There are some people today who are discouraged by what they see taking
place in the world and in Adventism, but I am excited
are some people today who are discouraged by what they see taking place in the
world and in Adventism, butI am excited!I am
excited, because I see the signs, in the church and in the world, that Jesus is
coming soon.When I read inspired
writings and look around at what is happening, I realize that God foresaw all
of this a long time ago.Although the
events we see occurring are awful, it is encouraging that there is Someone who
knows all about them, who said that this is what would happen, who knows how to
protect us and take us out of this evil world.
I want to
study with you a passage of Scripture that was written over 2,500 years ago.This passage of Scripture, inspired by the
Holy Spirit, has a special meaning.It
had a meaning then.It had a fulfillment
then.But it was meant to have a special
meaning and a special fulfillment in the last days as well—in the times in
which you and I are living.
“And he showed me Joshua the great priest
standing before the angel of Jehovah, and the saw-tan was there, standing at his right hand.”Zechariah 3:1.In English,
the Hebrew word saw-tan is converted to Satan.Satan is one of the few words in the
English language that comes directly from the Hebrew language.The word saw-tan means “the
adversary.”So the saw-tan, the
adversary, was standing at his right hand “to accuse him.”In the book of Revelation, Satan is called
“the accuser of the brethren.”Revelation 12:10.
ago, when I was preaching a sermon, I was reading from Matthew where
Jesus, speaking to Peter, said, “You depart behind Me, Satan!You are an offense to Me
because you do not understand the things of God, but those of men.”This verse clearly says, “Turning, He said to
Peter, depart from Me, Satan.”I read
that text and said, “Jesus, here, called Peter Satan,” and someone objected to
that and wrote me a letter.They said,
“Pastor John, you made a mistake, and it needs to be corrected.Ellen White says that Jesus was really
speaking to Satan, not Peter.”(See Conflict and Courage, 312.)Well, I got my Bible out again and read it,
and it says, “Turning, He said to Peter . . . .”I believe what Ellen White said—that Jesus
was addressing Satan directly, but the Bible says that He was speaking to Peter.We must never take the insight of a later
prophet and use that to nullify the Bible.From this text, I understand that when God rebukes the devil, He
includes all the other intelligences that are allowing the devil to speak through
them.Did you get that?When God rebukes the devil,—whether it is in
or Zechariah 3:1—in
that rebuke is included not only the archfiend himself but every other
intelligence, whether angel or human being, that is allowing the devil to speak
through them.I want to tell you,
friends, there is a large number of people today who are allowing the devil to
speak through them.
says, “And he showed me Joshua the great priest standing before the angel of
Jehovah, and the saw-tan was there, standing at his right hand to accuse
him.”Remember that the high priest
represents God’s people.How does the saw-tan,
or Satan, accuse God’s people?He
usually does it through other human beings.We read, in Testimonies, vol.
5, 609: “An earnest effort should be made
in every church to put away evilspeaking and a
censorious spirit as among the sins productive of the greatest evils in the
church. Severity and faultfinding must be rebuked . . . .”
Faultfinding and Supposition
You will find yourself in plenty of trouble
when you rebuke “severity and faultfinding,” but Mrs. White states that it must
be rebuked “as the workings of Satan.”When a person is engaging in faultfinding, who is speaking through them?It is Satan, the adversary.Remember, Zechariah 3:1 says that the saw-tan, the adversary, was
“standing at his right hand, to accuse him.”Satan was going to accuse him to the Lord.
noticed, as I have read various references in the Bible and the Spirit of
Prophecy on this subject, that when the devil accuses you, he always accuses
you to someone else.When the Pharisees
accused Jesus, they talked to his disciples about it, and when they accused the
disciples, they talked to Jesus about it.Have you noticed this?Are you
glad that God does not operate in this way?
When it is
necessary for God to rebuke you or me, He will come directly to us.If you are praying, “Lord, show me what is
wrong in my character,” believe me, the Lord will show you!He will not go and tell all your enemies
about it, but He will show you personally.
continued: “Let all, in the fear of God and with love to their brethren, close
their ears to gossip and censure.Direct
the talebearer to the teachings of God’s word.Bid him obey the Scriptures and carry his complaints directly to those
whom he thinks in error.”Ibid.,609, 610.
To whom is he supposed to carry his complaints?Is he supposed to carry his complaints to the
head of the nearest ministry?No.Is he supposed to carry his complaints to the
pastor of the church that person attends?What did the inspired writing say?It said that he is to “bid him to obey the Scriptures and carry his
complaints directly to those whom he thinks in error”—not to the pastor.
count the many times people have either called me on the telephone, written me
a letter, or come directly to my office wanting to tell me about someone that
is in trouble.And, of course, they
expect me to fix the situation.After I
have read some of the passages from the Bible and inspired writings, I have
decided that I do not even need to listen to such things.
If you have a
concern, you need to go directly to the person for whom you have the concern
and talk to them.Write them a letter;
call them on the telephone; do not come to me.That is what the Bible says to do.(See Matthew 18:15–17.)Mrs. White
continued: “This united action would bring a flood of light into the church and
close the door to a flood of evil.”Ibid.,610.
statement that discloses how people allow the devil to speak through
them—remember, when God rebukes the devil, He rebukes everyone who allows the
devil to speak through them or to use them—is recorded in the October 17, 1899, Review and
Herald: “There is a lack of frankness; the way is hedged up by
supposition.”Supposition is one of the
devil’s favorite ways in which to accuse people.Mrs. White explains how supposition works:
“Some one discovers a supposed defect in a brother or sister, and he acts on
this supposition, as if it were true.When criticism and faultfinding, and a desire for the highest place
enter the church, the serpent, disguised, enters with them, leaving a trail of
evil wherever he goes.”Ibid.Who is the
serpent spoken of here?It is the saw-tan,
the adversary, and it enters when there is criticism and faultfinding in the
So Satan, the
adversary, the saw-tan, is at the right hand of God’s people.He is there to accuse, to find fault.This is one of the biggest problems among
God’s people—has been in all ages and still is.Some people will overcome.Those
who overcome will go to heaven; the people who do not overcome will not go to
“I saw that
all the religion a few poor souls have consists in watching the garments and
acts of others, and finding fault with them.Unless they reform, there will be no place in heaven for them, for they
would find fault with the Lord Himself.”Testimonies, vol. 1, 145.If these people do not reform, will they be
going to heaven?No.
“I feel an
intense interest regarding every faultfinder; for I know that a quarrelsome
disposition will never find entrance into the city of God.”Manuscript
Releases, vol. 7, 271.If I have a
quarrelsome disposition, I will not go to heaven.
After reading these statements, I have made
the decision to overcome these tendencies.By the grace of God, I will not do these things anymore.How is it with you?
allowed some terrible things to happen so we will look at the inspired
writings, wake up, and see what problems must be solved before Jesus can come
and take us out of this world.
churches are in trouble.One of the
reasons churches get into trouble is because they are lacking in church
discipline.In some churches, you can
say just about anything you please and still be a
member of that church.If that is the
situation in your church, it is going to be destroyed.
person comes to a minister or to men in positions of trust with complaints
against a brother or a sister, let the minister ask, ‘Have you complied with
the rules our Saviour has given?’And if he has failed to carry out any
particular of this instruction, do not listen to a word of his complaint.In the name and Spirit of Jesus, refuse to
take up a report against your brother or your sister in the faith.If members of the church go contrary to these
rules, they make themselves subjects for church discipline, and should be under
the censure of the church.This matter,
so plainly taught in the lessons of Christ, has been treated with strange
indifference.The church has either
neglected her work entirely in the matter of correcting evil, or has done it
with harshness and severity, thus wounding and bruising souls.Measures should be taken to correct this cruel
spirit of criticism, of judging the motives of others, as though Christ had
revealed to men the hearts of their brethren.The neglect of doing aright, with wisdom and grace, the work that ought
to have been done, has left churches and institutions almost inefficient and Christless.”Review
and Herald,April 16, 1895.When was the
last time you were witness to someone being disciplined by the church for
faultfinding or criticism?Is there a
reason God’s people are in trouble?Yes!
I want to present to you a couple of
statements about this matter of church discipline, and I hope that you will
pray about them and say, “Lord, help us to do in our church what You have told us to do.”If you do not, the devil will see to it that your church is
certain things the Lord has said that are not to be allowed in the church.Here is one: “No church can be in a healthy,
flourishing condition unless its leaders shall take firm, decided measures to
repress this fault-finding, accusing spirit wherever it exists.Its indulgence should be made a matter of
church discipline; for it is a violation of the law of God, a violation of the
rules which Christ has laid down for preserving order in the church.If these mischievous talkers are not
subjected to church discipline they become confirmed in their evil work, and God charges the guilt upon the church.”Review and Herald, October 19, 1886.
Satan, the saw-tan,
stood at his right hand to accuse him.What about people who are working in institutions or ministries?“No one should be retained in any one of the
Lord’s institutions who in a crisis fails of realizing that His
instrumentalities are sacred. . . .The halfhearted and worldly, those who are given to gossip, who dwell on
the faults of others, while neglecting their own, should be separated from the
202.God’s work, in so
many places, is so feeble, because we have not been following this
“It is the
special work of Satan to cause dissension . . . .”Mind, Character, and
Personality, vol. 2, 791.This is his special work.“We
should be weeding out of our thoughts all complaining and faultfinding.Let us not continue to look upon any defects
that we may see.”Ibid.,789.Notice she says that we should be weeding
these things out of our thoughts.We
should not even be thinking about them.
Help Each Other
You know, friends, if we spend our time
looking at the defects of others, we will develop in ourselves the same defects
at which we are looking, examining, watching, and studying.
anything desirable in impatience?“The
loud, harsh complaint, the fretful, fault-finding spirit, are
evidences of a narrow, conceited mind.Impatience brings strife and accusation and sorrow.”Review and Herald, February 21, 1888.
What is the
most powerful thing we can do to help our brother or sister who is very
faulty?Mrs. White says, “A word of love
and encouragement will do more to subdue the hasty temper and willful
disposition than all the faultfinding and censure that you can heap upon the
How can we
help each other to be cured from the faultfinding spirit?Ellen White suggested that “These notional,
faultfinding ones would often cure themselves of the habit if they would go
directly to the individual they think is wrong.”Testimonies, vol. 1,
145.How can we be cured
of a faultfinding spirit?If such a
person would make it a rule that, when someone else has done something wrong,
they will not go to the local elder, deacon, pastor, or call some leader in a
ministry trying to burden that person with the problem, but will go directly to
the individual in question and talk to them, then possibly the problem would be
resolved!Mrs. White says, “But it is
easy to let the tongue run freely about this one or that one when the accused
is not present.”Ibid.Oh, friend, we should never do that.If we find the need to point out something
that is wrong with someone, the least we can do is talk with him or her
directly, not talk about them when they are not present.
The Devil’s Work
As we have studied, we are in the shaking,
and if we do not overcome on these points, remember, we will be engaged in the
devil’s work.Zechariah 3:1 says that the saw-tan,
the adversary, stood at his right hand to accuse him.Ellen White wrote: “Something will arise to
test everyone.The great sifting time is
just before us.The jealous and the
faultfinding, who are watching for evil, will be shaken out.They hate reproof and despise
correction.”Testimonies, vol. 1.,251.
and the faultfinding will be shaken out of God’s church.One of the awful things that hap-pens when
someone is shaken out is that they usually do not get
shaken out all by themselves.Someone
goes out with them because of sympathy.
through sympathy that the devil caused the fall of about a third of the angels
in heaven.And that is why, when someone
gets shaken out, they never go out alone.Somebody else sympathizes with them.They sympathize with the one who has gotten reproved, and they hate the
one who reproves.As Amos says, “They
hate the one that rebukes in the gate.”Amos 5:10.
said, “God will send reproof and warning to His people as long as they continue
180.There is only one way
the reproofs can be made to stop and that is if we commit the unpardonable sin
by refusing the invitation of mercy offered to us through Jesus Christ.When a nation or a person has gone so far,
they have committed the unpardonable sin, and there is no hope for their
salvation.It is then that the reproofs
and warnings cease.(See The Desire
of Ages, 324, 325.)
statement from inspired writings, we are told: “Bid him [the talebearer] carry
his complaints directly to those whom he thinks in error.”Review and Herald, November 30, 1886.
As I have
studied this subject, I have come to realize that God desires for us to be much
happier than we are.We cannot be happy
if our minds are full of all the things that are wrong in our church and with
our brothers and sisters.If someone is
doing something wrong, it is all right to go to them and talk with him or her
about it, but we cannot be happy if we are dwelling on it all the time.
wrote the following statement to a minister and a physician: “We must lay hold
of the supreme Power, and close our ears to complaint and faultfinding.Crush this inclination, and empty the soul
temple of evil-thinking.Let not one
unhappy thought remain within.”This
Day With God,347.God does not
want us to be full of unhappiness.He
tells us to rid our minds of those unhappy thoughts!
There is Someone in charge, friends.Give Him a chance to work.Pray
for the people who are in trouble.Go to
them and show them how much you love them and how much you want to help them
gain the kingdom of heaven.
quoted are literal translation.]
To be concluded . . .
Pastor Grosboll is Director of
Steps to Life Ministry and pastor of the PrairieMeadowsChurch
in Wichita, Kansas.He may be contacted by e-mail at:
firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.