What is Babylon?
The following is a portion of the 1895 GC sermon by E.J. Waggoner. In 1895 the Seventh-day Adventist Church was God’s church. This is not the case today. Therefore as you read this portion of the sermon and come across sentences where he makes reference to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, we should substitute “God’s church” or the “Seventh-day Adventist Church Reform Movement” since the SDA Reform church is God’s visible church on earth today.
Again to the study of what it is to come out of Babylon. Everyone knows now that to come out of Babylon is to come out of the world and to separate from Babylon is to separate from the world. What we want to know next is, what is it to come out of the world? What is it to separate from the world? Gal. 1:4 will answer that question in a word; we shall have to read the third and fourth verses together to get the connection, but the fourth verse is the one that has the point in it.
“Grace be to you and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world.”
And He gave Himself for our sins in order to deliver us from this present evil world, it follows plainly enough that connection with the present evil world and even the evil world itself, lies in our sinfulness. And therefore, to deliver from this world, we must be delivered from sin. Not from some particular sins, but from sin itself, the thing, the root, and the all of it. The word of God does not take a man and find out how much of good there is in him and how much bad there is in him, and then patch the good on the place of the badness and take him into heaven that way. You should not put a new patch on an old garment; Christ said so, and it is so. Then we are not to see how much good there is in us, how many good traits we have and give ourselves credit for these and then get enough goodness from the Lord to supply whatever we may lack.
No. There is no goodness, not one good thing there at all. The whole head is sick and the whole heart is faint. From the crown of the head to the feet there is no soundness in it, but instead there are wounds and bruises and putrefying sores. “Who shall deliver me from this body of death?” Rom 7:24. It is a body of death simply because it is a “body of sin.” Rom. 6:6. To be delivered from sin, then, is to be delivered from ourselves. That is what it is to come out of Babylon.
Many people have been getting the idea that if they get out of the Methodist church or the Presbyterian Church or the Catho lic Church and get into the Seventh-day Adventist church, then they are out of Babylon. No. That is not enough, unless you are converted, unless you are separated from this world you are not out of Babylon, even though you are in the Seventh-day Adventist church and in the Tabernacle in Battle Creek… But the man who is connected with himself is connected with the world, and the world is Babylon. You have separated from sin, separated from this world, to be out of Babylon. “Having a form of godliness, without the power,” is simply another expression which describes Babylon and her doctrine in the last days. That being so, if I, a Seventh-day Adventist, have the form of godliness without the power, I belong to Babylon; no difference what I call myself, I am Babylonian; I have on the Babylonish garment. I bring Babylon into the church wherever I go.
Another word about this in Galatians: Christ “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world.”
All of this world that ever can cripple a man or hinder him in his heavenly course is simply what is inside of him; it is simply what there is of him. Therefore when Christ would deliver a man from this present evil world, he simply delivers him from sin and from himself. Then that man is in the kingdom of God; he is in the world but not of the world. So Jesus says, “I have chosen you out of the world: If ye were of the world, the world would love his own.” Very good; here am I. Suppose I am of the world. Then the world will love his own. That is, the world that is in me and of me will love the world and will cling to the world. I cannot do anything else, and I cannot do anything else, because I am essentially of the world itself. The world outside of me and around me will love his own, that is true; but as certainly as I am of the world, so certainly I will stick to the world and love the world; the world within me will love and cling to the world without. I may be calling myself a Christian at the same time, but that will not alter the case – the world will love his own. If in heart I am cut loose from this world, I am free from it, but if the world is there, I will love the world, and when the test comes, when the crisis comes, I will surrender to the world and go the way of the world in general – stay in Babylon and worship the beast. Now turn to the third chapter of 2 Timothy.
There we have the same thing taught: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves… From such turn away.”
Then if I am a lover of my own self, from such I am to turn away. But who is it that I am to turn away from? Self, assuredly.
Come out of Babylon, from such turn away. It is not that I am to look at you and study you and see whether you are a lover of your own self, to see whether you are not covetous and a boaster and proud and then I separate from you. Not at all.
It is not for me to look at others and say, “Oh I don’t want to be in a church with such brethren as these. I cannot be the right kind of Christian there. I think I would better go to Oakland and join the church there, or I think I would better go to Battle Creek and join the church there; the brethren here at home seem to be so kind o – oh, I can hardly describe it, but it is very unpleasant and very hard to be a Christian here. I think I will have to leave this church and join some other one.” That will not answer at all, for unless you are genuinely converted and separated from the world, when you have done all, that the church which you have joined is just so much worse than it was before and so much more Babylonish by just so much as you are there. “From such turn away.” Then as I am to turn away from myself, where does Babylon lie? Where does the world lie? Altogether, in self, just as we found in Galatians, fourth chapter.