The Tares in the Church

Until the period of the end of the age, there always will be tares among the wheat, foolish virgins with the wise, and bad fish with the good fish in the net. Our great concern should be, Am I part of the wheat or part of the tares? Remember, all of the tares profess to be wheat, and all of the bad fish can say, “I am in the net, in the church,” How can you tell for sure that you will not be surprised in the end of the age of grace? Inspiration describes the characteristics of the tares. The counterfeit seed are spiritual principles; and when these spiritual tares finally control your life you are ruined for eternity. We will look now at different tares or spiritual principles. Every one of these principles is a tare; and if one or more of these spiritual tares is in your life, you are unfit for eternal life. If we are to be in the wheat harvest, all tares must come out of the garden of our heart.

Twenty-one Tares

Each of the following character traits is described in the Spirit of Prophecy as a tare, although the proof for this is not documented in each case.


Murmuring is the tare that kept the children of Israel out of the promised land. “We who profess to keep the commandments of God, are not beyond the temptations of Satan. The history of the Jews was written for our benefit, upon whom the ends of the world are come, that we should not be filled with ambition and pride as they were; that we should avoid their example of wrong doing, and not fall as they fell. In the sacred word of God the history of Israel is spread out before us for our instruction. Are we making the most of the information given us, or are we merely following in the footsteps of the Pharisees, merely pretending to be connected with God, bearing the leaves of the profession, but not the fruit?” Signs of the Times, May 9, 1878

Pride, Envy, and Jealousy

Christ was ever severe in His denunciations of hypocritical professors, those who bore no fruit to His glory. He frequently declared that there was more hope for the veriest open sinner than for the pretender. Jesus would cleanse the temple of the soul from the defiling sins of selfishness, pride, envy, and love of the world.” Signs of the Times, August 22, 1878

Unwillingness to be Reproved for Faults

There have ever been two classes among those who profess to be followers of Christ…among the twelve apostles was a traitor. Judas was accepted, not because of his defects of character, but notwithstanding them. He was connected with the disciples, that, through the instruction and example of Christ, he might learn what constitutes Christian character, and thus be led to see his errors, to repent, and, by the aid of divine grace, to purify his soul ‘in obeying the truth.’ But Judas did not walk in the light so graciously permitted to shine upon him. By indulgence in sin he invited the temptations of Satan. His evil traits of character became predominant. He yielded his mind to the control of the powers of darkness; he became angry when his faults were reproved, and thus he was led to commit the fearful crime of betraying his Master. So do all who cherish evil under a profession of godliness hate those who disturb their peace by condemning their course of sin. When a favorable, opportunity is presented, they will, like Judas, betray those who for their good have sought to reprove them.” The Great Controversy, 43, 44


“He who tries to serve God and the world is unstable in all his ways. He cannot be trusted. His words may be fair, he may be professedly righteous, but in heart he is deceptive and deceitful, a rebel against God.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 18, 139. “Through apostasy, fallen men and fallen angels are in the same confederacy, leagued to work against good. They are united in a desperate companionship. Through his evil angels, Satan contrives to form an alliance with professedly pious men, and thus he leaves the church of God. He know that if he can induce men, as he induced the angels, to join in rebellion, under the guise of servants of God, he will have in them his most successful allies in his enterprise against heaven. Under the name of godliness, he can inspire them with his own accusing spirit, and lead them to charge God’s servants with evil and guile. They are his trained detectives; their work is to create feuds, to make charges which create discord and bitterness among brethren, to set tongues in active service for Satan, to sow seeds of dissension by watching for evil, and by speaking of that which will create discord.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1142

Selfish Ambition, Love of Money, and a Pretended Religious Experience

“John rebuked their selfish pride, and avarice. He warned them of their unbelief, and condemned their hypocrisy. He told them that they had not fulfilled the conditions of the covenant on their part, which would entitle them to the promises God made to a faithful and obedient people. Their proud boasts of being children of Abraham did not make them really such. Their exhibitions of pride, their arrogance, jealousy, selfishness, and cruelty, stamped their characters as a generation of vipers, rather than the children of obedient and just Abraham. John assured them that God would raise up children unto Abraham from the very stones, to whom He could fulfill His promise, rather than to depend on the natural children of Abraham who had neglected the light God had given them, and had become hardened by selfish ambition and wicked unbelief. He told them that if they were really the children of Abraham, they would do the works of their father Abraham. They would have Abraham’s faith, love, and obedience. But they did not bear this fruit. They had no claim to Abraham as their father, or the promises God made to the seed of Abraham. ‘Every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.’ While they were professing to be God’s commandment keeping people, their works denied their faith, and without true repentance for their sins they would have no part in the kingdom of Christ. Justice, benevolence, mercy, and the love of God would characterize the lives of His commandment-keeping people. Unless these fruits were seen in their daily life, all their profession was of no more value than chaff which would be devoted to the fire of destruction.” Review and Herald, January 14, 1873

Lukewarm Spiritual Experience

“We must be rich in faith and good works. The message to the Laodicean church is applicable to those who have been made the repositary of rich truth. This church is distinguished in prophecy by its great profession of advanced light; yet it was filled with spiritual pride and lukewarmness in religion. They had a religious theory, but were greatly lacking in moral power and holiness. They are pronounced wretched, poor, blind, and naked. O that our people would realize the danger, and heed the counsel of the True Witness, “Buy of Me gold in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed;…and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.’” Review and Herald, January 1, 1889

Not Eating the Word of Life

“Like the unfaithful son, they make false promises to God. In taking upon themselves the solemn covenant of the church, they have pledged to receive and obey the Word of God, to give themselves to God’s service; but they do not do this. In profession they claim to be sons of God, but in life and character they deny the relationship. They do not surrender the will to God. They are living a lie.” Review and Herald, June 23, 1910. (See also Christ’s Object Lessons, 279.)


“In the circumstance of Mary’s anointing Jesus’ feet, the plague spot of Judas’ character was revealed. The crisis had come in the life of Judas and the ruling trait of character took its supremacy over every other trait. Covetousness, which is idolatry, had been cultivated, and had strengthened in his heart, and when temptation came upon him, he was held under its control. The temptations of Satan will ever thus meet a response from the elements of depravity that are in the human character that have not been resisted and overcome. The covetous greed that Judas had indulged for years, now held in control and overpowered every other characteristic of his nature. He harmonized with the drawings of Satan, and evil triumphed as he yielded to temptation. Although he was professedly a follower of Jesus, yet he was strengthening the evil of his character. Jesus knew every transgression, and He now looked sorrowfully upon him who was numbered with the twelve, and who was yet not a doer of the words of Christ.” Signs of the Times, December 18, 1893

Failure to Overcome, Failure to Seek for Perfection of Character

“The Redeemer of the world ever sought to carry the mind from the earthly to the heavenly. Christ constantly taught the disciples, and His sacred lessons had a molding influence upon their characters. Judas alone did not respond to divine enlightenment. To all appearance he was righteous, and yet he cultivated his tendency to accuse and condemn others….Judas was selfish, covetous, and a thief, yet he was numbered with the disciples. He was defective in character and he failed to practice the words of Christ. He braced his soul to resist the influence of the truth; and while he practiced criticizing and condemning others, he neglected his own soul, and cherished and strengthened his natural evil traits of character until he became so hardened that he could sell his Lord for thirty pieces of silver.” Review and Herald, August 15, 1893

Mechanical Obedience

“Many profess to be on the Lord’s side, but they are not; the weight of all their actions is on Satan’s side. By what means shall we determine whose side are we on? Who has the heart? With whom are our thoughts? Upon whom do we love to converse? Who has our warmest affections and our best energies? If we are on the Lord’s side, our thoughts are with Him, and our sweetest thoughts are of Him. We have no friendship with the world; we have consecrated all that we have and are to Him. We long to bear His image, breathe His Spirit, do His will, and please Him in all things.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 262

Unholy Connections, Joining Confederacies in this World, Secret Societies

“The wheat is not to sow itself among the tares; for although we may not practice the works of some of the members of the secret orders, in joining them we are registered in heaven as partakers of their evil deeds, responsible for their works of evil, and bound up in bundles with them as tares.” Review and Herald, January 10, 1893

A Divided Heart-Not Wholly Consecrated to God

“With faithful, unsparing hand Christ unmasked the men who had professed so much and done so little. Behind their pretentious piety there lay concealed deceitful malignity, the controlling principle of their lives. Children of Abraham, children of God, they were not, and neither could they be. By their works they bore evidence that they were the children of the enemy of God.” Signs of the Times, August 29, 1900

Only A Formal Connection With the Church

“Judas might have been disciplined by the lessons of Christ, as were the other disciples, but he refused to receive and to practice the words of Christ. Though he was thought by the other disciples to be a faithful follower of Christ, he was not transformed in character. He had a formal connection with the little church of disciples, but he had not heart-connection with Christ.” 1888 Materials, 1359

Doctrinal Error, Especially New Theories

“The figures used [in the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3] are symbolic of the state of God’s professed people,—the wheat developing among the tares; truth standing on its own eternal basis in contrast with error.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 372. “The conflict is to wax fiercer and fiercer. Satan will take the field and personate Christ. He will misrepresent, misapply, and pervert everything he possibly can, to deceive, if possible, the very elect. Even in our day there have been and will continue to be entire families who have once rejoiced in the truth, but who will lose faith because of calumnies and falsehoods brought to them in regard to those whom they have loved and with whom they have had sweet counsel. They opened their hearts to the sowing of tares; the tares; spring up among the wheat; they strengthened; the crop of wheat became less and less; and the precious truth lost its power to them. For a time a false zeal accompanied their new theories, which hardened their hearts against the advocates of truth as did the Jews against Christ.” Testimonies to Ministers, 411

Having A Carnal Mind

“Why is it that the people in this age are so easily drawn away from the observance of God’s commandments? Why is it that they relish the mockery of those who profess to be teachers of righteousness, who yet cast contempt upon the commandments of Jehovah? Is it not because the heart of this people is carnal? In the scriptures quoted the Lord presents His reproof to those whom He terms ‘My people,’ who have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns that can hold no water.” Signs of the Times, October 2, 1893. “Let every one who is seeking to live a Christian life, remember that the church militant is not the church triumphant. Those who are carnally minded will be found in the church. They are to be pitied more than blamed. The church is not to be judged as sustaining these characters, though they be found within her borders. Should the church expel them, the very ones who found fault with their presence there, would blame the church for sending them adrift in the world; they would claim that they were treated unmercifully. It may be that in the church there are those who are cold, proud, haughty, and unchristian, but you need not associate with this class.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 294, 295

Doubt and Unbelief

“There are those in responsible positions who, by their words and actions, sow seeds of doubt and unbelief. These seeds are called tares by our Lord; and those who sow it are under the guidance of evil angels. They are at work both openly and secretly, seeking to counteract the work which God has appointed His divine agencies to perform through human agencies. All who do this work see with defective and perverted eyesight. Their imagination is inspired by satanic agencies, and they see many things in a false light. Unless they repent, they will soon, like Esau, find no place for repentance, though they seek it carefully with tears.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, 242

Cares of This World

“I saw that it was impossible to have the affections and interests engrossed in worldly cares. To be increasing earthly possessions, and yet be in a waiting, watching, position, as our Saviour has commanded. Said the angel: ‘They can secure but one world. In order to acquire the heavenly treasure, they must sacrifice the earthly. They cannot have both worlds. I saw how necessary a continuance of faithfulness in watching was in order to escape the delusive snares of Satan. He leads those who should be waiting and watching, to take an advance step toward the world; they have no intention of going further, but that one step removed them that much further from Jesus, and made it easier to take the next; and thus step after step is taken toward the world, until all the difference between them and the world is a profession, a name only. They have lost their peculiar, holy character, and there is nothing except their profession to distinguish them from the lovers of the world around them.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 193

Worldly Riches

“As a people we are surely saying by our works, ‘My Lord delayeth his coming.’ Our Lord has given us a fearful caution, not even to say this in ‘our hearts.’ With many the warning is utterly disregarded. Their works, and words, and their life is saying distinctly to others, My Lord delayeth His coming. Say not, unfaithful steward, this concerneth not me, I am a Christian. Was not the evil steward a professed Christian? A forgetful, negligent slothful steward of his Lord’s goods? He was outwardly a steward, a professed Christian. He calls Christ, ‘My Lord.’ He believes in the coming of his Lord; but he only says, That coming is delayed. Then he presumes on that delay to use for the gratification of his own appetite and pleasure, his Lord’s goods. But his portion is assigned him with hypocrites and unbelievers, where is weeping and gnashing of teeth. I entreat you my brethren to arouse from your sloth, and take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. As a people we are increasing in riches. I am alarmed as I see so little of the spirit of sacrifice. Selfishness and the love of the world is closing up the soul, that the rays of heavenly light cannot penetrate it.” Review and Herald, January 5, 1869

Pleasures of This World

“The mass of professed Christians have removed the line of distinction between Christians and the world, and while they profess to be living for Christ, they are living for the world. Their faith has but little restraining influence upon their pleasures; while they profess to be children of the light, they walk in darkness and are children of the night and of darkness.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 404

The End