise, the proper amount of sleep, the best nutrition and balanced diet and many other things. And it is not beyond your control. These things involve your personal decisions. You can’t avoid it.
Your decisions must be under the control of the Holy Spirit. That means that in every decision you make, you will consult the will of God. This is something that we have to practice. When you are tempted with that piece of chocolate, you have to consult the Holy Spirit. Some people just reach for it without even thinking about it. When you are tempted with that ice cream, you have to make a decision. Do you consult yourself and justify doing something that you know isn’t good for you? Or do you consult the Holy Spirit? “Lord, what would You have me do?”
Sometimes, it is easy. Other times, there are strong forces pulling you in the direction of the temptation. Self-control at times will require a struggle. Other times, it will not be so powerful, depending on what the issue is.
When you compromise your self-control and you get angry at your children, or your spouse, or at any one else or any other thing, you lose your spiritual control.
Here is a powerful statement from My Life Today, page 70. “He who has learned to rule his spirit will rise above the slights, the rebuffs, the annoyances to which we are daily exposed, and these will cease to cast a gloom over his spirit.”
Some people don’t have control over their passions. They engage in practices that destroy the sanctity of the soul and build up lust and sensual desire. This is not self-control.
So, if you are living in the secret place of the Most High, you will have self-control. But self-control must become comprehensive. Some people have no temptation with smoking. Others struggle with it. No one can entice me with alcohol, but most people would struggle to get rid of it if they understood what it is.
But, what does comprehensive self-control mean? It means, my friends, that in every area of your life, you are under self-control. Not one area is out of balance. Others do not control you. You are under the control of yourself, or rather, under the control of God. If you give yourself to God, He will transform your will and give it back to you. That way when you use your will and you are under self-control you are doing only that which Christ would do. This is significant. Comprehensive self-control is vital to have in your life, my friends, if you want to dwell in the secret place.
Here it is from Desire of Ages, page 668. “All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.”
What a fantastic experience, my friends! Imagine sin can become hateful to us. That’s when Christ has purified us so much that He can trust us with eternity. That’s when He can leave the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary, close earthly probation and return for His people. They will no longer sin because they hate it so much. They are so in tune with heaven, that even the subtlest temptation is discerned and avoided. That still small voice behind them is very recognized and active.
Listen to this interesting verse. Proverbs 16:32. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”
So, you are stronger than the mightiest general on earth that ever won a battle if you rule over your temper. That’s quite a statement. Do you want to be better than a military general? Then get yourself under control.
Again from My Life Today, page 70. “The highest evidence of nobility in a Christian is self-control. He who can stand unmoved amid a storm of abuse is one of God’s heroes…”
Did you hear that? Self-control has to do with the balance of the mind. The mind is imbalanced if you do not have self-control. When you are under the control of Satan he distorts your mind and you cannot see things as you should. Under the control of Christ, and learning from Him through the scriptures, you regain the correct understanding of things both in the world and in whatever effects your eternal salvation.
And listen to this one: “What young men and women need is Christian heroism. God’s Word declares that he that ruleth his spirit is better than he that taketh a city. To rule the spirit means to keep self under discipline… God’s abounding love and presence in the heart will give the power of self-control and will mold and fashion the mind and character. The grace of Christ in the life will direct the aims and purposes and capabilities into channels that will give moral and spiritual power–power which the youth will not have to leave in this world, but which they can carry with them into the future life and retain through the eternal ages.” My Life Today, page 80.
What is Christian heroism? Listen to this statement from the same reference. “The man or woman who preserves the balance of the mind when tempted to indulge passion, stands higher in the sight of God and heavenly angels than the most renowned general that ever led an army to battle and to victory.”
Imagine that! The world extols great victors and conquerors in history. The history books are full of legends and quotes of men like Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Douglas McArthur and thousands more. How do you get to have greater esteem in the eyes of God and other heavenly beings than the most victorious and renown earthly general? It is the one who is victorious over self; the one who maintains his balance over impulse and passion.
To my mind, this is most incredible. What an aspiration! To be esteemed higher than these battle-hardened heroes of history in the eyes of God is truly saying something. To be battle hardened against my passions is of more value to God than these men. That tells me that God loves to help me be victorious over sin and temptation. He would empty heaven of all its resources if that would give me the power to resist my passions and maintain self-control.
The greatest provocations are often the things people say or do. Often we unleash with an unmeasured torrent of words and we lower ourselves in the eyes of man. But more sadly, we stoop low in the eyes of God. What a tragedy! And what a happy moment when we maintain our equilibrium and don’t get upset, or angry, or in any other way sin against God with our lips or even in our thoughts.
Here is a little more from that same reference. “It is God’s purpose that the kingly power of sanctified reason, controlled by divine grace, shall bear sway in the lives of human beings. He who rules his spirit is in possession of this power.”
What power can you be in possession of? The power of sanctified reason. Notice also that it is a kingly power. In other words, if you can rule your spirit, you have kingly power.
Oh, my friend, what gratification, what happiness, when you have the conscious awareness of a controlled spirit. How can I get that? How can it be mine? Well, my friends, it only comes to me when I am under the power of divine grace. And I can only have divine grace when I give myself to God every day and every moment.
Martin Luther understood this great principle. He said, “I am more afraid of my own heart than of the pope and all his cardinals. I have within me the great pope, self.”
My friend, if you want to be in the secret place of the Most High, and if you want to enjoy heavenly communion with angels and God Himself, you must daily let go of your self-centeredness, and take the God of the universe in your heart. Then you become a hero in the eyes of God. You will have won the greatest victory there is or ever was; the victory over self.
There is a song written by one of my favorite composers, it is called Make me a Captive, Lord, by George Matheson. The language of this song portrays what needs to happen in the soul so that we may have control over the “pope” within.
“Make me a captive Lord, and then I shall be free;
Force me to render up my sword, and I shall conqueror be.
I sink in life’s alarms, when by myself I stand;
Imprison me within Thine arms, and strong shall be my hand.”
You cannot be strong and free unless you are a captive to Christ.
The second stanza goes like this.
“My heart is weak and poor, till it a Master find;
It has no spring of action sure – it varies with the wind.
It cannot freely move, till thou hast wrought its chain;
Enslave it with Thy matchless love and it shall deathless reign.”
That’s not talking about the wind as most people mistakenly think. That’s referring to a clock, an old-fashioned clock with a chain and weights to pull the chain down. The clock cannot properly function and keep time unless the chain is pulled and the weights are in action.
Here’s the third stanza.
My will is not my own, till Thou has made it thine;
If it would reach a monarch’s throne, it must its crown resign.
It only stands unbent, amid the clashing strife,
When on Thy bosom it has leant and found in Thee its life.”
Did you hear that? You cannot truly reign over your will and have total and comprehensive self-control until you have resigned your own crown and given it over to Christ. Then you can have the fullness of power to overcome the devil. So, my friends, let go. Stop defending “your turf.” Stop trying to solve your own problems. Let God have your will, and your selfishness.
By the way, the study of will power is one of the hottest topics in research today. It happens that there are quite a number of published books and other works on this topic dealing with self-control. Even secular people want to know the secrets of self-control. But they aren’t interested in the secret place of the Most High. They are only interested in certain aspects of self-control.
What most people don’t realize and what is most natural to the carnal heart is that the key to self-control is self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice removes your self-interested agendas in favor of giving some benefit to someone else. Changing someone else’s life for the better is the most gratifying thing to the mind and brings great satisfaction. It brings you joy. In the secret place you have joy because this is how you live. You live to benefit others.
Now here is one other statement that gives us the way into the Secret Place of the Most High. “No one can occupy a neutral position; there is no middle class, who neither love God nor serve the enemy of righteousness. Christ is to live in His human agents and work through their faculties and act through their capabilities. Their will must be submitted to His will; they must act with His Spirit. Then it is no more they that live, but Christ that lives in them. He who does not give himself wholly to God is under the control of another power, listening to another voice, whose suggestions are of an entirely different character. Half-and-half service places the human agent on the side of the enemy as a successful ally of the hosts of darkness.” That’s from Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, page 94.
Living in the secret place means that we have a practical way of dealing with others. Here it is from My Life Today, page 80. “If we would be true lights in the world, we must manifest the loving, compassionate spirit of Christ. To love as Christ loved means that we must practice self-control. It means that we must show unselfishness at all times and in all places. It means that we must scatter round us kind words and pleasant looks. These cost the giver nothing, but they leave behind a precious fragrance. Their influence for good cannot be estimated. Not only to the receiver, but to the giver, they are a blessing; for they react upon him. Genuine love is a precious attribute of heavenly origin, which increases in fragrance in proportion as it is dispensed to others…”
Jeremiah 33:3 should be our mantra. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”
The mightiest thing that God can do for you is to bring your self-centered will under the control of His divine grace. When you are tempted to retaliate, or speak a rash word, call upon Christ and He will bring you under the control of His Spirit. That will keep you in the secret place of the Most High. It is secret because it is a hidden thing that goes on in your heart. But it isn’t secret in how it manifests itself in kind and gracious words and actions when provoked.
So, what is your life mission? What is it that has your compelling interest? Is it Christ and his glory? Or is it something earthly? If you want to live in the secret place of the Most High and be under the shadow of the Almighty, your life mission is to control your passions, control your self.
Friends, if you don’t love Christ with all your heart. If you don’t love Jesus with your mind, you will never enter the secret place of the Most High. But when you do, you can never fall into temptation and lose your self-composure or self-control. You never yield to passion, or compromise your standing with heaven even by an evil thought. It is always your priority to ask what would Jesus do in this situation? How would Jesus act were He in my shoes?
Oh, friends, I want this experience! This is what secret place living is all about. It is an experience. It is not a place where you can go right now. It is a way of living. And it is the living way. It is the secret of happiness.
May the Almighty give you His grace to open your heart to fill you with His love and bring you into the experience of living under the protective shadow of the Almighty. God bless you.
Let us pray. Our Father in heaven, thank you for telling us about the secret place and the experience we can have when we dwell there. We long to have the peace of God in our hearts. We long for Your Love to overshadow us. We long to have the joy of ministering to others. Most of all, we want to be so much in harmony with heaven, and with our wonderful Savior that we can hate sin so much that we abandon it. We want to be there in the secret place when Christ leaves the Most Holy Place and human probation is forever closed. We want to live in Christ throughout the time of trouble. Please Father, put Your Spirit in our hearts that we may love like Jesus loves, that we may live as Jesus lived. And we’ll thank You through all eternity for Your love and power to over come the enemy in our own hearts. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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