Sin in the Church

Let Christ’s methods be followed in dealing with those who make mistakes.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 266.

Ellen White explains: “A sister for whom I had a testimony that she lacked discretion and caution, and did not fully control her words and actions, came in with her husband and manifested feelings of great unreconciliation and agitation.… Her pride was touched as I brought out her faults in so public a manner. Here was evidently the main difficulty. But why should she feel thus? The brethren and sisters knew these things were so, therefore I was not informing them of anything new.…Her husband seemed to feel unreconciled to my bringing out her faults before the church and stated that if Sister White had followed the directions of our Lord in Matthew 18:15–17 he should not have felt hurt: ‘Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone.…’ My husband then stated that he should understand that these words of our Lord had reference to cases of personal trespass, and could not be applied in the case of this sister. She had not trespassed against Sister White. But that which had been reproved publicly was public wrongs which threatened the prosperity of the church and the cause. Here, said my husband, is a text applicable to the case: 1 Timothy 5:20: ‘Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.’” Testimonies, vol. 2, 14, 15.

Are We to Openly Rebuke Sin?

“We must cry aloud and spare not, lest our silence be interpreted to mean consent. The time has come when each one must stand in his lot and place, prepared to call sin, sin, and righteousness, righteousness.” Loma Linda Messages, 48.

One, Glorying in Sin, Leavens the Whole Body of Believers

“Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” 1 Corinthians 5:6. “The history of Achan teaches.…Sin is corrupting in its nature.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 996. “Disobedience…tends to corrupt the faith of others. That which looked very wrong to them at first, gradually loses this appearance by being constantly before them.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 146.

Purpose of Open Rebuke — Teaches Others to Fear and Stops the Leaven

“Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” 1 Timothy 5:20. “Open rebuke is necessary, to prevent others from being ensnared.” Series B, 26. “Sin and sinners in the church must be promptly dealt with, that others may fear God.” Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, 105.

“Put away the evil from among you. And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you.” Deuteronomy 19:19, 20 NKJV.

Open Rebuke is to be as Broad as the Injury Done

“If the wrongdoer only were concerned, and the work reached no farther than him, he alone should have the words of warning; but when his course of action is doing positive harm to the cause of truth, and souls are imperiled, God requires that the warning be as broad as the injury done.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 152.

Are Only Prophets and Leaders Called to Rebuke Sin?

“It is the duty of every faithful servant of God, to firmly and decidedly withstand these perverters of the faith, and to fearlessly expose their errors by the word of truth.” Sketches from the Life of Paul, 192.

“It is the duty of both watchmen and laymen to give the trumpet a certain sound.” Home Missionary, February 1, 1890. “It is not enough to merely profess to believe the truth. All the soldiers of the cross of Christ virtually obligate themselves to enter the crusade against the adversary of souls, to condemn wrong and sustain righteousness.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 254. “The church members that are awake will rise to the emergency, manifesting greater diligence as iniquity abounds. The very manifestations of satanic power are to be presented in their true light before the people.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 15, 310. “No longer consent to listen without protest to the perversion of truth. Unmask the pretentious sophistries.…” Selected Messages, Book 1, 196.

Are Leaders to be Openly Rebuked?

“When he [a servant of God] begins to work against the truth, and make his disaffection public, declaring things untrue which are true, these things must be met. The people must not be left to believe a lie. They must be undeceived.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, 332. “When men stand out in defiance against the counsel of God, they are warring against God. Is it right for those connected with such ones to treat them as if they were in perfect harmony with them…? Though they be ministers or medical missionaries…Open rebuke is necessary, to prevent others from being ensnared.” Series B, 26.

God is No Respecter of Persons

“Men of courage and energy are needed to expose fashionable sins. Iniquity must not be palliated and excused. Those who lead the church to follow the customs and practices of the world, are not to be lauded and exalted. No regard for family or position will hinder the faithful servants of Christ from guarding the interests of His people. God is no respecter of persons.” Southern Watchman, July 12, 1904. “It is no time now to tolerate sleepy watchmen, and they never should have been tolerated.” Review and Herald, March 24, 1896. “In the work of reform to be carried forward today, there is need of men who, like Ezra and Nehemiah, will not palliate or excuse sin, nor shrink from vindicating the honor of God.…[Those who] will not hold their peace when wrong is done, neither will they cover evil with a cloak of false charity. They will remember that God is no respecter of persons.…” Conflict and Courage, 269.

Like John, Expose Plainly and Pointedly the Sins of Individual Leaders

“The message we bear must be as direct as was the message of John. He rebuked kings for their iniquity.…And our work in this age must be as faithfully done. Selected Messages, Book 2, 151. “The work of John was to expose the character of the works of the Pharisees, to set their traditions and heresies in their true light before the people.” Review and Herald, April 3, 1894. “Kings and rulers came to the wilderness to hear the prophet, and were interested, and deeply convicted as he fearlessly pointed out their particular sins.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, 48. “God requires His people in this age of the world to stand for the right as unflinchingly as did John in opposition to soul-destroying errors.” The Acts of the Apostles, 555.

Should We Just Pray—For the Sins of the Church?

“Zimri, a prince of the chief housein the tribe of Simeon.…publicly appeared before the people leading a Midianitish harlot, one of high standing, a daughter of a chief house in Midian, in the sight of Moses and the congregation. He thus showed open contempt of God. He gloried in his shame; for wine had perverted his senses.…Moses and the people who had taken no part in this great departure from God’s law, were weeping and lamenting at the door of the tabernacle for the sins of the people, and the plague that had begun.…The priests were weeping between the porch and the altar, crying, ‘Spare Thy people, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach.’ Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, and rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin, and went after the man of Israel into the tent, and killed them both. This staid the plague.…The point to be marked is, that Moses’ prayers were not heard, neither his weeping nor the sorrow and prayers of those who had maintained their integrity, until justice was executed upon that demoralized, God-defying prince. God says of Phinehas, He ‘hath turned away My wrath from the children of Israel.’ It was the greatest mercy that Phinehas could do to Israel, to deal promptly and decidedly with the guilty, and thus be instrumental in turning the wrath of God from the congregation of Israel. Something besides prayers and tears are needed in a time when reproach and peril are hanging over God’s people. The wicked works must be brought to an end.” Review and Herald, May 17, 1887.

“The sin of one man caused Israel to be beaten before the enemy. Something more than prayer was required. They were to get up and cleanse the camp of Israel.” Conflict and Courage, 120. “There are conditions to the fulfillment of God’s promises, and prayer can never take the place of duty.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 143. “Many are longing to grow in grace; they pray over the matter, and are surprised that their prayers are not answered. The Master has given them a work to do whereby they shall grow. Of what value is it to pray when there is need of work?” Youth’s Instructor, February 3, 1898. “We entreat those who have a connection with God to pray earnestly and in faith, and not to stop here, but to work as well as pray, for the purification of the church.” Review and Herald, June 3, 1880.

Is it “Christlike”— to Show God’s People Their Sins?

“Jesus…never purchased peace by covering iniquity, or by anything like compromise.…He was never indulgent to their sins. He was too much their friend to remain silent while they were pursuing a course which would ruin their souls.…” The Upward Look, 220.

“Christ, at the very beginning of His ministry, openly rebuked the super-ficial morality and ostentatious piety of the Jews.” Redemption, vol. 4, 33.

“Then spake Jesus to the multi-tude,…saying,…Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!…Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers…” Matthew 23:1, 2, 13, 33. “Christ, who knew their hearts, held up their religious pretensions as God viewed them. He stripped from them their robe of apparent righteousness, laying bare their hypocrisy.” Signs of the Times, February 10, 1898. “The Lord did not permit the sins of His people to pass without rebuke.” Ibid., June 2, 1881. “Jesus did not let the matter drop without administering a rebuke to His enemies.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, 197.

Is it Love—to Show God’s People Their Sins?

“‘You must have charity,’ is the cry heard everywhere…But true charity is too pure to cover an unconfessed sin.…The apostle teaches that while we should manifest Christian courtesy we are authorized to deal in plain terms with sin and sinners; that this is not inconsistent with true charity.” The Acts of the Apostles, 555, 556.

“Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor.…” Leviticus 19:17.

“To practice the principle of love will not prevent us from dealing plainly with our brethren, in kindness pointing out wrongs and shortcomings when it is necessary to do so. Manuscript Releases, vol. 15, 156.

“The hearts of God’s servants will overflow with love and sympathy for the erring…but they will have no soft words for sin. They show the truest friendship who reprove error and sin without partiality and without hypocrisy.” Evangelism, 368. “True love is a love which seeks first the honor of God and the salvation of souls. Those who have this love will not evade the truth to save themselves from the unpleasant results of plain speaking.” Review and Herald, October 22, 1901.

“Those who have the true love of God in their hearts will not teach that sin should be handled with
gloved hands
.” Signs of the Times, April 21, 1881.

Is it Critical or Negative—to Show God’s People Their Sins?

“The office of a messenger whom God has chosen to send with reproofs and warnings, is strangely misunderstood at the present time.” Review and Herald, July 25, 1893.

“Should a case like Achan’s be among us, there are many who would accuse those who might act the part of Joshua in searching out the wrong, of having a fault-finding, wicked spirit.” Ibid., June 8, 1886.

“Opposition has risen in the church to the plain testimony.…If the wrongs of individuals are touched, they complain of severity, and…are ready to…overlook the wrong which made it necessary for reproof and rebuke. When the church depart from God they despise the plain testimony, and complain of severity and harshness. It is a sad evidence of the lukewarm state of the church.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, 283, 284.

“Let none…charge the servants of God with being too zealous in endeavoring to cleanse the camp…” Prophets and Kings, 416.

“The salvation of sinners demands that every Christian shall act his part, and put forth a certain measure of positive power. ‘Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.’ The word must be spoken in season and out of season to those who are beguiled by Satan, and led to do evil things. Satan is working through his agents, and shall the soldiers of Christ exert no positive influence to save souls that are walking in the broad road to death?” Review and Herald, December 12, 1893.

Are We to Focus on the Sins of the Church?

“God requires His servants to walk in the light and not cover their eyes that they may not discern the working of Satan. They should be prepared to warn and reprove those who are in danger through his subtlety.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 196.

“If defiling sins are cherished…the displeasure of God rests upon the church,…until the members do all in their power to show their hatred for sin, and their determination to cast it out of the church.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Messages, 144 . “When the people realize that darkness is settling upon them, and they do not know the cause, they should seek God earnestly,…until the wrongs which grieve His Spirit are searched out and put away.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 265.

“It is a sin in any church not to search for the cause of their darkness…in the midst of them.” Ibid., vol. 3, 520.

Warn Sinners of Their Sins Continually

“Keep the warning message of truth before the people.…We are to cry aloud and spare not.” Counsels to Writers and Editors, 174. “Ministers should be faithful watchmen, seeing the evil and warning the people. Their dangers must be set before them continually and pressed home upon them.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 515. “There is constant need of earnest, decided messages of warning.” Reflecting Christ, 32.

“The natural heart does not enjoy this constant reproving of sin and continual exalting of righteousness.” Signs of the Times, November 5, 1894. “Some…think the trouble is with the ones who…point out the sins of the people and correct their errors.…They think that the labors…would be acceptable if they were not continually condemning wrong and reproving sin.…These poor souls, I saw, were deceived by Satan.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 258, 259.

“Listen to hear them [Israelites] respond, ‘We do not wish to be continually reminded of our sins. Speak to us words of peace, encouragement, and hope, but do not keep ever before us . . . our backslidings.’” Signs of the Times, June 23, 1881.

“They were then decided…He [Moses] was not the right kind of man. He was too unyielding and kept their sins continually before them, warning, reproving, and threatening them with God’s displeasure.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 300.

Are We to Remain Neutral and Say Nothing?

“If God abhors one sin above another, of which His people are guilty, it is of doing nothing in a case of emergency. Indifference or neutrality in a religious crisis is regarded of God as a grievous crime; and equal to the very worst type of hostility against God.” Review and Herald, September 30, 1873.

“Arduous and unpleasant duties have to be performed. None are to place themselves where they will sanction wrong by silence. They aid and abet the schemes of the enemy by keeping their lips closed when they should speak decidedly.…” The Upward Look, 206.

“Those who, in an effort to be neutral,…may think that they are rendering a service to God, but such a thought is delusive.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 16, 10.

“Many have tried neutrality in a crisis, but they have failed in their purpose. No one can maintain a neutral ground. Those who endeavor to do this will fulfill Christ’s words, ‘No man can serve two masters’…[they] will at last be found enlisted on the enemy’s side.” This Day With God, 240.

Those Who Are Indifferent—Neutral Are Spewed Out

“‘If wrongs are apparent among His people, and if the servants of God pass on indifferent to them, they virtually sustain and justify the sinner, and are alike guilty and will just as surely receive the displeasure of God; for they will be made responsible for the sins of the guilty.’” Testimonies, vol. 5, 676.

“Those who by their carelessness or indifference permit God’s name to be dishonored by His professed people, are numbered with the transgressor,—registered in the record of Heaven as partakers in their evil deeds.” Signs of the Times, April 21, 1881. “Because thou art lukewarm,…I will spue thee out of My mouth.” Revelation 3:16.