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The Great Controversy, by Ellen G. White, [1858], at



Mystery of Iniquity


It has ever been the design of Satan to draw the minds of the people from Jesus to man, and to destroy individual accountability.  Satan failed in his design when he tempted the Son of God.  He succeeded better as he came to fallen man.  The doctrine of Christianity was corrupted.  Popes and priests presumed to take an exalted position, and taught the people to look to them to pardon their sins, instead of looking to Christ for themselves.  The Bible was kept from them, in order to conceal the truths which would condemn them.

The people were entirely deceived.  They were taught that the popes and priests were Christ's representatives, when in fact they were the representatives of Satan; and when they bowed to them, they worshiped Satan.  The people called for the Bible; but the priests considered it dangerous to let them have the word of God to read for themselves, lest they become enlightened, and their sins be exposed.  The people were taught to look to these deceivers, and receive every word from them, as from the mouth of God.  They held that power over the mind, which God alone should hold.  And if any dared to follow their own convictions, the same hate which Satan and the Jews exercised towards Jesus would be kindled against them, and those in authority would thirst for their blood. I was shown a time when Satan especially triumphed.  Multitudes of Christians were slain in a dreadful manner because they would preserve the purity of their religion.

The Bible was hated, and efforts were made to rid the earth of the precious word of God.  The Bible was forbidden to be read on pain of death, and all the copies of the holy Book which could be found were burned.  But I saw that God had a special care for his word.  He protected it.  At different periods there were but a very few copies of the Bible in existence, yet God would not suffer his word to be lost.  And in the last days, copies of the Bible were to be so multiplied that every family could possess it.  I saw that when there were but a very few copies of the Bible, it was precious and comforting to the persecuted followers of Jesus.  It was read in the most secret manner, and those who had this exalted privilege felt that they had had an interview with God, with his Son Jesus, and with his disciples.  But this blessed privilege cost many of them their lives.  If discovered, they were taken from reading the sacred Word to the chopping block, the stake, or to the dungeon to die from starvation.

Satan could not hinder the plan of salvation.  Jesus was crucified, and arose again the third day.  He told his angels that he would make even the crucifixion and resurrection tell to his advantage.  He was willing that those who professed faith in Jesus should believe that the laws regulating the Jewish sacrifices and offerings ceased at the death of Christ, if he could push them further, and make them believe that the law of ten commandments died also with Christ.

I saw that many readily yielded to this device of Satan.  All heaven was moved with indignation, as they saw the holy law of God trampled under foot.  Jesus and all the heavenly host were acquainted with the nature of God's law; they knew that he would not change or abolish it.  The hopeless condition of man caused the deepest sorrow in heaven, and moved Jesus to offer to die for the transgressors of God’s holy law.  If his law could be abolished, man might have been saved without the death of Jesus. The death of Christ did not destroy the law of his Father; but magnified and honored it, and enforces obedience to all its holy precepts.  Had the church remained pure and steadfast, Satan could not have deceived them, and led them to trample on the law of God.  In this bold plan, Satan strikes directly against the foundation of God's government in heaven and on earth.  His rebellion caused him to be expelled from heaven.  After he rebelled, in order to save himself, he wished God to change his law; but God told Satan, before the whole heavenly host, that his law was unalterable.  Satan knows that if he can cause others to violate God's law he is sure of them; for every transgressor of his law must die.

Satan decided to go still further.  He told his angels that some would be so jealous of God's law that they could not be caught in this snare; that the ten commandments were so plain that many would believe that they were still binding; therefore he must seek to corrupt the fourth commandment which brings to view the living God.  He led on his representatives to attempt to change the Sabbath, and alter the only commandment of the ten which brings to view the true God, the maker of the heavens and the earth.  Satan presented before them the glorious resurrection of Jesus, and told them that by his rising on the first day of the week, he changed the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week.  Thus Satan used the resurrection to serve his purpose.  He and his angels rejoiced that the errors they had prepared took so well with the professed friends of Christ.  What one might look upon with religious horror, another would receive.  The different errors would be received, and with zeal defended.  The will of God plainly revealed in his word, was covered up with error and tradition, which have been taught as the commandments of God.  But although this heaven-daring deception was to be suffered to be carried on down through time until the second appearing of Jesus, yet through all this time of error and deception, God has not been left without a witness.  There have been true and faithful witnesses keeping all of God's commandments through the darkness and persecution of the church.

I saw that angels were filled with amazement as they beheld the sufferings and death of the King of glory.  But I saw that it was no marvel to the angelic host that the Lord of life and glory, who filled all heaven with joy and splendor, should break the bands of death, and walk forth from his prison house a triumphant conqueror.  And if either of these events should be commemorated by a day of rest, it is the crucifixion.  But, I saw that neither of those events were designed to alter or abolish God's law; but they give the strongest proof of its immutability.

 Both of these important events have their memorials.  By partaking of the Lord's supper, the broken bread and the fruit of the vine, we show forth the Lord's death until he comes.  By observing this memorial, the scenes of his sufferings and death are brought fresh to our minds.  The resurrection of Christ is commemorated by our being buried with him by baptism, and raised up out of the watery grave in likeness of his resurrection, to live in newness of life.

I was shown that the law of God would stand fast forever, and exist in the new earth to all eternity.  At the creation, when the foundations of the earth were laid, the sons of God looked with admiration upon the work of the Creator, and all the heavenly host shouted for joy.  It was then that the foundation of the Sabbath was laid.  At the close of the six days of creation, God rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made; and he blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because that in it he had rested from all his work.  The Sabbath was instituted in Eden before the fall, and was observed by Adam and Eve, and all the heavenly host.  God rested on the seventh day, and blessed and hallowed it; and I saw that the Sabbath would never be done away; but the redeemed saints, and all the angelic host, will observe it in honor of the great Creator to all eternity.


See Daniel chap. 7; 2 Thessalonians chap. 2


Next: Chapter 19. Death, Not Eternal Life in Misery